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City Lifts Construction Ban, Closes Beach Parking Lots

Mar 24, 2020 12:04PM ● By Jeanne Fratello
The Manhattan Beach City Council on Monday night voted to lift a ban on non-essential construction that it had issued on Friday. Additionally, the council moved to close beach-adjacent parking lots in Manhattan Beach to all but residents holding existing parking permits.

Both issues had been the subject of public consternation over the weekend - both from builders and families waiting to finish construction projects; and from residents concerned about overcrowding in beach parking lots.

Construction Ban Lifted

The council discussed the construction issue in closed session and also heard comments from residents and builders asking for the ban to be lifted. Council members voted to lift the construction ban, on a 5-0 vote, effective immediately.

The council said that its latest action was consistent with the governor's revised order and California FAQ’s responses regarding essential work during the stay at home orders issued over the weekend. 

“Recognizing the governor’s most recent action that limits a city’s ability to define essential services relative to the local community, the city will now allow construction activity, as to not come into conflict with the emergency orders from the state,” said Mayor Richard Montgomery in a statement.

Construction and all related activities that support construction are considered part of the essential workforce under the state order. The exemption is not limited to critical infrastructure construction, but any type of construction site and construction project, including housing construction.

The city had enacted its original ban on Friday due to the close working conditions typically present at construction worksites, as well as the close proximity of residential lots. However, in light of the governor’s revised order and the many contractors who informed the city that they will exercise social distancing protocols, the city agreed to allow construction activities.

In a related action, the City Council will consider an urgency ordinance at Wednesday’s City Council meeting that imposes penalties on residents, visitors, and businesses, including those conducting construction activities, who do not abide by the social distancing orders issued by the State and County.  That meeting will begin at 8:00 a.m.

Beach Parking Lots Closed

The council also voted, 5-0, to close the beach-adjacent parking lots except to residents with existing permits. This includes the El Porto (North Manhattan Beach), Bruce's Beach, and Manhattan Beach Pier-adjacent parking lots.

Residents of Manhattan Beach who hold valid and current residential parking permits for the relevant lots will be permitted to park.

“I was astounded to see large groups of people gathering this past weekend around beaches across Los Angeles County," said Montgomery in a statement. "In particular, Manhattan Beach experienced similar activity to a hot summer day where throngs of people came out to enjoy the beach, the Strand, basketball and volleyball courts. I’ve repeated that public safety is our number one priority and the City Council will explore all available actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Closing down the beach parking lots is a necessary action to further discourage individuals from gathering at the beaches in an unsafe manner."

The city joins a growing number of agencies that have also closed their beach parking lots, including Santa Monica, the County of Los Angeles and Laguna Beach among others. During the closure, parking meters at impacted lots will display a message advising residents that the parking lot is closed due to the COVID-19 virus, and that only permit holders are allowed to park there. Those without valid parking permits will be subject to parking citations.

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