Council members discussed opening beaches on Saturday, May 2, but decided on May 4 to coordinate with Solana Beach.
Del Mar beaches will reopen for exercise only on Monday, May 4, following a unanimous vote by the City Council during a special meeting held May 1.
Beachgoers will be able to walk or run on the sand and swim or surf in the ocean. But sports and activities such as volleyball, football and yoga are prohibited. Lying on the beach and other forms of congregating on the beach aren’t allowed either.
The city originally planned to reopen beaches on April 30, but instead kept them closed because of reports that Gov. Gavin Newsom planned to close all beaches statewide. The governor instead decided to close beaches only in Orange County, where pictures and video of overcrowded beaches in Newport Beach and surrounding areas drew his ire.
In a news conference announcing the Orange County closure, Newsom praised San Diego residents for abiding by public health orders after returning to the beaches.
Del Mar City Manager C.J. Johnson said the city’s reversal on reopening the beaches “increased the frustration of our beach and ocean users.” The city’s beaches closed on March 23 to help contain the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
During an April 20 City Council meeting, Johnson and council members stressed that reopening the beaches would be part of a coordinated effort with leaders throughout the county. But beaches started reopening throughout the county on a piecemeal basis at the end of April, after county officials unexpectedly gave their approval.
Council members discussed opening beaches on Saturday, May 2, but decided on May 4 to coordinate with Solana Beach, where plans to reopen beaches were unaffected by the confusion over the governor’s recent directive. State-owned beaches will also be open.
“If we’re all opening on Monday, all of North County is then available for beach access,” Del Mar Mayor Ellie Haviland said.
Barring any other unforeseen announcements from county or state officials, the city will move forward with that plan. Johnson said some Del Mar residents have urged the city to resist the governor’s directives, but council members did not indicate any support for challenging county or state orders.
Haviland said coordination throughout the region is still important.
“We tried to do that on a countywide basis and unfortunately that didn’t work out,” she said.
The special meeting on May 1 was the first time Del Mar council members weighed in on the beaches.
Councilman Dwight Worden warned that asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 still pose a risk if they contract the disease at the beach and then go to a grocery store or other public places that are still open.
“This is how this kind of invisible virus spreads and becomes a community problem,” he said.
John Edelbrock, Del Mar’s community services director and chief lifeguard, said social distancing and other regulations will be enforced by an education- and warning-based approach.” The sheriff’s department might also police the beaches if there are egregious cases of residents failing to comply with social distancing and other public health orders.
Powerhouse Park will remain closed, except for the path through the park that provides beach access. Seagrove Park will also remain closed except for beach access points. At those entrances, visitors are asked to take turns to allow for social distancing.
As part of the opening in Del Mar, summertime rules for dogs will be in effect, which means:
North Beach (29th Street to border with Solana Beach)
--Off-leash dogs are permitted dawn to 8 a.m.
--Dogs must be leashed 8 a.m. to dawn
Main Beach (Powerhouse Park to 29th Street)
No dogs allowed
South Beach (6th Street to Powerhouse Park )
Dogs must be leashed at all times.
Below is a brief overview of the City of Solana Beach guidelines and regulations for beach use/activity that will be put in place starting Monday, May 4. This information will also be posted at all public beach access points. —City of Solana Beach news release
No gatherings of any kind will be allowed on the beaches: no stopping, standing, sitting, or lying down. No chairs, blankets, umbrellas/sunshades, toys, coolers, or anything stationary will be allowed.
No games of sport will be allowed on the beach.
All beach access points will be open for specified access, including Fletcher Cove, Del Mar Shores stairs, Seascape stairs, and Tide Park stairs.
Fletcher Cove will be open for access to and from the beach. People must maintain 6 feet of physical separation at all times (except for people from the same household). Entrance to the beach will be allowed on the south side of the beach access ramp. Exiting from the beach will be allowed on the north side of the ramp.
Tide Park and Del Mar Shores Stairs will be open only for one-way exiting from the beach. In order to maintain required social/physical distancing protocols, a one-way exit only will be allowed at the Tide Park and Del Mar Shores stairs. These beach areas are impacted by high tides and must enable people to exit if isolated by rising tides. This measure is also intended to minimize public parking in these neighborhoods.
Seascape Stairs will be opened only for one-way entry to the beach. In order to maintain the required social/physical distancing protocols, one-way access to the beach only will be allowed at Seascape stairs.
Water activity (swimming, surfing, paddling, kayaking) will be allowed for experienced surfers, swimmers, and paddlers only within the Exercise Only Zone. The Exercise Only Zone will be the City’s entire coastline unless the Marine Safety Staff must close an area for public safety reasons. Additionally, there will be a swim zone set up daily at Fletcher Cove and, as needed, at Tide Park and Del Mar Shores.
Restrooms and showers will remain closed to limit to ensure social/physical distancing.
As required by the County Public Health Order, the Fletcher Cove beach parking lot will remain closed.
Fletcher Cove Park will remain closed but may be used for access to and from the beach.
The Sheriff’s Department will closely monitor and enforce compliance with County Public Health Order prohibiting gatherings, requiring face coverings, observing social/physical distancing, and obeying posted signs and directives.