LA County’s decision to reopen our local beaches brings mixed emotions. While we’re grateful that some of us will now be able to legally return to the coast, our chapter acknowledges that Phase 1 of the LA County beach reopenings are inherently exclusionary. With parking lots still closed, the beaches will only be open for those who can walk, bike or find transportation to them. Further, allowed activities are limited to “active” recreation including surfing, swimming, walking and running. Sunbathing, picnicking, volleyball and general gathering are still prohibited for the time being. The coastal bike path will remain closed as well.
For 35 years, Surfrider has advocated for equal access to our coastal commons regardless of who you are, where you live, how much money you make or how you like to enjoy our world’s ocean, waves and beaches. Given the unique circumstances surrounding COVID-19, we acknowledge that prioritizing public health requires reopening the beaches in an incremental fashion slowly allowing more and more Angelenos the opportunity to safely enjoy the mental and physical benefits of being at the beach.
With stay-at-home orders specifically allowing exercise as an essential activity, we urge folks to continue the practice of physical distancing and to avoid crowded public spaces including our trails, parks and beaches. If we are successful with Phase 1, the County will move us onto Phase 2 with expanded access and allowed activities.
We acknowledge and regret that public health precautions prevent the beaches from being safely reopened for all people at the present moment. Working together to adhere to local public health guidelines is the best way to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Surfrider is determined to continue supporting our community through this public health crisis while remaining committed to our goal of equitable coastal access and ensuring the beaches will once again open for all.