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Laguna Beach mayor asks O.C. Board of Supervisors to close county beaches and trailheads

All city-owned beaches in Laguna Beach were closed in March in an effort to promote social distancing to curb the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Ahead of what is described as “unseasonably warm weather” due at the end of the week, Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen asked the Orange County Board of Supervisors to approve the closure of county beaches and trailheads in south Orange County.

Forecasts by the National Weather Service predict temperatures will begin to climb from 71 on Wednesday to a high of 79 on Friday and 78 on Saturday in Laguna Beach.

In a letter to Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, who oversees the 5th District which includes several south county cities, dated for April 20, Whalen asked the Board of Supervisors to close county beaches and trailheads, raising concerns about the health of residents and visitors who may come to the city if both remained open.

The city previously closed all its city-owned beaches, adjacent beach parks and trailheads in March, making it the first city to do so in Orange County.

“This means that visitors will be heading to just the few beaches and trails that are open and practicing social distancing will be difficult and by some ignored,” Whalen said. “We have all seen the video from the beaches in Florida that recently reopened and there is no reason to expect a different outcome here with the first warm weather coming.”

Whalen added concerns about the closures of parking at Aliso Beach and adjacent areas of Pacific Coast Highway, arguing that large crowds would park in neighborhoods in south Laguna Beach in addition to crowding grocery stores, gas stations, convenience stores and take-out restaurants.

As of Tuesday morning, the latest case count in Laguna Beach stands at 36 — 15.4 cases per 10,000 residents. Thirty-three deaths have been reported in Orange County.

“With the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths in the county and the surrounding counties continuing to rise, this is exactly the wrong time to entice large crowds to the beaches and trails,” Whalen said.

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