Fines for littering and drinking in public in Laguna Beach are expected to increase as the City Council is set to consider final approval Tuesday of an ordinance that replaces the older penalties with new ones, standardizing the fines.

Editors’ Note: This dispatch is part of the Voice of OC Collegiate News Service, working with student journalists to cover public policy issues across Orange County. If you would like to submit your own student media project related to Orange County civics or if you have any response to this work, contact Collegiate News Service Editor Vik Jolly at

In the current municipal code, penalties for littering in public and penalties for drinking in public are significantly lower than standard penalties for the violation of the city’s municipal code, currently set at $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense within 12 months of the first violation, and $500 for third and subsequent violations within that same 12-month period. 

However, violations for littering and drinking in public are outlined elsewhere in the municipal code, according to a city staff report. Currently, third and subsequent violations of the  municipal code subsection for littering lead to a $100 fine, while third or more offenses of drinking in public are misdemeanors. 

The new ordinance, which the City Council unanimously approved at its first reading on  April 20, standardizes penalties for littering and drinking in public areas. If given final approval, the sections regarding littering and drinking in public would be repealed from the municipal code, and violations would match the penalties for other violations of the code.

“The fines have not kept pace with the times and they are arguably low for the quality of life violations that they impact,” police Chief Robert Thompson said during the April council meeting. 

Thompson said he hopes that standardizing these fines will “provide consistency across the different violations we have encountered.”

The Laguna Beach City Council will meet at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Since you've made it this far,

You are obviously connected to your community and value good journalism. As an independent and local nonprofit, our news is accessible to all, regardless of what they can afford. Our newsroom centers on Orange County’s civic and cultural life, not ad-driven clickbait. Our reporters hold powerful interests accountable to protect your quality of life. But it’s not free to produce. It depends on donors like you.

Join the conversation: In lieu of comments, we encourage readers to engage with us across a variety of mediums. Join our Facebook discussion. Message us via our website or staff page. Send us a secure tip. Share your thoughts in a community opinion piece.