After efforts to keep people from gathering at the beach proved insufficient, the city of Carlsbad announced today it will prohibit parking along nearly six miles of state-owned coastline starting Friday.
Carlsbad closed the northernmost beach controlled by the city on March 23 and has made formal requests that the state follow suit with beaches under its jurisdiction. To date, the state has closed beach parking lots, but not the beach. Most other beaches in the county are closed, resulting in a huge influx of people from miles around to the beaches in Carlsbad.
"We are in the middle of a serious public health emergency, and the city of Carlsbad is going to do everything we can to prevent the spread of COVID-19," said Carlsbad City Manager Scott Chadwick.
Over the past two weeks, the city's police department has put up signs, handed out hundreds of informational fliers, and had officers at the beach encouraging compliance with the health orders. In spite of these efforts, the city continues to observe and document instances of people gathering and not maintaining six feet of distance from each other.
County public health officials said Wednesday that the county is still in the early days of the outbreak, and April will be a critical month for following all health directives. Otherwise, officials warn that COVID-19 cases requiring hospitalization and ventilators will outpace local healthcare capacity, leading to significantly more deaths from the new virus.
The no-parking rule will start Friday at 5 a.m. The area affected includes the east and west sides of Carlsbad Boulevard from Pine to La Costa avenues, Ponto Drive and Ponto Road. City crews will put up signs and barricades in the affected areas.
Carlsbad declared a local emergency March 16. Among other things, this action gives the city manager -- acting as the director of emergency services -- the authority to take immediate steps to protect health and safety.
The Carlsbad City Council will be asked to approve the parking ban by adopting an urgency ordinance at its next meeting, April 7.
On March 19, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order directing Californians to stay at home except for essential needs, to reduce the spread of COVID-19. On March 27, the County of San Diego Public Health Officer issued a health order directing cities to close beaches when physical distancing and gathering rules cannot be effectively enforced.
The Carlsbad Police Department will enforce the new rule with citations that carry fines starting at $50.