At Monday’s Signal Hill City Council meeting, the director of the community services department recounted the few mishaps in the city’s green spaces to explain why the municipal codes that govern parks are under review. There was that one time when people dumped hot coal near a tree, setting it on fire. Also, the grass at Discovery Well Park was regularly getting torn up after sports leagues used them repeatedly for their team practices. The public works department had to re-seed the area and renovate it.
Generally speaking, most of the people who use the Signal Hill parks are cooperative, Community Services Director Pilar Alcivar-McCoy told the City Council at last Monday’s meeting. She said that most people only require an explanation of the rules.
“However,” the community services director added, “sometimes we do need some backup, and so this would allow us and would allow the police department tools to manage those people who don’t comply and are not cooperative.”
Alcivar-McCoy presented proposed changes to the city’s code to the Council Monday. One staff-recommended update would prohibit charcoal except in the permanent barbecues stationed near the picnic shelters, but Alcivar-McCoy explained that the City would allow park-goers to use personal barbecues that use bottled gas if they have a permit from the Community Services Department.
The proposed changes also cover which groups will need a permit for regular use. If the code changes are fully approved, sports-league organizers will need to obtain a permit. Will regular outdoor yoga classes or boot camps held at the park need a permit? If the changes are approved, yes.
Permit fees for sports teams that use Spud Field for activities like games and practices have been established, but park permit fees for regularly held, outdoor fitness activities like yoga classes and boot camps have not yet been determined, according to the community services director in a follow-up interview Wednesday.
The community services director also explained on Monday one inherent issue with the city’s parks. There’s only one park in the city that’s really made for sporting activities– Spud Field.
“So we really don’t have a lot of options in the city,” Alcivar-McCoy concluded, adding that there are other nearby parks in the city of Long Beach for sports activities.
Other recommended changes to the code are the city staff’s recommendations to clean up some of the language that’s described as “outdated” by the community services director. She explained that many of the rules governing the parks were not enforceable because of the vague language of the rules. A few sections in the current municipal code seem to prohibit “outraging public decency,” in addition to “indecent writing or designs” and “defacing property.” The community services director explained that these sections were removed because other parts of the municipal code and other state laws cover these issues.
“Just as an example, ‘outraging public decency’ was so vague,” Alcivar-McCoy said. “And it was written in 1924 that you couldn’t even come to a conclusion about what that actually means. So there are more specific ordinances now about behaviors that the police can use that really take care of… what that was intended to do.”
The recommended changes to the city code will be discussed at a future Council meeting when they will be proposed for adoption in a public hearing.
Other City Council highlights
Redevelopment of properties with abandoned oil wells The Council approved 4-0 (Councilmember Michael Noll was absent) a resolution that extended for another year the interim regulations that are currently in place to deal with development on properties with abandoned oil wells.
Truck traffic The City has the power to restrict or prohibit truck traffic on local streets, Assistant City Attorney Jeff Malawy explained to the Council last Monday. The traffic issue has been brought before the Council several times over the last few months by one resident, Dennis Howland, who has specifically criticized the truck traffic on Orange Avenue. Councilmember Ed Wilson and other members of the Council stressed that the issue does not involve one area and urged that the City conduct a study for traffic flow. “If we have [this] volume of trucks, and if the volume of trucks continue, you move them from one street and put them on another street,” Wilson said Monday night. The Council voted 4-0 to direct the staff to begin work on a draft ordinance. The issue will be discussed at a future Council meeting, in either a public hearing or public workshop.