California’s Capitol dome / Image via Shutterstock

The California Legislature won’t be heading back to work on April 13 as planned.

“Given what the governor and our public health officials have stated, it has become increasingly clear that the April 13 return date the Legislature envisioned isn’t feasible,” Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins told Voice of San Diego in a statement. “Our top priority has to remain helping flatten the COVID-19 transmission curve to prevent our health care systems from being overwhelmed. I will continue working with Speaker [Anthony] Rendon on a bicameral path forward, and I hope that in short order we will be conducting our business in a way that ensures the public’s participation and protects the public’s health.”

Lawmakers have been in recess since March 20, after they passed a $1.1 billion relief package to aid local governments, hospitals and schools across the state.

This is typically the time of the year in which legislative committees in both houses hold hearings to hash out the details of hundreds of pieces of legislation.

Atkins’ SB 1100, for example – a measure to address sea-level rise – was slated for a hearing on April 13.

Beaches Cities Beg State to Close Beaches

Leaders of beach cities across San Diego County have been urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to take a firmer stand and definitively close state beaches to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

In one letter to Newsom on March 27, several Assembly members, including Assemblyman Todd Gloria and Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, said the “soft closure” Newsom had ordered isn’t having its desired impact:

This past weekend, despite repeated warnings by you and other elected officials throughout the state, Californians and tourists alike continued to flock to our beautiful beaches in droves.  While we hoped that everyone would be responsible and abide by public health guidelines for social distancing, this clearly was not the case at beaches in my South Bay district and throughout the state.  Our state and county beaches are particularly vulnerable sites due to their limited access points and trails that force people close together, with restroom facilities that often lack soap or hand sanitizer.

A separate letter sent by Carlsbad officials to the governor, Sen. Pat Bates and Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath says that inconsistent closures are only causing people to congregate in the few remaining open spaces:

With the state beaches remaining open in Carlsbad, our city has increasingly become a regional destination for beach-goers. Mixed messages are creating confusion and presenting significant challenges to our ability to maintain social distancing and protect the health and safety of our residents and visitors.

But Boerner Horvath doesn’t appear to support that step. She sent this statement to VOSD:

I absolutely support both the state and county public health guidance on preventing gatherings outside the immediate household, ensuring safe social distancing, and encouraging folks to exercise for both their physical and mental health during this worldwide crisis. I also think every district is different and my office and I are watching closely to make sure this guidance is followed on our State Beaches.

In my district, only small stretches of city beaches have been completely closed, and if local jurisdictions do not feel they can enforce the non-household gathering on the beach or narrow access points, they should have the right to act in the interest of the public health and safety of our constituents.

As for our state beaches, the Governor took the appropriate steps to reduce the volume of beachgoers by closing state beach parking lots. My office is in close contact with State Parks and local jurisdictions to continually assess the public’s compliance with both the gathering ban and social distancing on state beaches, and the good news from our region is that is exactly what people are doing.

While this beach issue may be top of mind for some people, we really need to focus on the good work the state, county, and locals are doing to prepare our health care system for the increasing cases of COVID-19, and how we can best support those efforts.

Only a handful of state beaches across California are fully closed.

Meanwhile, in the absence of state action, Carlsbad announced Thursday it will close a six-mile stretch of road along a state-owned beach to parking, to discourage beach-goers.

Schools News

Golden State News

Kayla Jimenez contributed to this report.

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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