By Lillian Boyd
County leaders have directed their staff to close parking lots at Salt Creek Beach, Strands Beach and Capistrano Beach, as well as portions of the Dana Point Harbor parking lots—all property of the county.
OC Health announced on Tuesday evening, March 24, that parking lots at all county beaches, regional parks and wilderness parks—and parking spaces at all county trailheads, as well as pedestrian access points at Thousand Steps, Table Rock, Camel Point and Treasure Island beaches—would be closed effective Wednesday, March 25.
Restrooms, playgrounds, exercise equipment, and shelters at all county parks are closed, but “passive walk-through pedestrian, cycling and equestrian activity is permitted.”
The direction was made after the Orange County Board of Supervisors met on Tuesday and discussed the latest updates on the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, and pertinent policies.
OC Parks Director Stacy Blackwood spoke before the supervisors, notifying the board that the cities of Laguna Beach and Dana Point had closed their city-owned beaches, Huntington Beach had closed its pier, and Newport Beach had closed its dog parks and playgrounds while leaving its city-owned beaches open.
On Monday, March 23, the city of Dana Point announced the closure of the Dana Cove beach area—the only city-owned beach in Dana Point.
When commenting on whether the county should proceed in closing county-owned beaches, Blackwood suggested consistency to prevent visitors from moving from a closed beach to find an open one and potentially overcrowding it despite social distancing measures.
“It could confuse members of the public and could create hotspots for gathering,” Blackwood said. “I recommend consistency for all jurisdictions.”
Supervisor Lisa Bartlett expressed concerns that more visitors would congregate at Orange County beaches with warmer weather and both Los Angeles and San Diego counties closing their own beaches.
Ultimately, Orange County CEO Frank Kim directed OC Parks to close the parking lots at Salt Creek, Strands Beach and at Capo Beach. Those county-owned beaches currently remain open to the public.
Doheny State Beach remained open for day use as of Wednesday, March 25. Visitors are asked to download a Passport Parking app. According to the state parks website, campgrounds were closed. The City of Dana Point sent a letter on Tuesday, March 24 to state parks officials asking that the state beach be consistent with other parking lot closures.
For a list of county beaches and parks, visit ocparks.com.