Some good news came yesterday from Governor Newsom, who indicated that some additional businesses can begin opening later this week by meeting certain criteria. More guidance will be issued on Thursday, but the plan is said to allow for bookstores, sporting goods stores, clothing stores, and more to reopen. This is particularly good news for local small businesses, many of whom have felt it unfair that megastores like Walmart were allowed to remain open and sell non-essential items while they were forced to close.
But that said, for many Californians the news comes too late or won’t address the economic hardships they have been facing since the shelter-in-place guidance was put into effect. In fact, a recent Pew study found that 71 percent of jobless Americans did not receive their unemployment benefits in March. Whether the problem is outdated mainframes that cannot support the claims or a shortage of unemployment claims representatives, it is clear that we are being failed by our leaders in government. With report after report of people trying to call and get assistance and being unable to get anyone to help, it is apparent that we’re going to need to do even more on a local level to directly help one another and our local businesses in order to sustain our way of life and move forward.
I would like to see continued rent delays/abatements and the prohibition of utilities and internet shut-offs until people can realistically start to pay their bills. We should not be forced by the government to stay at home, unable to work, AND be obligated to pay a big giant bill at the end of a deferment without assistance. Local small businesses need to be propped up and better supported financially.
Additionally, the internet is providing critical infrastructure both for the purposes of public safety information and for education now that our schools are holding virtual classes, so it is imperative that people continue to have access during this time. As a public health educator, I also know that the internet is providing many people with crucial mental health support and connection during this time.
I’d like to see city-level grant programs, interest-free loan programs for local businesses, and incentives for employing more local people. I understand our city recently began a loan program, but again, this does not go far enough. Many other cities across California offered their local shops grants to help keep them going. Why shouldn’t we do the same? While our local efforts may never match the levels of federal relief programs, we do have an obligation to do our part. In some cases, this might be as simple as employing people to help connect small businesses with more resources or assisting them in adjusting their business models to support the changing economic landscape. Our economic development department could be used as a central hub to help local businesses find innovative ways to navigate this difficult environment. As an entrepreneur myself, I have often had to think outside the box and I believe this will be necessary in order for our local culture to survive.
We know that there may be difficult decisions ahead for our local and state representatives, in particular, when it comes to funding for projects, prioritizing city goals, and ensuring that the most help goes to where it is needed. This is why it is imperative that we elect a Mayor in Oceanside who understands this pandemic from a public health, emergency response, and business perspective. As an EMT, a small business owner, an active member of the community, and the parent of children attending local schools, I am prepared to lead our community forward and I hope very much to have your support in the coming months. My very best to you, your family and your friends. Take care and be safe.