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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.
The direction was made after the Orange County Board of Supervisors met on Tuesday, March 24 and discussed the latest updates on the novel coronavirus 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, and Huntington Beach had closed its pier, while Newport Beach had closed its dog parks and playgrounds but is leaving its city-owned beaches open.
On Monday, March 23, 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, as does Doheny State Beach.
According to City of Dana Point, the county will be coordinating with Dana Point Harbor Partners on the closures of the lots in the harbor area and the lots located on Puerto Place. Maintaining access for grab-and-go operations for the restaurants will be factored into the changes.
According to an emailed statement from the Dana Point Harbor Partners, the harbor’s parking lots are open and our essential businesses remain open, including restaurants offering take-out.
“For the customers’ convenience, we have established designated pick-up and curbside delivery areas,” the email said. “We encourage guests to use these designated pick-up areas, and complete transactions over the phone where possible to limit public interaction and observe social distancing.”
The Dana Point Marina Inn and The Marina at Dana Point remain open. The Harbor’s picnic areas, public restrooms, and other public gathering areas are closed in observance of the Governor’s mandates.
“Dana Point Harbor Partners’ tenants and community members are our top priority during this unprecedented time, and we are here to support them in any way possible,” said Bryon Ward, one of the Harbor Partners. “We are committed to helping businesses adapt to changing government guidelines while remaining focused on public health and safety. We greatly appreciate the community’s support of the Harbor, and we are particularly proud of our many restaurants who are working tirelessly to serve our local community, albeit safely and in accordance with government guidelines.”
It is unclear at this time when lots will close, but according to city officials, closures are expected to go into effect today. This article will be updated when additional details from county officials become available.
Lillian Boyd 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.