NewLeftHeader

Share this story

Laguna Logo

Laguna’s Park Rangers – a specialized program making a difference in our community

By DIANNE RUSSELL

Laguna Beach welcomes a whopping six million visitors every summer – and already the city seems to be in high gear with the opening of the Festival of Arts, the Sawdust Festival, Art-A-Fair and the Fourth of July just around the corner.

Without a doubt, summer 2023 is going to be a busy one for the city’s six new Park Rangers – Fernando Arizmendi, Aureliano Becerra, Darryl Byrd, Crystal Carter, James Kirk-Johnson and Colin McNamara.

One might wonder what our Park Rangers do. Unlike Park Ranger Smith in the mythical Jellystone (of Yogi Bear fame), their sole purpose is not to protect picnic baskets.

As part of the Laguna Beach Police Department’s Neighborhood Enhancement Team (NET), our six Park Rangers address the quality-of-life issues throughout our community, focusing on education and enforcement at all parks and beaches. In addition to the Park Rangers, NET is staffed with a police corporal, a homeless liaison officer, four traffic police officers and parking services officers.

lagunas park Crystal Carter

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Park Ranger Crystal Carter at Heisler Park

Park Rangers interact with city residents, business owners and visitors on city streets, parks, beaches and trails in the approved city uniform and advise residents, businesses and visitors of city, county and state ordinances which may include littering, smoking in public, possessing alcoholic beverages and other disturbance-related violations.

The NET Team is led by Sergeant William Downing and is supported by Corporal Britnie Priest.

Recently, our six Park Rangers gave Stu News some insight into their roles.

Stu News: From the description online, it sounds as if there isn’t a typical day for a Park Ranger, and you must handle (and possibly defuse) situations as they arise. Could you describe for readers, what you do as a Park Ranger? What are some of the community engagements and problem-solving issues that you have experienced lately?

Fernando Arizmendi: We conduct patrols of the beaches, parks and the Downtown area mostly. We can conduct these patrols by foot, UTV, ATV and driving. We deal with mostly quality-of-life issues or concerns that our community might have.

lagunas park Aureliano Becerra

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Above the beach at Heisler – Park Ranger Aureliano Becerra

Aureliano Becerra: We handle quality-of-life concerns throughout the city. I have encountered great support from our community as I perform my duties throughout the city. Understanding that without our community supporting us our job becomes exponentially more difficult as we only have so many sets of eyes patrolling the city.

Darryl Byrd: As a Park Ranger, I ensure safety of the community and visitors here in Laguna Beach. We typically focus more on our beaches and hiking trails where we can answer questions and also enforce rules and regulations that need to be addressed.

Crystal Carter: As a Park Ranger, our role is heavily focused on community engagement and education. Some of the problems we face daily are the violations of the Laguna Beach Municipal Codes, and we try to educate the community as much as possible to keep everyone out of trouble.

lagunas park Kirk Johnson

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Park Ranger James Kirk-Johnson

James Kirk-Johnson: On a day-to-day basis, our job entails patrolling seven miles of Laguna Beach beaches, trails and specific neighborhood concerns. That covers Laguna Beach Municipal Code violations, homeless population issues, e-bike concerns, out-of-city tourism affecting local resident issues, etc. We spend time educating and informing the public on a lot of issues that other beach communities may or may not be addressing, because they do not employ a Park Ranger program or a similar specialized unit like ours.

Colin McNamara: Absolutely, being a Park Ranger at Laguna Beach is a unique experience that I truly treasure. As a Park Ranger, we work closely with the public through public events and interactions at Laguna Beach’s parks and beaches. We are boots on the sand and enforce municipal codes, while also assisting anyone along the way. As much I like to have only positive interactions, we are always going to enforce and educate the public on municipal codes. These can possibly lead to negative interactions but through practiced de- escalation techniques, we can leave an interaction with a peaceful and respectful compliance.

lagunas park Colin McNamara

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

On patrol – Park Ranger Colin McNamara

Stu News: What is your favorite part of your position as a Park Ranger?

Fernando Arizmendi: That every workday is different. Also, the fact that we get the unique opportunity to engage with our residents, our community and our visitors of Laguna Beach.

Aureliano Becerra: My favorite part of the position of Park Ranger is that I get to engage with the community. Educating others as to why we have particular laws tends to bring understanding to the enforcement side.

 Darryl Byrd: My favorite part is being able to walk the beaches and trails and educate people to ensure that those areas remain safe and clean for everyone who visits and lives in the area.

Crystal Carter: My favorite part of being a Park Ranger is getting to work with this amazing team and community.

James Kirk-Johnson: Daily interaction with the public while being outdoors in a great workplace environment.

Colin McNamara: My favorite part of being a Park Ranger at Laguna Beach is that every day I walk, drive and hike through the beautiful city of Laguna Beach with all the natural views it has to offer.

Click open story button to continue reading…

 

lagunas park Fernando Arizmendi and Becerra

Click on photo for a larger image

Courtesy of LBPD

Park Rangers Fernando Arizmendi and Aureliano Becerra with K-9 Cooper

Stu News: Now that the busy summer season is almost here, what are some of the challenges you will face in dealing with the influx of visitors to the community – and parks, beaches and trails?

Fernando Arizmendi: The education/enforcement of the Laguna Beach Municipal Codes to everyone we encounter.

Aureliano Becerra: Some of the challenges that we will have will be the large influx of visitors which will affect traffic. I don’t view the influx of visitors as a challenge as this simply relates to my education and enforcement. I enjoy educating visitors and residents as to why we have particular laws.

 Darryl Byrd: The challenges will have to be the visitors coming into the city and not realizing what some of our municipal codes are, but I believe we have a great team and will be able to do our best to ensure this summer is safe for the community and its visitors!

lagunas park Darryl Byrd

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Park Ranger Darryl Byrd at badge-pinning ceremony in June

Crystal Carter: Some of the biggest challenges we will face with the busy summer season coming up is the number of new people that will be in the city. Laguna Beach has a lot of rules that visitors do not know about. The Park Rangers will be working to educate everyone so that no one gets in trouble, and everyone can enjoy their vacation and stay safe.

James Kirk-Johnson: Traffic congestion – while trying to get from location to location – and the influx of tourism that brings with it, means additional law enforcement challenges.

Colin McNamara: Like every summer season brings in visitors who are unfamiliar with the Laguna Beach Municipal Code. That’s why we place high importance on education and enforcement of these codes. I am honored to serve the people of Laguna Beach and look forward to seeing the public enjoy what Laguna Beach has to offer to its fullest.

So, if you’re out and about and you encounter one of our Park Rangers, say, “hello.” Their impact on the community enhances our lives in countless ways – and now let the summer of 2023 begin!

Shaena Stabler, President & CEO - Shaena@StuNewsLaguna.com

Lana Johnson, Editor - Lana@StuNewsLaguna.com

Tom Johnson, Publisher - Tom@StuNewsLaguna.com

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Marrie Stone, Sara Hall, Suzie Harrison and Theresa Keegan are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

Email: Editor@StuNewsLaguna.com with news releases, letters, etc.

949.212.1499

Email: Shaena@StuNewsLaguna.com for questions about advertising

949.315.0259

*The content and ads in this publication do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of the publisher.

© 2024 2S Publishing, LLC - All Rights Reserved.