People in Manhattan Beach want to exercise "as close to the ocean as possible," but doing so during stay-at-home orders affects the livelihoods of those who live closest to the water.

City officials are encouraging people to not use Ocean Drive if they don’t live on the street, but residents want more concrete regulations.

"The very first day that the beach was closed, Ocean Drive had hundreds ... over the course of the day (maybe) 1,000 joggers, walkers bicyclists and skateboarders," said Ocean Drive resident Matthew Domyancic.

Every day it gets worse, he added, with people blaring music, running stop signs and driving golf carts from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days-a-week.

"People do not feel safe in their own neighborhood," Domyancic said, adding he can't risk opening his window because people are going by two feet away from it coughing, talking, spitting, breathing hard and doing "farmers' blows."

"Ocean Drive does not replace the Strand," said city manager Bruce Moe during a Wednesday city council meeting, urging residents to use their own neighborhoods for exercise. 

The city issued 43 social distancing warnings on Ocean Drive over the weekend, said Moe during a Monday, April 27 council meeting. Manhattan Beach, during the coronavirus pandemic, has increased city council meetings to three times a week.

"People on Nextdoor are saying they're using (Ocean Drive) because the beach bike path and the Strand are closed, and they want to do their cardio as close to ocean as possible," Domyancic said.

Cyclists fly by in packs, he added, and joggers keep their pace which makes it impossible for someone who is trying to social distance to stay far enough away from others.

At Monday's meeting, city councilmembers discussed enforcement of face masks and distancing to relieve the congestion. But, they said,it wouldn't be effective for police to stand there citing people all day. Face coverings aren't required there because it's a residential, one-way alley for vehicles.

Domyancic and other residents want to see the city close the road to residents only, ban bikes and skateboards and install speed bumps.

"They might as well open the Strand because it's worse here," Domyancic said, adding that people don't stop when residents try to pull vehicles out of their driveways.

It takes 5 to 10 minutes to get out, he said, and he even got in an accident over the weekend when coming out of his garage. When bikes wouldn't slow down, he added, Domyancic backed up so they could go by and he hit his neighbor's car.

"If I didn't hit the parked car to get out of the way, the bike would have crashed into me," Domyancic said. "I've lived here 11 years and I've never done that before."

And, it wasn't only sunsets and ocean breezes that attracted people towards the shoreline.

On Tuesday night, rare neon blue waves caused by bioluminescence, drew "a large amount of people to the Strand," Moe said. Everyone was cooperative when asked to leave, he added, except for one person who was arrested after refusing to give officers identification.

Manhattan Beach sent an alert late Tuesday encouraging the community not to overburden Ocean Drive as it should not be used as a primary exercise destination, highlighting the 19 miles of bike routes that people can use instead.

The city also erected digital signage Tuesday night at nearby intersections. The signs encourage bicyclists to use alternative routes and cycle single filed; people not to litter and pick up after their dogs; and to obey road rules.

Tim Olesnavage, who lives on the Strand, said the signage is confusing in that it alludes to the street being closed, but also tells people to obey the rules of the road.

It "doesn't really make sense," he said.

There's "so many people, it's like driving your car down the Strand," said Olesnavage, whose garage is on Ocean Drive.

"People turn around and glare at me because I'm stopped (in my car) waiting for them to move; they're acting like I shouldn't be on the street," Olesnavage said.

"I feel like Manhattan Beach feels entitled to the beach and walk" paths, Olesnavage added, saying it angers him that everyone isn't in this together.

"I want to be out there as much as any of these people, but this is what we're all doing whether you like it or not," Olesnavage said. "People get used to luxuries, but they should enjoy it when it's open."

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