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SURF’S UP: California Beach Towns Challenging Gov. Newsom’s ‘Overreach’ Order on Coastline Closures

Fox News screen grab of Huntington Beach protests

Huntington Beach Mayor Lyn Semeta appeared earlier this week on the Fox News program “The Story” and confirmed that her city has filed a constitutional challenge of California Governor Gavin Newsom’s recent order to close down Orange County beaches. Dana Point has also joined the lawsuit.

Protests in Huntington Beach ramped up over the weekend (pictured above) in response to the order.

The Fox News presenter asked Mayor Semeta whether Gov. Newsom’s beach crackdown was ordered because people had “defied (shelter-in-place) orders by going surfing.”

Semeta responded by saying marine safety officers and beach police, in fact, reported the opposite and that the vast majority of the people out on the surf were observing social distancing guidelines.

Shortly after the state order took effect last week, Huntington Beach City Counsel voted 5-2 to pursue legal action to challenge the beach closures. An injunction was filed immediately against the order with the next hearing set for May 11, according to City Attorney Michael Gates.

Mayor Semeta speaks with host of Fox News' The Story

Semeta (picture above, middle) specifically addressed the beach closure order:

“We were surprised. He (Gov. Newsom) looked at photographs put out there by media outlets and made a decision based on that. We have filed a challenge, a constitutional challenge joined by a couple other cities here in Orange County, and we will be pursuing that. We feel like it’s an overreach, constitutionally. It wasn’t based on data, and the data doesn’t bear that out. And really Orange County should be looked at as a model for how to manage this crisis. We think it’s important to get that question answered…whether that was an overreach by the authority of the Governor.”

The mayor of ‘Surf City USA‘ previously stated that Orange County has some of the lowest per-capita COVID-19 death rates in California, and that the beach closures prioritized “politics over data” – contradicting Newsom’s policy of using science and facts to guide the state’s response to the public health crisis.

Huntington Beach, Seal Beach, Laguna Beach and Dana Point have all since gained state approval in the last few days for a ‘limited’ reopening of their coastlines for recreational use, with the following restrictions:

  • Allows active recreational activities
  • Physical distancing required
  • Ocean open to water activites
  • Passive games, loitering and sunbathing prohibited
  • Pier, playgrounds and picnic areas closed

Huntington Beach currently has 230 COVID-19 cases out of a population of 203,761. Official health reporting for Orange County is available here.

In the nearby city of Newport Beach, Councilman Kevin Muldoon filed a personal lawsuit in federal court also challenging the constitutionality of the beach closure order. Newport Beach has yet to gain approval to reopen its sands to the public.

(Image via Office of the Governor of California's video on Twitter)
The masked Gov. Newsom, picture above, has drawn both praise and criticism for his state’s response to the coronavirus crisis. (Image via Office of the Governor of California’s video on Twitter)

Gov. Newsom and Huntington Beach have been trading lawsuits since early last year.

On January 25, 2019, it was announced that the Golden State was suing the city for ‘deliberately blocking affordable housing‘ after it amended a previous plan that would have provided additional affordable housing units to be built.

Though the beach town has reopened to the public, at least partially for the time being, the city is intent on pursuing its legal action challenging what it claims is constitutional overreach.

A recent Forbes report on Apple’s ‘Mobility Trends’ data suggests that shelter-in-place is ending whether governments want it to or not.

Expect more local fights like the one in Surf City as COVID-19 lockdowns continue to wear thin with the public.

READ MORE CORONAVIRUS NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Coronavirus Files

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