Fact Checking: LA Beaches are to Remain Fun

Last night I saw a story on the KPCC Website entitled No fun: L.A. county beaches to levy $1,000 fine for throwing footballs and Frisbees. Because KPCC is my local NPR affiliate and a trusted news source I assumed this was true. KCAL which is a less trusted, but trusted site nonetheless ran a similar story.

I trusted these news sources and became agitated. Los Angeles does NOT need to lose any of it’s tourism dollars. We cannot afford this sort of debacle. So I picked up the phone.

Tony Bell who is with the LA County Board of Supervisors assures me that county is not banning football or Frisbee playing on the beach. The real story is that there was an existing law in place that banned all sorts of play on public beaches and that it was recently revised. Essentially this is a modification to an existing law wherein IF you are playing ball or frisbee on the beach and the ball is repeatedly hitting people on the head or presenting danger the Lifeguard can issue you a warning — and then, if you don’t stop, you could receive a fine of up to $100. — NOT $1000!

A local news outlet ran the story without fact checking and the public was led to believe that there would be a thousand dollar fine for kids playing football.

I called the County Offices, less as a blogger and more as a ticked off citizen, starting with “I’m pissed.” and I got the above explanation. Further there will be motions on Tuesday that will eliminate some of the poorly worded language so the public can be assured that the beaches are, in fact, for families.

In reality someone presenting that sort of hazard could probably also be arrested for battery.

It seems that this is much ado about not that nothing, and in the future I will be sure to fact check even when reputable journalists break the story. I cannot over emphasize how disappointing it is to have been the first person to call the city and ask for details.

On Tuesday there will be a motion to reword some of this.

The following is the text of the ordinances that seem to be confusing are below. Out of context they appear to be rather Draconian. In context they appear to be written in legalese, which as we know is not meant to be easily deciphered.

UPDATE: Here’s another blogger who gets it.

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Comments 16

  1. oh, yuck! I trust these news sources, too and would have reacted just like you did. In all fairness, I found out about this from you and now it seems I prefer to continue getting the real news from you! Thanks for calling and setting this straight. More of us need to follow this lead

  2. This is really a convoluted way to find out what is really going on with the LA beaches . Shame on the news sources for not fact checking !!

  3. Same thing with the story about City Hall Park.  Deborah Stambler did a great job of elaborating what the money is for, while major news outlets stoke public outrage with their tiny mentions.

  4. The whole thing is a shame, is there not anything more pressing going on in the county that they have to police PLAYING.  PUHHH LEEEAASEE.  Supervisors go do your job, a better job than you are doing.  This is ludicrous that this is even taking up time and paper.  And the news not fact checking their stories is another testimonial of the fact that the media has very little credibility anymore.
    Thank you for fact checking and reporting.

  5. Um, yeah. Perhaps if any of you read the ENTIRE ordinance (particularly pg. 15), this is what you will read that the infraction of throwing a football or Frisbee is “punishable by a fine not exceeding $1000”

  6. Apparently, as long as we get all up-in-arms over the football / frisbee “ban,” no one will notice the relaxed rules for dumping petroleum products on our beaches or spillways… 

  7. And while the ordinance may have been written in confusing legal language, it states quite clearly that authorities have the right to fine people $1,000 for disobeying the ordinance. If they aren’t able to relay that information clearly, it’s on them. 

  8. Thank you!  Your flight into the face of complacency, like a frisbee shimmering against the blue sky in the August sunlight, is appreciated!

  9. Oh wow, thanks for the update Jessica. Yeah, I had seen this story being passed around and thought it was rather outrageous myself. After all, “I read it on the internet so it must be true!”

  10. Phew! One of the people under fire for this ridiculousness is assuring concerned callers that it’s not as bad as it looks. I feel so much better now.

  11. This is fact checking? Where is the full law that’s being misinterpreted. Sounds like someone called someone at the city and got snowed by PR. That’s not fact checking. Is there more info you’re not sharing? 

  12. Not to be disrespectful but there’s a lot that can be said about your bolded pull quote so it’s pretty bad form to make a statement as declarative as KPCC didn’t fact check (to paraphrase your claim). Before I fired off an email to my supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, I read all 37 pages of the ordinance twice and the way it was written certainly lends a lot of credence to $1,000 fines being levied for Frisbee tossing. Based on the information that was available at the time, KPCC did their due diligence.

    1. I don’t think you’re disrespectful at all.

      I was incredibly disappointed in KPCC because I trust them for my news so my expectation is that they are spot on with everything, even their blog.
      CBS, though entertaining, is not known for journalism and when I bold faced my words I was thinking of this: http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=6721793
      Which is the story that got everyone (myself included) up in arms for no good reason.

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