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Coronavirus Creating Budget Challenges For Local Government, Pandemic Puts 350K Jobs At Risk, COVID-19 And Surfers

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As the coronavirus pandemic takes hold, local governments and school districts are facing a new challenge: budget shortfalls. Plus, the San Diego fishing industry is taking a hard hit from the virus outbreak. Also, up to 350 thousand San Diego County residents could be out of a job due to the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak. And, beaches around San Diego County are closed to stem the spread of the virus after throngs of people crowded beaches over the weekend. That also means no surfing.

Speaker 1: 00:00 Local governments wonder how healthcare costs will affect their budgets and what's the longterm impact of Covin 19 on jobs in San Diego? I'm Jade Hindman. I'm Maureen Kavanaugh. This is KPBS mid day edition.

Speaker 1: 00:23 It's Wednesday, March 25th in response to the coven 19 outbreak today San Diego superior court dismissed all some end jurors until May 22nd the County is Corona coronavirus update Tuesday afternoon delivered the sad news that another San Diego has died of the virus bringing the death toll in the County to to also to infants in San Diego have tested positive for covert 19 as we struggled to come to terms with Corona virus as a public health crisis. The financial implications of this outbreak are not far behind. The Senate has reached a deal on a $2 trillion assistance package for American workers and businesses, but the impact of healthcare costs, unemployment and shrinking sales taxes are expected to have a profound impact on state and local governments. Joining me is I knew source reporter Mary Plummer and Mary, welcome to the program. Hi Marie and thanks for having me. This is usually the time of year when local governments start drafting budgets. So our officials though still obligated to get those budgets out even during this outbreak.

Speaker 2: 01:33 Uh, yes, you know, many of those timelines are from, um, in the city of San Diego, for example, America, Kevin Faulkner faces and April 15th deadline, uh, to bring his budget proposal to the city council. The fiscal year begins July 1st. Um, that is when cities, counties and school districts have to have their budgets for the upcoming year finalized. Um, so all of this, as you can imagine, is extremely complicated by the fact that so many folks are working remotely for many government entities. This was already a very busy time of year and now that we're in the midst of the COBIT 19, uh, pandemic, all of that, uh, gets exacerbated. But yes, there are still deadlines to be met.

Speaker 1: 02:14 Let's start with the state budget picture. Former governor Jerry Brown, left office with a pretty big surplus that he'd say would help California weather a recession. How much money does California have in reserves and could that be enough to cushion the blow?

Speaker 2: 02:29 So California has roughly $20 billion billion with a B and its reserves. Uh, those who followed former governor Jerry Brown will remember. He was really known for being pragmatic and he frequently warned of upcoming recessions during his yearly budget presentations. He really emphasized the need to prepare for a rainy day and with COBIT 19. That rainy day is certainly here. Um, I spoke with an expert of the public policy Institute of California who said, you know, this is really about the timing, the length of time, uh, that, that, that pandemic stretches on if, you know, we're looking at a month or two. Uh, certainly those reserves should be enough to cover it if it stretches far beyond that of California is going to have some serious budget concerns to weigh. Um, governor Gavin Newsome said yesterday that California should expect social distancing measures to last at least through April, uh, as the state fights the coronavirus. But certainly, you know, the economic challenges will stretch much further.

Speaker 1: 03:32 Now, the County of San Diego is primarily responsible for the region's public health response to the outbreak and it has also been known for having pretty healthy reserves. Could the outbreak though chip away at those reserves?

Speaker 2: 03:45 Uh, the County has said it's monitoring its finances carefully and you're right. San Diego County does have a lot of funds to lean on. Uh, they had projected two point $2 billion in the general fund balance at the end of fiscal 2020. That's this fiscal year, but that was before the COBIT 19 outbreak. Uh, we spoke to board of supervisors trim and Greg Cox and he was quite candid and essentially said that the cost will have to be figured out later. He said cost will not be a factor. Um, he also mentioned that they expect to get reimbursed for some, but probably not all of the costs from the state and the federal government.

Speaker 1: 04:22 Now when it comes to the city of San Diego, city officials were already bracing for a budget shortfall before covert 19. How might the outbreak impact the city's general fund?

Speaker 2: 04:34 Citi has a relatively healthy reserve, but it relies heavily on hotel tax revenue, which is taking a big hit right now, uh, with hotels across the city. Closing down. Officials are really trying to get a sense of exactly what that means for the city's budget. Uh, I spoke with Jeff [inaudible], he's what the independent budget analysts office, which advises the city council. Here's what he said about the revenue cuts.

Speaker 3: 04:58 We're trying to figure out how, how severe and how far that would carry into the next year, which begins on July 1st. And of course there are no clear answers there, but the department of finance is contingency planning for what that might look like.

Speaker 2: 05:12 So, you know, lot lots of unknowns and not a whole lot of time, um, for city officials to get together a plan in terms of their finances.

Speaker 1: 05:21 Do we know how much of an impact the city is taking in terms of convention cancellations and the dropoff of tourism?

Speaker 2: 05:30 Uh, so the San Diego convention center, a corporation told me that as of Monday, about 128,000 anticipated hotel room nights, uh, tied to conferences. And events had been canceled. Um, those numbers are likely to rise given that this could stretch out quite a ways. They had anticipated that, that, um, that those, you know, stays and conventions would bring in about four, 5 million in hotel and sales tax revenue for San Diego. So that's kind of just a slice of the financial picture. Certainly. Um, you know, the, the, um, cascading problems here are going to go a lot further than, than just those hotel rooms.

Speaker 1: 06:12 And of course, meanwhile, school districts are facing an uncertain future. San Diego unified is moving to online instruction, but how are they preparing to address funding concerns?

Speaker 2: 06:23 So school budgets rely largely on funding from the state. Governor Gavin Newsome has announced big help for school districts. Um, I spoke with Peter Birdsall, he's the executive director of the California County superintendent's association. Uh, we talked about the budget challenges that school districts face in the wake of Coban 19. Here's what he said.

Speaker 4: 06:45 Well, first of all, we went into this whole thing with each huge budget concerns. Uh, as I said, the governor really helped enormously by saying we're going to keep districts whole. Um, but I think every district in the state would say whole is not where they should be.

Speaker 2: 07:00 So bird's all his point here is that, you know, we went into this with huge challenges. He says school districts will be fine through the end of this year, but there are a ton of unknowns about next year, how to get students back into school safely. All of the costs associated, um, that are going to come with students having been out of school for weeks, potentially months. Um, so you know, for now schools are being taken care of by the state. But certainly a lot of questions when we look further into next fall.

Speaker 1: 07:29 And I have been speaking with, I knew source reporter Mary Plummer. Mary, thank you. Thank you. The full impact of Corona virus on San Diego's economy will take a long time to determine, but the pandemic has already affected industries throughout the city, including one that helped define it. I knew source reporter Brad Racino explains,

Speaker 5: 08:00 do you know what if you want them cleaned up

Speaker 6: 08:02 once called the tuna capital of the world. San Diego is home to some 130 commercial fishermen who bring in millions of pounds of fish each year. But the restaurants that buy the vast majority of their catch have closed to contain the pandemic. Now the Saturday fish market, which is allowed to remain open on the San Diego Bay is the fleet's main way to reach customers.

Speaker 7: 08:25 It's hard when, um, if you catch thousands of pounds of fish to sell to a consumer,

Speaker 6: 08:31 David Hayworth is a San Diego commercial fishermen. Even with decades of experience in the industry, nothing has prepared him for this.

Speaker 7: 08:39 We have had trouble with, uh, when I was a tuna fisherman, when some of the tuna canneries closed, but nothing, nothing like this. So yeah, I've never, I've never seen it like this. No, not this. Not this bad.

Speaker 6: 08:51 San Diego's fishermen have never lived through anything quite like this pandemic. Tim Jones, captain of the gutsy lady said he's decided to shut down and wait out the storm.

Speaker 8: 09:02 So we got a PR insurance, we got a PR slip fees, but as soon as we're done this little maintenance thing that we're doing, we're just going to shut it down. It's going to hurt, but I'm sure we'll get through it.

Speaker 6: 09:16 Coronavirus isn't the first to test the resilience of San Diego's commercial fishermen, environmental restrictions, foreign competition and other factors eviscerated this once thriving sector of the local economy, beginning in the 20th century. Today, less than 10% of the seafood consumed by San Diego is domestic and grocery store shelves are more likely to display fish from China, Thailand, or Vietnam than from California. But San Diego has an open air fish market. I visited it on Saturday. Curious whether anyone would show downtown was mostly empty, safer joggers taking advantage of the open streets, but along the dock, yes, hundreds of customers lined up to buy fish. There were indicators of the new normal fishmongers or surgical masks. Harbor police insured customers did six feet apart and hand sanitizer a bounded, but Hayworth and most of the other vendors sold out within a few hours. Get a good look at all of it, right?

Speaker 7: 10:19 Just import in for us. If the public could support us too and try to buy local and uh, go through the little extra effort if they have to to drive down, let's say to tuna Harbor Dockside market or other markets up and down the coast where they can buy direct from the fishermen right now because they're the middleman are all you know, temporarily out of business.

Speaker 6: 10:41 Wow. Fish markets in California are considered essential and will remain open during the States. Stay at home order. A slice of San Diego's original economy determined to survive the world's latest disruption. For KPBS. I'm my new source reporter Brad Racino

Speaker 9: 11:01 to see photos from Saturday's fish market go to. I knew source.org I knew source is an independently funded nonprofit partner of KPBS,

Speaker 9: 11:19 a deal for a federal $2 trillion stimulus package comes as the state's efforts to slow the spread of coven 19 have caused many businesses to scale back or lay off employees as they temporarily closed their doors. People who work in occupations that require customer interaction like retail and the restaurant industry have been mostly impacted. And beyond that the economic impact will be even more severe for black and Brown employees. According to a recent report from the San Diego workforce partnership, joining me is Peter CEO of the San Diego workforce partnership and Ray major, chief economist at SANDAG. Russ, the San Diego association of governments. Welcome to you both.

Speaker 3: 12:04 Thank you very much with you.

Speaker 9: 12:05 So Peter, I want to start with you. The workforce partnership report, uh, found that of the 10 occupations with the most jobs here in San Diego County, seven that seven are at the highest risk of being hit by layoffs, reduced hours and longterm displacement. What are those occupations that will be hit hard? Uh, according to this,

Speaker 3: 12:28 yes, uh, the outlook is very grim until this changes and because of the nature of our economy with so many in the service sector, hospitality, tourism and so forth, restaurant work, those roles cannot work remotely for the most part. And so with so many closures, employers in many cases have no choice but to lay folks off. And we've seen an influx of reductions and more notices, which are worker adjustment, retraining notices that employers have to file and doing closures. Those have come in in an unprecedented clip. So we're seeing quite an impact already. And until this changes, that's only going to grow. So we're really hoping for the relief that the federal government has finally acted upon and we happen to talk about that. But right now we've seen so many folks displaced and we're trying to do all we can to serve both the workers and the employers affected.

Speaker 9: 13:23 And I know this impacts a lot of people. I want to remind our listeners if you've been laid off or or had your hours reduced, share your experience with us. The number to call is +1 888-895-5727. Again, that's one eight eight eight, eight, nine five, five, seven, two seven. Um, Peter, what was considered in determining which occupations would be hardest hit?

Speaker 3: 13:46 Oh, just scanning all of the sectors. And we have so many in this population of 3.4 million, but again, because our economy is the nature that it is with so much dependent upon tourism, I think it makes up about a third of our overall driving economies that in addition to the military and the innovation sector, so just by the nature of our economy, that's what's occurred and with again so many closures of these businesses, hotels and restaurants and the convention center and so many others, it has a remarkable impact in so many other fields. I do wanna outline that there's some real good news in the short term and that the state of California has really eased the process procedure for unemployment claims. So I really encourage affected workers to reach out to the EDD right away because they have changed the manner in which they go about that so that they can get funds into the hands of affected workers right away. And our site is an ongoing resource for the entire community. It's workforce.org we have updates for the business sector for employees affected and the community at large and a hotline as well for employers, which is (619) 228-2982 and will help employers avail themselves of all the different resources from the small business administration to emergency loans and all the work that's going on to support our employment community.

Speaker 9: 15:11 I know that gives hope to a lot of people. Um, as we focus in on those occupations, hardest hit, uh, I understand it could create a domino effect and branch out to hurting other industries as well. This afternoon, the Senate, you know, is voting on a $2 trillion stimulus package, do you think that will help to slow that domino effect?

Speaker 3: 15:32 Well, the domino effect is currently happening and of course, because we're, we're all in the self quarantine and the stay at home orders. So the impact has been really, really hard. And uh, that domino effect is continuing and we hope again with some measures and some relief from the crisis, we're all facing that that can change. But in the short term it's, it's hitting hard where again seeing unprecedented numbers of layoffs and workers being affected and employers at the same time. So it's a very tough time to be quite honest and we are still optimistic that we'll get better. But in the short term there's a lot of pain for, for everyone. And so, uh, we are optimistic with the, the act that the Senate is taking because it does have some very positive news to provide some infusion of capital to workers and employers. So if this goes through and they can release the funds and support our community, then we're going to have the capital to be able to stay strong through a very tough time.

Speaker 9: 16:34 And Ray, I want to bring you in. How does the loss of jobs and reduced hours in the occupations, Peter was talking about impact the overall economy in the County?

Speaker 10: 16:46 Well currently we've only been shut down for a couple of weeks and there has been a significant impact just in these last couple of weeks. Um, if this continues for, for any prolonged period of time, say even into mid April, we will probably be looking at going into a recession and the depth of that recession, whether it would be a mild or a moderate or a severe recession, is going to depend a lot on how long this shutdown lasts. Uh, but with that, I think you're going to see many more people, uh, lose their jobs or become unemployed. Uh, in the, in the next couple of weeks as this plays out.

Speaker 9: 17:26 You know, I mean, Ray, how do you think the federal $2 trillion stimulus package will impact the County?

Speaker 10: 17:32 Well, hopefully it has positive effects. I mean, when, when that's passed, there'll be money coming in to help those people who are most in need, which are the ones that Peter was referring to previously, that people who are in the lowest income brackets, those in food preparation, waitresses, weight waiters, those types of people will, will be benefiting from that $2 trillion package. So in, in that case, it gives them a lifeline. It gives them the ability to hopefully make it, make it through this. But I think that again, in the, in the longer term, I think you're going to see a significant change in the landscape when it comes to the type of restaurants that we have in San Diego. A small independent businesses that are hit very hard. They won't have the cash for the reserves to be able to make it through this.

Speaker 9: 18:22 Mm. Do you think, uh, it will help the U S get out of a recession faster?

Speaker 10: 18:28 The $2 trillion stimulus? I think any, anything at this point would, would be helpful. I think really the unknown of when we're going to be able to go back to work is going to be the key. But with that said, you know, any amount of money that they're, that they're put pumping into the economy right now would be helpful. And it's, and, and in many of the programs that I saw that were included in that 2 billion are impacting the people who need it the most, which is the, the, um, the people who are right now losing their jobs.

Speaker 9: 19:03 Mmm. And, uh, we have a caller, Robbie from Rolando. He is on the phone. Uh, Robbie, can you hear me?

Speaker 11: 19:09 I can hear you. Okay.

Speaker 9: 19:11 Hey there. Uh, what is your question or, or comment?

Speaker 11: 19:15 Well, it was telling me that is this, you know, because we keep hearing on the news all about all these restaurants and movie entertainment areas and stuff. But, um, I, I basically do glass out. I've been doing glass out in San Diego for over 30 years and I have a retail glass shop where I sell, um, uh, sell and I teach people how to do to create art. And um, basically my business is pretty much shut down. A lot of my business is based on students from schools because the schools are shut down. And then of course if the distance thing and everything, um, right now my business is pretty much nothing right now, so it's pretty much shut down and, but it's kind of an important thing I think to the community too because I have a lot of, like a lot of my students and stuff, they're basically, this is what keeps them going and keeps them active. And I just wanted to try to, you know, let everybody know, you know, there are other industries out here too that we're all stuff

Speaker 9: 20:09 right?

Speaker 11: 20:11 Were we basically going from day by day? Um, for the most part, most people are really good to work with you on the financial part about it. But you know, we need needed help also too because if we're gonna survive through this,

Speaker 3: 20:24 I would point you Robbie to the small business administration, they have an economic injury disaster loan program. And so they can do low interest, long term loans of up to $2 million for small businesses. So there's a resource out there to keep afloat during this time and a way to adjust your, your business model perhaps until things get back to some abnormal normal. So there are resources out there and also the, the federal stimulus act is going to have emergency loans for small businesses if it keeps their workers. So there, there is a lifeline there. A lot more detail has to come out through what this relief and stimulus package is. But $2 trillion is more than double what the recovery act dollars were back in Oh nine when we had the fiscal crisis. So the government is responding and they're getting getting past themselves and coming to some compromises.

Speaker 3: 21:17 So there, there is hope there and I think they're going to be continually reacting to the news as it unfolds every day. All right Robbie, thank you so much for your phone call. Peter. You know the report also suggests that black and Hispanic workers would be hardest hit by all of this. Why is that? It is the current demographic of who makes up more of the positions within those sectors. It's just the nature of who is in those roles right now. So when when those closures occur, then that disproportionately impacts them because many of people from different demographics, nonwhite are in these roles and they do such important work and they have done nothing that has been their fault for bringing this upon themselves. But they're suffering the most and they were some of the lower socioeconomic earners in our region to begin with. And so that's why this relief and stimulus act is so important.

Speaker 3: 22:17 Why the County has stepped up, the city has stepped up. So there is hope out there for everyone affected. If we can all just hang in together through this crisis, we will be better for it. But right now it hurts. It's scary and we're here for the entire community. So again, I'd really encourage anyone who needs to learn more and doesn't know where to turn to come to our site. workforce.org also individuals, if you're really in need of other emergency supports, call two one one they're an amazing resource. They have many, many people on staff who are a phone call away who can direct you to any number of other resources to get through childcare resources. The YMCA is the place to turn and we have information there again on our website@workforce.org so as scary as this is for the community, hang in there, reach out to your, your neighbors virtually.

Speaker 3: 23:08 Of course we don't want to do this in person until it's wise, but we're going to get through this. It's really rough right now. But we've been through other hard times in our past and we will, we will get through this, you know, Peter, are there any systemic issues that you can point to that lead to this disparity? Uh, with a black and Hispanic workers being hardest hit? Yeah, that's a great question. I think a lot of it comes down to just the makeup of our region and where different communities have congregated and what has led to some of the disparity that Ray knows best as an economist and what, what it looks like in our region. And um, the, the diamond district for example, is, has far more people of color and diversity than many other regions of the County and they are less economically strong right now.

Speaker 3: 23:57 And uh, again then they get impacted far more heavily because of that. It is a socioeconomic issue. It's, it's how our region has evolved to this point and why some of the people are of color are in these different positions. But the most important takeaway for me is that we have to value all of these workers despite any differences. And we have to do even more now given this crisis to support folks who were going paycheck to paycheck and and get them through this tough time. I also want to just emphasize one other thing for people to think about during a time like this, when we're all forced to be alone or at home and on our own trying to figure out the next steps and, and I would encourage anyone to think about where do they want to go next in their career. That's where we come in.

Speaker 3: 24:44 So there's online resources that are free or low cost. We can point folks to that. So if you're in a position where you think you want to move on to another career and get new skills, that's what we do. And there are opportunities now during this downtime to retool, re-skill, think about where you want to go in your career because as Ray pointed out, our economy, the physicians are going to be far different in the future. This is gonna force a lot of change and we don't know what that restaurant community and other sectors are going to look like.

Speaker 9: 25:17 Right? And you know what, I want to hear a, we've got a clip from a small business owner who shared with us how she's been impacted. Let's take a listen.

Speaker 2: 25:26 Uh, my name is Denise Taurus. I'm the owner of pre little bartenders, which is a mobile bartending boutique. Um, I currently lost my business due to the Covance 19 virus because my business involves large groups of people. Um, I cater with a chef, bartenders and our services are provided. So without that, I no longer have an income. Um, what I've been doing since then in order to make ends meet is, uh, work for Uber eats, which is not making nearly enough to cover my rent.

Speaker 9: 26:11 You know, the primary industries in San Diego County are retail, leisure and hospitality. Ray, does that make our County especially vulnerable to the economic disruption this pandemic has cost?

Speaker 10: 26:24 Well, that's true for, for many communities. Uh, that's, those are the jobs that are the largest in terms of, of raw numbers, uh, w when you look at, at most metropolitan areas. But it does make us vulnerable in those sectors, especially those where there's a person to person contact and um, you know, the, the future will be written in the next couple of weeks in terms of not only how we recover from that, but how we act going forward and whether or not the social distancing is something that stays in place for a matter of monster or the next couple of years. And it will really change the, the, the, uh, the whole landscape in terms of, of how these jobs are done.

Speaker 9: 27:06 And you know, Ray, the hit to the tourism industry is impacting County and city budgets. You are currently working to figure out how that reduction in sales tax will impact ongoing projects. Talk to me a bit about that.

Speaker 10: 27:19 Sure. So the tourism industry is one of the largest industries here in San Diego and it's virtually shut down completely. And so that will have a significant impact on not only employees who work in that industry, but, uh, for the, for the cities that have those hotels and, um, recreational facilities. Uh, what we're looking at right now is what the impact is on a sales tax revenue in terms of, of, uh, one of the funds that comes into, into SANDAG, especially to build the transportation infrastructure. We're trying to understand, um, the impact and all indications is that that is going to be significantly lower, uh, than we had expected in the, in the next couple of years. And again, it all depends upon the length of this, uh, crisis.

Speaker 9: 28:05 You know, and we heard from Robbie, a small business owner earlier, small businesses are going to be hit particularly hard because they have less in cash cash reserves as compared to large businesses. Ray, how much of our economy in the County relies on small businesses?

Speaker 10: 28:22 Uh, you know, more than half of the businesses in, in San Diego are small businesses or small business employers. And so, um, it's, it's a, it's a very large percentage. I mean, 95% of the businesses in San Diego have fewer than 50 people. Uh, so when you think about it that way, if you consider 50 to be a, as a small business, most of the businesses will be impacted by this. So we, we really need to look out for them and make sure that they can make it over this, uh, this crisis. This is not something that, that they created. And so we need to make sure that, that we help them through and make sure they're okay on, on the other side of this.

Speaker 9: 29:02 All right. I really appreciate your insight. I've been speaking with Peter call strum, CEO of the San Diego workforce partnership and Ray major chief economist at SANDAG. That is the San Diego association of governments. Thank you both so much for joining us. Thank you.

Speaker 10: 29:20 Thank you.

Speaker 9: 29:22 [inaudible]

Speaker 12: 29:26 [inaudible]

Speaker 9: 29:28 what is the coastline of San Diego County if it's not a surfing paradise? Well, we're about to find out San Diego Del Mar, Carlsbad, Solana beach, Imperial beach and Encinitas have shut down their to slow

Speaker 1: 29:42 the spread of the Kovac 19 virus. Here's a clip of Carlsbad police on the beach.

Speaker 13: 29:47 It takes a team. Please help us practice social distancing or out here letting everybody know

Speaker 1: 29:55 closed beaches, boardwalks and parks are a real loss for many San Diegans who love getting out on beautiful spring days. But for surfers banning surfing means more than losing a bit of exercise as a profound change of lifestyle. Joining me are surge to Dina mayor of Imperial beach and an avid surfer and surge. Welcome to the program.

Speaker 14: 30:17 Thanks for having me

Speaker 1: 30:19 and Scott Bass, creator of the surf report airing right here on KPBS. Scott, welcome. And to our audience, how will the surfing ban affect you? Join the conversation at one eight, eight eight eight nine five five seven two seven. That's one eight eight eight eight nine five K PBS surge. How profound is this change for surfers in San Diego? And I start with you since you know a good deal about how beach closures affect surfers.

Speaker 14: 30:50 Yeah. Um, uh, so just to let everybody know, Imperial beach closed their speech at noon yesterday. That was a coordinated action with our lifeguards and sending a County Sheriff's department who patrol are the city of Imperial beach. Um, and that really came from the legal framework counted, uh, from the County of San Diego in terms of the social distance requirements to, uh, enact, uh, the governments, uh, the governors, um, at home order. So, uh, that was important to carry that out. But, you know, our beach has been technically closed, uh, from the department of environmental health and accounting because of just absolutely extraordinary high pollution levels for months. Uh, this past winter, actually almost continuously since November, more recent closures ended up all the way to the hotel Del Coronado. So we have suffered extraordinarily, uh, from the lack of access to surfing and Imperial beach and know how significant an impact it is to community health, to social cohesion, to really the basic framework of our San Diego community.

Speaker 14: 31:53 It's not just surfers, it's folks who are working out on the beach, the recreational triathletes, the swimmers, and of course our lifeguards and the whole beach and ocean community, which extends and reverberate throughout the County. So, yeah, we can't underestimate the impact and power that, uh, the beach has, you know, and beaches, our main street and melting pot in San Diego where we individually and collectively connect with each other and absorb and then distribute ocean field happiness. Right? Like it's hard to underestimate how important that is in San Diego and how drastically it's impacted Imperial beach over the last few years where things have got really bad.

Speaker 1: 32:31 Scott, is it clear to the surfing community what's happening with the closed beaches and the surfing band?

Speaker 14: 32:39 All know

Speaker 4: 32:40 I actually this for Scott? Yeah. Thank you. I don't, I don't think it is. I think that there's some ambiguity regarding messaging that the County has messaging the various municipalities have messaging the state has messaging. Perhaps the biggest problem is that from the federal level, from the very top, at the federal level, the messaging has been inconsistent. There seems to be some trickled down regarding that inconsistency. Each local authority, lifeguard, sheriff, police, whoever it might be, is using varying degrees of discretion when applying the emergency orders. So I think people are a bit confused.

Speaker 1: 33:14 Have you seen surfers out today on closed beaches?

Speaker 4: 33:19 I have seen plenty of surfers in the water, um, at lower Trestles, which is the Northern boundary of San Diego County. There's as we speak, 35 surfers in the water. That's a state lifeguard run beach, uh, Oceanside Harbor, which is run by the Oceanside city lifeguards. There are plenty of surfers in the water there. Of course, San Diego city beaches, mission beach, Pacific beach, and the central beaches are closed. Um, and I have seen that where they're open, there are plenty of surfers and when there, where they are closed, there are no sir.

Speaker 1: 33:51 Okay. All right then. You know, search, we don't tend to think of surfers with having a lot of close contact. So why are city officials keeping surfers off the beach and out of the water?

Speaker 14: 34:02 Um, what, what happened was I think, um, uh, I don't want to think Corey Schumacher of Carlsbad for really alerting me to this issue of countywide. And then I talked to our state parks director at the San Diego County this week as well. And we were getting reports on the weekend, rum of people that were in the water and more importantly on the beach, what, what became would've been a normal signing spring weekend with, you know, just normal recreational beach cars. We haven't, you know, late winter, early spring was absolutely like summer, like conditions, but it was Torrey Torrey Pines, Donmar, Carlsbad, Imperial beach and Imperial beach. We had 20 or 30 guys in the water surfing even though, I mean the pollution levels were extraordinarily high. I think everybody sort of woke up on Monday and the city of San Diego, um, realize that a situation they couldn't control in terms of, uh, making sure people were practicing. Um, I call it physical distancing and rather than social distancing our requirements and that we had to really address that issue. Those are similar issues that we saw. A lot of us are on Facebook with our friends in Spain and France or surf and real. And we saw early on the East coast in the United States and then in Europe they were closing beaches. And I think the world surf league and surf line took a very Procter response and being, trying to be responsible.

Speaker 4: 35:15 You can,

Speaker 14: 35:17 I think you're saying messaging for pro surfers around the world on why staying at home is critical in surfing right now isn't so critical. But it was very clear that the overwhelming public sort of at the beach was really giving lifeguards and, and law enforcement agencies with some concerns about how to really address this.

Speaker 1: 35:36 I Corey Schumacher

Speaker 9: 35:38 and she's on the line with us now. She is a three times world world longboard champion surfer, also a member of the Carlsbad city council. And Corey, welcome to the program. Thank you so much for having me. Marine. Now the city of Carlsbad is closed its beaches, but does that also apply to Carlsbad state beach? Uh, it does not currently apply to state beaches and I think that speaks to some of what Scott was talking about, which is this inconsistency in messaging. Um, we have submitted an official request to the state, um, encouraging, uh, strongly advising and, and asking them to close beaches as well as to provide us with, um, additional Rangers to help us to patrol the beaches.

Speaker 1: 36:20 [inaudible] Corey is the city prepared to issue fines for violators?

Speaker 9: 36:26 Uh, currently we're really focused in on educating folks and encouraging them. We don't want to, um, go the additional distance, but in order to protect, uh, our community, we are willing to, to head there.

Speaker 1: 36:42 And, and speaking of that community, what kind of response have you received from this shutdown from constituents and surfers?

Speaker 9: 36:51 So the response is actually, um, I think Ben good, uh, supportive of, of our actions. And a lot of it has to do with the fact that so many folks did, um, see over the weekend the thousands of individuals who packed our beaches and our, our boardwalk and our seawall. And, um, people were encouraging us to shut down the beaches because they were aware that this is, it wasn't the protocol and it was physically impossible for folks to actually hit those marks when it comes to social distancing. So we have had some pushback from, um, I have had surfers who, who don't quite understand why they can't just cross over to the beach and go for a quick surf. Um, but the majority of folks here have been very supportive of our proactive actions to close down beaches.

Speaker 1: 37:37 I thank you very much Corey, for joining us. I appreciate your, your information and we are taking a listener calls at +1 888-895-5727. We have a caller on the line right now and welcome to midday edition.

Speaker 11: 37:54 Yeah. Hi, this is Dr. Kent Layton. I just wanted to say surfing's a feeling that a lot of people don't understand unless they've done it. I've been in the surfing for over about 45 years now. My daughter's at UCFC getting her master's degree in engineering and if she doesn't have surfing, she would have a lot more difficulty just coping with the world.

Speaker 1: 38:13 Well, I appreciate the phone call. I know a lot of people feel like that don't they surge.

Speaker 14: 38:18 Yeah. And you know, I think for a lot of folks, this is really a wake up call that this crisis is real. I think for a lot of us, you know, the idea of escaping in the beach and escaping from the reality, um, and the crisis that we're addressing, a slow rolling disaster that's impacting every state in the country and nations around the world allowed us to escape. And I think enclosure our beaches and sort of, uh, really, uh, really gotten to people that understand that this is a real issue that we have to address and we're all in this together. So it was definitely a big wake up call. And I just wanted to remind our listeners, this happened in 1918 when we had the Spanish influenza and San Diego officials had their quarantine beaches and issue a quarantines or business community. And uh, unfortunately they lifted it too soon. And, uh, the father of one of the fathers of modern surfing, George freeze and lifeguarding and swimming along with Duke Kahanamoku actually ended up dying in San Diego. He helped develop lifeguarding in Southern California because of the Spanish influence of April, 1919. So we've seen this before and it's unfortunate that it's happening again and that we have to carry out these, uh, these measures to protect public health and safety.

Speaker 1: 39:28 Well, you know, Scott, I want to ask you, it's, it's not just a, a lifestyle thing. It's an economic thing for San Diego. What's the economic impatent pact of shutting down surfing in San Diego?

Speaker 4: 39:41 Well, you know, it's going to be huge from the retail level. Of course we have a bunch of great surf shops up and down the coast and San Diego County is, um, support manufacturing industry hub and it's been that way since the 60s with Gordon Smith and the up in Oceanside on airport road. We have a big support industry there too as well. So, um, it's going to be felt um, far and deep, just like, um, you know, the rest of the economy is going to feel it.

Speaker 1: 40:08 And joining us on the phone is Randy Strunk, he's owner of Pacific beach surf shop and Randy, welcome to the program.

Speaker 15: 40:16 Hello. Thanks for having me.

Speaker 1: 40:18 Did this beach closure and surfing band come as a complete surprise or did you suspect we might see something like this?

Speaker 11: 40:26 Wow.

Speaker 1: 40:30 Hi Randy. I can barely hear you. Can you speak up a little bit?

Speaker 15: 40:34 You can. Uh, I think a lot of us saw the same thing our city officials saw and I'm glad they acted very quickly. You know, the beach communities are very dense and, um, you have the virus where it has start to dot the community. It would spread quickly. And, um, and I think we have an example from the ski resorts in Colorado that had closed a couple of weeks before and they actually even banned cross country skiing because the virus, um, as soon as it takes hold, it spreads. And this is a safety issue for our community.

Speaker 1: 41:13 Do you have any sense how long the beach closures might remain in effect, Randy?

Speaker 15: 41:20 I don't. I w uh, you know, uh, I'm gonna think most of April. Um, you know, possibly they could reopen the midday. I, you know, uh, our city officials will have to make that call. And I, and I think it's, um, just like dr [inaudible] said, you know, they're, they're monitoring this hourly and daily and any date that is put out there is, is only that, it, it, it could change.

Speaker 1: 41:47 Are you getting any help from the city? I understand you had a conference call this morning with city officials.

Speaker 15: 41:54 Yeah. We're, um, in conversation with them and we will find out all the SERPs schools, um, at, uh, uh, you know, collaboratively have talked to the city and, um, and we'll find out the city's open and we're in a relationship and a partnership with the city. So I think they have a better understanding. Now

Speaker 1: 42:16 you're taking this as like a mellow surfer, Randy? Yeah,

Speaker 15: 42:23 I, I think, uh, you know, uh, I think in the end we'll, uh, we'll still have a summer and, uh, it'll be a smaller summer. Uh, but, uh, um, you're right. I'm kinda, um, I think we're going to be okay. I have to admit, over the 25 years I've had the surf shop, I've managed to get it into trouble financially, all on my own.

Speaker 1: 42:49 I think this is a great, great note to leave it on. I and I, I want to thank you all, Randy Strunk and, uh, mayor Dudina, Scott Bass, creed of the KPBS surf report. Thank you all for, for speaking with us about this. I appreciate it.

Speaker 15: 43:06 Thank you so much.

Speaker 5: 43:25 [inaudible].

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KPBS Midday Edition

KPBS Midday Edition is a daily talk show hosted by Maureen Cavanaugh and Jade Hindmon, keeping San Diegans in the know on everything from politics to the arts.