Written by Julianne Foster
The East County Chamber of Commerce Foundation is taking action to provide relief for small businesses that were looted and destroyed during the riots on Saturday, May 30 in La Mesa. The riots, which initially began as peaceful protests, devastated many businesses that were already hurting from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Go Fund Me page was set up by El Cajon City Councilman Phil Ortiz, former La Mesa City Councilman Barry Jantz, and several others with a $50,000 goal. As of today, they have raised just under $200,000. The East County Chamber of Commerce has posted an online registration process for business owners impacted by the La Mesa riots to apply and receive part of the relief fund.
Owners have the option of applying for this through Friday, June 26 to be verified as part of the Phase 1 distribution. The money will be distributed as a flat stipend beginning the week of June 29. The flat stipend is to be determined as they are continuing to receive donations and funding.
“Our small businesses are devastated and many were already on the brink due to COVID19. La Mesa Village has been the heart of small business in the city and is a beautiful place for dining, events and memories,” the Go Fund Me page reads. “All proceeds will go directly to small businesses that were destroyed or damaged. The Chamber Foundation is a non-profit organization that has been helping East County for over 26 years.”
La Mesa city officials have recognized the importance of local businesses to the community and are very grateful for those who have stepped up to help support the businesses unfairly damaged. Some of those to show up and help clean up the community were La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis, La Mesa City Councilman Bill Baber, State Senator Brian Jones, Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey, and El Cajon City Councilman Phil Ortiz.
“They came out on their own and that’s what this city is, the power is with the people. They’re the ones that make this city great,” said Mayor Arapostathis in a KUSI News interview. Although there has been physical damage, the people have shown their strength and unity as they stepped up to help one another in this time of need.