Mayors United on Coordinated Plan for Eventual Beach Re-Openings

Coastal Mayors United on Coordinated Plan for Eventual Beach Re-Openings


San Diego – In cooperation with public health officials as well as regional coastal agencies and lifeguards, today Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer joined the mayors of Carlsbad, Encinitas and Imperial Beach to announce a coordinated, safe and regional plan for the eventual re-opening of local beaches and bays.

Coastal city mayors have been working over the last several days to prepare the tactics – not the timing – for opening shorelines in coordination with public health officials and regional lifeguard agencies. The plan aims to enable access to beaches when public health officials determine the appropriate time, while still maintaining mandated levels of public health and safety in accordance with state and county orders.

The two-phase plan was unanimously approved yesterday by the San Diego Regional Aquatic Lifesaving Emergency Response Taskforce. SDR ALERT is comprised of lifeguard leadership from the region’s coastal cities, Camp Pendleton, Harbor Police, State of California and United States Coast Guard.

“This is a region-wide approach developed by lifeguards, not politicians, for the safe reopening of beaches and bays under public health directives. It’s a plan focused on how we will open our beaches, not when,” Mayor Faulconer said. “The goal is to reopen access to the sand and water at the same time in coordination with all coastal cities, the port district, state and county. It would only take effect when county public health officials have the COVID-19 data to determine it’s a safe step to take.”

A County of San Diego public health order currently restricts recreational activity in local waterways, including oceans and bays. Cities and agencies are preparing to implement this regional plan when the County has enough data related to COVID-19 cases to substantiate modifying the public health order.

Mayors from the cities of Carlsbad, Chula Vista, Coronado, Del Mar, Encinitas, Imperial Beach, National City, Oceanside, San Diego and Solana Beach have pledged to move forward in unison. The California Department of State Parks and Recreation, San Diego Unified Port District and County of San Diego have been working closely with the mayors and their city managers on this effort.

A plan for physical distancing and sanitation must be created by each agency that oversees public beaches. Agencies must:

  • List measures necessary to adequately ensure proper physical distancing and sanitation
  • Provide evidence of its implementation upon demand
  • Promptly modify its plan if it is not effective
  • Close any public beach where physical distancing cannot be effectively implemented

Beaches and waterways would be reopened in two phases as follows, at a time determined by County public health:

PHASE 1: LIMITED ACCESS (Date to be decided in coordination with public health officials)

  • Resume normal lifeguard staffing for observation, education, and rescues in anticipation of reopening
  • Face coveringsrecommended when reasonable
  • Swimming near lifeguardstrongly recommended

  • Open and Allowed:
  • BEACHES AND BAY SHORELINES – only running and walking
    • No gatherings
    • No stopping, standing, sitting, or lying down
  • OCEANS – all recreational activities
    • Includes boating, fishing, swimming, surfing and paddling
  • BAYS (San Diego and Mission) – only boating and single-person paddling
    • Physical distancing and face covering recommended on vessels
    • Parking with a vessel trailer in boat launch lots only
    • Open one third of parking spots at South Shores, De Anza, and Dana landing
    • Must be controlled or closed if they cannot be transited while maintaining physical distance
  • Not Open:
  • Fiesta Island
  • Piers and boardwalks
  • Coastal parking lots

PHASE 2: RESPONSIBLE PUBLIC USE (Date to be decided in coordination with public health officials)

  • Open and Allowed:
  • All Phase 1activities and locations
    • All activitiesthat can be conducted while maintaining physical distance
  • BAYS (San Diego and Mission)
    • All water uses that can be conducted while maintaining physical distance
    • Includes fishing, swimming and paddling
  • Fiesta Island
  • Piers and boardwalks
  • Coastal parking lots
  • Not Allowed:
  • Gatherings or activities that do not comply with physical distancing orders

These protocols do not prohibit public employees from engaging in maintenance or safety activities at beaches and bays. The plan is subject to change based on COVID-19 pandemic conditions.

What people are saying:

“As we plan a potential future limited opening of beaches and aquatic activities, it is more critical than ever that stay at home, practice physical distancing and wear masks on essential errands so we can continue to flatten the curve,” said Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina.

“I’m pleased to announce my support for the phased and data-driven approach being proposed by the coastal mayors in San Diego county,” said Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear. “Our enforcement agencies have met to discuss and unanimously support guidelines that ensure both the protection of the public’s health and the ability to responsibly recreate along our coastlines once direction is received form the County of San Diego’s public health office.”

“Along with other coastal mayors, we’ve worked with our lifeguards to develop key phases that we can all agree on in order to reopen water access to our residents,” said Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall. “These decisions will be informed by data with the advice of the county’s public health office and not by politics or emotions. Working together, we can make a difference.”

“San Diego Fire-Rescue Lifeguard Division is prepared to work within the set guidelines and educate the public about the two-phase approach to re-opening our beaches,” said San Diego Fire-Rescue Lifeguard Division Chief James Gartland. “We have the appropriate level of staffing and our lifeguards look forward to once again serving the public at San Diego’s beautiful beaches. Once the beaches are open again, our message is the same, check in with a lifeguard before going in the water and always swim near a lifeguard.”

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Caroline Smith, Interim Director

Office of Strategy and Intergovernmental Affairs

County of San Diego

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