New restrictions aim to curb unsavory behavior at Peninsula beach

San Mateo County is considering new rules to better regulate a beach south of Half Moon Bay that has seen an increase in litter and other unsavory activities in recent years.

The proposed regulations at Tunitas Creek Beach, which has no bathroom facilities or trash receptacles, include a ban on fires, overnight camping, removal or destruction of vegetation, vandalism, littering, domestic animals, firearms, alcohol and loitering after hours.

The rules would also forbid fireworks, smoking, motorized vehicles and the use of sound amplifying equipment. Such restrictions are similar to those at other county parks.

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors considered an ordinance barring such activities at its meeting Tuesday after staff showed the board photos of social media posts depicting the debris they encountered at the beach.

Staff said a recent beach party resulted in 15 bags of trash, and at other times beachgoers have left behind human waste and even the charred remains of barbecued pigs.

“Unfortunately, this type of outrageous behavior in recent years shows that some visitors cannot be trusted to regulate their own actions using common sense and basic courtesy,” Board President Don Horsley, whose includes the beach, said in a statement. “We have this gem of a beach in our backyard but it will continue losing its shine if we don’t take action.”

Violations of the new rules will be cited as a misdemeanor, according to county officials.

The proposed restrictions are part of a larger effort by San Mateo County to preserve Tunitas Creek Beach and improve access for daytime beachgoers. The county is working with the Peninsula Open Space Trust to acquire and convert the land into the first county beach park.

That plan could see the addition of trash cans and restroom facilities on-site, but supervisors said the first step is to curb the current troublesome behavior at the beach.

“We understand that the beach is popular and that’s a large reason why we want it protected, so that the public can continue to enjoy it,” Assistant County Manager Mike Callagy said in a statement.

If the new restrictions are approved by the board, they will take effect 30 days later.

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