As a heat wave bears down on Southern California, San Clemente plans to reopen city-owned beaches this weekend.
The beaches, along with coastal waters and trails, had been closed since April 8 in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Orange County public health officials had reported 43 COVID-19 patients in San Clemente as of Thursday.
San Clemente’s City Council voted Tuesday night to begin the process of reopening the city’s beaches, which will be available for active use only, such as walking, running, swimming and surfing, officials said. Sunbathers are not welcome.
“You can’t bring your beach chair or your umbrella, set up for the day and spend the afternoon there,” said Erik Sund, assistant city manager.
Representatives of the city and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department will be posted at the beaches to ensure that people follow the rules and maintain social distancing, he said.
Zuma Beach – Closed: Lifeguard towers sit on an empty Zuma Beach in Malibu. (Brian van der Brug/Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)
Broad Beach – Closed: Beachgoers walk on Broad Beach in Malibu. To fend off coronavirus contagion, Los Angeles County has kept beaches closed. (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)
Zuma Beach – Closed: Nets were removed to foil beach volleyball players at Zuma Beach in Malibu. (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)
Corral Beach – Closed: Los Angeles County lifeguards ask a couple to leave Corral Beach in Malibu. (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)
Venice Beach – Closed: Beachgoers enjoy the sun and sand along the boardwalk in Venice Beach. Southern California beaches are expected to draw crowds this weekend as an early heat wave hits its peak on Saturday and Sunday, even though much of the shoreline remains closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Venice Beach – Closed: The setting sun casts a dark golden hue over everything. Southern California beaches are expected to draw crowds this weekend as an early heat wave hits its peak on Saturday and Sunday, even though much of the shoreline remains closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Venice Beach – Closed: Beachgoers never run out of ways to have fun. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)
Manhattan Beach – Closed: A lone figure walks onto a closed Manhattan Beach Pier in Manhattan Beach. (Genaro Molina/Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)
Manhattan Beach – Closed: Waves are minus surfers next to a closed bike path in Manhattan Beach. Even with the warm weather, the majority of beachgoers and surfers stayed away from beaches that have been closed to stop crowds from gathering to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)
Hermosa Beach – Closed: The only one surfing was a statue of surfer Dewey Weber as a visitor walks near The Strand which has been closed to stop people from gathering to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in Hermosa Beach. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)
Huntington Beach – Open: Beachgoers enjoying warm summer-like weather appear to be keeping their distance in Huntington Beach. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Huntington Beach – Open: A man sprints across an empty stretch of sand in Huntington Beach. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Huntington Beach – Open: Cailin Healy, right, of Calabasas and a friend take a selfie together in Huntington Beach. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Huntington Beach – Open: Unable to go to the gym, Jeff Spirk, 31, of Huntington Beach does pull-ups on a lifeguard tower. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
San Clemente – Open: Aerial view of the previously closed San Clemente pier and beach on April 8. The city is reopening the beach. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)
San Clemente – Open: A couple takes in a sunset together near the San Clemente pier. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Malibu – Closed: A jogger and her dog run on a closed Westward Beach Road at Westward Beach in Malibu. (Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)
Hermosa Beach – Closed: Daryl Presley and his son, Indy, 3, of Torrance play in the sand of Noble Park in Hermosa Beach. (Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times)
Hermosa Beach – Closed: Holly Martin, right, who works at Snapchat, brought her laptop to Noble Park in Hermosa Beach to get some work done in the sun. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Hueneme Beach – Open: Sisters Emily, 7, and Hazel Enholm, 4, spent the day at Hueneme Beach, which had a soft opening with restrictions as Ventura County modified its stay-at-home order. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Hueneme Beach – Open: Brian Ledis of Westlake Village gives surfing lessons to his 8-year-old son Rowan at Hueneme Beach. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Hueneme Beach – Open: People enjoy the surf and sand at Hueneme Beach. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
Point Mugu – Closed: Visitors don’t seem to be observing social distancing restrictions on April 11 at Point Mugu. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Point Mugu – Closed: California State Parks Ranger David Gunn warns visitors at Point Mugu that parking is not allowed due to coronavirus and social distancing restrictions. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
Point Mugu – Closed: A surfer flies off his board to end a ride at Point Mugu State Park in Ventura County. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Point Mugu – Closed: Miriam Burciga enjoys a socially distant perch overlooking Point Mugu State Park in Ventura County. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Officials remain concerned that the reopening could lead to an influx of out-of-town visitors, which contributed to the city’s decision to close its beaches in the first place.
After San Diego County elected to shut down its shores, every stretch of sand south of San Clemente to the border of Mexico became off-limits to the public. The nearby cities of Laguna Beach and Seal Beach had also chosen to close their beaches, as did Los Angeles County to the north.
That made San Clemente’s beaches a magnet for travelers, prompting residents to complain about crowds, Sund said.
Beach closures in neighboring cities and adjacent counties remain in place, although other stretches of Orange County’s shoreline are open.
But San Clemente — along with all of Orange County — is trying to discourage out-of-town visitors by keeping public parking lots closed, and the City Council also voted to put in place additional parking and beach-access restrictions.
“If someone from another city is wanting to come to our beach, it is going to be very difficult for them to find parking,” Sund said. “And if they come here and think they can spend the day here, they’re quickly going to learn that is not something we are going to allow on the beach currently.”
The city could not say exactly when beaches would reopen this weekend because it is still working through the logistics of parking and other restrictions.
“Everyone’s looking at trying to ease back into whatever the new normal will be, as opposed to diving back in,” Sund said. “We’re trying to do it right and not rush.”
He said that the city also has been in contact with state officials about possibly reopening San Clemente State Park and San Onofre State Beach and expects a determination to be made on those areas soon.
“Obviously, it poses some logistic challenges for [the state] if we open up,” he said. “One of our boundaries is San Onofre State Beach, and you can’t just draw a line in the sand — no pun intended.”
He said that city officials will monitor the effects of the beach reopening and make adjustments if needed.
“At the end of the day, the council is very much wanting to see the curve go down related to COVID-19,” he said. “But it’s also recognizing that residents who live in a coastal community choose to live here for the recreational opportunities a coastal community offers and trying to find that balance.”
Earlier this week, Orange County officials debated but ultimately decided against closing all of the county’s beaches for two weeks over concerns about the possibility of crowds in the wake of a heat wave that’s forecast to peak Friday and Saturday.