Long Beach could make city beaches more accessible using ADA-friendly mats

Access to the beach could be expanded soon in Long Beach after the City Council approved a motion Tuesday that could result in the installation of an ADA access mat at Granada Beach to allow those with mobility limitations to access the water.

The request was made by three councilmembers who said that the pandemic put a heightened focus on how important outdoor spaces are and the city could do more to ensure that the city’s coastline was accessible to everyone.

Access mats are moveable installations that can be rolled out over the sand to provide a sturdier surface for wheelchairs, strollers and walkers. One brand, Mobi-mat, which has been used at other area beaches, sells access mats in linkable-sections as long as 50 feet and retail for over $2,000 each.

Councilmembers Suzie Price, Cindy Allen and Mary Zendejas, who uses a wheelchair, requested that that report come back to the council within a month determining the feasibility of installing a mat at Granada Beach in Belmont Shore.

“It is long overdue and frankly I’m ashamed we didn’t bring it forward sooner,” said Price, who authored the request.

Price said that she’d be open to the mat being placed at another location but Granada’s current makeup, which includes more paved areas than other beaches, might provide a better location for the mat to be placed.

Zendejas said she’s used an access mat before but it was in Malibu and that having one in Long Beach would ensure that everyone, not just some residents, could fully enjoy one of the city’s main features.

Similar mats have been installed at locations in both Los Angeles and Orange Counties with Torrance, Huntington Beach and Venice Beach installing access mats earlier this year.

The LA County Department of Beaches and Harbors lists seven locations that provide ADA beach access and also offers beach wheelchairs, chairs with thicker, sink-resistant wheels at some county beaches

“I’ve lived on the beach in Long Beach for 11 years and I’ve never been able to access the beach on my own,” said Kim Vuong, a member of the city’s Advisory Commission on Disabilities.

Vuong and others asked the city to consider installing multiple mats throughout the city’s coastline.

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Jason Ruiz has been covering City Hall for the Post for nearly a decade. A Long Beach resident, Ruiz graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in journalism. He and his wife Kristina and, most importantly, their dog Mango, live in Long Beach. He is a particularly avid fan of the Dallas Cowboys and the UCLA Bruins, which is why he sometimes comes to work after the weekend in a grumpy mood.