KEY POINTS

  • Huntington Beach and Dana Point city councils voted to seek legal action in blocking Gov. Gavin Newsom's beach closure
  • Orange County officials said Newsom's order was based on "misleading photographs" that appeared online
  • Legal recourse will be headed by each city's respective city attorney, though neither has said if they plan on working together

Two California beach communities said Friday they would pursue legal action in response to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to close the state’s beaches during the coronavirus pandemic. Officials from Huntington Beach and Dana Point held emergency City Council meetings Thursday after Newsom’s closure order was made official.

Newsom’s decision to close the beaches followed videos and pictures emerging during the weekend of nearly 90,000 people at Orange County beaches despite the state’s shelter-in-place order. However, Orange County officials called Newsom’s decision was hasty and blamed it on “misleading photographs” online.

Huntington Beach Mayor Lyn Semeta said the City Council voted 5-2 to allow city attorney Michael Gates to pursue legal action to prevent the beach closure.

“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,” Semeta said in a statement.

Semeta said the city had already “invested considerable effort and expense” into ensuring social distancing measures would be followed at local beaches. This was done so residents could “experience the physical and mental health benefits associated with accessing the Pacific Ocean” safely and all health guidelines were being followed.

The Dana Point City Council followed suit, voting 4-1 in favor of allowing city attorney Patrick Munoz to pursue legal action to block the beach closure.

“The city will be seeking a temporary restraining order asking the court to enjoin his order until a full hearing on the merits of the matter can occur,” Munoz told reporters.

Beach Representative image of people walking along the beach. Photo: Pixabay