May 6th, 2021 – It seems like every day we are getting closer and closer to a normal way of living (and working). Although, “normal” probably won’t ever be what we all remember. On Tuesday, city staff gave an update to the City Council on the city’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts, which included several big milestones:
- Outdoor gatherings at parks are now allowed for up to 50 people
- Next week libraries will stay open an extra two hours on the days they are already open, and the Georgina Cole Library will be open on Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- On May 17, community center hours will expand to 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday through Friday
- On May 24, all libraries will be open six days a week, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday
- Also on May 24, front counter services at the Faraday Center for walk-in bill payments and building and development services will expand to three days a week, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday
- The city’s sculpture garden will welcome its first new exhibit in over a year on May 25 (If you aren’t familiar with the sculpture garden, be sure to check it out. It’s right next to the community garden by City Hall and the Cole Library)
- The city’s beautiful Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park will host its first wedding in over a year later this month.
You can see all the details about the expansion of in person services in this link. How far we’ve come!
Tracking variants As more things reopen in our community, please remember that health precautions are still recommended. Not everyone is vaccinated, and even those who are have a small chance of contracting COVID-19.
Yesterday, during her update to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, the county health officer reported that our region has identified the first case of B.1.617, the variant currently spreading in India. The patient is a woman in her 20s who returned from India in late March and was hospitalized in early April.
Only a very small percentage of cases are “sequenced,” meaning sent to a specialized lab to determine the variant. As a result, we don’t know if other cases of the India variant are occurring. This sequencing process takes some time, which is why it is just being reported now.
Here is the current status of variants here
The World Health Organization tracks variants and is coordinating studies to determine how they react to current vaccines. Some early studies have shown the vaccines work well against the variants we know about so far, but health experts caution that there hasn’t been enough data gathered to know for sure. If you’re interested, here is a link to the latest WHO report that has a large section on variants.
State of emergency Also, at yesterday’s county board of supervisors meeting, the county’s public health officer said that the state has indicated that it will not end its emergency declaration when California reopens June 15. State officials told the county the emergency declaration will extend to the end of 2021. Typically, county emergency declarations are tied to state declarations. Similarly, the City of Carlsbad issued a declaration of local emergency, which is set to expire automatically when the county declaration ends. Emergency declarations can help governments be more agile in responding to emergencies because certain rules change when an emergency declaration is in effect.
The county said it will be supporting vaccination efforts, which require complicated logistics, for some time to come. Recovery efforts are also underway, with special programs and assistance tied to the emergency declarations.
Rental assistance extended It was a late night for the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday due in part to significant public interest in a proposed expansion of protections for renters. You may recall that the state put rules in place that prevent renters from being evicted for non-payment due to economic impacts of the pandemic. That is set to expire June 30.
The Board of Supervisors passed new rules that will be effective countywide starting in early June and last until sometime in August. According to the discussion at the meeting, there was a concern that some landlords were finding loopholes in previous rules and evicting tenants who had not paid but citing other reasons. As a result, the new rules do not allow landlords to evict tenants for any reason other than if they pose an immediate health or safety threat. You can read more about it in the county’s staff report.
Water bill assistance City staff (okay, technically, they are staff of the Carlsbad Municipal Water District*) gave an update Tuesday evening about the number of customers who have fallen behind on their water bill payments during COVID. In all, we have about $400,000 in outstanding payments, or an average of about $900 for each customer who is behind. The county is providing assistance to help pay for utilities bills and rent, so if you or someone you know is in need, here is the website with more information. We are also reaching out individually to those who are behind to let them know about this resource and otherwise help them get current.
* Fun fact: Carlsbad is served by three different water districts, depending on where you live. The Carlsbad Municipal Water District serves about 85% of the city. If you live in the south, you might be a customer of the Olivenhain Municipal Water District, and in the east, we have the Vallecitos Water District. The Carlsbad Municipal Water District is a separate legal entity funded mostly by water bills rather than sales tax, property tax and other general taxes. City Council members serve as the water district’s board of directors.
Vaccination progress Here are the latest vaccination numbers from the county, released yesterday.
- Doses delivered: Nearly 3.21 million.
- Doses administered: Over 2.88 million.
- Received at least one shot: Over 1.52 million or 56.6% of San Diegans 16 and older.
- Fully vaccinated: More than 1.11 million or 41.4%.
- The goal: fully vaccinate 75% of San Diego County residents 16 and older or 2,017,011 people.
- To date, 75.5% of the goal population has received at least one vaccine and 55.2% are fully vaccinated.
You can see these numbers in the dashboard below. Keep in mind the “goal population” means the percentage of people in the county goal of 75% of those eligible. Yes, this is a little hard to explain. The county reports on total eligible population too. A little less than half of those eligible are fully vaccinated; and a little more than half have had one shot of the two shot vaccines.
State metrics After a series of .1 increases, San Diego County’s adjusted case rate (number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 in population) fell from 6.2 to 5.0 in the latest report released Tuesday. Testing positivity is 2.2%.
This is all good, although not as good as our neighbors to the north. Orange County has a case rate of 2.4, and LA County is at 1.6, officially in the yellow tier. The tier assignment system is going away June 15, and the state has said it doesn’t plan to make any county have more restrictive rules unless there is some dramatic sign of a problem. Nonetheless, it’s good to have the data, both so we can be proud of how far we’ve come and to know that there is room for us to do even a little better still.
Questions about the Clean Energy Alliance The city has gotten some questions about the upcoming change in where we get our power. Carlsbad, Solana Beach and Del Mar have formed a joint powers authority called the Clean Energy Alliance. You have likely received a letter from the CEA explaining how this change will work, including the option to stay with SDG&E. If you do nothing, you will be automatically enrolled to get your power from the Clean Energy Alliance. You can also choose the mix of sources you prefer. As a default, you will receive energy from 50% renewable sources and 75% carbon-free energy content.
The law dictates how community choice energy programs are rolled out, including the provision to automatically enroll customers unless they opt out. More information is available on the CEA website, including answers to these questions and more.
Another nod to normalcy Starting next week, you can look for my updates once a week, on Wednesdays. I will also be expanding the topics to include other things going on around the city. Don’t worry, I’ll still keep you informed of COVID-19 related news affecting Carlsbad, but I expect that will continue to decrease as we move further into the recovery phase.
I actually launched the City Manager’s Update a couple of years ago as a way to share some of the lesser-known things happening at the city – new projects, interesting stories about solving problems and good news, like when our wastewater worker retrieved a wedding ring from the sewer. I repurposed them to focus on COVID-19 at the very beginning of our emergency declaration, even issuing daily updates at one time.
I appreciate all of you who have taken the time to not only follow these updates, but share information with your friends and neighbors. I continue to read all of your feedback, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know you better.
It’s been quite a journey. And it’s not over, just changing. As we enter the recovery phase, please stay the course on health precautions, shop local and patronize our restaurants. Thank our health care workers, grocery store clerks and others who have been on the front lines since day one. And, of course, continue to #Care4Carlsbad.
Scott Chadwick, City Manager
City of Carlsbad | 1200 Carlsbad Village Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008