It took less than 24 hours after Monterey announced it was shutting down its beaches for Fourth of July before its neighbors—Pacific Grove, Carmel and Pebble Beach—agreed in an online meeting today, July 2, to shut their beaches for the Fourth of July holiday weekend from 12:01am Friday through 11:59pm Sunday.
No one will be allowed on beaches except for those headed into the water for recreation. Parking will also be closed or extremely limited. Parking for state beaches is also closed. Pebble Beach is closing its beaches even for water sports and will be closed to all except residents and their guests, members and guests of private clubs and those with confirmed reservations.
In a press release and emergency order from Monterey City Manager Hans Uslar issued on July 2, he said his city will fine people in violation of the beach order. Fines are $100 for the first violation, $150 for the second and $200 for a third. The order also closes or limits parking, with violations subject to a $125 fine.
“We have a very compelling reason to close beaches with the spike in Covid-19 positive cases in the county and the anticipation of large crowds coming here to celebrate Independence Day during this three-day weekend,” Uslar said.
“I appreciate the uniform approach on the Monterey Peninsula that follows the city’s announcement yesterday to close beaches," he said. "It also sends a strong message to potential violators that we are serious about protecting the public health of our community.”
In its own press release, the Pebble Beach Company said the decision was made after a directive by the state of California the day before to shutter beaches in Southern California, adding that locally the plan had been "made with support of the California Coastal Commission staff."
"Closing 17-Mile Drive over Fourth of July weekend was a difficult decision to make, but the right one," Bill Perocchi, CEO of Pebble Beach Company, said in the press release. He said speaking with officials and local healthcare leaders made it clear that minimizing access would help reduce the spread of Covid-19.
The online meeting of local representatives came early this morning and included cities and agencies within Monterey County District 5, represented by Supervisor Mary Adams. They discussed the terms of the closure and how it would be enforced, according to a source who attended the meeting.
On the call were representatives from Monterey, Pacific Grove, Carmel, Pebble Beach Company, the Monterey County Sheriff's Department, the California Highway Patrol and Adams.
Monterey initially announced that it was doing only a partial closure which would allow people to cross the beach to enter the water from July 4-5. City managers from Pacific Grove and Carmel said after Monterey's announcement they weren't planning on any additional closures—Carmel has had a rule about walking or running on the beach only for months (no sitting, sunning or picnicking) and P.G. City Manager Ben Harvey said he would only close that city's beaches if the P.G. City Council recommended it at a council meeting on July 1.
During that Zoom council meeting, several residents urged Harvey, as the emergency manager, to close down beaches and parking turnouts. Most of the council agreed, although some worried about the ability of the P.G. Police Department to enforce a closure and debated whether closing parking turnouts would channel cars into neighborhoods.
P.G. City Councilmember Cynthia Garfield also argued that outdoor recreation on beaches comes with much lower risk of exposure to the virus than indoor locations. If the city shut down beaches it should also consider shutting down inside dining.
No vote was taken by the council, but the direction to Harvey was to close beaches, at least to people gathering and lounging, and parking turnouts. This morning he issued a press release stating that P.G.'s beaches and parking turnouts would close to minimize the impacts of Covid-19.
The local decision to close beaches comes on the same day that California put Monterey County on a monitoring list for possible re-closure of some businesses due to the increasing number of Covid-19 cases.
Monterey County issued its own press release this afternoon with further details about beach closures. (See list and links below.)
"The cities of Pacific Grove, Carmel, Monterey and the Pebble Beach Company along with State Parks have taken this extraordinary move due to health concerns about anticipated crowds which traditionally visit local beaches during this holiday," the county's announcement said. "Such crowding is a danger and can increase the spread of coronavirus both in the local community and for people coming to visit and then returning to their communities."
Monterey: beaches are closed, ocean activity allowed, parking restrictions.
Pacific Grove: beaches closed, ocean activity allowed. Ocean View Boulevard parking turnouts closed.
Carmel: beaches closed Friday morning through Sunday at sundown.
Pebble Beach: From 12:01am Friday July 3 through 11:59pm Sunday July 5, 17-Mile Drive will be closed to tourist traffic. All ocean activity, including beaches, beach parking and turnouts will be closed to all visitors, residents and guests.
California State Parks: beaches closed, ocean activity allowed. No vehicle access, congregating not allowed. Check the webpage for the specific park you wish to visit.
US Forest Service: Check the Monterey Ranger District for the status of USFS beaches.