Coronavirus: Crowds Congregate at Malibu Hotspots Over the Weekend Prompting Fear of Mass Exposure – Lawmakers Respond

Barely 48 hours after Governor Newsome announced new state mandates to combat the spread of the Coved-19 virus, it seems the “Safer at Home” protective measure set forth by lawmakers has not quite set in the minds of many who blatantly ignored the safeguards.

Much like the scenes from Florida spring break, tens of thousands flocked to southland beaches. Malibu tourist destinations were loaded up like summer was in full swing. Malibu Seafood was slammed serving to go orders, patrons lined up with barely inches to spare between each other, prompting deputies from the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station to issue a warning to the owners if they did not enforce the 6 foot rule between patrons, they would be reported to the heath department. On Monday, 3/23 they decided to close indefinitely.

Photos of the Malibu Pier, traffic jams on PCH, and Bikers at Neptune’s Net blasted all over social media, including The Local Malibu platforms, went viral prompting local and global news stations, including Fuji Japan to use photos on our social media to cover the story potential mass exposure of Covid-19 in our area. Outraged community members inundated lawmakers to shut down area parks and beaches for fear of further exposure to the virus.

 

Senator Henry Stern addressed his concerns on social media upon seeing the disturbing images of crowds gathering in the area violating “Safer at Home” protective measures and hinting at the potential closures of recreational outdoor spaces..

State and county Officials responded immediately with Sheriff Alex Villanueva ordering all LA County beach parking lots closed first thing Monday morning as directed by the County. The Local Malibu met with Lost Hills Station Acting Captain Chuck Becerra early Monday morning as Becerra was giving the orders to his deputies to close the lots immediately until further notice. Becerra also informed The Local Malibu there will be “Full enforcements on essential businesses not following State and County guidelines during the Covid-19 health crisis. That includes non-essential businesses open, or appearing to be open when mandated to be closed.”

Deputies carrying out orders from Sheriff Villanueva closing beach parking lots along the coast including the Malibu Pier.

Supervisor Kathy Barger announced the closure of all State parks and trails at a press conference Monday. Mountains Recreation Conservancy Authority was the first to announce closures of their properties over the weekend after their parks and trails were inundated with visitors not abiding by county mandates and the 6 ft rule.

Sheriff Villanueva in an interview with Fox 11 news yesterday said he’s adding 1,300 deputies to patrol, doubling the current amount. Additionally, in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in jail, he has released 10% of the inmate population from county jails, 1,700 nonviolent offenders with misdemeanor sentences that were up within 30 days.

“We’re gonna keep violent felony suspects who are a threat to the community in the jail no matter what,” Villanueva said. “Anybody who has an idea that somehow we’re not going to be hard on crooks out there on the streets, they’re tragically mistaken, there’s twice as many deputies on the street now so the odds of you getting caught are a lot higher.”

Villanueva also criticized how local politicians have handled the messaging behind the numerous stay-at-home orders. “This is about taking care of people, not elected officials or politicians,” Villanueva said.

The Sheriff also pointed out in the interview out that press conferences routinely involve politicians thanking each other, with minimal important information. “When I see the same faces and they’re saying a lot but there’s no substance, you eventually become background noise and people just tune you out,” Villanueva said.

The Sheriff is also the Director of Emergency Operations and the number one person in charge during a crisis, including the Covid-19 crisis. All FEMA requests go through him, and all National Guard requests go through him.

As of Monday, neither Villanueva, nor any law enforcement official had been included in any of the LA county press conferences, and he believes the public stopped listening to the politicians, with evidence being how many people violated the stay at home order over the weekend.

“When we’re communicating the shelter in place or the safer at home, there’s a lot of anguish, however, the people who have to enforce it are public safety, and we were totally out of the process, we were not involved,” Villanueva told Fox 11. 

“Then after the fact, the same people delivering the message were complaining  about why people weren’t listening to the message, perhaps because they should have used authority figures the community recognizes that would be the enforcers of it to deliver the message with far greater impact.”

As a result, Villanueva sent a letter to the Board of Supervisors, essentially telling them he’s taking control of the public  messaging effective immediately.

As for photos posted to social media showing military vehicles in our area, Villanueva told Fox 11 the National Guard, although activated in California by the White House, has not responded here, and he would only ask them to under dire circumstances.

“If we start losing major portions of our sworn personnel (due to Covid-19 exposure), that impacts our ability to man jails or our patrol obligations, and were running out of people to do that, if we’re in that position typically our counterparts in LAPD they’ll be in the same boat, then we can use the National Guard to start assigning them to security operations,” Villanueva said.

Stay tuned for real-time updates on the Covid-19 crisis on our social media. Twitter: @thelocalmalibu  Facebook: Facebook.com/thelocalmalibu

 

Cece Woods

The Current Report Editor in Chief Cece Woods started The Local Malibu, an activism based platform in 2014. The publication was instrumental in the success of pro-preservation ballot measures and seating five top vote-getters in the Malibu City Council elections.

During the summer of 2018, Woods exposed the two-year law enforcement cover-up in the Malibu Creek State Park Shootings, and a few short months later provided the most comprehensive local news coverage during the Woolsey Fire attracting over 1 million hits across her social media platforms. Woods also founded Malibu based 90265 Magazine and Cali Mag devoted to the authentic southern California lifestyle.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.