Pair of N. California sheriffs oppose beach closure order

Update (04/30/20 1:37 p.m.) – California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a beach closure for Orange County only. The order did not extend to the entire California coastline.


Original story: CRESCENT CITY, Calif. – At least two Northern California sheriffs are opposing a beach closure order from California’s governor.

On April 30, Governor Gavin Newsom reportedly sent a memo to police agencies announcing his intention to close all California beaches effective May 1. Newsom’s plan comes after thousands of residents took to the beaches in Orange and Ventura counties last weekend.

Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal stood in opposition to the order. “As Sheriff, I am the protector of constitutional rights in Humboldt County,” he said, “and if an order is issued that I believe violates our constitutional rights, I will not enforce it.” Honsal explained the order comes on the heels of stay-at-home violations in Southern California while Northern California residents have been able to use beaches responsibly.

Del Norte County Sheriff Erik Apperson said he didn’t support the “one size fits all” approach and won’t be limiting the movements of residents as a “reaction to behavior by those well outside of Del Norte County.” He explained Del Norte citizens are already sacrificing more than their fair share.

Sheriff Apperson’s complete statement is as follows:

Residents of Del Norte County,

After the well-publicized media coverage of over crowded southern California beaches this past weekend, in violation of Governor Newsom’s Shelter in Place Order, the Governor has made clear his intention to shut down all California beaches and state parks, effective May 1st.

This one size fits all response does not serve the people of Del Norte County. My job as Sheriff is to do just that. With a population of less than 30,000 people in the entire county, Del Norte accounts for about 1,200 square miles of land and nearly 40 miles of coastline.

Now, I understand what state we are in and often we must be aligned in our response to large scale challenges. That said, I will not participate in limiting the movement and freedoms of Del Norte County residents as a reaction to behavior by those well outside of Del Norte County. We are already sacrificing more than our share and frankly we are exemplary in our efforts as a community. Beaches and outdoor recreation are essential aspects of our daily lives here and critical to our mental/physical well being.

Let me also be clear that this is not an invitation for people that have such limitations being imposed on them to come visit Del Norte County. We are committed to the safety and well being of our families and I am not interested in people visiting here that do not share that priority. If your decision to take a tour of Del Norte County results in our local residents being less safe then you are not welcome here, COVID-19 or not.

As for us, we are for the most part practicing social distancing. Many of our businesses are taking a tremendous hit financially for the greater good. We are listening to our outstanding Public Health Officer and we deeply value his guidance. The vast majority of us are wearing masks and large numbers of us are working from home. Some of us aren’t able to work at all. We are leveraging our local economy for the sake of a healthy community. So far, health-wise, we have not been greatly impacted by COVID-19. We hope that continues but we are also constantly preparing for a worst case scenario. Our local leaders are talking and we may not always agree with one another but we are all putting Del Norte first. We are taking steps to move forward while preserving what we cherish.

We know what it’s like to be forgotten, overlooked and marginalized when it comes to decisions made by our state government. The byproduct has resulted in conditioning to be resilient and somewhat independent over our nearly two centuries of existence as a county. We are located on the extreme northwest tip of California. Make no mistake, we are in California, but we are also in Del Norte County.

I will remain vigilant and focused on the Constitutional freedoms, behavior and well being of people within Del Norte County, while continuing to support California the best I can. As Sheriff, I will not punish the good people of Del Norte for the actions of those outside of my county.

To my fellow residents; please continue to be an example to the rest of the state. Let’s work together while sharing a common goal of what’s best for our residents.

I am Del Norte proud and honored to be your Sheriff.

Admirably,

Sheriff Apperson

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