California allows more Orange County beaches to reopen

Tribune Content Agency

LOS ANGELES — Less than a week after California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered all of Orange County beaches to close to stem the spread of the coronavirus, state officials announced Tuesday that three beach cities will be permitted to reopen their stretches of coastline this week with certain limitations.

Dana Point, Huntington Beach and Seal Beach submitted plans to Sacramento that would allow the public to immediately access the coastline. The plans, approved Tuesday, include a range of measures to avoid overcrowding and allow safe physical distancing, according to the California Natural Resources Agency.

The move comes a day after similar plans for Laguna Beach and San Clemente were approved by the state.

News of the reopening comes less than a week after Newsom ordered a “hard closure” of all Orange County beaches. The order came after an April heat wave sent thousands to the sand in some beach communities. Newsom called the images circulating of people congregating on Orange County’s shores “disturbing.”

“My job as governor is to keep you safe,” he said last week. “And when our health folks tell me they can’t promise that if we promote another weekend like what we had, then I have to make this adjustment. I hope it’s only a very short-term adjustment.”

The closure prompted a legal showdown between cities and the state, as well as outrage from the public. Some have argued that the governor was targeting Orange County based on photographs that they say did not show the full scope of what was happening on the beach.

On Tuesday, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted to submit a plan to the state that would allow active recreation on county operated beaches.

Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, who proposed the item, said it would help put county beaches in line with what is happening in nearby cities and allow people to get out and recreate along the coast.

“We want people to walk and jog and run and enjoy water sports but to keep moving and the state is fully behind that,” she said.

Supervisor Don Wagner, who opposed the motion along with Supervisor Michelle Steel, said it is appalling that the county would bow to arbitrary rules from the governor put in place without any input from local officials.

“This is exactly what we shouldn’t be doing as a government,” Wagner said.


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