6/30/20: Bars Will Re-close Tonight, Plus COVID and Cardiff School News

June 30, 2020

With positive COVID-19 cases consistently rising once again, Encinitas bars, wineries and tasting rooms that don’t serve food will be shut down as of midnight tonight. The county’s order shutting down these businesses will affect about a dozen Encinitas businesses. 

Shown above is the county’s most recent graph of COVID-19 numbers. And here’s a very informative dynamic dashboard of statistics from the county.

The city is working with the merchant associations and the Sheriff’s Department to ensure that businesses are following the county health department rules. The county’s sensible reasoning behind shutting bars is that the socializing that takes place inside bars is prime for COVID-19 transmission.

When people who aren’t in the same family unit are drinking in crowded places where it’s often hard to hear, they’re less likely to wear face coverings and more likely to stand close together, talk loudly and touch the same surfaces. I feel empathy for these businesses that just re-opened about two-and-a-half weeks ago. What a difficult situation to be in. 

GOODONYA’s Kris Buchanan talks about the importance of wearing masks as she describes her experiences with dealing with the pandemic in a video from the organic restaurant’s Facebook page.   

It’s sad to hear that a wonderful local restaurant like GOODONYA has decided to discontinue dine-in eating after too much non-compliance and harassment from patrons who don’t want to follow the mask requirements. Co-owner Kris Buchanan stated it succinctly in her recent update about the decision: 

“95% of our customers are totally amazing and caring and supportive. In fact, they are over-the-top awesome! The love and support you’ve given us during this time will be something I remember my whole life. But if I am honest, that 5% has worn us down and we need a break.”

She described people arguing, harassing, even threatening to sue, and the mental toll it takes on her employees, in addition to the obvious health risks. Kris simply states that the reason to wear a mask is to prevent someone from spitting, even accidentally, on someone else.

Encinitas added an additional seven positive cases from yesterday, bringing the city’s total to 127.

Today I reached out to Scripps Hospital to inquire about our hospital capacity, and a representative told me that systemwide Scripps has 122 Covid-19 patients admitted and of those, 12 are at the Scripps location in Encinitas. 

Beaches and downtown street dining

At this time, from what I’ve heard, the coastal cities are not preparing to shut beaches in advance of the July 4th weekend. Any decisions about beaches will be made at levels above the city. If you do decide to celebrate on the beach, please use common sense in the midst of the current COVID-19 resurgence. Always wear your facial covering in public to protect others and yourself.

Encinitas has received an $8,200 grant from SANDAG to help us create a “Shared Streets” pilot program between D and E Street, where shops and restaurants can expand their footprint seven feet into the street parking area. This does not provide more capacity for the business, but gives them more room to accommodate their approved capacity. The Shared Streets program should be ready to roll out in the next few days.

Here’s the Encinitas Advocate article, and a story from NBC 7.

Sanderling Waldorf School approved

At last night’s meeting, the Encinitas City Council night unanimously supported the Planning Commission’s two previous decisions granting approval for the Sanderling Waldorf School to build a new school at a site on Mays Hollow off of Quail Gardens Drive.

Over 3.5 hours, the City Council heard four appeals from neighbors challenging the traffic analysis, the removal of trees, the biological impacts, and neighborhood compatibility, among other concerns. We unanimously determined that the project was consistent with the findings required to support the necessary permits for the project, and that the project complied with CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act). 

The Waldorf Sanderling School was founded in Encinitas, but hasn’t had a permanent home for the last eight years. It’s currently operating in Vista but 65% of the students still come from families in Encinitas. The school’s mission and foundational philosophy is very much connected to the natural world and fostering a love of learning. Their webpage shows that they are having a “Knit-a-Thon,” which among other things will help repair old sewing machines. I expect this new school campus to be a perfect fit for Encinitas! 

Cardiff School rebuild update

The Cardiff School rebuilding project continues to generate controversy, as the school district faces litigation in a dispute related to the location of the multi-purpose room for the school, and the boundaries of George Berkich park. 

There’s a lot of heated opinion, and several false rumors about this project and the plaintiffs. Contrary to one rumor, no one in my family, including my mother, is a plaintiff in the lawsuit. 

Some background: the project received unanimous City Council approval when it came up for a required permit more than a year ago. Because I live within 500 feet of the school, I was legally required to recuse myself from the decision making.

Along with many other people during the public process, my mom voiced strong opinions, including about the importance of preserving George Berkich Park for the community. I also weighed in during the public workshops, asking the school district to protect the 70-year-old Torrey Pine trees and the historic brick building in the garden area, which could be repurposed. (The Torrey Pines have all been removed, but the brick building is still standing.)

Before the demolition began last year, I took a sentimental stroll through the Cardiff School campus. The historic Cullen School Bell, which originated from a railroad station, has been saved for the new campus, I’m told. 

The history of Cardiff School is deeply intertwined with my family’s history. My grandfather built the previous school 70 years ago. My mom and her three siblings attended Cardiff School through the sixth grade in the 1950s, and my aunt was taught by admired educator Ada Harris herself. My two children have been attending the school district for the last seven years. I’ve been an involved and dedicated volunteer and parent, especially related to supporting and nurturing the successful garden program there. 

Some people are outraged that there are lawsuits over this project. From my experience, nearly every land use decision made in Encinitas is litigated by neighbors or others who are unhappy with the approval, so I wasn’t surprised. I recognize that litigation is a common means of dispute resolution, and I don’t support personally targeting plaintiffs and others with a public shaming campaign. I’d like to reaffirm the importance of civility, which is even more important in these times when threats of personal violence seem to be so close to the surface.

There’s been a call for me to get personally involved in this legal dispute, saying that my “leadership” could resolve the disagreement. This might be flattering if it were true. I have no influence over the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, and the city has zero role in this litigation, as prescribed by the Cardiff School District itself. Even in disputes that do involve the city, I’m not able to control the litigation or convince plaintiffs not to sue.

The bottom line is that I want the school district to succeed, build a new school, and provide a safe, inspiring place for the next generation of students, similar to what my mom and her siblings experienced when my grandpa built what was then a state-of-the-art campus. I hope that the conflict will be resolved soon.

Rancho Coastal Thrift Store reopens!

(Photo courtesy of the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce.)

It was a pleasure to attend my first in-person ribbon-cutting ceremony as your mayor since the pandemic began. (I’m behind the sign in the pink jacket.) After a soft opening for several days, the popular Rancho Coastal Humane Society Thrift Shop officially re-opened its doors yesterday.

Proceeds from the shop go directly to this longstanding Encinitas shelter’s excellent efforts to support and protect animals, so the fact that funds are flowing again comes as a great relief. Because of the break, the large selection and low prices are well worth checking out! Here’s the NBC 7 story.

I hope you and your family have a safe and healthy holiday weekend. Our family is really looking forward to watching the July 3 premiere of the amazing, inspirational Broadway hit Hamilton streaming on Disney+!

With gratitude,

P.S. It’s Catherine’s Contribution Countdown!

Our first campaign deadline for my re-election as your Encinitas Mayor is in just a few hours, at midnight tonight. The amount of contributions raised by this deadline will be a crucial barometer indicating how much support we have.

Over the last few years we’ve come a long way together, creating a better, safer and more livable Encinitas. And during the current crisis, we need a steady, experienced hand on the tiller more than ever. 

If you’ve been considering donating to our campaign, right now is the perfect time to do it! You can contribute up to $250 per person or $500 per couple, but any amount will make a positive difference. I’d be very grateful if you could help out by going to this link or clicking on the photo below. Thank you!

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