Differences In Ocean Access Throughout California

Differences In Ocean Access Throughout California

Differences In Ocean Access Throughout California

Courtesy of Penelope Nagel, San Diego, California.

While some people in government, infectious disease community and medical world are calling for a lockdown along with others across America, there are other people in business and recreation who are hoping for some leniency in a complete lockdown.

In Long Beach, California, city officials issued an official document to provide ongoing direction regarding the most up-to-date COVID-19 information and use of its miles of beaches and coastal waterways. While the situation remains fluid and dynamic, the City of Long Beach decided to close all beaches, bike and walking paths, beach access points, basketball and beach volleyball courts, beach playgrounds, and its pier on March 27th – a policy that was consistent with the neighboring beaches throughout Los Angeles County.

However, exceptions were made.

The city officials allowed swimmers, kayakers and SUP paddlers to cross its beaches – as long as their path was perpendicular to the shoreline. While kiteboarding is not allowed, fishing remains an allowable activity along the shoreline of all beaches. Lifelong and die-hard swimmers appreciate these exceptions.

In contrast, Penelope Nagel is trying to regain ocean access along the coastline in San Diego, located south of Los Angeles. The beaches north of San Diego and south of Los Angeles are still allowing access to the ocean while social distancing is being followed.

Nagel wrote the following appeal to city officials:
Dear Mayor Faulkner,

I am concerned that the order to close ocean access is discriminating against disabled residents and voters. Many disabled residents are unable to walk or ride bikes due to mobility issues, closing the access to the ocean is creating a unique undue hardship. I would like to request that a waiver of some type be issued for in ocean use, by this specific population.

I believe that the action is well intended but may possibly be biased based on the fear generated by one scientist trying to get research funding:

“a leading atmospheric chemist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, wants to yell out her window at every surfer, runner, and biker she spots along the San Diego coast.” [see here]

The current data just does not support her hypothesis and is causing undue harm to our disabled population.

According to NASA; “Depending on the season and weather conditions, surges of aerosols can make their way into the atmosphere almost anywhere on Earth.”

It is highly unlikely that swimming and surfing are impacting the spread of COVID-19. The true impact is discrimination against individuals who cannot exercise by other means (note: local pools are closed for use).

I have heard that part of the rationale for closure is the safety of first responders. Yet, cycling remains unrestricted. In the past 48 hours I have seen three (3) cycling accidents. Far more dangerous than swimming or surfing by legitimate water men and women. (I know you are an avid cyclist, and therefore appreciate the need for continued exercise and outside activities as part of a healthy lifestyle.)

There are additional disabled groups like those with mental illness and those recovering from addiction problems that use the ocean for therapy. Alcoholics and drug addicts have an ~80% of dying from their affliction and ocean therapy is often part of recovery.

When we look at suicide static’s, most of the causes are evident/present during this crisis and access to the water might help these people if it is part of their mental health regiment.

As a representative and steward of our beautiful beach city, might I recommend allowing access to the ocean for swimmers and surfers? Issue permits for the disabled? Or do what other neighboring communities have done and block parking so those who can walk are forced to walk too far to get to water to make it worth it. Disabled could be dropped off and picked up to avoid violation of such restrictions.

Access to our state waters needs to be opened!! I beseech you, close the beach but allow water access at designated locations.


Meanwhile, Aquatic Park in San Francisco Bay remains open to open water swimmers while the city of San Francisco has one of the longest running shelter-in-place ordinances in America.

Note: photo above shows La Jolla Cove in the pre-pandemic days.

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