Crowds packed out San Diego County beaches for the 4th of July, with a large crowd seen at Pacific Beach as sunbathers laid out on the sand, pedestrians crowded boardwalks and lines grew at nearby restaurants.
With multiple closures at other beaches in Southern California, it was unclear just how big the turnout would be in San Diego.
“We didn’t know what to expect actually with other closures in the area of how we were going to be inundated but it seems pretty regular for the 4th of July with definitely a lot of people,” Marine Safety Lt. Rich Stropky told KTLA sister station KSWB in San Diego.
The California Office of Emergency Services sent a letter on Friday to the city managers of San Diego, Imperial Beach, Oceanside, Del Mar and others, requesting that they close their beach parking lots during the holiday weekend.
“At the time of writing, beaches under the jurisdiction of local governments within San Diego County are the only beaches without visitation restrictions throughout all of Southern California, and therefore are attracting thousands of residents from outside your coastal communities and creating significant potential for disease transmission, particularly in crowded restaurants, bars, retail, and hotels,” state officials said in the letter.
San Diego’s Chief Operating Officer Kris Michell told the City News Service in a statement that local officials weren’t given enough time to close the parking lots.
“The city of San Diego is closely following county guidance and working with health officials to encourage adherence to public health regulations,” Michell said. “The request to regional coastal cities to close beach parking lots on the Fourth of July came last night just a few hours before the start of the holiday, leaving little time to enact, enforce or notify the public.”
Carlsbad and oceanside both announced closing beach parking lots Friday.
Closures at other beaches came as concerns grew over increasing coronavirus cases. But in spite of the case surges and warnings for people to take precautions, many were not wearing masks or social distancing in Pacific Beach. Instead, the crowds looked very similar to crowds in years past.
“This is pretty normal for the 4th of July,” Stropky said. “It’s definitely not anything extraordinary because it’s always extraordinary on the 4th.”