San Diegans have done everything that they can to flatten the curve and protect our communities against the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, uncertainty looms over the future. To restore San Diego—and all of America—from a complete shutdown to the vibrant and flourishing situation we enjoyed prior to the pandemic is certainly a lofty task.
Now more than ever, we need the directive of elected officials with regard to reopening businesses and recreational areas, as we take our first steps toward recovery. San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond has been working diligently to bring San Diego to a point where reopening is safe, because remaining locked down forever simply isn’t an option when millions are out of work and struggling to make ends meet. In the latest example of his efforts, Supervisor Desmond proposed:
These suggestions have received widespread public backing, especially in states like California where outdoor activities are ingrained in our identity. Unfortunately, this proposal was voted down by the rest of the Board of Supervisors, with the exception of Supervisor Kristin Gaspar, who has also consistently shown level headed leadership during this crisis.
Gaspar notably asked San Diego County Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer to restore control over recreational activities to localities, rather than that authority resting with county officials. Deference to local leaders is crucial since the unique challenges in each community are best addressed by those confronting them on a daily basis. Supervisors Desmond and Gaspar understand that the reopening process must be collaborative, with a focus on the well-being of San Diegans.
The same cannot be said for the rest of the Board, however. Supervisor Nathan Fletcher in particular has displayed a consistent pattern of poor judgement during this pandemic, and has lacked the fortitude necessary to lead our county. Voting down Desmond’s proposition to create plans for reopening is further proof that Fletcher is unfit to have such authority over the COVID-19 response.
It’s also disappointing that Supervisors Greg Cox and Dianne Jacob refused to support Desmond’s proposal, instead ceding to Fletcher’s unreasonable demands of keeping San Diegans out of work and trapped in their homes indefinitely. Families and small businesses throughout San Diego are struggling immensely just to make it to the end of the month. It’s a complete slap in the face to dismiss their pain and offer no assurance that they can have their lives back.
It must be noted that Supervisor Desmond’s proposal merely called on the Board of Supervisors to begin planning and establishing criteria for an incremental opening of San Diego. Desmond wasn’t demanding that all stay-at-home and social distancing orders be lifted immediately—far from it. He’s simply pushing for a plan that transparently communicates when San Diegans will be able to return to their normal lives. This isn’t controversial and it’s astonishing that Supervisors Fletcher, Cox, and Jacob would refuse to even consider drafting a plan for the eventual reopening of San Diego.
“San Diegans have done an outstanding job of staying home during the month of April and the trends continue to show it,” said Supervisor Desmond. “However, the goal posts are being moved once again. I will continue to fight for all San Diego businesses and appreciate all your support in the effort!”
Displays of utter indifference from elected officials are unacceptable. If we want to save San Diego from economic disaster and restore rights to the people, we need to start planning now.