North County

Some Coastal Leaders ‘Surprised' By County OK to Open Beaches

Del Mar’s Mayor said they thought they had ‘a little bit of breathing room’ before the public health order would be amended.

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For San Diego County residents, the month without beaches may have seemed like an eternity. But for some coastal city leaders, the move to reopen came a bit too suddenly.

Several city leaders across San Diego’s northern coast were caught off guard at the county’s Friday announcement that beaches could open Monday morning.

This led to a scramble of special city council meetings and zoom calls over the weekend, with mixed results. Encinitas and Oceanside partially opened certain beaches, while Carlsbad, Del Mar and Solana Beach kept theirs closed.

However, county leaders say they were acting quickly specifically because coastal mayors asked them to get moving on a plan to open beaches.

“Unfortunately the cities were anticipating an opening around May 1, and weren’t given much advance notice of the county’s prohibition being lifted,” wrote Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear in a blog post over the weekend.

“Some coastal cities, including ours, are concerned about their ability to achieve the short turnaround in staffing, signage and monitoring required by this announcement,” Blakespear continued.

The council was able to find a way to partially reopen Moonlight Beach on Monday. And, while it may not have been a perfect partial reopening at Moonlight Beach, Encinitas City Councilmember Tony Kranz was pretty happy with how the day went.

“Everybody that I came across was following the rules,” Kranz told NBC 7.

But he was less happy about how we got to this point.

“The announcement on Friday that the beaches would be open at dawn [Monday], was a little surprising especially when the county doesn’t control any beaches,” said the councilmember.

Del Mar Mayor Ellie Haviland told NBC 7 the move was surprising because she said on Thursday, the county told coastal mayors the metrics weren’t looking good.

“I thought we had a little bit of breathing room,” Haviland said, emphasizing she hopes Del Mar’s beaches will open once they can get enough resources to manage them.

Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall was “pleasantly surprised when [the county] decided to accelerate [the beach opening timeline].”

And while Carlsbad City Council couldn’t agree to open its beaches for Monday, Hall is hopeful their opening will come soon.

“I feel comfortable in our staff, in our police, in our lifeguards they will be able to control and maintain a good safe area,” he told NBC 7.

Last week San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and other elected officials said they hoped to have a coordinated regional opening of beaches, in part in order to prevent a flood of people going to a handful of open beaches.

Responding to why this approach did not ultimately happen, San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the county heard the cities’ demands to give the OK to open beaches, so they did.

“If some cities do it at a different pace, I don’t think that is a tremendously bad thing,” said Fletcher. “Some cities were ready to go a little faster, a little swifter than others."

Here are the rules for the beaches that are open in San Diego County:

San Diego

  • Allowed: Swimming, surfing (not allowed on San Diego Bay), single-person paddling and kayaking in the ocean; walking and running on the beach
  • Not Allowed: Stopping, sitting, lying down on the beach; access to boardwalks and piers, parking lots and Fiesta Island; boating; gatherings of any kind


  • Allowed: Swimming, surfing, single-person paddling and kayaking in the ocean; walking and running on the beach
  • Not Allowed: Loitering, laying on the sand, gathering in groups of any sizes and using fire pits; access to Dog Beach and Sunset Park; parking
  • Beaches will be closed at sunset

Imperial Beach

  • Allowed: Walking and jogging on the beach but a face covering is required
  • Not Allowed: Entering the water (temporary closure is due to pollution); stopping, sitting, lying down on the beach; gatherings of any size; access to parking lots, street ends or the pier


  • Allowed: Access to Moonlight Beach only for walking and running in a select "active zone"; swimming, surfing, paddling and kayaking in the ocean
  • Not Allowed: Gatherings of any kind, stopping, standing, sitting or lying down; games or other sports; access to parking lots and parking on Coast Highway


  • Allowed: Running and walking on beaches; swimming, surfing, paddling and kayaking in the ocean
  • Not Allowed: Standing sitting or lying down' gatherings, group exercising or group games, recreational boating; access to the pier or the amphitheater; access to the strand except for vehicles (residents will be allowed to access their property); parking lots are closed

Del Mar - Starting Thursday, April 30

  • Allowed: Running and walking on beaches; swimming, surfing and paddling in the ocean
  • Not Allowed: Standing sitting or lying down; games, sports and activities such as volleyball, frisbee, yoga and calisthenics; The 17th Street/Beach Safety Center parking lot will be closed except for disabled access vehicles

These beaches are still closed: Carlsbad, Del Mar, Solana Beach, state beaches across San Diego County.

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