David Mendez

Redondo Beach considers Esplanade closure, County may close beaches

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by David Mendez

A week of heavy foot traffic along the Esplanade has resulted in Redondo Beach leadership considering potentially drastic ways to control the flow of pedestrians strolling along the iconic oceanfront path amid the global COVID-19 pandemic. Those measures include making it more difficult for people to find parking near the area. Los Angeles County may also take steps to close beaches along the coast should the crowding continue.

“Closing parking on the west side of the Esplanade is under consideration along with other measures, as we saw major crowds this past weekend,” said Redondo Beach City Manager Joe Hoefgen. “While we have many people who are taking this seriously and following [LA County’s] Safer at Home order, we have others who are placing themselves and others at risk by gathering in public spaces in close proximity. We can’t go on like this.”

Mayor Bill Brand this week repeatedly impressed upon constituents that the mass of people crowding both the Esplanade and the bike path that connect the Beach Cities, winding along the Santa Monica Bay, is unacceptable.

“The Esplanade is out of control. People are not observing social distancing. There are even problems on the beach, and I’d encourage everyone to be a lot more cognizant of staying six feet away from each other,” Brand said. “This idea of walking dogs and greeting people, it really needs to stop.”

Brand is an example of this new disease’s broader impacts. Last June, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and though treatments slowed him, he kept up his active lifestyle, continuing to swim, bike and run.

Now, he’s staying home.

“I’m one of those immunocompromised people. I’m safer at home, and lucky to have [my wife] Deidre shopping and being careful,” Brand said. “But, with social distancing, people are not taking it seriously enough.”

Leadership across the state agrees. In a press conference addressing the COVID-19 crisis on Wednesday, Governor Gavin Newsom said that Californians “can’t defeat it unless we commit to answering our individual obligations and collective responsibilities.”

That includes following county- and state-wide orders shuttering non-essential businesses and urging the public to stay at home. Some communities, including San Diego, closed their beaches. Los Angeles County may follow suit.

“If the beaches get too crowded this weekend, we may be forced to close them indefinitely,” said LA County Department of Beaches and Harbors spokesperson Nicole Mooradian. “We don’t want to have to close them because we agree with Gov. Gavin Newsom and recognize that being out in open space can be beneficial as long as social distancing is maintained.”

The department is planning to erect signs reminding people of the health orders.

“If we have to close the beaches, they would be closed to everyone — including local residents and surfers,” Mooradian said.

The city, Brand said, is trying to avoid drastic measures.

“We will get past this, but how severe it gets is really up to our own behavior over the next few weeks,” he said.

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