Web posted Thursday, April 4, 2002

Beach policy update planned

by Joel Gay
Staff Writer

Regulations that govern driving on city beaches should be crystal clear if the Homer City Council approves new ordinances proposed by Police Chief Mark Robl.

Two weeks ago District Court Judge Francis Neville tossed out four beach-driving cases, saying city ordinances were unclear. Rather than appeal, the city chose to clarify its laws, said Robl.

At Monday's council meeting, Robl will propose three new ordinances that, if adopted, should remove all doubt.

One will prohibit driving on storm berms, while another makes it illegal to remove driftwood embedded in storm berms.

"I think that'll take care of those problems," Robl said.

A third would specify four beaches where vehicles are not allowed <> Mud Bay, Louie's Lagoon, Mariner Park Lagoon and the inside of Beluga Slough.

"It's just the muddy areas," he said.

The council will have to determine whether such specific language is what it had in mind when it created the Beach Policy Task Force two years ago, Robl said. His proposed ordinances contain stronger language than what the council had previously approved.

If the ordinances eventually are approved, however, Robl said, "It should clarify matters and clean it up for enforcement" so there is no question about what is legal activity on the beaches and what is not.

In addition, the city has ordered signs to help boost the educational effort. Carey Meyer, director of city public works, said two will go up on Bishop's Beach explaining that vehicle use is allowed but pedestrian use is encouraged. In addition, several more signs from Bishop's Beach to Mariner Park Lagoon will tell people to stay off the storm berms. He hopes to have the signs up in the next few weeks.

City councilwoman Pat Cue, one of the original advocates of the beach policy changes, said she is excited about the changes she already sees on city beaches. Driftwood is building up, which should strengthen the storm berms and eventually allow the beach grasses spread.

"If we leave it alone, it looks like it's going to accomplish what we want," she said.