Edition 6, August 2020
Welcome to the August 2020 edition of Pacifica Voice.
In this edition:
- Tovis Page allowed Pacifica Voice to reprint her Daily Journal article, “In This Time of Pandemic”,
- In support of AB 1436: The Eviction Protection and Housing Stability Act reviewed by Peter Loeb,
- Suzanne Moore discusses City Council and safe parking,
- The Peace People remind us of the cost of a military contract,
- Summer Lee expresses concerns on the Monterey Road planned construction,
- Rev. Kathy Crary suggests “Eyes, Ears. and Hearts” are important at this time,
- Rick Nahass asks further questions on police defunding,
- The Pacifica Resource Center submits an update.
- MON 8/3 7:00 PM Planning Commission – Monterey Road development discussed
- FRI 8/7 final day for candidates to file for City Council Districts 1 and 4
- SAT 8/8 – free shredding Recology Recycling Yard
- MON 8/10 7:00 PM City Council
- MON 8/24 7:00 PM City Council tentative agenda item: Pacifica Police framework for further action
- Pacific Beach Coalition: beach cleanups have resumed. Please check their schedules.
- Sanchez Art Gallery closed: check the virtual tours.
Photos have been contributed by Leo Leon and Mark Hubbell
Pacifica Voice is eager to receive articles on issues important to our community. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
In This Time of Pandemic
Author Tovis Page
Reprinted from the Daily Journal, Jul 10, 2020, with permission of Dr. Page
Dr. Tovis Page is a Unitarian Universalist seminarian and the program coordinator for the Peninsula Solidarity Cohort, a group of more than 35 religious leaders from diverse traditions working to “leverage moral power for the common good” in San Mateo County.
Most of the world’s major religious traditions teach some variation of the Golden Rule, the same rule many kids learn in kindergarten: Treat others as you want to be treated. At the root of this common moral principle lie two fundamental recognitions. Despite our myriad differences, we all want and deserve fair and kind treatment, and we are all deeply interconnected — dependent on one another and responsible for each other. In my own tradition of Unitarian Universalism, we express these principles in our covenant to affirm and promote “the inherent worth and dignity of every person” and “respect for the interconnected web of existence.”
The COVID-19 pandemic is laying bare with terrifying clarity the truth of these principles. It is reminding us that we literally depend on each other for survival. When I wear a face covering, I protect you; when you wear a face covering, you protect me. And it is teaching us that we are all only as safe as the most vulnerable among us. If we as a society don’t protect those who can’t afford rent from becoming homeless, we put everyone at greater risk. If we imprison asylum seekers or condone the policies of mass incarceration, we ensure that the virus will continue tearing through our overcrowded jails and prisons and into surrounding communities. And if we continue to disproportionately invest in a broken system of policing instead of health care, education, affordable housing and public services, we will continue to undermine both public health and public safety.
The simultaneity of COVID-19 and the uprisings against systemic racism and police brutality is no coincidence. In addition to our interdependence, the pandemic also reveals where our social, political and economic systems are broken. It reveals the ugly truth of systemic racism that puts Black and brown people at greater risk not only of illness, but also of poverty, unemployment, homelessness, incarceration and police violence.
The great American writer and activist James Baldwin famously said: “Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” By forcing us to face truths that have been long denied in this country, the pandemic offers us all a choice. Are we going to give in to fear, hatred and blame, doubling down on the ideologies and practices of individualism, competition, white supremacy and state violence? Or are we going to take this time of shutdown, uncertainty and unrest to reflect on our shared interests and to reimagine who we want to be as people, as communities, as a country?
In San Mateo County, it seems we aren’t yet sure. On June 23, for example, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to adopt a resolution supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and then approved a budget with a $12 million increase to the Sheriff’s Office, including nearly $1 million for new Tasers, and substantial cuts to a variety of safety net programs. In a time of pandemic and in a county where three men of color were killed with a Taser by law enforcement in a single year (2018), the juxtaposition between the supervisors’ words and deeds is stark indeed.
Like our county supervisors, many religious communities, businesses, organizations and individuals are waking up to the long-standing realities of systemic racism and police brutality and declaring publicly that Black Lives Matter. But we can’t just affirm that Black Lives Matter in words. We need to affirm that they matter in our budgets, in our policies, in our schools, in our houses of worship, in our workplaces and in our homes.
“Historically,” writes Arundhati Roy, “pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”
May our descendants remember this pandemic time as the time we learned to protect ourselves by protecting each other, prioritizing the most vulnerable among us. May they remember this as the time we finally harnessed our collective power to build communities of justice and compassion for all, right here in San Mateo County.
SUPPORT AB 1436: Eviction Protection and Housing Stability Act
Author Peter Loeb
AB 1436 is an effort by Assembly member David Chiu to provide Governor Newsom with a long-term framework to keep tenants housed during the COVID 19 pandemic. There is currently an increased risk of evictions as moratoriums expire. AB 1436 stops a looming wave of evictions likely to result from the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic impacts of the state’s public health response by providing a path to address unpaid rent while keeping tenants housed.
AB 1436 recognizes the scale and economic impact of the COVID-19 emergency by removing the threat of eviction for renters affected by the crisis while preserving the ability of landlords to recover unpaid rent. The bill:
- Provides that a tenant cannot be evicted due to unpaid rent accrued during the COVID-19 State of Emergency and for 90 days after, or until April 1, 2021, whichever is earlier.
- Requires tenants to resume regular rent payments within 90 days of the end of COVID-19 Emergency or by April 1, 2021, whichever is earlier.
- Requires tenants provide their landlord a written statement declaring that COVID-19 has negatively affected their ability to pay their rent in full.
- Encourages landlords and tenants to reach voluntary repayment agreements and includes guidelines for such agreements.
- Gives tenants a fair chance to pay back rent owed and preserves the ability of landlords to pursue unpaid rent through civil actions, as is currently the case for unpaid rent that is more than a year old.
- Ensures that landlords account for any rental assistance they receive from government sources in calculating back rent.
- Protects renters from negative impacts to credit and the ability to rent in the future.
AB 1436 allows California to transition out of the COVID-19 emergency in a way that balances the interests of renters, landlords, and the state. It maintains community stability and provides a path towards equitable economic recovery.
Please contact the Governor’s office at (916) 445 2841 in support of AB 1436.
San Mateo County is waiting for the state’s guidance for a long-term approach to tenant protection. Leadership is needed at the state level so that counties will get on board. The need is urgent. Please support AB 1436.
In support of AB 1436:
- California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation (sponsor) Housing Now! California (sponsor)
- Leadership Counsel for Justice and Accountability (sponsor) PolicyLink (sponsor)
- Public Advocates (sponsor)
- Public Counsel (sponsor)
- Western Center on Law and Poverty (sponsor)
- Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) California Labor Federation
- Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
- Brian Augusta, CA Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, 916-541-3395
- Michelle Pariset, Public Advocates, 916- 716-1484
- Anya Lawler, Western Center on Law and Poverty, 916-798-2968
The first 6 months following an eviction is a time of high risk for homelessness. Homeless are 5 times more likely than the general population to be exposed to and become seriously ill from COVID 19. Displacement makes contact tracing difficult. Poor and people of color are disproportionately harmed by both the health and economic downturns of COVID 19. COVID has increased risk to tenants who, often unable to work from home, risk exposure to the virus to make ends meet. The poor make hard choices to meet housing, food, and medical needs. In this pandemic, when shelter in place saves lives, tenants deserve protection from eviction. A long-term plan is needed to preserve health and economic viability after this pandemic is over.
Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, California was experiencing a housing affordability crisis impacting the majority of the state’s households. Over the last few months that crisis has been compounded as millions of Californians have lost their jobs and don’t know when or whether they’ll go back to work. Many of these households have been unable to pay their rent and are at risk of losing their housing when the emergency procedural protections imposed by the courts in eviction cases are lifted. There are currently no substantive protections in place to help tenants avoid eviction for nonpayment of rent during the COVID emergency, despite the fact that renters have lost income through no fault of their own.
The situation is particularly dire for lower-income Californians who are disproportionately black and brown families. Before the pandemic, 80% of extremely low-income households and over 50% of very low-income households were paying over half of their income in rent. With job losses and reduced hours heavily clustered in lower-wage sectors, these households are now even more precarious. While some qualify for unemployment benefits, many do not. A recent study estimated that in Los Angeles County alone, nearly 600,000 people who lost jobs in the first two months of the pandemic were not receiving unemployment.
When emergency protections are lifted, tenants owing back rent could face a swift eviction proceeding under California’s short unlawful detainer timeline. The vast majority of these tenants will not have access to legal counsel and will lose, even though they may have other defenses to the eviction. These households will lose their housing and may owe several months of back rent. Even tenants who can come up with all or part of the unpaid rent can be evicted. Landlords have no legal obligation to accept rent owed if they have already filed for eviction, which they are currently able to do in much of the state.
Allowing these families to be pushed out of their homes negatively impacts all of us. Without protections for renters, the long-term effects will extend far beyond today’s crisis, including widespread and deepening debt, difficulty securing replacement housing, and an increase in homelessness. Because low-income people and people of color are more likely to be renters, failure to protect renters will exacerbate stark inequities based on race, ethnicity, national origin, immigration status, gender identity, disability, and other protected class status, undermining California’s recent legislative efforts to eradicate these divides.
CITY COUNCIL IS NOT LISTENING: Parking Permit Pilot Failed
Author Suzanne Moore
Suzanne Moore is one of the editors of Pacifica Voice. She is a retired Family Nurse Practitioner, former Unhoused in Pacifica Task Force member, current board member of San Mateo County Healthcare for the Homeless and Farmworkers Program, a member of Pacifica Housing 4 All and Pacifica Social Justice, and a volunteer for Pacifica Resource Center.
During the 7/15/20 special council meeting on motor home permits, I found myself asking, “Is the majority on Council listening?” There are several recent episodes when council did not:
- Council did not listen to the majority of attendees at November’s Task Force Forum in which 70% supported a safe parking program before an oversize vehicle (OV) ordinance is enforced.
- Council was deaf 12/9/19 when the Task Force presented a report Council requested and Council chose to delay discussion until 7/15/20.
- In January when, in spite of many in opposition, Council implemented the OV ordinance.
- And in March, when COVID halted public debate, Council chose to let the ordinance take effect 3/30/20 without public input, and Council then relegated $40,000 for cost of signs in spite of stated budgetary constraints due to COVID’s economic downturn.
- Council apparently is deaf to the County – Chris Hunter of Supervisor Horsely’s office, offered help with a safe parking program if Council moved forward, but Council ignored that offer.
- Council ignored experts serving the homeless in our County who in position statements support safe parking; and Council denied to act on a plan, drafted by our own Pacifica Resource Center, done in collaboration with the Task Force and faith-based leaders.
- And Council certainly chose to ignore the 50% of oral comments to the 7/15/20 special meeting in support of the PRC pilot.
This Council is failing in its duties. I would have thought this Council would not need to be reminded of their oaths to protect all Pacificans, that we are in a pandemic surge, and a second wave is expected in our flu season.The Oversize Vehicle Ordinance has unintended consequences that put public health at risk, and Council is failing to address an urgent problem of their own making.
Safe parking will provide hygiene services, temporary shelter, and case management for stable housing to Pacifica’s homeless who are 5 times more likely to become exposed and critically ill from COVID. Safe parking will reduce displacement and facilitate COVID tracing. Safe parking gives expanded public health protection to the benefit of us all. Safe parking will save lives.
A member on Council spoke of division or dichotomy when community members asked Council to demonstrate compassion at this time. That member seems unaware that compassion does not divide – it unifies, heals, and inspires.
Here are the options verbalized by Council that deserve urgent attention:
- lease 5 spaces from the SF RV Park,
- collaborate with Daly City for safe parking at Mussel Rock,
- waive permit fees for private hosts,
- wait to enforce the Oversize Vehicle Ordinance until a safe parking program is in place.
This Council has failed – to duty to protect the public as sworn, to plans to slow the virus as supported by homeless experts, to practice leadership and make difficult decisions in this pandemic, and yes, to demonstrate compassion for those residents at risk for displacement.
The majority on Council appear to be taking a different path for purposes known only to them. Call on Council and demand they take the steps listed above immediately. Support the Pacifica Resource Center serving an increased number of Pacificans in this pandemic and economic downturn.
“When you see something not right, you have an obligation to say something, to do something.” The late congressman, John Lewis, reminds us all of our duty even if our majority Council has forgotten theirs.
CANCEL A MILITARY CONTRACT. GET EXPANDED HEALTHCARE.
Author Carolyn Jaramillo
and the Pacifica Peace People would like to share a fact from the Poor People’s March 2020:
“If we cancel one military contract, we would have $25 billion to expand Medicaid in the 14 states that haven’t already done so under the Affordable Care Act.”
A LETTER ON DEVELOPMENT AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT
Author Summer Lee
Dear Fellow Pacificans,
In the face of the existential threat of climate change and historic economic disparities, it is time for the Pacifica Planning Commission and City Council to raise the standards on new development to consider both ecological impact and providing low-income housing.
This Monday on August 3rd, the Planning Commission is considering yet another troubling new development, where the developer will build million dollar condos on undeveloped land on Monterey Road near the intersection of Hickey Boulevard.
This project will cause a devastating and irreparable impact on the hill side by removing over 50 trees and cutting into the hillside and moving significant earth, which also happens to be where storm water gathers at the bottom of two hills.
It is clearly designed to make the most amount of profit to the developers with little regard to future welfare of the area, in a no-faith attempt to put the most amount of units in a small space on undeveloped land.
I have lived on Monterey Road for 20 years in an existing multi-home development which was quickly built in this vein in 1999, albeit with single-family dwellings and less density. The construction was shoddy, many of my neighbors reporting upside down installed windows, leaking sub floors and foundations, misaligned studs, missing subfloors, just to name a few. Even if there was a 5-year warranty the contractors fought any meaningful repairs. Pacifica does not need another cheaply-done building development with the maximum density possible for maximum profit, unaffordable to the average Pacifican, at the expense of the open environment and future impact on drainage and traffic and wildlife.
Here are some ways to help change the future of such development in Pacifica:
- Attend Planning Commission meetings.
- Petition the City Council against such development
- Elect City Council members who have no real estate interests
EYES, EARS, HEARTS: Knowledge speaks, wisdom listens
Rev. Kathy Crary, St. Edmund’s Episcopal Church, Pacifica.
I am sitting in my dining room, looking out over the trees and the lawn of the quadrangle, a long, large expanse of greenery, lawn and trees in our townhouse complex. I think about the term “I can hear the wind” as weather changes. In reality it is not the wind we are hearing, but all the elements of the environment that respond to the variations in the wind’s intensity. I hear the leaves, I hear the woman’s little cute banner of summer on her porch rattle the pole across the way, the quiet tinkling sound of far-off wind chimes. There is a qualitative and quantitative difference in hearing and listening.
Bear with me with another illustration. My eyesight has never been great. At 18 months I was wearing glasses and the next 67.5 years meant a habit of grabbing the glasses from the bedside table when I roll out of bed every morning. Otherwise everything is out of focus. Another set of experiences has improved my ability to “see”. We have discovered COVID Puzzle Distraction. We reconstruct pictures of wildlife, stamps, winter scenes, autumn sunsets, gardens and an infinite number of horse/buggy scenes and car parts. Now I drive down the street and note how many colors of green are in the shrubs, or how much variation of white and blue are found in the skies above the Bay. Shadows pop out, colors are more subtle, and littleness of detail is more evident.
Ever and always a preacher (unapologetically, I might add), I am reminded of a passage in the New Testament, in the Gospel of Matthew (Chapter 13, in case you are interested). Jesus talks about parables as ways to illustrate his message. It is frustrating the disciples to no end and they want him to cut to the chase. He harkens back to a passage from Isaiah to remind them that seeing is not always a path to perceiving and hearing is not the same as listening. And both are informed by the heart, an obvious reference to his message of compassion, love and acceptance.
We don’t have a lot of that going on right now, as the country is divided on issues of science, race, politics, corruption, conspiracy theories, verbal and physical attacks and rising restrictions around economics, freedom of movement and what makes an American an American. I have fallen prey to these divisions. I am not able to see, hear, listen and recognize the basic elements that exist in the hearts and souls of others with whom I do not agree. I am quick to judge and resistant to having my worldview changed. I have been threatened (literally) because of some of my closely-held beliefs and the actions that accompany them. That tends to make me more fearful, which leads to anger, suspicion, profiling and disregard for a whole segment of the population, both locally and globally. I am sorry about that, and I don’t have a vaccine for the virus of fear and the emotions that it breeds.
Here is what I do know: Compassion is hard work and more of it would help right now.
None of us wants to see the country continue like it is, but something’s gotta give and it takes courage to face the changes that are coming. And they are coming. They came to society and my own family over the years…
My grandfather did not want a telephone, the farm had an outhouse and a water pump outside the backdoor. There was no centralized heat and no air conditioning on the farm.
My own mother was instructed by my father to stay home and raise the children. What she really wanted was a college education and a job. Only a handful of my family has gone to college. My father did not finish, my mother did not go. I have a graduate degree, a nice place to live, and many of the modern amenities that my grandparents eschewed.
The changes are coming and we have a chance right now to listen more than just hear, to perceive and gain understanding where we have just been seeing or “turning a blind eye”. We have a chance to have a change of heart, as individuals, as a community and as a nation to reach “across the aisle” (doesn’t it seem more like the Grand Canyon?) and be neighbors again. It takes a nation to convert from us/them to WE. It is not enough to be righteous, outraged, mired in disbelief with the “other”. We need to see with understanding, hear with active listening skills and soften our own hearts to make humankind both human and kind.
Defund The Police
Author: Rick Nahass
On July 7 the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Organization published a video on the slogan “Defund The Police” where BLM Managing Director Kailee Scales said,
“What if we used our tax money to put towards other services like education, like healthcare, like housing, like employment opportunities? In some cities, just by defunding the police by 5% would double the budget for public health.”
“So what does that look like? That looks like…divest in police … and invest in teachers and counseling. That looks like divesting in criminalizing mental health and providing mental health and restorative services. That means divesting in an over-militarized police force, military weapons against citizens, and investing in community led harm reduction programming.”
I invited the Pacifica Police Chief to submit an article in response to the Pacifica Voice June 2020 “Protest” and “Who’ll Stop the Reign” commentary on “Defund” by Dan Evenhouse. The following excerpts were relevant to the June 2020 articles:
In response to show-of-force – “… a threat received prior to the June 4th protest to block and shut down Highway 1”
“… will be bringing further information along with a framework for further action and community engagement to a future City Council meeting, tentatively scheduled for August 24th”
Pacifica Resource Center Updates (8/3/20)
Author Anita Rees, Executive Director
Pacifica Resource Center (PRC) continues to be open to the community, providing core essential services of groceries, emergency financial assistance, and homeless services. We are open our regular office hours, but are limiting in person meetings and walk ins to Monday and Tuesday mornings 9a-12:30p, Wednesday afternoon/early evening 1 30-7p, Thursday afternoons 1:30-5p, and Fridays 9a-1p; we are available by phone all other times.
Month in Review – June 2020 In June, PRC provided food to benefit 927 individuals from 447 households – a 21% increase in the number of families served compared to June 2019. At the same time, we prevented homelessness for seven Pacifica families through our housing assistance programs and provided homeless services to 47 households, including 60 showers through our shower program.
Because unhoused individuals are four times more susceptible to COVID, PRC has provided homeless services throughout the shelter in place orders. Tracy and Steve have been unhoused in Pacifica for most of the last five years and were added to our Unhoused on the Coast (UC) Outreach caseload, a project funded by the San Mateo County’s Center on Homelessness to help unhoused Pacificans become housed. They were offered a Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) voucher and we helped them complete the application, providing transportation to and support at HSA, Social Security, and DMV appointments to collect required documents. Tracy and Steve were granted the voucher, then COVID happened. We placed them in a local hotel while we helped them look for permanent housing during the pandemic. After two months of searching, Tracy and Steve moved out of the hotel and into their own apartment this month!
Grocery Outlet Pacifica Independence from Hunger Food & Funds Drive Thank you to all of the community members that supported Pacifica Grocery Outlet’s Independence from Hunger Food and Funds Drive during the month of July. Final numbers are still being confirmed but we can share that over $10,000 has been raised to support PRC and our efforts to end food insecurity in Pacifica. We are grateful for Grocery Outlet’s partnership and for your continued support. Keep an eye out for more good news coming from PRC and Grocery Outlet very soon!
Staff Updates PRC hired a new case manager, Dominique Foster; she officially joined us on 7/24. We also hired two outreach specialists for our Unhoused on the Coast (UC) Outreach work. Daniel Gardner and Allen Ramirez will be joining the PRC team on 8/10. With our three new hires, we are nearly fully staffed with 12 awesome team members. We hope to post a job announcement for a part-time Executive Assistant on Indeed.com in the next week or so. And, we will share more info about our new staff next month.
Back to School School starts next month and will look very different due to COVID-19. There are still a lot of unknowns, but one thing is known – Pacifica youth will need backpacks and school supplies to
get ready for the new school year. In addition to sturdy backpacks, we are collecting headphones, hand sanitizer, face masks, and $25 Target gift cards to purchase school supplies. To give items, check out our wish list on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/31QCYQJDJV5XQ?ref_=wl_share); please purchase by 8/6 for delivery by 8/11.
If you or someone you know needs help preparing your student for the new school year, contact us to sign up for PRC’s Back to School Program at 650 738-7470 or on our website at https://www.pacresourcecenter.org/eligibility.
Emergency Financial Assistance for delinquent rent or mortgage and other critical needs The moratorium on evictions due to past due rent currently ends on 8/31. If anyone needs help paying past due rent or mortgage, August rent or mortgage, or future rent or mortgage, please contact PRC by phone at 650 738-7470, email at email@example.com, or via our website at pacresourcecenter.org. An online pre-application for emergency financial assistance is available at https://forms.gle/9BMbG7CGjQ3aME7m9 to make it easier to apply and collect the most important documents.
Groceries Groceries are being delivered to seniors and at risk families in Pacifica. Others needing groceries are encouraged to attend our drive thru distribution on Wednesdays in the parking lot at the American Legion Hall at 555 Buel. Not signed up yet? Arrive at the American Legion Hall at 3:30p and we’ll provide groceries as quickly as possible.
Homeless services Showers continue to be available to unhoused individuals and families by appointment. Thanks to several volunteers we have been able to offer even more showers. With our new Unhoused on the Coast (UC) Outreach staff, we will also be re-starting outreach to our unhoused neighbors in Pacifica and along the coast through Half Moon Bay. If you come across someone who is unhoused in Pacifica, please let us know so we can reach out to them. There are no shelters on the coast, but we do have resources and support to offer. Anyone who is unhoused can come to PRC for help.
Census 2020 The deadline to complete the census has been extended 10/31. Enumerators will begin reaching out in person to those who have not completed the Census in August. If you haven’t completed the census yet, please do so online at my2020census.gov or by phone at 844-330-2020. We need everyone counted because vital funding for health care and emergency service funding, like the current response to COVID19, comes from being counted in the census. #EveryoneCounts.
Please contact PRC at 650 738-7470 or via our website at pacresourcecenter.org if you or someone you know need help with groceries; financial assistance for rent, mortgage or other critical needs; access to homeless services; or help completing the Census.