By Matt Welch
The Board of Supervisors this week agreed to raise fines to up to $1,000 for anyone who throws a football or a Frisbee on any beach in Los Angeles County. [...]
The updated rules now prohibit "any person to cast, toss, throw, kick or roll" any object other than a beach ball or volleyball “upon or over any beach” between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Exceptions allow for ball-throwing in predesignated areas, when a person obtains a permit, or playing water polo "in or over the Pacific Ocean". [...]
Your kids could also end up costing you big bucks: the ordinance also prohibits digging any hole deeper than 18 inches into the sand except where permission is granted for film and TV production services only.
Read the disgusting ordinance here [PDF].
Do you know what's a pretty great movie? Dogtown and Z-Boys, a 2001 documentary about how various '70s teenaged latchkey nogoodnik locals-only surf trash helped create modern skateboarding by breaking into rich people's backyards and various cement drainage ditches to try out some surf moves on wheels. Go ahead, watch the trailer:
Like West Coast punk rock (and the surf/garage rock from two decades before that), it was the creative product of blissfully neglected suburban semi-hoodlums making the best (and worst) out of free-range boredom and a mild climate. As viewers of either Dogtown or The Bad News Bears can tell you (let alone connoisseurs of Heroes and Villains or The Karen Carpenter Story), it frequently ended and almost always began in tears. There is much about that era we should be grateful to have moved past.
But criminalizing frisbee-toss and overly deep sandcastle-moats is more than just idiotic and impeachable. It's a Malathion-blast on what has been the very idea of Southern California since before it became a state. People go there to be free of all the suffocating bullshit back home, maybe chase some crazy dreams (I know, cliche, right?). There has never been a time when that weird combo of ambition and latitude didn't produce world-altering culture and creativity, in addition to stupid fun for kids at the beach. You have to have an almost Tatum O'Neal-level of dedication to squander an advantage that big, but I'm afraid that SoCal politicians, and way too many of the citizens that tolerate them, are proving equal to the task.
Some previous thoughts about California's debased political culture here. Some more ocean trash below.