Up until today, I was saying to myself, “Well, you know, the beach is always free and easy to social distance. Pack yourself a sandwich and some water, grab a book, some water, and you’ve got a free and awesome day in LA, even if you are unemployed for a while.”
Well my own little one+ square mile city, Hermosa Beach, just put an end to that, and I think it’s the first or only Los Angeles County beach to do so. They also closed The Strand, which is going to create a mess of traffic on roads not truly equipped for bike traffic.
Of course, the main argument was that there were too many crowds at the beach, but I was there. It didn’t seem like people were having problems with social distancing on the super wide beach, it was mostly family groupings since the South Bay is super family friendly. Sure you could argue that hanging out on the beach in the first place was a violation of the “better at home orders,” I get that.
Here was the key part of the alert from the City that I received in my inbox today, which feels both punitive and unsubstantiated:
These [outings] increased the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) because people were unable to maintain the required distance of at least six feet from non-household members. Public health experts also warned that the risk of COVID-19 transmission increases exponentially in crowds and the virus can remain on surfaces, such as benches and handrails, for up to 72 hours.From a “COVID-19 alert” from the City of Hermosa Beach
I know it’s important to protect public health, and I’m not arguing we shouldn’t. What I am concerned about is that
- I didn’t get any notice of any hearing or due process
- the notice and press release were thin on facts
- there’s no explanation why Hermosa needs to move faster than Los Angeles County
- with regard to The Strand, there’s no balancing of concerns for bike and pedestrian traffic diverted from The Strand to the busy city streets, especially as traffic turns distinctly warm next week
In case you’re wondering why Hermosa Beach is the only city to do this, it’s because Hermosa actually owns the sand, whereas most (all?) of the other LA County beaches are actually controlled by the County, so the City seems to believe it can take these actions despite the procedural and substantive concerns I raised.
UPDATES: March 26 – Redondo Beach, Hermosa’s neighbor to the south, just closed “access” to its beaches as well. So maybe, it’s acceptable to be on the beach if you swam there or walked in from the Torrance beac?
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