Yesterday, City Council Member David Ryu sent a letter to city officials, advocating for weekend closures of both Runyon Canyon and Lake Hollywood Parks, because too many people have been congregating at the locations without adequate social distancing. And this morning, the city announced that it has officially closed Runyon Canyon, even sooner than Ryu suggested.
“Runyon Canyon is one of LA’s most beautiful parks, but the crowds this past weekend were too big to be safe,” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a report on the closure on KTLA 5. “We’re going to close it to the public prior to this weekend. Angelenos are safer at home during this emergency, and they should exercise in their own neighborhoods at a proper physical distance from other people.”
Ryu said in a statement issued after the decision, “Keeping people safe and healthy must be our top priority, and I’m thankful for Mayor Garcetti’s leadership and the Recreation & Parks Department action to keep people safe…Park access and green space has always been an important issue to me – and something I’ve worked to expand in City Hall. Closing parks is not an easy decision for any of us. But after speaking with public health officials, I know that this is a necessary step to maintain social distancing and slow the spread of the Coronavirus.”
Other Parks & Recreation Resources
The Runyon Park closure removes yet another popular recreational venue from our local outdoor resources, but while the measures are definitely necessary to “flatten the curve” and slow the spread of the virus, we also know that many of our increasingly house-bound neighbors are still itching to get outside and move around, as much and as safely as possible. So here’s the information we have so far about our other parks and recreation resources:
First, here’s what’s been CLOSED so far, due to the COVID-19 crisis:
- Golf courses, rec centers, senior centers, playgrounds, fitness zones and other facilities at Los Angeles city parks
- Facilities at LA County parks
- Beach parking lots in Venice and Santa Monica
- Group sports areas and activities at Los Angeles city parks.
- LA County’s multi-use trail system
- Trails managed by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (including Franklin Canyon Park and all Mullholland Drive overlooks)
- Parks managed by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy
- Griffith Park trails (as of March 25), Parkline Shuttle, Griffith Observatory, Travel Town, train rides, pony rides, merry-go-round, and LA Zoo
- Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
- Sherman Oaks Castle Park
- EXPO Center in Exposition Park
- Los Angeles city acquatic centers
- Piers at both Venice and Santa Monica beaches
And here’s what’s still OPEN:
- Lake Hollywood Park (though City Council Member David Ryu has requested that it, too, be closed at least on weekends)
- City parks, other than the specific facilities mentioned above
- Santa Monica beaches (though Santa Monica city officials have advised people to “avoid the beach, beach bike path, and Palisades Park…to protect themselves and others”)
- Kenneth Hahn State Recreation Area (though it is closed to vehicular traffic).
- Griffith Park resources other than those mentioned above.
So what’s the bottom line now? Can you still go outside to excercise? Yes. At the moment, getting outside for excercise is definitely still allowed under our current “Safer at Home” restrictions. But city officials do advise people to walk, run and bike in their own neighborhoods as much as possible, so as not to create gatherings of unsafe size at our parks and recreation areas, and to still maintain healthy social distancing of at least 6 feet, no matter where we are.
Also, even if you can’t visit all your local parks in person, here are some great online resources for “Enjoying Parks While Staying Home,” which were distributed this morning by the Los Angeles Parks Foundation, headed by Windsor Square resident Carolyn Ramsay:
✦ Just Keep Swimming: Earlier this month, the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium successfully released close to 180 juvenile giant sea bass into the wild, a species which is critically endangered. Watch as these adorable fish enter the ocean habitat they’re helping repopulate: https://bit.ly/2Jbt2tq
✦ Wish Upon a Star: Nestled in L.A.’s largest city park, the Griffith Observatory is one of the city’s most iconic attractions. Although this facility is currently closed, they continue to provide insightful astronomical updates. Tune in to their “Weekly Sky Report” to learn more: https://bit.ly/2UaRFNf
✦ State of the Art: Any modern architecture fan is no doubt familiar with Frank Lloyd Wright’s beautiful Hollyhock House located inside Barnsdall Art Park. Although this facility is currently closed, you can still take a virtual tour of the iconic house online: https://bit.ly/2UuojbH
✦ In Your Wildest Dreams: It’s not just humans who live in our city, there are all sorts of wild creatures inhabiting public parks. Our friends at Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife operate a nature cam showcasing local animals like deer, mountain lions, bobcats, and more: https://bit.ly/2Uys3Zw
✦ Finding Some Zen: The Sepulveda Basin Recreation Area is home to a stunningly beautiful 6.5 acre Japanese Garden, featuring a tea house, stone lanterns, waterfalls, and colorful flora. Although this facility is currently closed, you can still experience the garden remotely: https://bit.ly/2UbVhP2
✦ It’s a Total Zoo: Springtime at the Los Angeles Zoo in Griffith Park means the birth of baby gorillas, giraffes, kangaroos, and more! Although this facility is currently closed, staff are working hard to “bring the zoo to you.” Check out their online resources: https://bit.ly/2UrSjF4
So keep walking and running, and keep enjoying your local parks…in the safest ways possible!
[Note: this story was updated after its initial publication to add the remarks from City Council Member David Ryu, and the information that Griffith park trails and the Venice and Santa Monica piers are now also closed.]