Editor’s Note: This story has been updated from its initial publication of Monday, June 6, to reflect the City Council’s vote on Tuesday night, June 7.
By C. Jayden Smith
Among the busy slate of items that were set to be addressed at the City Council’s meeting on Tuesday night, June 7, an ordinance was introduced that’s intended to fight bicycle thefts around town.
The council’s unanimous vote comes roughly a month after it directed city staff to create a draft of the proposed ordinance that will soon make it a local crime to repair, assemble, sell or distribute bicycles or bike parts on public property, except “under certain conditions.”
The ordinance follows the footsteps of the cities of Long Beach and Huntington Beach that similarly prohibited such activities as part of an effort to reduce bike thefts.
Nearly 30 bicycle thefts were reported in San Clemente between January and May of this year, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department—likely only a fraction of the actual number.
“The proposed ordinance seeks to limit or reduce these crimes, as well as illegal bicycle ‘chop shops,’ by prohibiting such activity, preventing unauthorized commercial activity in public, and, if any items are lost or stolen, restore such items to their lawful owners and deter future bicycle theft,” the city explained in its agenda report.
As part of their direction to draft the ordinance, councilmembers expressed concern about thefts happening within the city, with Councilmember Steve Knoblock calling such activity a “serious” issue.
Deputy Community Development Director Adam Atamian recommended that in the meantime city staff’s work to develop the ordinance should include more restrictive language than similar laws in other cities.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Atamian mentioned that he had communicated with OCSD staff to ensure cooperative enforcement.
With a formal passage of the ordinance—expected at the next council meeting—new language would be added to the San Clemente Municipal Code, prohibiting a person from conducting repairs and the other activities on a bike frame that had its gear cables or brake cables cut.
Furthermore, individuals would be prohibited from repairing, assembling or selling three or more bicycles or bike frames “with or without missing parts,” such as handles, handlebars, wheels, pedals and seats, to name a few. The same goes for those handling five or more bicycle parts detached from a bicycle.
According to the report, exceptions include activities performed with a valid license or permit, or when an individual in lawful possession of their bicycle or bicycle part is present with valid proof to support their status as an owner.
Each violation, classified as misdemeanors, will be considered separately.
“Each and every bicycle or bicycle part(s) unlawfully possessed is a separate violation,” the introduced ordinance states.
Knoblock motioned to introduce the ordinance with minimal discussion on the dais.
If adopted on second reading at the June 21 meeting, the ordinance would go into effect on July 21.
C. Jayden Smith
C. Jayden Smith graduated from Dana Hills High in 2018 before pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in digital and broadcast journalism from the University of North Texas. After graduating in December 2020, he reported for the Salina Journal in Salina, Kansas. Jayden loves college football and bothering his black lab named Shadow.