VIEWPOINT: County and City Need to Open Businesses, Beaches and Parks

Beaches, trails and parks are closed to the public even if they maintained social distance.

It’s time to open up the beaches and parks. Although it may come as a surprise to governmental officials when they urge people to stay at home and play in their own yards, many families don’t have yards. It may come as even more of a surprise to officials that not all people have swimming pools or tennis courts.

It has become blatantly obvious to me that various governmental officials have no idea how poor people live. Officials seem to think that everyone has a savings account and that working at home is at best an inconvenience.

Having grown up poor – and I really do thank my mom and dad for not only working their way out of poverty, but showing six children how to do it — I offer a handy “You Can Play at Being Poor” tutorial for our mayor and County supervisors. (City Councilmembers might also want to take note).

My parents had a three-room house, with no running water, on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. Even today, the median income there is less than $19,000.

How did we get our water? (Delivered by a truck is the wrong answer.) By pumping it from a hand pump in front of the house. The water was carried to a bucket inside and heated on a stove. A bath and the laundry were generally done weekly, though washing cloth diapers . . .well enough said.

And then just throw the clothes in the dryer—oops, no dryer, just rope lines thrown up around the house in the winter.

My dad was a teacher and eventually we moved to a house that lacked central heating – but it did have hot and cold running water.

In the summer it was miserably hot. But why don’t you turn on the air conditioning, officials might ask?

Air conditioning is closing all the windows when it’s still cool in the morning, pulling the shades and turning a fan on — and when the sun goes down – it’s the reverse — open all the windows, and the shades — and keep the fan on.

Listen up supervisors, because this brings us to poor people in Los Angeles. My parents went to summer school and the seven of us lived in tiny two-bedroom apartments without air conditioning. There were no yards, but there were parks.

Richmond Lake outside of Aberdeen, South Dakota.

On Sundays, everyone crowded into the car, with picnic supplies, and we went to Richmond Lake. It was always cooler by the water and after splashing around, and spending the afternoon at the park, we went home and were more able to face the small, hot space.

On April 28, Los Angeles County announced that 92 percent of the 1,000 people who have died from coronavirus had underlying conditions. That means that 920 people had underlying conditions. It was also stated that more than 462 deaths occurred in nursing homes.

It’s time to reopen the City and County and focus efforts where Covid-19 cases are most prevalent—our nursing homes, the elderly, and those who have underlying conditions.

Youth and families should be allowed to go to parks, run on the beach and hike on mountain trails. Let poor people have relief.

Bill Bryan, the acting Homeland Security undersecretary for science and technology, said: “Our most striking observation to date is the powerful effect that solar light appears to have on killing the virus—both surfaces and in the air. We’ve seen a similar effect with both temperature and humidity as well, where increasing the temperature and humidity or both is generally less favorable to the virus.”

If I had to choose between a County “cooling” center (sitting in a room breathing everyone’s air) and going to the ocean, where the air escapes ….

I say we allow County supervisors to go sit in cooling centers, just so they can have the privilege of being poor—let them breath other people’s air.

Today (Wednesday), according to the L.A. Daily News, the supervisors have decided to get the economy moving again. And how will they do it? By opening businesses and by opening parks?

No, they’re forming a task force of people from government, industry, labor and chambers of commerce.

How about a task force of working poor people? You know, the people who were told to work from home like hair stylists/barbers, house cleaners and janitorial workers, manicurists, trainers and those who give massages.

Many of these people are self-employed and will not qualify for unemployment. They also are like my parents, living paycheck to paycheck while trying to get ahead a little bit to put something in savings.

The fact of the matter is that nearly 70 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 stashed away, according to GOBankingRates’ 2019 savings survey. The poll, released last December 16, revealed that 45 percent of Americans have nothing saved.

These people don’t need handouts that are temporary. They need to get back to work now—and for them and most of the people they work for, this virus is not deadly.

According to the L.A. County website, the salary for a county supervisor is $213,833 annually. In 2013, an L.A. Times story noted that each supervisor is also allotted $3 million a year for staff, cars, office expenses and pet projects. No wonder there’s no urgency on their part to end safer-at-home, while adhering to the mantra that even one life is too many.

Over and over, Barbara Ferrer, Ph.D., the County’s Director of Public Health has said, “To all of you who are facing a future without loved ones who have passed away from Covid-19, we are deeply sorry for your loss. You are in our thoughts and prayers every day.”

Yes, that’s certainly true. But we also have to worry about the living. Our political leaders need to open businesses across Los Angeles County, along with the beaches, the parks and the hiking trails. And let the little kids play baseball.

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11 Responses to VIEWPOINT: County and City Need to Open Businesses, Beaches and Parks

  1. Susie Gilman says:

    Bravo!!! Sue, well said. I agree 1000 %

  2. Paul Glasgall says:

    Very nice story.
    Ferrer also originally said don’t worry this isn’t going to be a big deal, sort of like the flu.
    Now she says we may need to be closed in for a year.
    You just never really know what kind of a leader you have until they are confronted by a real emergency or complex event.
    Watch or read about Churchill during the war.
    Just imagine that!

  3. sarah says:

    Beautifully written – I could not agree more. The poorest segments of our society are suffering immensely, and this needs to be taken into account when deciding puublic policy. Enough of the political CYA.

  4. Mike Sullivan says:

    Beautifully said.

  5. John says:

    Amen Sue!!! Open the economy back up before it’s ruined for good.

  6. Chris Martinez says:

    OMG finally some common sense. Thank you , Sue.

  7. Aileen says:

    Bravo! Perfect! My own experience, like yours, believes that your opinion is correct. I have family and friends that are in the high risk health group. I support and encourage them to be conservative in how they protect themselves. I don’t want to lose them. But their safety is also dependent on society, business, health institutions continuing to work and function. That means getting back to work, and allowing a healthy physical and mental environment be available to everyone.

  8. Nina Kidd says:

    Yes, and again: YES!

  9. Timothy Macker says:

    Your arguments are quite valid; unfortunately those in the positions of governmental authority do not want to listen. In some geographies half of all deaths have occurred in senior facilities. Why there hasn’t been more of a focus on the protection of this segment of our population that has suffered the most number of deaths is terrible. We are more focused on other segments of the population who apparently command more compassion. Most cities and states do not require testing the entire populations of these facilities (residents and workers) for the coronavirus in order to separate and quarantine and prevent further spreading to those not infected. These facilities should have far more attention from health officials, more oversight, and concern. Apparently they, the residents and care providers, are expendable in the eyes of government!

  10. Ann Chappel says:

    Sue, this is well written and tactfully stated. I question the violation of our civil liberties, our bill of rights, and, including, the right to assemble. I would love to post this on facebook.

  11. Paula H Deats says:

    The more I know you the more wondrous I find you. Thanks, Sue.

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