A small group of Higgins Beach property owners are advocating for restrictions on access to and the use of Higgins Beach. They are behind proposed ordinance changes that would (1) eliminate parking at the 13 spaces on Bayview Avenue between 6am and 7am and (2) make it illegal to “change” in areas adjacent to the beach. Both of these proposals are unnecessary, and neither responds to the alleged problems of excessive noise and public indecency.
Here are a few of the reasons these proposals do not make sense:
Proposal #1: Eliminate parking between 6am and 7am on Bayview Avenue:
• There is no significant noise at Higgins Beach between 6am and 7am related to the parking spaces. During all of 2014, there were no police reports of excessive noise at Higgins between 6am and 7am.
• Many Scarborough and other local residents have limited time to visit the beach before going to work. Eliminating that hour of parking will make it impossible for some people to enjoy the beach.
• A round trip walking to and from the Ocean Avenue parking lot takes 10 minutes or more, especially for older beach visitors. And for someone with a job to get to or other schedule limitations, those ten minutes can be enough to prevent a visit to the beach.
• Parking is currently prohibited on ALL Scarborough streets between 2am and 6am. It doesn’t make sense to single out one small neighborhood for special treatment.
Proposal #2: Enact new restrictions on changing:
• Scarborough already has a clear and tough ordinance against public indecency. It prohibits exposing one’s genitals, buttocks and, for women, breasts.
• The proposed ordinance is spectacularly vague. The Chief of Police has characterized it as “unenforceable.” And our police officers have better things to do with their time than being modesty monitors.
• The new ordinance could well be subject to legal challenge. If challenged, the Town would incur legal costs in defending the ordinance.
• Changing into or out of a wetsuit using a towel for coverage has been a common and acceptable practice for years at Higgins Beach and other Scarborough beaches. Most Scarborough beachgoers do not consider it to be immodest or objectionable behavior.
In summary, there are currently no problems at Higgins Beach with respect to either excessive noise between 6am and 7am or public indecency. The proposed ordinance changes are “solutions” to non-existent problems. They will, however, discourage public access to Higgins Beach. Please join the fight to stop these proposed ordinance changes!
What you can do to fight these proposed changes:
1. Send an email members of the Scarborough Town Council. The following email address will reach all members of the Council:
2. Sign the online petition — link here.
3. Write a Letter to the Editor to The Leader, Forecaster, Current or Portland Press Herald.
4. Visit Surfriders Foundation — Maine Chapter’s Facebook page and keep up-to-date on the Higgins Beach access issue — link here.
5. Share this information with family, neighbors and friends!
More info and links coming soon!