A Letter to the Community from Hermosa Beach City Manager Suja Lowenthal
It’s been two weeks since Governor Newsom’s “stay at home” order went into effect – and we are all adjusting to a world that has been turned upside down. No one knows exactly how long this will last, but it seems like we have a while before we get back to many of our normal activities.
As we all adjust to this new reality, I can’t emphasize enough the gratitude I have for everyone who is doing their part by staying home, the employees of essential services that continue to show up to work to help us, and for our staff continuing to serve the community.
Life has changed dramatically for Hermosa Beach, as it has across Southern California and around the world. Thousands are out of work or had to close their businesses. Those lucky enough to still be employed, are often working from home, many taking care of kids trying to adapt to online classes. Grocery stores are still struggling to restock shelves and provide physical distancing to their workers and shoppers. Things we took for granted --working out at the gym, brunch or game night with friends, enjoying pro sports and concerts, a day at the spa – all shut down indefinitely. Two weekends ago, our beach and Strand were inundated with people hoping to escape their homes for some fresh air. This past Friday, all the beaches in LA County were closed until at least April 19.
There has been an emotional toll as well. Many are afraid, some desperately so. The virus is invisible, and some vulnerable residents are afraid to even open their windows. Physical distancing has imposed isolation for many – and neither Facebook nor Facetime can make up for the loss of social contact and joy of a hug or high-five. Others are working through the challenge of not being able to do some of their favorite activities – volleyball, swimming, surfing – that often provide the social and emotional outlets we rely on to keep us grounded. With neighbors looking out for each other and opportunities to create new routines, we hope that everyone can find hope and help if they need it. If the news surrounding #COVID19 is making you or someone you know feel stressed, anxious, or depressed, call Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health 24/7 hotline at 800-854-7771 or text “LA” to 741741 to get help.
We also want to take a moment to hear from you. If you live in any of our south bay cities and have a moment, please fill out the short survey to let us know how frequently you’d like to hear from us, the COVID-19 challenges you and your family are facing, and your preferred methods of communication with us so we can do our best to be responsive and help you meet those challenges.
This pandemic has meant a huge change for City government. Our recreation programs, facilities, and public counters are shut down – but our team is still working to respond to the health emergency and maintain as many of our normal operations as possible. We’ve been working around the clock to implement changes to our services and facilities, up our communications efforts, and respond to questions, concerns, complaints, suggestions, and demands from residents. As with the incomes of many residents and businesses, City revenue has plunged. And yet, we’re continuing to enact changes to services and policies – delay of parking permits, suspension of street sweeping enforcement, a moratorium on residential and commercial evictions – to support and protect the residents and businesses within our community.
So as we adjust to living in this new normal, a quick reminder for the weeks ahead about what you can and can’t do. You can get food – at the grocery store or using delivery or take-out from our restaurants. You can do necessary errands to keep you and your house safe. You can check on neighbors and relatives. You can take a walk in your neighborhood or visit your local park. If you do any of these things, however, please be careful and stay six feet away from people, even your good friends. And practice all the now well-known hygiene practices, starting with washing your hands before and after touching surfaces or objects that may harbor the virus.
What you can’t do is live a normal life. “Stay at home” means just that. Not only are you “safer at home” – you are keeping our vulnerable neighbors, our staff that are part of our essential field operations including public works, police, and fire, and ultimately health care workers safer by avoiding giving or getting the virus.
Of course, some people are using their extra time at home to jump on a phone or keyboard, a great way to check-in with friends and family or explore activities in our Hermosa Beach from Home collection. Not so great when people spread unfounded rumors, conspiracy theories, and petty complaints. Now is not a time to panic or bicker. We are sending out daily updates you can sign up to receive via email and we are answering your questions and concerns through email, phone, and social media to the best of our abilities, but kindly ask that you seek the information from our website first, and reserve 9-1-1 for emergencies only.
Even as we cope with these realities, this too shall pass. There are better times ahead. We know these times are tough, yet in the past few weeks we’ve seen our community come up with creative and innovative ways to keep supporting each other – whether it’s a business turning into a corner market, residents helping out those in need, our kids sharing messages of hope and positivity, and those continuing to serve on the front lines of our response efforts – we are so proud and inspired by each and every one of you.
Stay calm, stay informed, stay healthy, and stay strong Hermosa!