COVID-19 has left an indelible impression on the world at large and certainly Coronado has not been spared economically or culturally. Last week two of the city’s iconic events, the Fourth of July Parade and all that day’s attendant events were cancelled. The following day Concerts in the Park was cancelled, with a glimmer of hope existing that a concert or two could be held.
Concerts President Cathy Brown provided her thoughts on what would have been the 50th Anniversary of Concerts in the Park. “The best we can hope for is maybe, and this is a big maybe, the last week of August and/or Labor Day Sunday, Sept. 6. These dates are based on the schools being back in session and we get the okay from the City. Also, only Coronado local bands would play those dates. Of course, if anything changes, and we’re allowed to have the concerts, the Board can make it happen very quickly. We will celebrate our 50th Anniversary next year in 2021. I can’t wait to see you all again, dancing at the Concerts.”
The news was equally depressing for what would have been the 72nd Annual Fourth of July Parade, which annually draws an estimated 100,000 or more people to Coronado. Simultaneously the July 4th events provide local businesses a huge financial lift, while also serving as the unofficial homecoming event for the community. Other cancelled events on that date for 2020 are the Islander Sports Foundation’s 12K Run, 5K Run/Walk; the Mile Sprint Fun Run, the Rough-Water Swim; Art in the Park; the Community Band Concert; and the City’s Fireworks display.
Fourth of July Committee President Dave Szymanski said in a press release issued by the City, “The decision has been difficult, but we believe it is the right decision at this time.” Coronado City Manager Blair King added, “It looks more and more like social distancing will be maintained. I do not think there is another game plan. Large crowds are not going to be able to gather and we need lead time to order things. There isn’t time to do that.”
Those two cultural setbacks are somewhat mitigated by the fact that with some restrictions, the City’s beaches have re-opened. King said of the restrictions going forward, “Currently there is still no loitering on the beach. People cannot gather in groups that stop but walking and running are okay on the sandy portion of the beach. Water contact in the ocean is okay, but loitering is not. Surfing, single-person kayaking, and standup paddle boarding are allowed, but pleasure boating in the Bay is not allowed. Tents, chairs or blankets are not allowed, and partial face coverings will be a requirement starting May 1 as well as social distancing.”
In addition, the popular Dog Beach area remains closed, as does Sunset Park. In addition, on-street parking in areas adjacent to the beaches, in the Village, the Cays and at points in between, is still closed. King said, “The basic concept remains if you can walk to the recreation area, that’s fine. But people shouldn’t be driving to the recreational area.”
When asked if the subject of beach closures might be re-visited in the future, King explained, “The County Public Health Officer can issue orders again. Or if we feel we cannot maintain order and people aren’t following directions, we can impose a restriction more restrictive than that of the Public Health Officer.”
King, who through the emergency powers granted him by the City Council has the authority to set policy in these areas, plans to have the Council re-affirm these actions at their meeting of May 5, 2020. As a point of information, the authority for public health policy in the state starts with California Public Health Officer Dr. Sonia Y. Angell, followed by policy in San Diego Country set by County Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten, and then the City of Coronado. Each step of the way, policies can be more restrictive, but not less restrictive, than the those set at the level above.
Another portion of positive local news involves the City’s Lifeline Loan Program, which was formalized and approved during the City Council meeting of April 21, 2020, is up and running. The Council approved a loan package totaling up to $2 million, with $15,000 available per Tier I businesses which have remitted sales tax to the State of California. Examples of 124 Tier 1 businesses in Coronado include eating and drinking establishments; retail sales; hotels; motels; bed and breakfast establishments; and movie and performance theaters.
After 30 days, Tier II businesses can apply for loans if funding remains from the original $2 million program. A sampling of those businesses includes real estate offices; professional offices; personal services; musicians; repair services; light industrial and light assembly firms; Coronado-based handyman and trade services; photocopying and mailbox services; gyms; plus martial arts studios. There are additional required steps to obtaining the Lifeline Loans, which can be found in detail at www.coronadochamber.com/lifeline-loan-application.
The loan process starts with the Coronado Chamber of Commerce, which distributes the loan forms and then accepts the completed loan applications. Loan approvals rest with the City of Coronado and funding is made through Cal Private Bank. King said, “We appreciate the Chamber and Cal Private Bank working with us. As of Saturday (April 25) we had seven applications. Funding should start today or tomorrow (April 27 or 28).”