Seal Beach Pier reopens part of a “soft” Phase 4 reopening

The public returned to the Seal Beach Pier on Tuesday morning, June 9. City beaches are also open. Photo by Charles M. Kelly

The Seal Beach Pier reopened on Tuesday, June 9. The beach parking lots are also open. All parking spaces are available for use.

The reopening was part of a “soft” Phase 4 reopening of Seal Beach.

The announcement that the beaches and pier would reopen came during Police Chief Phil Gonshak’s COVID-19 emergency update to the City Council on Monday night, June 8.

In related news, Gonshak said that Seal Beach had 28 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Monday, June 8, according to the Orange County health agency.

(The county has not released recovery figures, so it is not known how many of those 28 patients are now well.)

Gonshak said that effective Tuesday, June 9, the city would allow passive use of the beaches, beach parking lots would be reopened to 100% capacity, the volleyball nets would be reinstalled and Gum Grove Park would be open for passive use.

Gonshak said the city’s playgrounds, pools, Arbor Park and city-sponsored recreation activities would remain closed until a plan was drafted and approved.

(“The county petitioned the state to reopen public swimming pools. Once approved by the state, the county will determine the timing of the reopening of pools in Orange County and may suggest additional guidelines. The City continues to track progress on this front and will comply with state and county orders as we contemplate the opening of the McGaugh swimming pool,” wrote Recreation Manager Tim Kelsey in a June 9 email.)

According to Gonshak, the public should maintain a social distance of 6 feet and it would be best to leave the public space if it becomes impossible to maintain social distancing.

He said face coverings are still recommended in town and the Orange County Board of Supervisors requires people to wear face coverings when within 6 feet of people who are not part of their household.

Gonshak advised people to self-quarantine if they feel ill or have symptoms of the disease.

“Well, we were very pleased to have that presented to us,” said District One Councilman Joe Kalmick, during a Tuesday, June 9, telephone interview.

“It was probably time to reopen the pier again,” Kalmick said.

He said having the volleyball courts going back up was a good thing.

He said the reopenings would relieve tension that has been built up since the closures.

“I think that once people are able to take their first walk onto the pier, now that it’s open, they will forget about their protestations about their freedom to breathe fresh air being taken away,” Kalmick said.

The mayor was also pleased with the pier’s reopening.

“I am delighted to have the Seal Beach Pier open once again. I hope that the general recommendations (safe distancing and the wearing of masks when closer than six feet) continue to be followed so that our city will stay safe for residents and visitors,” wrote Mayor/District Four Councilwoman Schelly Sustarsic.

City Manager Jill Ingram explained the thinking behind the decision to reopen in an email to the Sun.

“Since the beginning of March, the City of Seal Beach has been extremely focused on doing everything we possibly can to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community and flatten the curve,” Ingram wrote.

“In conjunction with this, our staff has continually and collaboratively worked with each other, the City Council, the community, and a number of other municipalities as we have moved through this pandemic daily,” Ingram wrote.

“This coupled with the data we have used from a number of collegiate institutions, along with the fact that we still have a low number of positive COVID-19 cases at 28 as of yesterday being reported here in Seal Beach, we made the decision collectively with the City Council to slowly move into Phase 4 of our ‘Beach in Motion’ Reopening Plan that was recently approved by Governor Newsom,” Ingram wrote.

“As we move into this phase to reopen our beaches, pier, and beach parking lots, we simply ask everyone to be respectful of others’ wishes to remain socially distant beyond six feet and/or those who desire to wear face coverings, even when not conducting essential business,” Ingram wrote.

“If there were ever a time to be understanding and considerate of others, now is that time. We appreciate everyone’s support, in particular all the residents of Seal Beach, the City Council, all of our businesses, and every City staff member who has worked tirelessly to help us get to this point. It is our hope that we will never have to move backwards to restore previous preemptive safety measures, and it’s important to remember how challenging this pandemic has been for everyone as we move forward towards healing together,” Ingram wrote.

Seal Beach residents and business owners have been asking when the pier would reopen for some time.

“Javatini’s is really pleased to see the reopening of the Seal Beach Pier today,” wrote Rob Jahncke, owner of Javatinis Espresso & Gelato on Main Street.

“I think everyone is ready for things to return back to normal. Even though we must continue to maintain safe social distancing, having the pier open for the residents and visitors to enjoy is greatly needed and appreciated,” wrote Jahncke.

“It is especially good because many people had to cancel their recent trip plans, due to the public health situation. As a small business in the community, our sales are based on a percentage of the foot traffic visiting Seal Beach, including the pier,” wrote Rob Jahncke.

“Many choose to stroll with a cup of coffee in hand. Also, it is a major draw for those who want to get out of the house and enjoy the fresh summer air. Seal Beach is a great area to unwind locally for a few hours and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Pacific Ocean,” wrote Rob Jahncke.