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Outdoors

Going to the beach during a beach closure is still on the agenda if you are active

Santa Claus - Padaro Beach
John Palminteri
Closed beaches are still open for recreation, just not gathering. Warnings and education first, then a citation if you persist. (Photo: John Palminteri)
Beach activity
KEYT
Closed beaches are still open for recreation, just not gathering. Warnings and education first, then a citation if you persist. (Photo: KEYT)
Beach scene
John Palminteri
Closed beaches are still open for recreation, just not gathering. Warnings and education first, then a citation if you persist. (Photo: John Palminteri)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Not far from beach closure signs you will still find many people at the beach who are not violating the Labor Day COVID-19 health order rules.

They aren't worried because what's banned isn't what they do.

These aren't people who tan for hours, barbecue with a large group at a picnic table or build sand castles.

They walk, run, play with their dogs, paddleboard, surf, boogie board, boat, kayak, and do similar activities without standing still, sitting, laying out towels, coolers or chairs.

The intent of the partial closures is to discourage group gatherings and unless that takes place, and warnings are refused, it is unlikely law enforcement will be heavy-handed about a violation.

Police and Harbor Patrol officers who see people gathering in violation of the rules, defying warnings and public safety, will hold a much different conversation.

The same goes for those who are violating parking restrictions as has been the case in the area of Fernald Point and Humphrey Road in Montecito where parked cars on busy beach days have not only been in no parking zones, they have been around fire hydrants, and too close together on small streets to allow emergency vehicles to easily pass.

In one case near the popular Miramar Beach, the distance between cars can sometimes be as little as 11 feet. Efforts have been made to resolve this.

The First District County Supervisor, Das Williams, along with residents, the Montecito Fire Protection District and Santa Barbara Sheriff's Department have a joint effort to keep the streets safely open and direct the public to alternative parking areas rather than the overcrowded closest streets by the beach.

It wouldn't be as much of an attraction if it were overcast and gloomy, but it will be the exact opposite this weekend. The excessive heat will produce among the hottest days of the year and likely break temperature records in some areas.

Forecasters are already predicting highs in the upper 90's in Santa Barbara and over 100 degrees in all the inland valley areas.

Pat Garner walked on the Santa Barbara breakwater wall saying to avoid the heat, "I just go from shade to shade."

A Channel Island harbor boat owner Walter Wotman took a cruise up the coast with friends. "We took our boat from the Channel Island harbor and we parked it over here in this harbor [Santa Barbara] and we are boat camping. We are socially, respectfully distancing as we can and enjoying it."

Many people said it was easy to find alternatives to tanning or having a beach barbecue.

"It's so nice. Just because you can't lie down doesn't mean you can't be outdoors," said Monica McCaffrey. She says the walk along the breakwater is usually about 10 degrees cooler than most areas nearby.

"It's always cool, there's always a breeze. There's water on both sides so it is really nice to go out there and watch the surfers at the end and look over at the wharf. Yeah, it's a nice place," said McCaffrey.

One crowd observation came from a frequent visitor who sees fewer people now than at any other time in over a decade.

Pat Garner said, "really it's almost no one compared to the past. We have been coming out here for maybe 15 years and this is the slowest I've seen it."

Garner says, compared to Phoenix where she was three weeks ago, "when we left it was a 118 and going up and then for at least two months it was over 111. 111, 112, 115, 117, it's been brutal, very brutal. At midnight it's 105!"

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT NewsChannel 3 and KCOY 12 Central Coast News.

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