One beach lot is already open and others are expected to reopen by July 4. Photo by Matthew Hall.

Beach parking lots will reopen in the coming weeks and locals eager to access the surf already have more options.

City officials have begun reopening metered parking along Ocean Avenue between Pico and Bicknell. Beach lot 4 South is also open for both short-term and day parking.

More parking is good news for long-time surfer Luca Bentivoglio who lives on 26th Street. He said the lack of parking has been an issue for local surfers who can’t just walk to the beach and that beach access is an important resource for all residents.

“What struck me the other day, I was coming out of Bay street and there were like two or three SUV’s with mothers and kids in the car and they were truly desperate for a meter. Those kids should be able to get to the beach.”

Bentivoglio has been living in Santa Monica for more than 20 years and learned to surf in his native Venezuela. At age 64, he said he is fine to carry a board a couple of blocks but he appreciates having easy access to the showers and he buys an annual pass for the beach lots to facilitate his morning paddle.

He said the mass closure of beach parking was unintentionally elitist and impacted more than just surfing.

“The beaches should be for everyone,” he said.

City Spokeswoman Constance Farrell said parking will open in stages over the next few weeks with all parking hopefully open by July 4.

She said restaffing the lots requires some additional time as attendants have to be retrained on handling customers during the time of Covid and workers must be provided with enough protective equipment to safely handle the transactions with beachgoers.

“Operationally, the reopening will begin tomorrow with the meters being unbagged,” she said. “We’ll remove the bags for all beach meters that have been bagged.”

Santa Monica’s beach lots were closed as part of the countywide beach shutdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The county of Los Angeles reopened some lots earlier this month and the City of Santa Monica decision adds to the gradual reopening of the county. However, the Santa Monica Pier will remain closed pending orders from the County as part of their ongoing health orders.