The fear of losing coastal access everywhere along California’s coast could have been our new reality last weekend after scenes from crowded Orange County beaches sparked concern from state public health officials. With the intention of reducing spread of COVID-19 and ensuring compliance with his March 19 “stay at home” executive order, Governor Newsom could have closed all 1,100 miles of our shoreline.
Fortunately, the Governor’s office only limited beach access and coastal recreation to Orange County beaches – because unlike some counties, Orange County lacks a COVID-19 recreational access plan.
The COVID-19 pandemic has driven home the need for safe, nearby open spaces for all communities. Likewise, last week’s threat highlights the urgent need for consistent, thoughtful, enforceable recreational access guidelines for using public spaces – including our beaches and ocean – during the pandemic.
Without a plan in place in Orange County, access everywhere on California’s coast remains at risk. To preserve beach and ocean use in every California coastal county, and in solidarity with Surfrider Foundation's three Orange County chapters, please help us in urging the Orange County Board of Supervisors to submit a recreational access plan to the Governor today.
There are five people standing between you and beach access: the Orange County Board of Supervisors.
If they, and Orange County’s cities, submit a recreation plan to the Governor that allows for active recreation (surfing, swimming, paddling, walking, running, etc.) while protecting public health (requiring beachgoers maintain physical distance and adhere to other COVID-19 public health guidance), local beach- and oceangoers will once again be able to enjoy the physical and mental health benefits of their coast– and consistency within regions will help ensure the protection of both public health and beach access for all of California.
The City of Laguna Beach has already developed, approved and submitted a plan to the Governor’s office. Please call and email Orange County’s Supervisors and urge them to do the same! Tell them to submit a plan now. Something as critical as coastal access can’t wait! Orange County residents can use this Action Alert to email all five Supervisors at once.
Donald Wagner, Donald.Wagner@ocgov.com, @DonWagnerCA
Michelle Steel, Michelle.Steel@ocgov.com, @MichelleSteelCA
Andrew Do, Andrew.Do@ocgov.com, @joinandrewdo
Doug Chaffee, Doug.Chaffee@ocgov.com, @SupChaffee4
Lisa Bartlett, Lisa.Bartlett@ocgov.com, @OCSupBartlett