Late-night beach-goers will have to put their bonfires out two hours earlier beginning this weekend when a 10 p.m. curfew goes into effect on all beaches within the city limits.
"Part of what contributed to the decision are problems that have been occurring in the beach areas all along the coast having to do with graffiti and groups of youths being involved in fights and drinking," Huntington Beach Marine Safety Lt. Steve Davidson said Thursday.
The curfew, which had originally been ordered by state park officials last month for Huntington State Beach and Bolsa Chica State Beach, was expanded this week to include the 3 1/2-mile stretch of Huntington City Beach.
The city initially planned to monitor how the beach areas fared during Easter weekend, beginning April 9, before deciding on a curfew.
But after meeting with the Police Department this week, city officials decided to proceed with the 10 p.m. curfew at the same time as the adjoining state beaches, Davidson said.
"Since the other beaches are closing earlier, it wasn't best for Huntington Beach to be the only beach open later, because we would have received a larger influx of people," Davidson said. "With the budget problems we are experiencing, the crowds would have been harder to handle with existing staff."
The 10 p.m. closure of the municipal beach, which spans from Beach Boulevard to 2 1/2 miles north of the city's pier, will go into effect Saturday. Huntington State Beach and Bolsa Chica State Beach will begin the new hours Sunday.
The city's landmark pier, which reopened last summer amid much fanfare, will remain open until midnight.
"We haven't had the kinds of problems on the pier as we have had on the beach," said Huntington Beach Marine Safety Capt. Bill Richardson. "Unless we have reason to do otherwise, our intent is to keep it open."
Richardson said curfew violators will initially be warned and asked to leave the beach. Those who refuse to comply could receive a misdemeanor citation that could lead to a fine of $75.
The new curfew at Huntington City Beach has other cities considering a similar change.
In Newport Beach, where beaches close at 11 p.m., the City Council will consider a measure later this month that would close beaches at 10 p.m. as well. Seal Beach officials are also considering changing their midnight curfew to 10 p.m., officials said.