OC Keeps Beaches and Parks Open to Enjoy, but Closes Parking Lots to Limit Crowds

March 25, 2020 Updated: March 25, 2020
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SANTA ANA, Calif. (CNS)—On March 24, Orange County CEO Frank Kim told Orange County supervisors that parking lots to all of the county’s parks and beaches were being closed to discourage visitors who have not been complying with the state’s social distancing requirements during the CCP virus emergency.

The supervisors attempted to vote on the restrictions themselves after discussing the issue, as has been done in Los Angeles and San Diego counties, but there was concern about whether the board could do so right away while still complying with Brown Act regulations governing open meetings.

So the board left it up to Kim to make the change and restrict access to the parking lots. On the weekend of March 21 and March 22, throngs of visitors flocked to the beaches and often ignored social distancing requirements to stay at least six feet away from other people.

As of March 25, parking lots at all county beaches, regional parks, and wilderness parks will be closed, as well as parking spaces at all county trailheads.

Kim’s order also closes pedestrian access points at Thousand Steps, Table Rock, West, Camel Point, and Treasure Island beaches.

The closure also applies to restrooms, playgrounds, exercise equipment, and shelters at all county parks and beaches.

Residents may still have access to a walk through parks, cycling, and equestrian activity.

County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett said she was receiving calls about “packed” bathrooms in the parks and beaches.

Dana Point has a number of restaurants and food services along its beaches, so Kim said he would work with Orange County Parks staff to ensure parking restrictions won’t impede people trying to pick up food.

Some individual county beach cities are also grappling with the issue.

Huntington Beach has closed beach parking lots, Laguna Beach its beaches and trailheads, Newport Beach its beach parking lots and piers, San Clemente its beach parking lots and pier, and Seal Beach its beaches, beach parking lots, pier, parks, and biking trails.

Newport Beach City Council members were expected to address similar issues at their regularly scheduled meeting on March 24. In the meantime, Newport Beach officials closed all beachfront parking lots and piers in the city, according to public information officer John Pope.

On March 23, state parks officials announced they were taking steps to reduce crowds at the state’s parks and beaches.

State parks officials are working with local county and public health officials to restrict vehicular traffic to some parks. Rangers are encouraging visitors to maintain six feet of distance to help reduce the risk of contracting the CCP virus. If these efforts fail, then state parks officials will consider fully closing some parks.

The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mishandling allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.