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Our Readers Write: Homeless encampments, peace in the pandemic, social distancing and more

Erin Rose and her 4-year-old son Jaxon practice social distancing as they fish from a pier at the newly reopened Chollas Lake Park in San Diego on April 21.
(John Gibbins / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Letters to the Editor:

Wearing a face mask will help save lives

A message for those defiant about social distancing and wearing masks: The reason this area has very low cases of the virus is because the majority of citizens are choosing others’ self-interests over their own.

Please wear masks when outside and ask others to sacrifice a few moments of discomfort wearing a mask in support of those front-line workers doing their parts to save yours and others’ lives.

Philip Tauber

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Clearing encampments was appropriate

A recent letter criticized the San Diego Police Department for clearing encampments during the coronavirus pandemic because, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, doing so “increases the potential for infectious disease spread.”

But the same CDC guidelines say that encampments should have at least 12 feet of space between them. Many of the encampments in and around downtown (especially by the library) were not appropriately spaced, thus SDPD officers have in this regard been acting in accordance with the CDC.

Moreover, the convention center is now open for unsheltered homeless individuals, so there is in fact an alternative being offered.

Homelessness is a major problem in San Diego, and our approach should always recognize the humanity of those experiencing it. Nevertheless, other interests (like preventing public spaces from becoming de facto homeless shelters) are at play.

Officers respond to often-conflicting societal pressures, and we should keep this in mind when assessing their conduct. These are unprecedented times and, for the most part, everybody is doing his or her best to “flatten the curve.”

James P. Rudolph

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It’s a health risk to move those who are homeless

In the past few weeks, San Diego has made great progress in taking steps to better care for unsheltered San Diegans. It was smart to move people out of overcrowded shelters; relocating these people to the convention center is certainly an improvement. San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has also announced plans to buy hotels to serve as permanent supportive housing; this, too, is a great step in the right direction.

However, I cannot understand why the San Diego Police Department continues to ignore Center for Disease Control guidelines in dealing with homeless San Diegans. The CDC guidelines clearly state that “unless individual housing units are available,” the police should not “clear encampments during the community spread of COVID-19,” since doing so “increases the potential for infectious disease spread.”

It is not only cruel to force people sleeping in public spaces to move along when there is no safe alternative, it is also dangerous for the entire San Diego community. I hope SDPD will reconsider their approach and make the necessary changes to follow the recommendations of public health experts.

Mary Anne Smart

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Life’s simple pleasures provide their own form of energy

It was really enjoyable and refreshing to see the positive tone of the article called “Staying sane in a pandemic.”

Much of the wise, inspiring and spirited advice mentioned by the “wellness pros” resonates with me and plays an important role in my life and work.

I wish to send heartfelt compassion to my fellow residents and all local businesses, many of which are owned by my friends, students and longtime neighbors. We have to stay strong and connected, perhaps even enjoying a few silver linings, such as having plenty of parking and celebrating slow but undeniable steps in the direction of resuming our habitual ways of living.

Kudos to all who courageously continue to serve and put their life on the line to provide the rest of us with much-needed services and assistance in various sectors of life.

Blessings to those who might be home exploring the creative, spiritual and playful ways to experience wholeness, holiness and full aliveness, inhaling enthusiastically, exhaling calmly, with the heart beating in a harmony with the joyful rhythms of spring birds singing.

For sure, letting the gorgeous garden blooms fill one’s eyes with beauty feels way better that dragging heavy feet between TV and computer screen hour after hour, day after day. Breathing shallowly and identifying with a “survival mode” and fear depletes one’s immune system of much-needed nourishing energy.

With the gift of extra time on hand and less activity, I am finding it’s easier to be attuned to the waves of inspiration from the “above.”

From the perspective of a yoga therapist, I am thankful for yoga, good reading, music and movies, daydreaming and chocolate — they surely help get my mood up every day.

Jaruska Solyova

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Closing beaches and parks is short-sighted

Keeping individuals and couples out of parks and beaches is an extremely short-sighted and logically flawed policy. These wide open spaces actually help maintain distancing.

With law enforcement already monitoring these areas, it’s not hard to enforce distancing while respecting the rights of responsible people. To close off public open space from responsible walking, jogging, biking, swimming, surfing, etc., is not only an inexcusable violation on our freedoms but actually forces people into closer proximity on sidewalks that have become more congested.

The overall level of distancing that is achievable is a relatively simple math equation, proportional to the number of people in an area divided by the amount of public space available. Overreaching, poorly conceived edicts such as these will not prevent people from going outside. Being outdoors in fresh air and sun and getting exercise improves physical, immune and mental health. Greatly reducing areas for outdoor exercise and activity increases density and reduces distancing.

It is also hypocritical for police to think it’s fine to violate social distancing so they can approach, harass and issue us $1,000 citations when we were nowhere near others. It is inexcusable that our local governments would ever even consider such a ridiculous scheme and that people are standing for this abuse of our civil liberties.

David Gleason

Editor’s Note: The city of San Diego has since reopened beaches with limitations: “‘I just feel like I got my life back’: Ocean Beach welcomes surfers, swimmers and walkers back to the beach

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Rules for walking and social distancing

With the closure of parks, boardwalks, beaches, oceans and gyms, more and more of us have been walking neighborhood streets. This has resulted in many observed conflicts. Who moves out into the street? How do I keep the 6-foot social distance?

Unlike motorists, who are taught and trained to stay to the right, walkers are not and tend to act in a less purposeful manner.

To remedy these issues, I and several like-minded friends, suggest these behaviors be adopted by walkers:

1. On a street with no sidewalks, walk on the left, facing traffic, just like Mom and Dad taught you many years ago.

2. On a street with sidewalks on both sides, walk on the sidewalk to your right in the same direction as cars. If you walk much faster than those around you, walk on the sidewalk to your left and give the right of way to the walkers slower than you and those coming toward you. You can easily see oncoming traffic and should move into the street.

3. On a street with one sidewalk to your right, use it.

4. On a street with one sidewalk to your left, follow guideline 2 above.

5. 6-foot social distance is a minimum. We’re all safer if you give the maximum room possible.

Special information for runners, joggers, cyclists: You are increasing your respiratory rate and, with the associated heavier breathing, causing droplets and aerosol from your facial orifices to travel a much longer distance. Accordingly, please provide substantially more social distance.

Special information for motorists: In case you haven’t noticed, more people are walking nowadays. Your behavior needs to change as well. Slow down. There’s no place to go anyway. (Getting nowhere faster seems a bizarre goal.)

Secondly, give walkers more room when you pass. After all, there are very few other cars around.

Richard Wolf

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What’s on YOUR mind?

Letters published in the Point Loma-OB Monthly express views from readers about community matters. Submissions of related photos also are welcome. Letters reflect the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of the newspaper staff or publisher. To share your thoughts in this public forum, email them with your name and city of residence to robert.vardon@lajollalight.com.


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