Hemosa Beach urges County to approve beach volleyball tournaments

A Los Angeles County worker removes volleyball court nets on the Beach at the Hermosa pier last March, at the start of the pandemic. In recent weeks, the County has been putting nets back up, but the County still prohibits volleyball tournaments. Photo by Kevin Cody

by Dan Blackburn

Hermosa Beach leaders agreed at Tuesday’s city council meeting to write a letter to Los Angeles County and the State of California officials, advocating resumption of some youth and adult recreational league activities. 

Brandy Villanueva, the city’s emergency management coordinator, said she expected some changes in COVID-19 protocols, beginning April 1, when the County is expected to update health rules. At that time, according to Villanueva, the County will transition from “red tier” to “orange tier,” which could allow for more relaxed rules governing organized sports.

Such a rating “would allow additional reopening of sectors including increased indoor capacity, possibly events, and indoor recreational activities,” Villanueva said. “But we still don’t know if it will include tournaments.”

“Tournaments are largely open to spectators,” Villanueva told the council, “and trying to manage those crowds is an issue.”

According to Villanueva’s report to the council, “Sports classified as outdoor moderate-contact and outdoor high-contact sports were permitted to begin inter-team competitions. Volleyball was reclassified as an outdoor moderate-contact sport. This allowed volleyball to be played as a recreational activity, allowing volleyball teams to conduct training, physical conditioning, and inter-team competition.”

Those rules do not apply to collegiate or professional sports or community events such as marathons, half-marathons, and endurance races, she added, and tournaments are still not allowed.

Council member Stacey Armato said city residents “have asked us to lobby the county for beach volleyball. I think it would be productive to get athletes on the courts, and it’s not necessary to include spectators.”

Mayor Justin Massey wondered if group sports events attracting large crowds in other states were contributing to widespread transmission of the virus.

“That is the kind of real-time information that would be valuable to policy-makers, to help make it clear to us if there is a significant threat of spread in beach volleyball events,” he said.

Council member Michael Detoy said he “definitely wants to lobby the County [to allow] smaller events” and worried that “tennis and volleyball are being forgotten in these protocols.”

Armato said she thought county officials “could provide more wriggle room within protocols” before adding, “but I certainly hope state and county officers don’t bend to public pressure.”

Massey hoped a council-authored letter suggesting that “moderate outdoor contact sport with some limitations can be done to limit risks… something to that effect. And the wording should be subtle, so it lands right.”

The council agreed it will review the staff-written letter. ER

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Written by: Kevin Cody

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