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Lillian Boyd, Dana Point Times
Gov. Gavin Newsom has approved Dana Point’s plan for beach reopening, Assemblymember Bill Brough said on Tuesday morning, May 5. The City of Dana Point has jurisdiction over one beach, Dana Cove.
Doheny State Beach is stated-owned, while Capistrano Beach, Salt Creek Beach and Strand Beach are all county-owned. The three county beaches, for now, are remain closed.
“The differing jurisdictions made it a little bit more complicated to fine-tune as opposed to San Clemente, which has all city and state beaches,” Brough said. “But we’ve been working with the Governor’s office to make sure we can restore access.” Dana Cove will reopen for active use only, with regular hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Doheny State Beach will reopen for active recreation as well, per state guidelines, as of today.
After Newsom announced his orders to close all beaches in Orange County only, state officials had encouraged municipalities to submit a plan for governor approval. A letter from the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services sent to coastal Orange County cities on Thursday, April 30 explains that the temporary order would go into effect on Friday, May 1, prohibiting activities on the beaches such as sunbathing, walking, running and watersports.
“We are hopeful and confident that we can collaborate with local Orange County leaders to identify measures that can restore safe beach access soon as possible,” the letter states. “But until such time as those measures are in place, this additional step to preserve public health and safety has proven essential.”
San Clemente’s beaches were allowed to reopen for active-use yet again, as the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services gave the city the go-ahead to lift the contentious beach closure on Monday, May 4.
In the Orange County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, May 5, Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, who represents the 5th District, made a motion to direct the county’s CEO, Frank Kim, to submit a beach reopening plan that would be consistent with each coastal city’s plan. The 5th District includes the coastal cities of Dana Point, San Clemente and Laguna Beach.
Both Chairperson Michelle Steel and Supervisor Don Wagner opposed the motion, arguing that submitting a plan was essentially indicative of submitting to Newsom. Wagner took particular issue with the restrictive framework of the beaches’ parameters for reopening.
“Why are some beaches only open 6 a.m. to 10 a.m.? Why is it safer during those hours?” Wagner asked. “And why only active use? The beaches are for everyone, not just those who are active.”
Steel reiterated her displeasure with Newsom singling out Orange County. However, after what was, at times, impassioned discussion and doubling back on clarification, Bartlett’s motion—which was voted on twice—passed, 3-2, with Steel and Wagner dissenting both times.
While a plan for county beaches is pending submission and approval, Dana Cove and Doheny State Beach are now open for active use, which includes running, walking, swimming and surfing.
“We know how important our beaches are to the residents of Dana Point,” said Dana Point City Manager Mike Killebrew. “And we know how much residents value, especially now, access to our beautiful coastline. We look forward to working with our community to reopen the beaches but hope everyone understands how important it is that we all follow new guidelines that will promote socially responsible recreation and enjoyment by the public.”
According to Dana Point city staff, social distancing and sanitation requirements will be clearly communicated to Dana Cove visitors. The beach will be open only to those who are walking or running. No gatherings are allowed, which includes stopping to observe tide pools. There will be no sitting, standing, lying down or fishing permitted. The ocean will be open for all recreational uses, including swimming, surfing and paddling.
Lillian Boyd is the senior editor for Picket Fence Media and city editor for Dana Point Times. She graduated with a degree in journalism from Humboldt State University. Her work experience includes interviewing incarcerated individuals in the Los Angeles County jails, an internship at the Pentagon covering U.S. Army news as well as reporting and anchoring for a local news radio station in Virginia. Follow her on Twitter @Lillianmboyd and follow Dana Point Times at @danapointtimes.