Newport Beach joins fight against Newsom’s Orange County beach closure order

Newport Beach
Protesters walk on Newport Beach on Saturday.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Newport Beach City Council on Saturday voted to back other Orange County coastal cities trying to block Gov. Gavin Newsom’s beach closure order and filed an amicus brief in support of the challenge.

Newsom closed the beaches over the objections of Orange County officials after crowds hit the sand last weekend. He said the closure is designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus and promised easing of some stay-at-home rules next week.

City leaders in Dana Point and Huntington Beach voted during emergency meetings Thursday night to approve filing for an injunction to block Newsom’s directive to close their beaches.


On Friday afternoon, Orange County Superior Court Judge Nathan Scott rejected a request from the two cities seeking a temporary restraining order to keep beaches open. He set a hearing for May 11 to consider the cities’ request for an injunction.

Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said his department did not plan to cite people simply getting out for beach exercise. He said most beachgoers have acted responsibly.

“As long as people are social distancing and doing what they’re expected to do, the sheriff does not have interest in criminalizing people enjoying the beach,” department spokeswoman Carrie Braun said.

Newport Beach will increase its police presence on the beach and roll out barricades and electronic signs to make sure people are aware of the closure, officials said. The Huntington Beach Police Department also said its officers were seeking “voluntary compliance” from the public.

Newport Beach released a statement Saturday saying the city “will continue to work diligently and do everything possible to safely reopen the City’s beaches.”