SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — In a statement, the City of San Diego says it wasn't given enough time ahead of the July 4 weekend to close beach parking lots.
Friday, California Office of Emergency Services sent a letter to city managers in the county asking them to close their beach parking lots ahead of the weekend. The letter was sent to officials in San Diego, Imperial Beach, Coronado, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad, and Oceanside.
"At the time of writing, beaches under the jurisdiction of local governments within San Diego County are the only beaches without visitation restrictions throughout all of Southern California, and therefore are attracting thousands of residents from outside your coastal communities and creating significant potential for disease transmission, particularly in crowded restaurants, bars, retail, and hotels," the letter stated. "... To protect the public health of San Diegans and reduce the high potential transmission of this deadly disease in San Diego coastal businesses, we write to request that municipal governments do not open beach parking lots for the July 4th holiday weekend."
Oceanside announced it would close beach parking lots on Thursday, while Carlsbad said late Friday that it would do the same. California also said Friday that state beach parking lots would be closed this weekend.
Carlsbad said they were closing parking lots in anticipation of people traveling to San Diego for the weekend. Surrounding counties Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, and Santa Barbara have closed beaches this weekend.
City of San Diego Chief Operating Officer Kris Michell said in a statement to City News Service that San Diego wasn't given enough time to put a beach parking closure in place.
"The city of San Diego is closely following county guidance and working with health officials to encourage adherence to public health regulations," Michell said. "The request to regional coastal cities to close beach parking lots on the Fourth of July came last night just a few hours before the start of the holiday, leaving little time to enact, enforce or notify the public.
"San Diego continues to require facial coverings and physical distancing at all locations, and this week voluntarily implemented restrictions on bars and restaurants to limit the spread of COVID-19," Michell said. "As we have since the beginning of the pandemic, we will continue to work with county and state health officials to protect public health and safety."
Imperial Beach, Coronado, Del Mar, Solana Beach, and Encinitas officials said Saturday their beach parking lots remained open Saturday.
Friday, several beaches were already seeing crowds for the holiday weekend. Many people claimed their spots early at Mission Beach and Oceanside.
While some were able to keep their distance from one another, many did not have on facial coverings when near other people, according to Rich Stropky, Marine Safety Lieutenant for San Diego lifeguards.
“The majority of them are not wearing masks, I would say at this point in time,” said Stropky. “As far as the capacity for our beaches, what has limited capacity in the past is the ability to park. How far are people willing to park and still walk to the beach? Are they going to Uber in? Are they going to do drop-offs?”
Law enforcement agencies have said they will focus on educations, rather than enforcement, of public health orders this weekend.