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Lillian Boyd, Dana Point Times

The County of Orange reopened limited parking at County-operated beaches on Monday, May 18.

Parking with reduced capacity reopened at Salt Creek, Strands and Baby beaches in Dana Point. The coastal lot reopened at Aliso Beach in South Laguna, with the inland lot remaining closed and parking at Capistrano Beach is closed for maintenance.

“County beaches are open for active recreation only,” an OC Parks news release states. “Appropriate physical distancing must be observed. Non-stationary activities like walking, running, swimming, surfing, paddling, boating, kayaking, etc. are permitted. Stationary activities like sunbathing; building sandcastles; volleyball, spikeball and other group activities; and bringing coolers, umbrellas, grills, etc. are not permitted.”

County-operated beaches reopened for active use, as the state approved the County of Orange Phased Beach Reopening Plan, on Thursday, May 7, according to the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.

The plan, Emergency Services Director Mark Ghilarducci said in a letter to OC Parks Director Stacy Blackwood, is consistent with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home order, issued on March 19.

“Therefore, beaches operated by the County of Orange are permitted to reopen under this beach management plan,” the letter states.

Under the county’s plan, the county-run beaches will reopen to the public seven days a week, during standard operating hours, while parking lots will continue to remain closed to reduce the potential for overcrowding.

The governor ordered all beaches countywide to close late April as a targeted response to news photos that had showed large crowds of people visiting Newport Beach and Huntington Beach, in defiance of his social distancing directive, amid a heat wave that hit Southern California.

Since imposing the controversial directive on Friday, May 1, the state has been lifting the closure on a city-by-city basis, depending on the beach management plans each city has submitted to the governor’s office for approval.

Beach hours are now as follows:

  • County beaches in South Laguna Beach (Aliso, Table Rock, West, Camel Point, Thousand Steps and Treasure Island beaches) are open 6 a.m.-10 p.m. on weekdays and 6 a.m.-12 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, consistent with City of Laguna Beach hours. Please note that the access way and restroom at Thousand Steps Beach are closed.
  • Capistrano and Poche Beaches are open 6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
  • Salt Creek and Strands Beaches are open 5 a.m.-12 a.m. daily.
  • Baby Beach is open 5 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
  • Bayside Beach (at Newport Harbor Patrol) is open 6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.

Parking at County beach lots is $1 per hour via pay-and-display machines, or via OC Parks annual beaches or all county parks and beaches parking passes.

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