Beaches and Trails Closed

Photos by Charly SHELTON
Empty sand and do not enter signs surround the Santa Monica Pier after Los Angeles County closed its beaches last weekend.

CV Skate Park is closed as are beaches and hiking trails.



The order has come down to close all beaches and trails in the LA County jurisdiction to slow the spread of COVID-19. This order should not affect anyone, though, because all residents of California have been ordered to “shelter in place” and not leave home except for grocery shopping or other immediate necessities. But as was evident on social media from the weekend of March 20, that order was disregarded by residents eager to get out of the house for a while who flocked to beaches, parks, hiking trails and other public locations. And as a result, the order was passed to restrict all beach and trail access.

“As one of our lifeguard friends put it, ‘While the crowds were appropriate for the weather, they weren’t appropriate for this time with social distancing,’” said Nicole Mooradian, public information officer, LA County Dept. of Beaches and Harbors. “People were not following the orders to social distance; they were not following the health officer’s order prohibiting gatherings of people. Because of that we felt it was simply too risky to allow people on the beaches for this past weekend. We closed parking lots first but ultimately it was the health officer’s decision to order the closure of the beaches as well.”

Photos by Charly SHELTON
Not only were beaches closed, but so were the amusements that encouraged crowds like Santa Monica Pier.

The viral outbreak is only growing stronger as more people decide to congregate and, with spring already underway and summer looming on the horizon, the possibility of a summer without beaches is very real. As the weather starts to get warmer and more pleasant, the call of the surf is only going to grow as is the resistance to the closure notice.

“There’s already a resistance and a struggle. We’ve received phone calls, emails, tweets, Facebook messages asking [about the closure]. The biggest question is ‘Can I still surf?’ and the answer to that is no,” Mooradian said. “I expect there will be pushback – there’s always pushback no matter what – and [with] this closure I can’t stress enough it is completely unprecedented. We’ve never closed all of our beaches like this. It’s not a decision we took lightly, like ‘Oh, hey, there’s a bunch of crowds; we need to shut the beaches down immediately.’ There were so many discussions with the LA County supervisors, with the health officer, among our staff and, as I said, it’s not a decision we took lightly.”

Closer to home, local mountains trails have been closed, too. Crescenta Valley Park is still open, as are pathways or walkways through the park because they do not fall under the trail designation; however, the trails behind the park are currently closed.

“The trails behind CV Park are treated in the same manner as all the other trials and/or fire roads within the City’s jurisdiction and will remain closed to the public,” said John Takhtalian, deputy city manager for Glendale. “We are currently conducting enforcement both on the ground as well as through the air with the use of the City’s helicopter, [and are] advising hikers that they must remain off the trails due to the ‘Safer at Home’ order. To date, our public safety personnel have achieved relatively effective compliance when contacting individuals with such advisements.”

Photo by Robin GOLDSWORTHY
Rather than waves, beach-goers found signs at Los Angeles County beaches notifying them that the shore was closed to the public.

The CV Park skate park is closed as well, and all the parks classes and events have been canceled. At present, the only facility still open is the dog park, and even that is under scrutiny. A further order to shut down all parks could be on the horizon, and the Parks Department is gathering info to make that decision.

“Obviously, that may be coming from the LA County Board of Supervisors. So what we do on the field level is we take counts every hour of how many people are in both dog parks, and we send that up,” said Jason Hauser, Recreation Services supervisor for LA County Parks. “At least to my knowledge it’s been pretty low attendance. We’re hoping it remains that way because – this is pure speculation and opinion; this decision is made way above me – if we’re reporting there’s like 30 or 40 people in the dog park, that may create a red flag. But during the day, we’re looking at anywhere from two to 10 people at a time.”

Currently, the plan is to reopen in April. But with the ever-changing landscape of events surrounding the pandemic, that decision is uncertain.

“The last I heard was April 20 is when they might open up again,” Hauser said. “But that was before the recent announcement from the federal government that extended everything for two weeks. So originally it was until April 20, then they were going to look at opening everything up again. I doubt that now.”

But despite opening and closing, it’s best to stay home whenever possible. Glendale City Councilmember Ardy Kassakhian echoes this sentiment

“Regardless of their status, people should stay at home at this time and hunker down unless they have to leave the house for essentials,” Kassakhian said.