5/8/20: Encinitas Beach Staircases and More Businesses Reopen

Things are slowly opening up. Updated regulations from the state and the county that affect our residents, beaches, and businesses have just been issued.

As a reminder, the City of Encinitas isn’t making the rules during this pandemic, but we’re responding quickly as things change. Whether and when to open businesses, playground equipment, and parking lots are decisions handed down from the county and the state. Our Encinitas city government is trying to do whatever’s possible to help you navigate this ever-changing maze during these highly unusual times. 

Here’s the latest:

Encinitas businesses

Starting this morning (Friday), certain retail businesses, including stores that sell books, clothes, shoes, home furnishings, music and flowers, can open for delivery and curbside pickup only. The State of California is not allowing these businesses to have inside shopping just yet. 

All businesses that re-open must prepare and post a “Safe Reopening Plan” near the entrance in a place that’s visible to the public. There’s a template that businesses can download and complete, to make it simpler – that link is here. The plan doesn’t need to be submitted to the county, just prepared and posted.

Additionally, any manufacturing, warehouse or logistics companies that support the listed retail entities can also open. If you’re wondering if your business is in a category that can open, check out this link from the county for more information.

It’s interesting that the State of California is allowing some counties to move more quickly if certain criteria are met. But San Diego County doesn’t qualify – for starters, in order to reopen faster, the county must have had zero COVID-19 deaths for 14 days. In this county we’ve had multiple deaths nearly every single day for six weeks. None of the larger urban counties, including ours, meet this standard. Only smaller, rural counties currently qualify at this point.   

The next level of opening – offices, seated restaurants, shopping malls, in-store retail – will need to await a further announcement from the state. The more we get behind this new phase, the more quickly the next phase will begin. Our businesses are our city’s lifeblood and I’m eager to have them safely operating again. 

Businesses with questions can send them to this county email: COVID19BusinessQuestions@sdcounty.ca.gov. And more information from the county can be found here at https://www.sandiegocounty.gov/coronavirus.html.

Unreal unemployment

The unemployment numbers in our county (as seen above) are hard to stomach – 26.8% as of April 25, exceeding the 24.9% rate during the peak of the Great Depression in 1933. There’s a tremendous amount of pain and uncertainty as so many of our livelihoods have evaporated.

The SANDAG analysis shows that our Encinitas unemployment rate is slightly lower than the county average, at less than 26%, along with our coastal neighbors Solana Beach and Carlsbad. More information on the employment numbers from SANDAG can be found here.
 
Encinitas beaches

After a beach jog this week, I stopped into the lifeguard tower to get an update and took the opportunity to jump on the Moonlight Beach Marine Safety Center public address system to welcome folks to our beautiful beaches and thank everyone for following the protocols around social distancing and staying actively moving. Most people are staying safely distanced from others, peacefully enjoying the large expanses of sand and ocean with their loved ones. I’m proud and grateful that we’ve been able to quickly and safely return this resource to the public. 

Summer’s here early

In the City of Encinitas, we’re seeing record crowds at our beaches – we hosted about 80,000 people in just seven days. With kids out of school, and no malls, movies, sports, music or entertainment open, this really isn’t too much of a surprise. 

During the one-week period of April 27 to May 5, our lifeguards made contact with an average of 1,725 people a day, compared to 111 contacts during that week in 2019. The lifeguards performed 34 ocean rescues, compared to zero rescues during that week last year. They attended to 43 medical problems, vs. 16 in 2019. 

In short, it’s already summer in Encinitas. The summer beach crowds are coming despite the “red tide” that makes swimming less pleasant. The tide has also produced a stinky smell from rotting fish and plant material, caused by the overgrowth choking off the sunlight and oxygen to the plants and animals, killing them.

The city typically increases beach staffing when schools let out in June. But we need summer staffing levels now. In order to accomplish this right away, we authorized $45,000 for additional staff. The lifeguards provide a safety presence in the towers, lifeguard trucks, ATVs, water craft and on foot patrols.

Many beach stairways are opening Saturday

Here’s the sign you’ll see at Encinitas beach staircases. Facial coverings are required on the stairs, and if you’re within six feet of others on the beach.

Starting Saturday morning, we’re authorizing re-opening the beach staircases that are under the city’s control – the ones in Leucadia and Old Encinitas. Stairs in Cardiff are state-managed, and because they haven’t lifted their restrictions, they’ll remain closed for now. We’re working with the state agency to encourage re-opening those too.  

Also, the beach parking lots remain closed based on the county’s orders. So the city can’t open Moonlight parking lot, I’m sorry to say. We’re looking to do that as soon as possible to relieve nearby neighborhood parking issues and make beach access easier. 

One beach entrance – Beacon’s – will remain closed because it needs emergency repairs after the spring rainstorms. Unfortunately, it’s not safe to access the beach at Beacon’s now. Our city staff is seeking Coastal Commission approval on an expedited basis to do the needed repairs. 

The City of Encinitas has issued a press release that offers more specifics: 

“The beach access stairways located at Swami’s, D Street, Stonesteps and Grandview will open for access to, and egress from the beaches at 8am on Saturday, May 9. A facial covering is MANDATORY while using the narrow staircases. Please help us keep these access points open by using them only to transit back and forth to the beach (no jogging/working out on stairs). Use the stairs in a single file fashion, please be respectful while passing others…”

Here’s the Encinitas Advocate story.I have to tell you that I’m proud of our city staff and government for being so nimble and responsive in helping our community access our coastal resources. 

Encinitas parks and trails

Mother Nature seems to be celebrating our newly re-opened Coastal Rail Trail in Cardiff – it’s resplendent with colorful blossoms.

Starting Saturday parks in Encinitas will reopen active areas for household units to recreate, allowing basketball, tennis and field sports but only for those who live together. Organized or pickup sports involving people who do not live together are not allowed yet. The skate areas, beach volleyball, pickle ball, dog parks and playground equipment remain closed because the physical distancing and sanitation protocols don’t allow reopening yet.

All Encinitas trails are open.

More specific information about what’s open in Encinitas’ local parks and trails can be found here. If you have additional questions about park-related openings, please contact Jennifer Campbell, our Director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts at jcampbell@encinitasca.gov

Basic requirements remain

To recap where we currently stand, the state-mandated stay-at-home order is still in effect. While some relaxing of the rules is happening, it’s still advised that people go out only for essential needs, their jobs, or to exercise.

It’s a countywide requirement to wear a facial covering when going into public and coming within six feet of another person. If you aren’t headed to a densely packed area, I recommend that you wear a facial covering around your neck and pull it up when coming close to others. What you’re communicating by doing that is that this is important, you care about the person’s health, thoughtfully recognizing that you might be an asymptomatic carrier and that your facial covering is protecting the other person.  

This New Yorker article, The Political Consequences of Loneliness and Isolation During the Pandemic, delves into the distinctions between loneliness and solitude and the effect on our social, political and economic reality. If these concerns are on your mind too, I highly recommend the read. 

While so much uncertainty remains about the ultimate severity of these disruptions and the timetable for recovery, I remind myself every day that the most important things in life are family and our community. Together, we hold each other up and create the bonds that will enable our recovery. Mother’s Day is the chance to celebrate one member of the core family.

Happy Mother’s Day!

I hope everyone sends love, appreciation and a real or virtual kiss to their mother on Sunday, wherever they are, regardless of whether you connect with them in this world or in spirit.  

In service,

P.S. See you Saturday afternoon on Facebook Live

I’ll be doing another Facebook Live tomorrow (Saturday) afternoon at 4 p.m. to talk about the topics in this newsletter and answer your questions. Feel free to send questions or comments in advance by replying to this email.

The last few Facebook Live sessions have been gratifying and educational for me to see your questions, and I hope they’re providing useful information for you!

P.P.S. I’d appreciate your help with my re-election campaign

If you support the work we do together for the betterment of our Encinitas community, please consider making a donation here to fuel my re-election campaign as your Encinitas Mayor. Your contribution is much appreciated! 

And if you’d like a free yard sign delivered to your house or would like to volunteer, here’s the link to let us know!

Coronavirus Resources