Huntington Beach Police Are Not Issuing Citations, Say Visitors Are Cooperating With Orders To Stay Off The Beach Today
A day after losing a legal fight to stop the closure of Orange County beaches, Huntington Beach deployed extra patrols to its shoreline to ensure people were staying off the sand.
Although local TV newscasts showed dozens of surfers still hitting the waves Saturday morning, Huntington Beach police spokeswoman Angela Bennett said police officers, with assists from the city's Marine Safety Division, were not having issues getting beachgoers to leave when asked.
"We are encouraging people to comply with the orders, which we've found most people are very, very willing to do," Bennett said.
Governor Gavin Newsom had ordered the closure of Orange County beaches starting Friday to stop the congregation of large crowds seen during last weekend's heat wave.
Huntington Beach and Dana Point tried to stop the beach shutdowns, but a judge denied their requests on Friday. An attorney for Huntington Beach said the city would fight for an injunction at a hearing on May 11.
Saturday was the first day Huntington Beach began enforcing the order and asking people to leave. Bennett said that's partly because of the legal battle the city had been waging with the governor. Also, police had their hands full monitoring 2,500 to 3,000 protesters on Friday, she said.
Bennett said the protest was peaceful and no arrests were made.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the department has been more interested in educating people than citing them for violating orders to stay off the beach, Bennett said. "We're trying to find that balance between people's rights as well as the public health."
A CNN drone captured images of the beach at 12:45 p.m. today, showing lots of empty sand.
The Newport Beach City Council met Saturday morning and voted to affirm its support for litigation filed by Huntington Beach, Dana Point and business owners trying to reopen Orange County beaches.