Officials want to close more coastal parking lots overnight to curb crime

Local

SAN DIEGO — A new plan is in the works to close parking lots at dozens of coastal parks and beach areas overnight in hopes of reducing illegal activities there.

City of San Diego officials believe it will reduce problems with late-night parties, illegal bonfires, gang activity and unauthorized camping. The parks and parking lots, which span from La Jolla to Ocean Beach, would either be physically closed by installing new security gates or posted with signs announcing the overnight closures.

As the San Diego Union-Tribune reports, the Mission Beach and Mission Bay Park areas are of particular concern for officials, where they say unruly gatherings can lead to violence.

Last month, an 18-year-old was shot and badly wounded during a party by the bay. In September, officials installed new lighting and increased patrols in the area near Belmont Park after a string of violence.

Some local parks already have overnight restrictions, but the city will need approval from the California Coastal Commission in order to add new ones to the list. If it does, hours of the closure would either be from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. or from midnight to 6 a.m.

As the U-T reports, the commission is typically reluctant to support restrictions that limit public access to the coast.

“Some residents and environmentalists have questioned whether the proposed new closures would go too far, contending the city’s reaction to many problems is to remove public access,” the paper’s David Garrick wrote.

But the Parks and Recreation Department says its conducted public outreach and heard concerns from residents who would rather see the late-night parties and potential violence shut down than have access to parking spaces in the early morning hours.

Parks and Rec officials are currently working on getting support for the proposed closures from a vareity of neighborhood groups and local civic organizations to help persuade the commission, Garrick reports.

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