With the specter of a federal shutdown looming tomorrow, San Franciscans have reason to worry. If our government ceases operating and everyone heads to the beach -- will we be able to head to the beach?
Ocean Beach, after all, is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and is federal land. Does that make freezing one's ass off while pretending to enjoy the surf and sun suddenly verboten?
"We actually don't have those details yet," admitted Alexandra Picavet, the spokeswoman for the GGNRA. "I do know we still hold out hope Congress can avoid a government shutdown. Our No. 1 goal will be to protect the people and resources entrusted to us."
Fair enough. But if there's a government shutdown, who will be protecting us? And what are they protecting us from? Picavet said the GGNRA hasn't gotten those details yet. While every National Park figures to close in the event of a shutdown -- and Muir Woods and Alcatraz, also part of the GGNRA, certainly would -- it's less clear what will happen to areas like Ocean Beach or the Presidio that aren't gated. It's also unclear who, exactly, would be booting you off Ocean Beach if all the federal workers are put on furlough -- and, again, if access to the area is curtailed.
Barbara Baxter, an assistant spokeswoman at the National Park Service's Washington, D.C. office, said "some essential staff" such as law enforcement, emergency services, and firefighters will be exempted from furlough in the event of a shutdown. Whether these folks will be escorting you from open portions of the GGNRA is still unclear, however. Baxter said contingency plans for individual parks won't be sent out until Friday.
That means anyone with the notion of a trip to the beach this weekend might want to accelerate his or her plans to -- right now.