HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. - UPDATE
Orange County beaches will remain closed. Judge Nathan Scott declined Friday to issue a temporary restraining order to halt Gov. Newsom's executive order to shut down OC beaches only.
The judge did, however, issue an order to Newsom's attorneys for them to provide cause, according to FOX 11 investigative reporter Bill Melugin.
The next hearing is set for Monday May 11.
The Huntington Beach City Council voted 5-2 Thursday night to file a lawsuit challenging Gov. Gavin Newsom's orders to shut down all of Orange County's beaches set to take effect on May 1.
Dana Point would also be joining in the fight against Newsom's Orange County beach closure order.
A memo sent to all police departments in the state on Wednesday saying Gov. Newsom was set to announce a full closure of all beaches in the state was leaked to the public and a backlash ensued. However, on Thursday, during a news briefing from the governor, Newsom singled out Orange County only after photos of a busy beach over the weekend sparked concerns over COVID-19.
“Governor Newsom’s mandate to close all beaches in Orange County today was a jarring decision that significantly impacts us here in Huntington Beach,” said Mayor Lyn Semeta. “Given that Orange County has among the lowest per-capita COVID-19 death rates in California, the action by the State prioritizes politics over data, in direct contradiction of the Governor’s stated goal to allow science and facts to guide our response to this horrible global pandemic.”
With Thursday's vote, the city of Huntington Beach is directing the city attorney to pursue any and all legal actions necessary to challenge the state's beach closure directive.
"Out of concern for being the only Orange County city with beaches still open, Huntington Beach will be closing all beaches starting May 1, including the City’s bike paths, boat ramps, restrooms, parking lots, and associated recreational amenities. In addition, activities such as sunbathing, walking, running, and watersports will be prohibited," said city officials in a statement.
"Prior to the issuance of the Governor’s directive, the City had been following the State’s Stay-at-Home Order guidelines, and had invested considerable effort and expense in order to discourage overcrowding while facilitating effective social distancing at our beaches," the statement continued. "In this way, the City was attempting to provide the community with the ability to safely experience the physical and mental health benefits associated with accessing the Pacific Ocean. Our experience locally had been that most people were being responsible and complying with social distancing requirements."
So what happened? Gov. Newsom denied ever seeing the memo that caused shockwaves throughout the state and said he never intended to close down all beaches. However, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer told FOX 11 investigative reporter Bill Melugin that on Wednesday night, Newsom's staff members called to say all California beaches would be closed -- then, minutes before the governor's news conference on Thursday, the Governor's Office called again saying it would just be OC Beaches.
San Diego's mayor's sentiments were also shared by Orange County Supervisor Donald Wagner who told FOX 11 his office also received a call from the governor's staff just minutes before the scheduled news briefing Thursday to let him know only OC beaches would be closing.
Wagner's Office said in a statement, "The Governor says in his press conference that he wants to listen to local health professionals and work together. Orange County would like this as well. But he has not tried to work with local leaders; he is asking, despite his rhetoric to the contrary, for a 'one size fits all' approach."
The California Police Chiefs Association also issued a statement regarding the memo saying in part, "In an ever-changing environment, we sent out information regarding decisions that were still evolving, which was regrettably shared outside of our police chief membership and we apologize for the undue concern that cause to the public, our colleagues, the Governor and his staff. The sole intent of the notification was to alert our members and give police chiefs time to prepare."