Santa Barbara parks officials closed the skatepark at the waterfront to enforce social distancing.
Skater’s Point is closed for now, surrounded by a fence, because Parks and Recreation Director Jill Zachary said skaters were not complying with the rules. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara installed a fence around the popular Skater’s Point on Monday.

“We fenced the skatepark because we were finding that the skaters were not following social distancing requirements,” Jill Zachary, the city’s Parks and Recreation director, told Noozhawk.

She said the city is evaluating options to develop a program that allows limited access for skaters.

The city has closed playgrounds, outdoor exercise equipment and the skate park because of coronavirus fears. The city has also closed tennis, pickleball and volleyball courts to reduce risk to the public. Other than Franceschi Park, Hilda McIntyre Ray Park, and Skofield Park, which are closed, parks remain open sunrise to one half hour after sunset. 

“We are finding compliance with these closures is generally going well,” Zachary said. 

The governor’s shelter-in-place order has sent people into their homes, only allowed to come out if they are seeking essential services such as food, prescription drugs or medical appointments. People are allowed to exercise and recreate, but even that has sparked problems. People all over social media are rushing to judge people they see in public and lobbing criticism of their behavior. 

Santa Barbara City Councilman Mike Jordan said he has received several calls and complaints from people upset over seeing crowds of people in public. He has simple advice for them. 

“Getting tons of emails regarding people out in public not practicing good distancing,” Jordan wrote on multiple social media platforms. “If you are uncomfortable with your surroundings out and about, then retreat to somewhere you are comfortable.”

He said the bottom line right now is “education, education, education,” as the best form of enforcement.

He said the city is unfortunately removing basketball rims in city courts. The labor line on Yanonali Street is considered an essential service. The city is installing better signage to remind people, who often gather and play games at a table while waiting to work, to stay six feet apart.

Jordan said he is seeing good compliance at beaches. 

Zachary said the city has put signs in all public parks to let people know of the importance of social distancing. 

“Our park rangers are encouraging voluntary compliance with park users,” Zachary said. 

“We are looking for continued messaging from the city, as well as those of the media, community organizations, other public agencies, to help support increased compliance.”

In the county, Cachuma Lake and Jalama Beach will be closed to overnight camping through May 18. 

The city of Goleta has also closed playgrounds, swings and all hardscape, including its own skatepark. So far, it hasn’t built any walls or fences around any of its play areas.

Councilman James Kyriaco said people should voluntarily comply with the state’s social distancing order, otherwise they risk hurting everyone in the community. 

“It’s incumbent upon Goleta residents to exercise strong judgment when they are out in our communities,” Kyriaco said. “We want to be able to give people opportunities to enjoy the fresh air and recreate and participate in activities that will lower anxiety and raise spirits. But if we are not going to be responsible, the city will have to look at taking further, more aggressive actions.”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.