Newport Council Affirms Support for Legal Action to Reopen Beaches

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Lifeguards ask beachgoers to leave the beach near the Newport Pier on Saturday, May 2. On Thursday, Gov. Newsom announced that all Orange County beaches would be closed until further notice. / Photo by Chris Trela

According to information received from the City of Newport Beach, the Newport Beach City Council on Saturday, May 2, voted to affirm its support for litigation filed by Huntington Beach, Dana Point and business owners seeking to reopen Orange County beaches following the Governor’s Thursday closure directive.

On Tuesday, the Newport Beach City Council voted to keep City beaches open in a safe manner, with a plan in place for this weekend crafted by law enforcement personnel from the Police, Fire, and Lifeguard Departments. This plan was designed to ensure that people had a safe outlet for recreation and exercise for their physical and mental wellbeing.

On Thursday, however, Governor Newsom ordered all beaches in Orange County to close. The Governor’s office had not sought the City’s perspective on beach safety or the weekend plan before issuing the directive.

Saturday’s Council action during a special City Council meeting affirms an amicus brief filed by the City of Newport Beach supporting the litigation requesting that all Orange County beaches be reopened.

In the brief that was filed, the City of Newport Beach noted that the order to close the beaches was “an arbitrary and unnecessary” order that undermines local control.

The brief goes on to state that “a virus, no matter how serious, cannot be an excuse to disregard the operation of law and trample the rights of citizens of the County of Orange and the rights of the residents of the City of Newport Beach. The City of Newport Beach (the “City”), as amicus, fully supports the efforts of the plaintiffs, the City of Huntington Beach, the City of Dana Point, Balboa Bay Club Ventures, LLC, Pacific City Investments, LLC, and Lido House LLC (“Plaintiffs”) to challenge this arbitrary and unnecessary abuse of power that has led to the closure of all beaches in Newport Beach.”

The brief also notes that the decision to close the beaches “was not well-reasoned but appears to be a response to sensationalized photos of people in Newport Beach last weekend. These photos appear to have been taken in a way that misleadingly depicts the number of people on the beach and are directly contradicted by the photographs taken by the Newport Beach Police. Pictures in the media are not the basis for governmental regulation that overrides the City of Newport Beach’s local authority granted under the Constitution of the State of California.”

Read the full amicus brief: https://www.newportbeachca.gov/home/showdocument?id=66757

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