Councilman proposes opening San Diego’s parks to businesses, worship

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Citing the economic, mental and even spiritual impact of renewed indoor business closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, San Diego City Councilman Chris Cate Wednesday proposed opening the city’s parks for business purposes.

He asked that the city’s Parks and Recreation staff “evaluate the feasibility of allowing organizations to safely operate in public parks by allowing temporary outdoor permits for up to 60 days and waiving any associated permit fees that may apply.”

In a memorandum to Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Parks Director Andrew Field, Cate said many small businesses and organizations are dealing admirably and creatively with quickly changing and sometimes confusing public health orders.

“Every business has felt severe strain from the current health orders,” he wrote. “Due to the amended order from the governor and County of San Diego Public Health regulations, many businesses face eminent closure. Several of these establishments will not survive a second mandatory shutdown as a direct result.”

Cate cited the mayor’s own plan — approved by the city council this week — to expand outdoor dining and retail operations as a possible precursor to using the parks for business and places of worship.

“I want to promote a spirit of entrepreneurship, innovation and creative solutions in light of the state mandate and county public health order and allow all businesses, nonprofits and faith-based organizations capable of continuing to operate safely outdoors in public parks, to open in San Diego,” said Cate, chair of the City Council’s Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee.

San Diego has more than 400 parks, 57 recreation centers and 26 miles of shoreline.

Earlier on Wednesday, the city of Poway approved the temporary use of public parks for local fitness groups and worship activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Poway Mayor Steve Vaus proposed the Sharing Outdoor Space Initiative after the governor on Monday issued an order requiring all houses of worship, gyms and other fitness organizations to stop all indoor activities until further notice to lessen the spread of the coronavirus.

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