image- beach trash
Many have complained that Poplar Beach sometimes appears to be a trash dump after a weekend of heavy use. Review File Photo


As tourist season begins, the city of Half Moon Bay is stepping up enforcement at its beaches and parks to ensure compliance with various rules aimed at keeping public areas safe and clean. 

At last week’s City Council meeting, an additional ordinance was introduced that would ban the use of glass containers at city parks and beaches. The city already has rules for its beaches and parks, including keeping dogs on leashes, outlawing fires or camping, and banning smoking in public within city limits. 

“The ultimate goal is to have these ordinances in place and people understand and comply with them,” said Deputy City Manager Matthew Chidester. 

But that is not always the case. When people do not follow the local ordinances, city staff or San Mateo County Sheriff’s deputies can issue citations. 

“We are a smaller organization. We don’t have park rangers or community service officers,” Chidester said. “So, our approach is first to work toward compliance. If we do get a call on a regular basis about a specific park we know we need to do more enforcement.” 

Starting this summer, city maintenance workers will be at the beaches on the weekends to make sure people dispose of materials properly and aren’t bringing in glass bottles, according to Chidester. 

The city is also hiring a community preservation specialist, whose role, among other things, will be to work on code enforcement and to educate people on the rules and regulations for public areas. Historically, the city has contracted for this position. This year, “we are looking to bring this position in-house,” Chidester said. 

Other efforts to ensure compliance include funding bikes from the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office bike unit based in Redwood City. This would assist the Coastside Sheriff’s presence during the summer months, when beach and park activity is increased. 

Last year the city funded an employment program that gives homeless residents paid work for a few hours a day cleaning up trash at local parks, beaches and trails. Chidester said the city is looking to renew the program and expand it. 

“We are working to add more days and hours to the program and increase the focus on the beach,” Chidester said. 

Councilwoman Deborah Penrose raised the question at the May 21 council meeting how a potential ban on single-use plastics might conflict with the now proposed prohibition of glass containers. 

“This is something we put some thought into. But we are between a rock and hard place,” City Manager Bob Nisbet said. “This is a safety issue. We did not come at this ban wearing the hat of sustainability. That said, we can certainly think about those things, if the city moves toward an ordinance to ban single-use plastics.”

Nisbet said the main reason for the glass ban was to limit shards of glass ending up in the sand. 

Chidester said the city is in the process of developing universal signage to place at all parks and beaches. An option for the signs is to leave space at the end for future ordinances or changes to be added, should the city eventually look to ban single-use plastics or the use of drones in certain areas.  

The ordinance banning glass containers will have a second reading before the City Council in 30 days, and, if passed, Chidester said it would go into effect the week of July 4.

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