Hundreds of surfers dotted the water from the Palos Verdes Peninsula north to the Topaz Street jetty in Redondo Beach around 8 a.m. Saturday morning, May 16, enjoying the first weekend day of open beaches in six weeks — even if they were only for “active use,” meaning picnicking and sunbathing are still prohibited to stem the further spread of the coronavirus.
To the southeast, in Long Beach, runners, roller skaters and bikers made heavy use of the beach bike and pedestrian path, but the real hot spot was Rosie’s Dog Beach, where dozens of families — including their four-legged members — set up shop near the water.
In both the South Bay and Long Beach, most folks complied with rules to maintain 6 feet of distance between themselves and those outside their households. About half wore face masks. Few joggers covered their faces.
Up at the Topaz Street jetty in Redondo Beach, dozens of youngsters splashed in the water and rode boogie boards, as some parents stood to watch, others plopping down on towels.
Nearby, two dads and five kids, all in wetsuits, cheered two other kids in the water.
“Way to go, Jonah!” yelled dad Jared Sayers as his son stood up on his board and rode a tiny wave to shore. “You did it!”
Sayers and his friend Andy Krikorian, both Redondo Beach residents, had a total of seven kids ranging from ages 6 to 9 in their charge.
“This is a wonderful way for them to get exercise,” said Sayers. “I mean, hey, this is turning into a summer of no basketball, no soccer, so we decided, we’re starting a surf team.”
Also taking in the fresh air Saturday were Torrance residents Pat and Melisa Stark pushing 2-year-old Timothy in a stroller. The couple, wearing bright orange matching shirts, stopped for a selfie at the Redondo Beach Pier. The photo was to show them at the halfway point of World Vision’s Global 6K for Water race — which was supposed to have taken place Saturday.
Instead, the Starks were jogging along the bike path, and checking in with the race virtually.
With all beach parking lots closed, they had a tough time parking, said Pat Stark. But, they were pleased there was plenty of room to run. Redondo Beach's bike path, which traverses the sand, remained closed to cyclists and pedestrians alike, though plenty of folks spent Saturday walking and running along the path.
Wearing masks outside seemed like overkill, said Pat Stark.
“But, I’m playing along so as not to make other people uncomfortable,” he said.
Jesus Saenz, his wife Corina and sister-in-law Kathy Ortega drove down to Redondo Beach from Fresno early Saturday. Ortega, who is originally from Los Angeles, wanted to show them the beach and grab a shrimp platter to-go from International Seafood.
Saenz said traffic was light and it took only three-and-a-half hours, the fastest ever, to make the trek. With parking lots closed, he said, they circled for about 30 minutes and then got lucky: a parking spot right on Pacific Coast Highway and Avenue B.
The three were happy for the change of scenery and the ocean breeze, they said.
“Fresno — it’s out of control there,” said Saenz, explaining people in his hometown don’t listen when it comes to the health orders.
Some beachgoers were concerned with the number of folks who were crowding the area in Long Beach.
“It’s fine that the beaches reopened with safety guidelines,” said Rene Kithcart as he jogged through the dog beach, “but there sure are a lot of people out here without any mask or face coverage.”
Averie Simon, who brought her dog Donut for a day at the beach, also said she was surprised at the sight.
“There are a lot more people here than I expected,” she said. “And I thought you weren’t supposed to be laying out. But people look like they’re keeping distance, and I’m just happy my dog gets to have some fun in the water.”
Long Beach officials, for their part, said Saturday afternoon they were not aware of any issues with people gathering on the beaches and that no citations had been issued for violating the health order in place for the beaches.
“The city continues to work to educate residents about physical distancing and other health and safety measures to be followed at this time,” Long Beach spokeswoman Chelsey Finegan said in an email.
On the Los Angeles County beaches, though, it appeared most people were kept a safe distance — even as some ignored the county rule to wear face coverings when not in the water.
In Long Beach, where officials have said face coverings are only required when in close contact with those outside of your own household, folks seemed to enjoy the opportunity to take advantage of the sand and the sunny weather.
“Seems like most people are staying in check with distancing and whatnot,” said Mike Rodriguez, who was jogging along the beachfront. “Most people are just here to get some exercise in and enjoy the perfect weather.”
**Updated on May 20 to reflect Redondo Beach's bike path is not open to pedestrians, though many of them were using it on Saturday.