By Sarah Heyne and Mette Hansen
Since the beginning of shelter in place, Sonoma County had the most stringent beach access regulations in California. Even when the May 12th order went into place, which allowed for walk-in and bike-in access, only a small fraction of residents could access the beach at the coast.
The Surfrider Sonoma Coast Surfrider Chapter was beyond thrilled to hear of the new order that allowed park agencies to reopen coastal parking lots and restore daytime visiting hours at beaches. Safe recreation at the coast provides critical physical and mental health benefits. Thankfully, we can now enjoy these benefits without restriction.
As counties and cities up and down the California coast developed effective strategies to open their beaches in ways that prioritize public health while allowing for coastal exercise as an essential activity, we wanted to help do the same for Sonoma County. We advocated for opening the Sonoma County Coast through our Call to Action with individual Surfrider members and coast supporters writing letters as well as direct communications from Surfrider leadership to the Board of Supervisors.
We would like to thank the Regional Parks, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, our county health officials, and the California State Parks for developIng a beach access and coastal recreation plan that continues to protect the Sonoma community while also providing the necessary health benefits the coast has to offer. It is our hope that should another SIP occur the beaches will remain open as there are few better and safer places than the beach.
We would also like to thank Sonoma County residents for sending their messages of support to the Board of Supervisors. No action is complete without the community working together.
As we finally feel the sand between our toes again, we would like to remind everyone to stay safe, continue social distancing, wear masks when applicable, and follow all health and safety guidelines. Let’s work together and recognize our shared role in keeping our beaches and surf spots open and safe, now and in the future.