May 11, 2020

Greetings, Everyone ~  
I am thinking of you as we enter into another week of our Shelter In Place lifestyle. As you, I am grateful for good weather, good friends and the fact that we are continuing to marshall through this challenging and often confusing time together. Each day the news is full of facts and predictions of COVID-19 and its many sidebars. In fact, we have so much COVID-19 information in this e-letter to you that we could rename it COVID COMMENTS but I won’t, because there are so many other issues pressing on our District 5 residents.   

At our most recent Fireside Chat, a number of questions were asked and we didn’t have time to respond to them all.  Some issues were addressed in revised SIP orders over the past two weeks.  At the bottom of this message, we have attempted to answer the questions that remained. There was overlap in some of the questions so we are responding by overarching topic. The questions are split into COVID-19/SIP related and Non-COVID-19 categories. I hope you find these answers helpful.  

Our next Fireside Chat is scheduled for Wednesday, May 20th from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Our guest will be Dr. Steve Packer, M.D., President/Chief Executive Officer of Community Hospital.  I am delighted he is taking time from his demanding schedule to chat with us about his perspective on issues surrounding Coronavirus. I encourage you to submit questions to us in advance so Dr. Packer can be prepared to respond.    

Again, more than ever, thank you for your sacrifices in following the SIP Order. We can see that all our efforts are having an impact on “flattening the curve” as they say. Respecting yourself and others by wearing a face covering when you leave the house is the most visible sign that we are in it together and together we will make it through. I miss you

Fireside Chat Questions & Answers
COVID-19/Shelter in Place

Q: How is the Monterey County Food Bank doing during this crisis?
The Food Bank is doing yeoman's work, but it is struggling to meet the need. The primary issue is that food supply chains are delayed. Read more...

Q: Why can’t the Board of Supervisor tell the Health Officer to lift the SIP Order?  
I, and my four colleagues on the Board of Supervisors, are regularly communicating with the Health Officer and all those involved in planning our response to this pandemic. Read more...

Q: Have there been early releases of prisoners at the Monterey County Jail and Salinas Valley State Prison?  
Yes, some early releases have occurred. Per the Monterey County Sheriff, the early releases at the county jail are all due to COVID-19. Read more...

Q: Can’t we just open up on the Monterey Peninsula?
Shelter-in-Place orders are implemented to ensure our local health care system has capacity to serve all potentially ill persons in the County. The Monterey Peninsula is not isolated from other parts of the County and continues to share the risk of potential spread of this disease. There is significant travel between different areas of Monterey County. There would be significant legal issues with trying to open one area of the County and not another, and we need to have a comprehensive and coordinated approach countywide. 

Q: When can private events and weddings resume?
Governor Newsom has laid out six criteria for the lifting of shelter in place orders and four phases for re-opening. Monterey County is developing plans based on the State's guidance, and will be working with industry leaders locally to develop the appropriate protocols and timing for these kinds of activities. 

Q: When will the public have increased access to open space in the County Parks?
In consultation with the Health Officer, some Monterey County Parks are reopened with limited use in compliance with the Monterey County’s Shelter in Place Order and the State of California COVID-19 related orders. Read more...

Q: When will additional outdoor recreational activities such as tennis, swimming, and fishing be allowed?
At this time activities such as tennis and swimming continue to be deemed too high-risk regarding transmission of COVID-19. My office has shared community members’ requests for this determination to be reconsidered. We have similarly conveyed a number of requests for reopening of the boat launch ramps for recreational fishing.

Q: Why have there been trails and roads closures in the Los Padres National Forest?
These roads, trails, and trailheads were drawing increasingly heavy vehicle traffic and large groups of people, creating circumstances where social distancing was not possible. Read More...

Q: I am a sole proprietor of an STR. What financial assistance is available to help me pay my mortgages and essential bills? 
You may qualify for benefits under the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance which is available to independent contractors and sole proprietors.  Here is a link to begin the application process .

Q: Can you provide more information on unemployment assistance?
We have spoken with the office teams of your State representatives - Senator Bill Monning, Assemblymembers Stone and Rivas - to let them know more information is needed. Read more...

Q: Why was the Monterey Fairgrounds selected to be an alternative housing site and what protections are in place for the surrounding neighborhoods? 
To prepare for a potential surge in COVID-19 cases which may impact local hospitals and sicken vulnerable populations, Monterey County has implemented a multi-pronged approach to meeting both medical and housing needs for those impacted or threatened by COVID-19. Read more...

Q: I’m concerned about the Health Department’s modeling how many cases of COVID-19 are expected to occur in Monterey County.
In the presentation which the Board of Supervisors received on April 14th, it was made clear that there are limits to modeling. The models available are designed for larger populations with more cases. Read more...

Q: How is the County ensuring Agricultural Workers are adequately protected? 
Monterey County has been a national leader in considering the needs of the agricultural industry, including this industry as essential since the outset. Read more...

Q: There seem to be inconsistencies in the protocols for Assisted Living and Long Term Care Facilities. 
The Monterey County Health Department, California Department of Public Health (CDPH), and US Health and Human Services Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) have been working closely with long-term care facilities since mid-January to help them prepare for COVID-19. Read more...

Q: Could you please address the issue of 2nd Amendment rights being infringed upon with the exclusion of gun shops and sporting goods stores that sell ammunition from essential services? 
Second Amendment rights are not being infringed upon under the SIP. 

Q: Where can Monterey Peninsula residents receive testing?  
Monterey County will launch two testing sites, one in Salinas and one in Greenfield. The Salinas community testing site will be held at Alisal High School located at 777 Williams Road and will open on Wednesday, May 6 at 8 a.m. My office is actively working to site an additional County affiliated testing location on the Monterey Peninsula. Read more...

Q: Can you provide a status update on the Carmel Lagoon and Carmel River FREE projects?
RMA staff will be providing a monthly status update on two important projects related to flood control and habitat management at the mouth of Carmel Valley, the Carmel Lagoon and the Carmel River Floodplain Restoration and Environmental Enhancement (Carmel River FREE) projects. The first status update can be found here

Q: Will the Carmel Valley Road Speed Zones pilot end?
Proposed changes to the Carmel Valley Road speed limits were introduced in a first reading of Title 12 amendments to the County Code on April 28th. The second reading is scheduled for May 12th.  Read more...

Q: What is the status of the County budget? Is the County looking at layoffs or furloughs? 
The Board of Supervisors held a budget workshop on April 7th. This last year was a relatively good budget year, but with the pandemic, the budget forecast is being adjusted in anticipation of reduced revenues, particularly from transient occupancy taxes. Read more...

Q: What is an update regarding the problematic homeowners fire insurance issue so many in our area are dealing with (or may be forced to deal with in the very near future)?
The Board of Supervisors has identified fire insurance cancellations or major policy cost increases as a legislative priority for our State elected officials and lobbyist. Unfortunately, it is not an issue which can be resolved at the level of County government. Read more...

Q: Why don’t Carmel, Pebble Beach and Carmel Valley have more representatives on the Monterey One Water Board? 
Monterey One Water (M1W), formerly called the Monterey Regional Water Pollution Control Agency, was created as a Joint Powers Agency (JPA) in the 1970s with the construction of the regional wastewater treatment plant located north of Marina. Read more...

Q: What is the status of the Palo Colorado Canyon Road Repairs above the “Hoist”?  
The proposed Capital Improvement Program for the coming year includes funding for the design and permitting of the needed road improvements for this portion of Palo Colorado Road. Read more...

Q: I’m concerned about the M1W Board Vote on Pure Water Monterey Expansion SEIR?
The Pure Water Monterey Expansion Project is an important part of our water supply project options to address the Cease and Desist Order and develop an affordable water project. Read more...
Q: Can Upper Carmel Valley Road be repaved? 
Many of the roads countywide are in desperate need of repaving. Unfortunately, Upper Carmel Valley Road is not scheduled for repaving in the coming year. However, the County is planning to begin a repair project on a portion of Carmel Valley road near mile post 13.9 this month. Read more...

Q: What can be done to address illegal roadside camping in Big Sur?
Illegal roadside camping in the Big Sur area has created public health and safety concerns for the community, particularly regarding fire safety and dumping of waste, including human waste. Read more...

Q: Why is it that Supervisorial Districts 1, 2, and 3 have such a disproportionate impact on decisions that impact Districts 4 & 5? 
The current Supervisorial district boundaries were established through the redistricting process that occurs every ten years after each census count. This is one example of why full participation in the 2020 census is so important. This concern also illustrates why it is important to understand countywide issues and political dynamics, and to build relationships in the other supervisorial districts so that the concerns in Districts 4 and 5 are understood and supported .
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