PLEASANTON (KPIX) — As Californians approach the second weekend of the shelter-in-place order, many state and regional parks are making big changes to avoid seeing big crowds.
The East Bay Regional Parks District announced it is closing 20 of its most popular parks starting Friday, March 27 until April 30. The other 73 parks will stay open — at least for now.
“Weekends it gets overrun because everyone is out at the same time,” said Crystal Reiss. She comes over to Crown Beach in Alameda from her house in Oakland and says people are starting to understand the concept of social distancing.
“Now, when I’m out, people are really making an effort to give that radius and, you know, there’s a learning curve,” Reiss said.
Last weekend, thousands of people packed beaches near San Francisco and the Marin Headlands and crowded Dolores Park in the city’s Mission District. They were clear violations of the shelter-in-place order.
“Sadly we saw a number of areas in our city that were just jam-packed,” said San Francisco mayor London Breed in a video news conference. “We are going to have to make some changes. The last thing I want to do, as I said on Monday, is to basically close parks,” the mayor added.
California State Parks is closing the parking lots of 98 parks and beaches. All San Mateo County parks and all Marin County regional parks and beaches have closed.
“Most of the closures are actually removing parking from picnic areas and really high-density recreation sites,” said Robert Doyle, East Bay Regional Park District’s general manager.
In most cases, the parking lots are closed to reduce the number of people at the park but the trails are still open to walkers or bicyclists.
“They can walk in. We’re trying to educate people about behavior, not about not using the parks they love,” Doyle said.
The trail at Crown Beach has become a much-needed respite for a lot of people like Alameda resident Bryan Flemming.
“I’ve been going out on the beach or at least the sidewalk once or twice a day, trying to catch the sunset at the end of the day. It just kind of gives you a little bit of extra pep through the day to be able to get out and get some fresh air,” Flemming said.
Doyle says East Bay Regional Parks directors could decide to close more of the facilities if they become overcrowded.
In Marin County, Lee Richardson, an Inverness resident, didn’t mind seeing the lines of cars around town last week. He says, “At my age, nothing bothers me. I’m 90.”
© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. KPIX 5’s Andrea Nakano contributed to this report