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Board Scrubs Plan to Fence Popular Sand Dune

June 13, 2002|SANDRA MURILLO | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Calling the idea too drastic, Manhattan Beach's City Council has rejected a proposal to build a fence around a 100-foot-high sand dune that draws athletes and children from around Southern California.

The city's Parks and Recreation Department proposed the fence after residents complained about crowds converging on the dune during the summer, blocking driveways with cars and leaving litter. In addition to the fence, the department wanted to require adult users to make reservations before climbing the dune.

"A fence sends out a message that no one's welcome in this community and that's just not true," said Councilman Walt Dougher, who along with the rest of the council voted against the proposal. "The reservation system was a little too bureaucratic and the fence was just a little draconian, in my opinion." Sand Dune Park covers a three-acre parcel in a residential area and has only two parking spots, both designated for disabled people.

On summer weekends, the dune can draw more than 300 people a day, officials said.

About 2,550 used the dune in March, a 52% increase from the same time last year.

For years, neighbors have complained of unruly fitness buffs who wake them from their slumber.

"It's chaos," said Steve Santos, a member of Residents for Sand Dune Safety, a group that supported fencing as a way of controlling the number of people who used the dune.

Other Manhattan Beach residents opposed the idea, fearing it would limit public access.

"In the end, the City Council is an elected body and it accurately read the feeling of the community," said Larry Teitelbaum, who mobilized a group of Manhattan Beach residents against a fence at the park.

The council did give the Parks and Recreation staff the power to temporarily close the park if problems of noise, traffic and litter become worse.

Santos called it a Band-Aid solution: "It's not going to fix the problem," he said. "We'll be back here next year."

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