By Shawn Raymundo

Multiple individuals were arrested at the Pier Bowl parking lot after a protest against the chain-link fencing used to deter visitors from overcrowding the beach escalated on Thursday, May 21, when demonstrators stormed the fencing and others refused to disperse.

Among the handful of demonstrators taken into custody was Alan Hostetter, the organizer of the protest that drew about 200 to 300 people who had gathered at the Pier Bowl area to help him tear down the fence enclosing the parking lot.

“These fences that we’re about to take apart came about as a part of that doubling down on stupidity amongst our fearless governmental leaders,” Hostetter told the crowd moments before several of them hopped over the fencing and began using tools to undo the locks.

According to Capt. Jeff Puckett with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, who spoke with media following the protest, about five people were arrested and are likely to face misdemeanor charges for trespassing and vandalism.

“Of course, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department firmly respects the Constitutional rights of anyone to come down and protest. Unfortunately, today we had a number of people committing acts above and beyond social distancing, which the Sheriff’s Department is taking an educational approach on,” Puckett said. “So the citizens that came down today chose to commit acts of violence and trespassing, which forced our hand to make some arrests.”

After storming the lot, deputies approached those protesters including Hostetter who had taken hold of one of the fences. With his hands clinging to the fence, officers held Hostetter’s arms in place while a horde of demonstrators on the other side shouted to the deputies to let him go.

Hostetter remained in place for more than an hour while the bulk of the protesters crowded the sidewalk in front of him for support, as well to chant and continue berating the officers.

With sheriff’s deputies holding him in place, Alan Hostetter clings to a fence at the Pier Bowl parking lot on Thursday, May 21, as part of a rally he organized to demonstrate against the fencing around the lot. The fencing has been used by the city to keep visitors from the beachside lot as part of the ongoing effort to prevent overcrowding at the beaches. Photo: Shawn Raymundo

“So what we would see in a typical passive resistance-type stance is somebody that is in violation of law but is not actively fighting deputies,” Puckett explained. “In this particular situation, we were fortunate to both follow law and policy in terms of effecting that arrest, which led to the individual being taken into custody, again, with no injuries or use of force.”

Before Hostetter was removed, the situation escalated when deputies declared that the protesters were engaging in an unlawful assembly and ordered them to disperse, giving them five minutes to do so before arrests would be made.

“At this point, they are blocking the public sidewalk, so that is the reason for asking them to move their assembly back to the free speech area,” OCSD spokesperson Carrie Braun said, referring to a patch of grass near the train tracks.

A demonstrator at the Pier Bowl parking lot on Thursday, May 21, taunts the line of Orange County Sheriff’s deputies who begin to push the protesters toward a designated free speech area. Photo: Shawn Raymundo

The city has kept its beachside parking lots closed throughout the public health crisis as part of an effort to limit visitation and prevent overcrowding, in turn trying to stem the spread of coronavirus.

Barricades were initially used at the Pier Bowl parking lot, but it wasn’t until recently that the city put up the fencing. Interim City Manager Robert Dunek explained to the city council on Tuesday, May 19, that the fencing was being used because motorists had been moving the barricade and parking in the lot, prompting the cars to be towed.

Acting Mayor Laura Ferguson and Councilmember Gene James proposed that the city take down the fencing and reopen the parking lots. The proposal died in a 2-2 vote, with Councilmembers Chris Hamm and Kathy Ward opposed.

Hostetter, a former police officer who has organized a series of protests in San Clemente since Gov. Gavin Newsom issued his stay-at-home order, has taken issue with the state’s social distancing restrictions, believing them to be unconstitutional.

The crowd of protesters video and photograph Alan Hostetter as he clings to a fence during a rally he organized to tear down the fencing around the Pier Bowl parking lot on Thursday, May 21. Photo: Shawn Raymundo

The fencing had since drawn the attention of Hostetter, who on Thursday morning called it a “symbol of tyranny.”

“That parking lot was already shut down, and it was shut down with small barricades and much less offensive equipment to block the parking lot,” he said before noting that the previous marches up Avenida Del Mar on Sundays had started from the Pier Bowl parking lot. “Those fences went up after our protest drew about a thousand people.”

A string of sheriff’s deputies were already standing by the fence before the protest began. Hostetter had acknowledged that the Sheriff’s Department was going to do what they needed to do.

“If they arrest me, I’m going with them,” he said just before marching up Del Mar toward the fence.

Councilmember James arrived to the rally as Hostetter continued to hold the fence. Hostetter had spoken highly of the freshman councilmember, as well as Ferguson, for their advocating of reopening the parking lots for beachside access.

“For the last two weeks I’ve been trying to have this fence taken down,” James told San Clemente Times after the deputies drove the protesters down to the free speech area.

City staff puts up new fencing at the Pier Bowl parking lot on Thursday, May 21, after demonstrators tore it down during a rally against the beachside parking restrictions. Photo: Shawn Raymundo

“When you look at this fence, it’s not a truly secure fence; you can walk around and get inside it . . . it served no purpose other than being unsightly,” James said, before stating that the barricades would suffice in restricting motorists from parking there.

He said that while he’s in favor of reopening the lot altogether, he was willing to compromise by taking down the fence and bringing back the barricades. He said the whole ordeal with the arrests could easily have been avoided had the fencing been taken down this week.

“And now, here in this beautiful city that we have, we’ve put our sheriff’s deputies in the position of coming out with batons, helmets and shields,” he said. “They don’t want to do that. Sheriff (Don) Barnes doesn’t want to do that. Services Chief Ed Manhart, he doesn’t want to do that.”

As of this posting, OCSD did not have a firm number on how many people were arrested and could not provide the identities of those who were taken into custody, nor the official charges they are facing.

SR_1Shawn Raymundo
Shawn Raymundo is the city editor for the San Clemente Times. He graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies. Before joining Picket Fence Media, he worked as the government accountability reporter for the Pacific Daily News in the U.S. territory of Guam. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnzyTsunami and follow San Clemente Times @SCTimesNews.

About The Author Staff

comments (14)

  • Hamm won’t run for re-election. Good. But he needs to resign immediately.
    We also have to kick Kathy Ward off the council!

  • This guy Hostetter is a retired police officer collecting his lifetime pension from the state of California further adding to our state’s debt, but hey, he’s “for the people not the government”. Right…
    The guy is full of it…

  • This certainly isn’t the freedom-loving city government that I expect in a town full of responsible people. Too many are afraid to stand up against the state. And that makes me frustrated beyond description. So after 30 years here, my wife and I have sold our home and are leaving next month for a deeply red region in the upper Midwest. We’ll miss the weather but at least our votes will count and our representatives will be sane. Bye S.C. It was nice while it lasted.

  • Since when is the Constitution limited to a patch of grass labeled a “free speech zone”. What if they were on the sidewalk? Do we have communists on the city council?

  • i guess getting sick is a payied vacation for the deputy’s not a mask to be seen

  • Mask it OR casket… I choose to wear a mask in public.. BE PART OF A SOLUTION TO C-19 Until an effective vaccine is developed.
    NOT CONTRIBUTE to the spread of C-19 by going about breathing all over everything and everyone

  • Of course, people have the right to protest — but they don’t have the right to commit vandalism, and if they do, it is proper to arrest them.

    Speaking as a person whose family has lived in San Clemente for over 50 years, I am also troubled by the fact that outsiders seem to be using San Clemente as a point to concentrate and air grievances that have nothing to do with our town.

    I would like to know, for instance, how many of the protesters who were present on Thursday actually come from San Clemente. We welcome tourists and shoppers here, but not people who give our town a bad name.

  • It’s doubtful that Mr. Hostetter who seems to be against socialism will choose to forgo his socialist set up pension. And yes, it’s a socialist program. He seems to be about the attention….

    Cherry picking your cause is not a good look. It just makes you look like the hypocrite that you are.

  • I love the fence, enjoy the temporary locals only beach vibe. When the fence comes down the trash, graffiti and vandalism will be back.

  • Mr Hostetter put his life on the line as an ex police officer and Chief. . He deserves his pension. Its not the same as being a factory worker. My family member was in law enforcement. YOU HAVE NO IDEA the stress of hey suffer and how it effects their health.

    Hofstetter is right. ALL THIS CORONA BS IS A CONJOB. The fle comes EVERY SINGLE YEAR and has ALWAYS claimed the lives of elderlyband health compromised. WHAT ELSE IS NEW!

    They will soon CREAT ANOTHER BOOGEYMAN to scare you with. YOU LOOK STUPID, like DUMB SHEEP wearing those ridiculous UN NEEDED MASKS .

    THE CONSTITUTION IS AT STAKE HERE SHEEPLE! THIS ENTIRE SCAM-DEMIC IS YOUR ACCLIMATION INTO A COMMUNIST FORM OF BOLSHEVISM !! GENOCIDE!!

    . The communist form of government that GENOCIDE 90 million RUSSIANS AND STARVED TO DEATH THE ENTIRE NATION OF UKRAINE!!!

    Using “SANCTIONS” the BOLSHEVIKS starved to death the Kulaks of Ukraibevin the HIDDEN HOMOCAUST CALLED
    “THE HOLOMODORE”

    Looks like Hofstetter Knows more Of what this SCAM-DEMIC IS ALL ABOUT, than you silly mask wearing obediant sheeple people.

    RHANK YOU MR HOFSTETTER and all eho accompanied him FOR standing UP FOR FREEDOM THAT COMES FROM THE US CONSTITUTION!!!

    God bless you!

  • The Bolsheviks are in our government. This SCAM-DEMIC has brought their communist leaning useful idiots out of the woodwork. WE SEE THEM NOW. Its time to BAN THEM FROM GOVERNMENT AND ALL POSITIONS OF AUTHORITY as we can see they get DRUNK WITH POWER QUITE EASILY.

    COMMUNISM IS THE NEMISIS OF THE U. S. CONSTITUTION!!! If communism wins the CONSTITUTION WILL BE DESTROYED

    No one is allowed to do that legally.

    ITS TIME TO ROUND UP THE VERMIN AND PROCESS THE TREASONERS ACCORDING TO AMERICAN LAW. . .

    Communism comes from the teachings of a vile religion that masquerades as something they are not.

    Route them out of our country. ALL OF THEM as has happened to them over 100. times all thru history. Because of the danger they impose

    Their religion is Is communism and is a destructive force, a cancer to all nations unfortunate enough to have them there.

    WATCH DR ZHIVAGO with OMAR SHARIFF. and see what the authors of this
    Scam-DEMIC LIE-RUS wants to impose on the American people.

    Loss of private property rights.
    Every BEDROOM will house one entire family, 3 families to each 3 bedroom home .A home filked with people YOU DONT GET TO CHOOSE.

    It takes 10 years in USSR to Get permission relocate.

    IS THAT RHE FUTURE YOU WANT????

    You have just been tested to see if they can get can away with a Bolshevik take over and FORCED VACCINATION. Did you hear whst that psychopath Dershowitz is saying? Hea a Bolshevik himself.

    THIS SCAM-DEMIC IS VERY SERIOUS.

    Watch DR ZHIVAGO with Omar Shariff and see your future is you all dont begin to oush back at communism like Mr Hofstetter and yhe others are doing. AS WE AAALL MUST START DOING.

    They have impoverished millions of our countrymen. over this SCAM. THIS IS TREASON . THIS IS AN AGGRESSIVE ATTACK!

    Wake up before its too late.

    I hope you will publish this before its too late.

    KNOWLEDGE IS OUR POWER.

    IGNORANCE of what this is REALLY ALL ABOUT is Our destruction.

    COVID VACCINES??

    Look up SV-40 CANCER VIRUS PUT INTO THE VACCINES in the 1900’s. SEE IF YOU STILL TRUST THESE PSYCHOPATHIC MEGALOMANIACS

    See all the kids that got POLIO from vaccines. They hide all this info from you.

    WATCH
    “THE DALLAS BUYERS CLUB” With Matthew McCoughny and see how Fauci used gov to OUTLAW VITAMINS AND PROTEIN SHOTS that were working SO HE COULD Corner the market and SELL HIS “AZT”

    YOU CANNOT TRUST ANYONE OR ANY GROUP THAT DOES NOT ABIDE BY OUR CONSTITUTION OR TRIES TO FORCE PEOPLE into putting harmful substances into their bodies

    ITS UN-AMERICAN
    ITS ILLEGAL!..

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