HERMOSA BEACH, Calif. (AP) – Hermosa Beach is putting out the unwelcome mat for Fourth of July revelers who in recent years have made the city an annual destination for celebrating independence with drunkenness and raucous behavior.
A spike in arrests last year involving brawls and underage drinking led the south Santa Monica Bay community to ramp up police patrols, established a mobile command center on the beach, and make more room in detention centers.
“It’s been a gradual increase in unpleasantness over the years,” Mayor Kit Bobko said Tuesday. “Last year we had a portion of the beach overtaken by minors who were intoxicated and in some cases completely incapacitated.”
Fines for drinking on the beach or in public places normally tally about $500 but will be tripled through Sunday.
As part of a public information campaign, the city worked with young people to create online videos about the consequences of underage drinking. And officials visited high schools to remind young people that they can lose their driver’s licenses for a year if caught with open containers of alcohol.
In addition, letters were sent to homeowners encouraging them to keep noise levels low and make sure parties don’t extend onto the beach. Landlords and homeowners can be assessed the cost of a police response if officers have to make more than one trip to their properties for noise or other disturbances, officials said.
Police rolled out a 35-foot “jail bus” that will enable officers to detain and quickly process arrestees.
The mayor said paying for police overtime and related expenses is worth it.
“How much does it cost if we have a big fight that results in injuries, and we have a heavy response after the fact?” Bobko said. “I’d rather we take preventative measures.”