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Businesses and beachgoers happy and relieved after learning Pismo Beach to remain open

Pismo Beach
Beachgoers enjoy the sand and sun in Pismo Beach Thursday afternoon. (Dave Alley/KEYT)

PISMO BEACH, Calif. -- There were a lot of smiles around Pismo Beach Thursday afternoon.

It marked a distinct change from earlier in the day when many believed Gov. Gavin Newsom would announce beach closures throughout California.

Instead, Newsom said only Orange County beaches would shut down, leaving open beaches in other parts of the state, including San Luis Obispo County.

"Very relieved," said Splash Cafe owner Joanne Currie. "I'm delighted that they decided to let us keep the beach open. I'm really happy. I was really upset earlier this morning about the idea and how we were going to evolve with that type of setback."

The longtime owner of the popular restaurant was like many in the city who feared the shoreline would be closed.

"It really would have been devastating," said Currie. "We've all been working so hard. We've been treading water for the last five and six weeks, and we've been just a tiny bit busier, day by day, and to think, having that setback, was really, kind of takes the wind out of your sails, so really grateful that did not happen."

At the shoreline, many beachgoers were also breathing a sigh of relief.

"We thought it was going to close tomorrow, so we came today because tomorrow is my birthday, so we wanted to come for the day," said Kaycie Valdez, visiting from Lemoore. "It's good because I can come back and enjoy the time with my family."

In the morning, visitors were upset about the possibility of losing access to the shoreline.

"We want to use our beaches," said Johnna Bramlett of Grover Beach. "We pay taxes here. We live here. We walk as a family. We stay together shelter in place as a family and we want to use our beach."

Don Williams, who drove from Fresno for an overnight trip, was even more direct with his feelings about potential closure.

"It's overkill," said Williams. "People can be separate and breath clean air and get out of the house. That's why we came over here. We've been cooped up for six weeks in our house. To deny people this access is ridiculous."

For business owners like Currie, keeping the beach open is vital, especially during this challenging time.

"The best is definitely a lifeline to all of us here," said Currie. "This is a beach community. People come here for the beach. They come for other things as well, but it's a huge draw."

She added beachgoers, including tourists and locals, have been mindful of the current restrictions in place, including physical distancing and not gathering in large groups.

There were concerns last weekend about large numbers of visitors to the beach, but the city said no citations were handed out, even with extra police patrols.

"People were, for the most part, following the rules," said Currie. "I think a lot of times, people will see a grouping of people together, but in all likelihood family members that have quarantined together for five to six weeks."

Currie also stressed people that enjoy the beach need to be aware of the beach closures in Orange County and make sure that doesn't happen here.

"Those who come down here, be respectful and responsible," said Currie. "If you're on the beach, try and avoid looking too much like you're too close to people who aren't part of your group."

Pismo Beach officials declined to comment on the city's reaction to the Newsom announcement.

San Luis Obispo County Administrative Officer and Emergency Services Director Wade Horton told NewsChannel, "Our community has worked together and acted responsibly to bend the curve. I appreciate the Governor recognizes our ability to manage our beaches locally."

“I was made aware that the Governor intended to close all beaches in California. He has announced closing only Orange County beaches. I am not in favor of our beaches being closed and do not plan to make criminals out of people that need to walk, run or enjoy the beach for their mental health," San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said in agreement with many other residents. "These are hard times and we need to self-police ourselves and follow safety practices like social distancing and other methods. We have released thousands from jail and prisons, against law enforcement recommendations. We are faced with protecting our citizens from criminals and will continue to do that.”

California / Community / Coronavirus / Lifestyle / Money and Business / Safe at Home / Safety / San Luis Obispo County / Travel / What's Right

Dave Alley

Dave Alley is a reporter and anchor at KCOY|KEYT|KKFX.

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