Park and Beach Parking Lots Closed by San Diego

by on March 23, 2020 · 2 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

OB Pier Parking lot. Photo by Bob Edwards

By Phil Diehl and David Hernandez / San Diego Union-Tribune / March 22, 2020

In response to crowds seen in public across San Diego over the weekend, the city on Sunday closed parking lots at city parks and beaches in an effort to discourage gatherings and encourage social distancing under a statewide stay-at-home order.

“Public health officials are clear that gatherings of any size can lead to the spread of COVID-19, which is why they continue to be prohibited everywhere, including at beaches and parks,” San Diego Fire-Rescue Chief Colin Stowell said. “Local and state rules limiting groups have been in effect for days, so this should not be a surprise to anyone.”

Lifeguard Division Chief James Gartland said people can still walk, run or ride a bike, so long as they abide by social distancing rules, which call on people to stay 6 feet away from others.

“The stay-at-home order makes clear that this is not a time for parties; it’s a time to protect the public health,” Gartland said.

The move comes a day after scores of people took advantage of sunny weather by heading to the beach, parks, hiking trails and other popular spots across San Diego County.

On Sunday, San Diego police officers were seen across the city attempting to impede access to certain areas. In some spots, full closures were enforced for unclear reasons, with city officials saying only parking lots were closed but signs or officers indicating otherwise.

The popular paved trail around Miramar Lake was being used by scores of people early Sunday morning when police showed up. The entrance to the lake was closed, but users had parked on nearby streets and in the nearby public library parking lot to walk in.

San Diego police moved in to clear out the lake around 11 a.m.

A police cruiser drove slowly on the path, broadcasting that the lake was closed and telling people to leave. Another was stationed closer to where the path begins to turn around newly-arrived walkers, runners and cyclists.

City and police officials could not say why officers had cleared everyone from Miramar Lake instead of urging people to keep a 6-foot distance from others.

At the Barker Way trail to Cowles Mountain trail head, a sign indicated the Mission Trails Regional Park was closed, but a city spokesman said only the parking lot, visitors’ center and road heading to the center were closed.

Elsewhere, police were seen closing parking lots near Mission Beach, Ocean Beach and Fiesta Island.

Many seemed to take the closures in stride, seeing them as a way to slow the spread of the global pandemic.

Kimberly Paige, a Pacific Beach resident riding a beach cruiser with her boyfriend, Craig Lester, in a Mission Beach parking lot, said she understood why more precautions were needed, especially for those in high-risk groups.

Common-sense precautions such as more frequent hand washing and staying at least six feet apart may surprise some people, especially young people, she said, but they need to understand the seriousness of the situation. “People need to think of more than just themselves right now,” Paige said.

Park rangers and police began asking people to leave Fiesta Island about noon, and by early afternoon there was a steady stream of vehicles headed out, and no one going in.

Laura Ashborn of Bay Park was stopped at the gate. She said she had been on her way to the dog park on the island with her pet, Molly.

“I was very disappointed,” Ashborn said. “I understand why, and I guess it was just a matter of time. I had finally come to terms with working from home.”

A member of the Fiesta Island Dog Owners group on Facebook, Ashborn said she immediately posted a message telling her friends the dog park was off limits.

Arthur Edelman and his wife, Christina, were meeting at their car after their morning exercise. He rode his bike 9.8 miles while she jogged 3 miles. She was almost back to the car she she heard announcements over loudspeakers that the park was about to be closed, and that they should leave.

“It was crowded, but it was a beautiful day,” said Christina Edelman, a nurse.

She said the precautions are probably needed. She worries that there might not be enough medical supplies to treat all the COVID-19 patients.

One place that remained open was Campland on the Bay, a 44-acre private campground just north of Fiesta Island, though many of the activities there such as the swimming pools, spas, skatepark and watersports rentals are temporarily closed.

“We are an essential business in these circumstances,” Jacob Gelfand, vice president of operations. “We provide a place where people can be with their families, and we have taken extra precautions to keep the public safe.”

Asked about enforcement of the new parking lot closures, city officials said only that they were focused on education.

“City of San Diego public safety departments have been working hard to ensure that residents know the rules first,” police Lt. Shawn Takeuchi said.

Staff writer Greg Moran contributed to this report. Phil Diehl used to live in OB.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Tony D Muir Avenue Ale March 24, 2020 at 6:00 pm

As I interpret this (I’ve only read the media reports, not the first-hand mayoral statement), the beach closures apply to the parking lots, not the beach itself. If it’s just my girlfriend and I, and we’re not trying to facebook & tweet-up a group of people, AND we maintain a 6-foot distance, I see nothing irresponsible about a sunset stroll or midnight walk. I realize we live in extraordinary times and I confess to being conflicted, but proximity to the beach is one of the main reasons I moved to OB in the first place.

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Peter Peter from South O March 25, 2020 at 8:59 am

From Surfer Magazine:

Effective this morning, San Diego’s list of closures includes all bays, lakes, boardwalks, parks, trails and city beaches in San Diego, Del Mar, Carlsbad, Solana Beach and Encinitas. Oceanside and Coronado haven’t closed their beaches (yet), though they did shut down parking lots and playgrounds. At time of press, state beach lots are also still open.

We called Paul Brencick from the City of Encinitas to get the scoop on the details of the closures in Encinitas. “The City of Encinitas ordered all the beach access points and parking lots be closed,” Brencick told us, just moments ago. “That basically means nobody is allowed to be out on the beaches or in the water. They are patrolling the beaches in partnership with the Sheriff’s office, and trying to get verbal compliance by making announcements over the PA, putting signs up, and making contact with anyone on the beach or in the water to advise them to please comply with the order.”

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