4/24/20: Some Beaches and the Ocean Scheduled to Re-open Monday!

April 24, 2020

After the stresses we’ve all been through, I’m happy to be the bearer of some good news. Come Monday at daybreak, we should be able to return to the ocean and some sections of the beach for surfing, swimming and walking on the sand. Plus, the Coastal Rail Trail and Coast Hwy pedestrian walkway re-opened this morning!

This week I worked with the mayors of the eight other coastal cities in San Diego County to put together guidelines about how to re-open the coast once the county lifted the prohibition on ocean activities. The plan that was put together based on the unanimous advice of lifeguards and marine safety personnel from all the coastal jurisdictions. 

Friday afternoon, the county announced that the ocean would be re-opened countywide as of Monday morning for swimming, surfing, kayaking, and paddle-boarding.

Unfortunately, the cities were anticipating an opening around May 1, and weren’t given much advance notice of the county’s prohibition being lifted. Some coastal cities, including ours, are concerned about their ability to achieve the short turnaround in staffing, signage and monitoring required by this announcement, so all beaches may not open right away. For instance, Encinitas may just open Moonlight Beach at first.

I’ll be on KUSI News tomorrow (Saturday) morning at 9:10 a.m. and Facebook Live tomorrow afternoon at 4 p.m. with updates as we get them.

Here’s last Thursday’s KUSI News appearance, where I give details about the Rail Trail re-opening.

It’s up to each city and the state to determine exactly how and when their beaches are re-opened. If you’re reading this newsletter in a city other than Encinitas, you should check with your city – each city will make its own determinations.

As of this writing, the only places I know that have definitely committed to open beaches are the City of San Diego and Coronado. Carlsbad has scheduled an emergency City Council meeting to make their decision on Saturday.

According to the multi-jurisdictional plan that includes Encinitas, only “active” activities will be allowed on our beaches during Phase 1. This means that we can walk, jog or traverse the beach to get to the ocean. But no laying out, gathering with friends, playing smashball, having a picnic dinner, etc. The simple mantra is “keep moving.”

At this point, I can not definitively say where and whether beach walking in Encinitas will be allowed come Monday morning. About half of the city’s 6.5 miles of coastline falls into the state’s jurisdiction and State Parks will make its own decision about its areas, which are mainly in the southern half of the city. 

Additionally, the county announced that all beach parking lots will remain closed during this initial stage, a decision meant to reduce the number of people who use the beach. Gradually re-opening allows us to continue to protect public health, while also providing more places for people to safely recreate and enjoy the outdoors.

As always, physical distancing will be essential for this phased re-entry to succeed and not be reversed. Please do your part – don’t plan a party at the beach! And make sure to wear a facial covering and stay six feet away from others. The success of this opening depends on all of us. 

The county also announced that everyone in public will be required to wear a facial covering beginning May 1. Masks that help prevent the spread of coronavirus are a measure we can all take when leaving our homes. 

Here are stories about the beaches re-opening from 10 News (aired before some cities cited difficulties in responding so quickly), and the Coast News. News about our walking paths reopening is here from NBC San Diego and the Encinitas Advocate.

Don’t have a mask yet? Here are a couple of places to get locally made cloth masks in Encinitas: Kim’s Alterations at 566 S Coast Hwy 101 sells them for $6. Sew Inspired, operated by Laura Prince and her daughter out of their 531 Encinitas Blvd. studio, have large masks at $10 each and small ones for $6.50. Laura says those who can’t afford masks can drop by Sew Inspired to get one for free.

These measures – opening the ocean for swimming and surfing, opening the beaches for activities like walking and running, and requiring facial coverings in public – make sense to me and are imminently reasonable given the balance between the very real continuing health threat and the desire to responsibly exercise along our coast.

Encinitas coronavirus update

The number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in our county, but so does the amount of testing. To better reflect trends, the county announced Friday that they’ll be providing a new statistic – the number of positive cases as a percentage of total tests. On Friday there were 183 new positive cases announced in the county, but 3,122 tests were performed – a positive rate of about 6%. There are more positive cases in south county than other parts of San Diego County; Encinitas and other cities in North County have fewer cases. In Encinitas, we are still at 34 positive cases, not having had a new one since April 11.

My thoughts on protesting the temporary closures

I’m proud of the vast majority of Encinitas residents who recognize the urgency of these pandemic measures, and are staying home to protect themselves and the rest of us.

But if you’re someone who has any inclination to protest the beach closures this weekend by breaking the law, please think twice and stay home. The coast is starting to re-open in two short days, and the Sheriff’s Department says they’ll be taking a zero-tolerance approach to violations of the health order this weekend. If there is any mass effort to surge into the ocean and violate the county health order, the deputies will wait out the violators and issue them citations when they exit. The citation is a misdemeanor, which is a criminal violation that can result in a fine up to $1,000.

Some of you may have heard that last weekend about a hundred protesters who started at Swami’s Beach walked at least 20 minutes through neighborhoods to my personal residence on Sunday morning to protest beach closures and voice other grievances. Like you, mayors live in their own private homes with their families (unlike some state governors who are provided taxpayer-funded residences and security personnel.) 

It should go without saying that the appropriate place to protest a government decision is at City Hall, not the private home of an elected official, especially during a pandemic. Having a throng of excited people chant and taunt for me to come out was alarming to me, and extremely frightening for my children. At least three people trespassed on my private property and there was no indication that every member of that large group was well-intentioned.

I honor and embrace our democratic tradition of dissent and disagreement, but this went way over the line.

Here’s an editorial on the subject from the North Coast Current.

See you on KUSI News Saturday morning and Facebook LiveSaturday afternoon

I’ll be on KUSI News tomorrow (Saturday) at 9:10 a.m. talking about the re-opening of our coast. And tomorrow (the same Saturday) at 4 p.m., you can join me on Facebook Live, where I’ll be updating the topics in this newsletter, telling you about our search for a new City Manager in the wake of Karen Brust’s announced retirement, and as always, answering your questions. You can get your questions in early now by replying to this email.

Sweet new bike lanes in Cardiff!

Don’t get excited! I took my mask down for just a few seconds while this photo was being taken.

I’m thrilled with the emergence of the physical barrier on Coast Highway 101 connecting the Solana Beach Coastal Rail Trail with the Cardiff Coastal Rail Trail. These barriers unquestionably create a greater sense of safety for bike riders traveling next to speeding traffic. The outcome will be more people feeling comfortable riding their bikes to the beach and enjoying our coastline. A gentle reminder for pedestrians – please stay to the right and don’t congest the bike lane. 

It’s great timing for our professional staff to get these infrastructure projects done during a time when there is substantially less traffic on the roads. There is reduced risk to the workers and fewer conflict points with the traveling public. 

Please help me continue as your mayor!

Despite the challenges of governing in our current pressure-cooker situation, I’m also working to be re-elected as your mayor. There is no greater honor than to be chosen by you, our city’s residents, to represent and guide Encinitas. 

With an election in about six months, I’m asking if you would please consider financially supporting my campaign to continue our progress in Encinitas. It takes money to win elections, especially in a time when face-to-face meetings and gatherings are severely restricted. I’m so grateful to the more than a hundred of you who have already contributed. Please make your contribution here. 

Your confidence and support motivates and inspires me during this crazy time. Please know that I’m extremely thankful for you!

In ongoing service,

P.S. Here’s an amusing version of bingo that was posted at Beacon’s recently (thanks to J.P. St. Pierre for posting it). We’re not sure who’s responsible, but whoever it is deserves credit for maintaining a sense of humor and having a sharp eye for some of the things that make Encinitas, Encinitas. My favorite is “Ripped Guy Sprinting in his Flip Flops.”

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