The Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department has limited access to public sports facilities at city parks to ensure that parks can remain open for responsible use during the coronavirus pandemic.
Department staff have begun to remove basketball hoops, limit sports court lighting and prohibit the use of sports fields by groups of players, Director Dennis Smitherman said Tuesday.
“The Recreation and Parks Department encourages the community to visit the parks and enjoy the outdoors, but due to those who choose not to follow the social distancing guidelines, certain amenities will be closed until further notice," Smitherman said.
Those who violate the regulations, which will be posted at sports fields, can be issued a citation, according to Smitherman.
In the place of close-contact sports such as baseball, soccer, rugby and basketball, department staff encourage the public to practice physical activities that allow for six feet of distance between individuals, including tennis, pickleball, running, walking and disc golf.
“It is critical that everyone follows the social distancing guidelines presented by the Center for Disease Control, to ensure your city parks can remain accessible for all,” Smitherman said.
In addition to these guidelines, Recreation and Parks Department staff are completing daily sanitation of restrooms, picnic tables and playground structures.
Recreation and Parks also has extended the schedule at Los Flores Ranch Park and waived entrance fees to expand the community's access to public spaces, Smitherman announced Tuesday.
In neighboring San Luis Obispo County, various public spaces have been closed due to a lack of social distancing practices among visitors, including the Avila and Pismo Beach piers, El Chorro Regional Park and various hiking trails.
Laura Place covers city government for the Santa Maria Times.
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