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Santa Cruz Debates Fate of Surf Kayaking


By Wendy Geister

The fate of a former World Surf Kayaking Championship site will be up for debate tonight at a public hearing in Santa Cruz.

The city of Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation Department will discuss changing the ocean sports ordinance code to prohibit kayaks and other paddle craft from operating within 300 yards of the city's near-shore surf zone.

According to the public notice, the proposed change is being considered for two reasons:

--To reduce the occurrence and future possibility of kayaks and other boats striking bathers, swimmers and surfers inside the surf zone along city beaches, and

--To define kayaks and other paddle craft as vessels according to California State Boating Law.

Jason Robertson, the access director for American Whitewater, said a group of surfers petitioned the Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation Department to bar kayakers from the near-shore surf zone.

"My concern is it seems to violate state navigability laws of water. Water is in the public trust and for the public's enjoyment, including the right to use paddle craft," Robertson said.

The issue was brought to the attention of American Whitewater from one of its members, Rick Starr. He sent out an appeal to American Whitewater and fellow kayakers to attend tonight's hearing and support the continued use of kayaks in near-shore waters of Santa Cruz.

A representative from the Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation Department was not available for comment.

The meeting will be at 6 p.m. at the Police Department Community Center, 155 Center Street, to collect public input and provide information.

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