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Letters to the Editor

Was closing the Balboa Island Bay Front the wrong decision?

Closing the Balboa Island Bay Front [may have] increased the chance of COVID transmission. But the underlying danger may be worse.

The city of Newport Beach has fallen victim to the Big Government Policy of Control for Control’s Sake. One example of this stands out like a sore thumb, and I cannot quietly acquiesce to such dangerous precedents. 

Without examination, closing the Balboa Island Bay Front to pedestrian traffic might have seemed consistent with current COVID guidelines. But consider this: It was one-way traffic, 10’ wide, social distancing was being meticulously adhered to, and the amount of foot traffic was less than typical and less than many other places in the city. 

So they closed the Bay Front for what reason? Unknown, and unanswered, after multiple written attempts to find out. What is the obvious and demonstrable result? Forcing face-to-face pedestrian traffic onto more crowded and narrower sidewalks. Placing pedestrians into alleys and streets in conflict with existing bike and car traffic. Generally, not only [possibly] increasing the chance of COVID transmission, but increasing the chances of traffic accidents to boot.

Maybe it was intellectual error, i.e. a group-think decision that resulted as such decisions usually do. Or maybe there is a more selfish, or even sinister reason. All we know is that the public is now more in danger [in my opinion], than before this decision was made. But one might worry, does this set a future precedent that endangers more than just the health of our citizenry?

Matt Clabaugh

Newport Beach

Open letter to the OC Board of Supervisors

We write today as entrepreneurs, small business owners, restaurateurs and residents of Orange County to express our grave concern for the County’s economic predicament as a result of the “shelter in” and “non-essential” business shutdown orders from the State and County. 

The predicate for the initial “shelter in” and business shutdowns was the need to “flatten the curve” of infections in order to assure that our health care system would not be overwhelmed. However, with each passing day it becomes more evident that the original statistical models driving these drastic measures were flawed and dramatically overstated the risks. 

Hoag Hospital was the first hospital to treat a COVID-19 patient. During an April 15 video update, Dr. Brant-Zawadzki, Senior Physician Executive at Hoag Hospital, explained, “the numbers are now stabilizing and going down [in fact], it’s not that the curve has flattened – we’re on the other side of the curve and heading down.” Dr. Martin Fee, Chief Clinical Officer and Head of Infection Control at Hoag Hospital, also added, “definitely in Orange County it has [flattened].” Orange County’s daily COVID-19 infections peaked on April 1 at 104 and have averaged 57 per day through April 19. This successful slowing of the spread of COVID-19 can be largely attributed to the actions of the State and Orange County Board of Supervisors. We thank the OC Board of Supervisors for its hard work and leadership to protect our community during this crisis. 

But it has become clear that the status quo is not economically or socially sustainable, even in the short term. The stress of economic devastation and curtailed civil liberties could one day soon become untenable. 

State unemployment claims exceed 2.7 million while Orange County claims are in the tens of thousands. As long as we remain in lockdown, these numbers are projected to climb to catastrophic levels. 

It is time for the Orange County Supervisors to lead the County and State in economic recovery.

We understand that the Board of Supervisors is forming a task force to formulate a safe and responsible plan for reopening the Orange County economy and urge the Board to move with the greatest urgency and develop this plan in no more than 10 days. We expect the Board will work with the State where possible, but where necessary we urge you to move faster and more broadly as our County statistics dictate. We understand these decisions are not without health and political risks but believe the business community and the citizens of the County will offer broad and sustained support.

We believe it is possible to protect the health and safety of our communities without bankrupting them as well. If we act now and put together an aggressive plan to restart the OC economy as well as minimize health risks, then businesses can begin the process of contacting vendors, employees, customers and preparing to smoothly transition and reopen. 

We are facing an economic meltdown due to the shutdown. The citizens of Orange County are prepared to continue practicing social distancing and rigorous hygiene protocols. Our residents are smart, industrious and responsible. 

We urge you to act now for the thousands in Orange County and millions across our state who’ve lost their jobs. 

Orange County must get back to work. And the Orange County Supervisors can and must lead the way. You have our unqualified support. 

Respectfully, 

LIST

Questions and concerns still remain with Ensign school construction

I believe that the meeting (NMUSD Board Meeting) should be postponed, as there still have not been illustrations posted at the school of the proposed “banana” parking lot. The NMUSD should have given at least another option, which they never did; [it seems] they felt like we would forget about this and go away. Well, complacency is not who we are as a community in Newport Heights and Cliff Haven.

We realize that there are alternatives that have been suggested by traffic engineers (one example is taking out the chokers along Cliff and shortening the ingress and egress for vehicles).

If the NMUSD proceeds with this project and removes the noble and mature trees, I am afraid this decision will have irreparable damage to the children’s psyche; [to me] this is simply irresponsible and is an example of reckless disregard to the children and to the entire community. 

This is not the time to destroy what gives us oxygen...it’s Earth Day (this week) for God’s Sake!

Thank you,

Peggy V. Palmer

Newport Beach

We need to follow the Governor’s six-stage plan

I knew it was only a matter of time before the businessmen (excuse me, two women, thirty-three men) in Orange County joined together to try to push the Board of Supervisors to come up with a plan to reopen Orange County’s economy more quickly than other counties. I notice in their manifesto that they are not suggesting going through the proper channels by communicating with the Governor, because at this point they know, he would turn them down. In fact, in their document, they did not mention the Governor of California one time. 

That is quite an omission, since most Californians, regardless of political party, acknowledge that Governor Newsom is seen as the head of a small group of heroes who were the first to issue “social distancing” and “stay at home” orders. He is the one who saved thousands of lives in California by creating successful measures that were used as guidelines in other states. Most people know at least, to give credit where credit is due.

This group of 35 professionals, as far as I can ascertain, consists of only one concierge doctor from Newport Beach. They are appealing to the Board of Supervisors to be the sole decision makers as to when the County can declare an end to quarantine. They say it will be done very carefully. Seemingly, they are attempting subversion of the six-stage plan developed by Governor Newsom with the help of health care leaders and specialists. (There is no mention of it in their letter.) Newsom has promised to work with local leaders as they follow the process for coming slowly out of quarantine. He will be using the six criteria developed by health leaders and epidemiologists. Not one of these criterion has been met yet by Orange County.

One of the rationale this group uses is that the pandemic did not turn out as badly as predicted. Ironically, that is only because of Governor Newsom’s leadership and quick action, which saved thousands of lives in California and elsewhere. 

So we are supposed to turn our fate over to a gaggle of businessmen who have no background in epidemiology and whose experience in handling epidemics is zero and turn our back on the Governor who has saved thousands of lives by his skilled leadership? We are just supposed to trust these men and the County Supervisors to step in and take over without our or the Governor’s blessing? 

Yes, our economy has suffered drastically, but I would be willing to bet that this group, along with most leaders and businesspeople in Orange County are at the very least, millionaires. As millionaires, we should not be the ones making decisions that will affect our county’s health or wealth for that matter, unless we are doctors, health care workers, or scientists working in conjunction with skilled leadership both from the State and the County. Having lots of money does not qualify us. We can bring the economy back but not the friends and family members we could lose by trying to end quarantine too early. Life-death decisions at this point should not be made solely by politicians.

Lynn Lorenz

Newport Beach