COVID-19 Impacts on City Parks

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the new Amended Parks Closure Order Issued by the Sonoma County Health Officer

To help clarify what the modified Order means for use of Santa Rosa city parks, the City has developed a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for accessing Parks.

What does the Sonoma County Health Officer’s Amended Parks Closure Order (effective May 13) mean for users of City of Santa Rosa Parks?

Sonoma County’s public health officer has amended an order limiting parks access to allow residents to drive to inland parks. The order is effective May 13, 2020 until further notice and replaces an order that allowed residents to use only those parks they could walk or bike to from their homes. For the City of Santa Rosa, this update means that Santa Rosa residents may now enjoy basketball, bocce ball, tennis and pickleball, and non-motorized boating either solo or with other household members at some City parks that are open close to their homes.  Additionally, parking lots and portable restrooms are open at parks that have open amenities. A list of parks with open amenities and parking lots is available HERE.

You must stay at least 6 feet from other parks users who are not members of your household. You must carry a face covering and wear the covering when you cannot maintain that distance.

How can I access and use Santa Rosa City parks? 

The May 13, 2020 health order allows you to walk, bike or drive from your home to those City parks that are open. The intent is to provide options for basic outdoor exercise while residents shelter near home.

What if I have a disability or am not physically able to walk or bike to a park near my home? 

Some parking lots at City Parks are now open for use, during regularly scheduled hours, sunrise to sunset. A list of parks with parking lots that are open for use is available HERE. To locate the neighborhood or community park nearest your home, please use the following link: SRCity.org/1021/Find-a-Park.  

What amenities are open and what amenities are closed at City parks?

OPEN: Basketball, bocce ball, tennis and pickleball, and non-motorized boating either solo or with other household members is allowed at some City parks. A list of open park amenities and parking lots at specific City parks is available HERE.

CLOSED: Playgrounds, sports fields, swimming pools, picnic areas, dog parks, skate parks, barbecue areas, drinking fountains, volleyball, handball and horseshoe courts, the RC and bicycle pump tracks, amphitheaters, amusement rides, concessions, motorized boating, and other gathering or high-touch areas remain closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

What guidelines or rules are in place for using open amenities, such as tennis or basketball courts?

  • For solo use or play with other individuals from same household
  • Groups/leagues are not permitted
  • Players must bring their own equipment - no shared equipment outside of household members
  • Keep 6 feet of physical distancing between you and others
  • Follow posted rules

If parking lots are open, why can’t I drive to any park I choose?

Driving is restricted to parks nearby your home to reduce the potential for crowding and to support Sonoma County’s shelter-in-place mandate. When we began sheltering in place, record numbers of visitors traveled to parks. Crowding made social distancing difficult, violated the intent of the Shelter-In-Place directive and resulted in the closure of all parks within Sonoma County. This amended order restores some parks access while reducing the likelihood of crowding.

What if I drive to a park anyway? 

Many parking lots remain closed, and many off-site parking areas are temporarily restricted. If you drive to a location near a park and walk to the park from there, you will violate the order and could be issued a citation.  

What if the parking lot of the park nearby my home is closed?

If the parking lot of the park nearby your home is closed, you may access the park on foot or by bicycle. The County’s Shelter-In-Place order also allows you to walk, jog, and bike on your neighborhood streets and to engage in home-based outdoor activities like gardening.

Am I required to wear a face covering in a park? 

You must carry a face covering when you are in a park, and you must comply with the Sonoma County Health Officer’s Order regarding face coverings. That Order requires you to wear a face covering outdoors if you are unable to stay 6 feet from others, such as when passing on a trail. 

Are Class 1 trails open to cyclists? 

Class 1 multi-use trails (paved paths separated from roads) like the Santa Rosa Creek Trail and the County-operated Joe Rodota Trail are open to cyclists as well as pedestrians. The March 23 parks closure order temporarily prohibited cycling on Class 1 trails.    

Can I use sports fields? 

All group recreational facilities such as playing fields remain closed at this time. 

Is fishing or boating allowed at Santa Rosa City parks?  

Pedestrian access is available for fishing at Howarth Memorial Park and Nagasawa Community Parks. Additionally, the boat launch at Nagasawa Community Park is open to non-motorized boating and fishing. The boat dock and boat launch at Howarth Park is closed. Pedestrians may access the fly-casting pond at Galvin Community Park to practice fly-casting.

Can I exercise on schoolyards and school fields? 

You are encouraged to contact your local school district for further information prior to accessing any school yards and school fields. 

Are golf courses open? 

Yes, the modified Shelter in Place Health Order issued May 1, 2020, allows golf courses and golf driving ranges to open with strict social distancing and hygiene protocols in place.

Why can’t we use the paths and trails within the Bennett Valley Golf Course for exercising?

The Bennett Valley Golf Course paths are designed for use by golfers. The operator of the golf course, who is contracted by the City, has not provided walking/jogging access in order to protect the golf course property during this time when limited maintenance is being provided. Trespassers may be subject to citation. Citizens are encouraged to use Galvin Community Park located immediately adjacent to the golf course for walking and jogging.  

 Can I ride my horse into a park near my home? 

Horseback riding is not allowed within any City of Santa Rosa park at any time.  

What if I see people gathering in a park and/or not abiding by the guidelines for social distancing?

To report violations of the Health Order within the City of Santa Rosa, please contact the Santa Rosa Police Department non-emergency line at 707-528-5222, or report violations online at  srpdinfo@srcity.org.  Please keep in mind that members of the same household are not required to observe social distancing protocols.