Pandemic Deja Vu, and Encinitas’ Discrimination History

Feels like summer, doesn’t it?

We’re undoubtedly in better shape than we were last summer when it comes to enjoying these warmer months with friends, but unfortunately in Encinitas and throughout California we’re not out of the COVID woods yet.

Pandemic déjà vu

(Photo by Matthew Bowler, KPBS.)

Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are all on the uptick right now because of the new Delta variant. Our local Scripps hospital in Encinitas just re-opened their outdoor surge tents for Covid patients, as seen in the above photo. 
 
In Encinitas, the seven-day rolling average case rate increased nearly 80% over the previous week’s rate. This highly contagious and more dangerous Delta variant is also resulting in breakthrough cases among people who are fully vaccinated. 
 
Because of the concern for public health, the Encinitas City Council will remain in a virtual format for our first meeting of this month, on August 11th. Other cities, like Carlsbad, are also returning or staying with City Council meetings over Zoom for now. 
 
Let’s remember that vaccination remains the best path out of this pandemic. It’s safe and it may save your life or that of your loved ones. More than 160 million Americans have received the vaccine, and every reputable organization has reconfirmed that it has an incredibly strong safety and efficacy record. 
 
While we continue to encourage all eligible people to get vaccinated, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is recommending masking-up indoors, regardless of your vaccination status. This applies to areas of high transmission, which unfortunately is almost everywhere. 
 
Even for those who are vaccinated, masks mean additional safety. You’re less likely to get a breakthrough infection when masked, and if you do get sick, the illness is shown to be less severe.  
 
I’ve heard the vaccine and mask combination described as “layered protection.” Here’s a helpful way to picture it – in a rainstorm, opening an umbrella (vaccine) keeps you from getting wet but if you use an umbrella and wear a raincoat (mask) you’re even more likely to stay dry.
 
If you don’t do either, you’ll certainly get drenched! As many are saying, “This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.” If you haven’t done so, please do get the shot to protect yourself and others. 
 
Here’s a useful website that has links to vaccination locations throughout the state, as well as practical information.

Past property discrimination in Encinitas

I was frankly dismayed to learn recently that property in the City of Encinitas had used exclusionary racial covenant language in property transfer documents.

As seen above, these are two conditions which “run with the land” on the quitclaim deeds from two government agencies to the Cardiff School District in 1930 and 1948.

One of them states, “That said premises shall not be sold, conveyed or leased to or occupied by any person not of the white or Caucasian race.” Given that this was a transfer of property to a school and it says the land can’t be “occupied by” anyone non-White, it’s natural to wonder if this was an attempt to keep schools segregated. Additionally, the language stating that the land could not be “sold, conveyed or leased” to anyone non-White means that if the school had closed its doors and the property was sold off, the buyers were intended to be only White people and not minorities.  

What do we make of this? I know there are many Caucasians, including my Cardiff family, who probably have an instinctive, well-meaning response that these deeds are relics from decades past that don’t affect the present day.  After all, anti-discrimination laws and changing societal norms have replaced old prejudices. Furthermore, language like this is both illegal and immoral. 

But taking a moment to reflect on how the foundations of our city set the standards from which our current debates and dialogues are built leads to a more unsettling place. It’s never easy wrestling with an uncomfortable history.

When there are explicit policies from government institutions that solidify and entrench segregation, those patterns can linger and become normalized unless they’re addressed head-on.

Currently the City of Encinitas is 78% White and .8% Black. Similarly, the 750 students in the Cardiff School district are now 71% White, 19% Hispanic/Latino, and .3% Black. 

Of course we know that anyone of any race could now legally move here and attend Cardiff School or become a resident of Encinitas. Court cases have interpreted the 14th Amendment as prohibiting any type of racial covenant language. 

But it’s also true that the majority of families who have had the chance to live and go to school here for many generations have been largely White, and have enjoyed the benefits and privileges that come with that – whether they be financial gains from investments in a home, high educational quality, incomparable outdoor and recreational opportunities, and top-notch community programs and services. 

Communities have been built here, while other communities have not had the chance to create roots here. 

We know that it’s very expensive to buy a home in Encinitas, where the median home price is now $1.4 million. We’re also the city with the lowest percentage of apartments of all 18 cities in San Diego County. The increasingly challenging financial barriers for upward mobility into Encinitas and other higher-opportunity communities are real. 

For me, seeing these racial convenent deeds reinforces the need for intentional actions and approaches to create a city that is diverse, de-segregated and operating from a commitment to equity.

You may have heard about the City of Encinitas’ Equity Committee, which aims to discuss city policies and propose suggestions that will create more just outcomes. At the county’s transportation organization SANDAG, we are also working toward a transportation system with the same goals. 

Being clear-eyed about our own history is an important step in creating a more inclusive and just world. And it will always be a work in progress.

If you’re interested in these topics, I’d highly recommend these two books, which have impacted my thinking:

The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein and The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander.
 
An idea for stopping homelessness before it starts

Speaking of those who are living with less privilege, more than one constituent has sent me a link to an article from Fast Company about how a small basic income can provide a floor for those who are homeless or near homeless to get their lives back in order. It’s food for thought!

How do I decide what to write to you about?

You may have noticed that my newsletters cover a number of city, regional, state and campaign issues, given my roles as Encintias Mayor, SANDAG Chair, a board member on regional boards and a candidate for a state Senate seat. I don’t keep different lists of subscribers for different subjects because these are matters that affect us all, and I trust you’ll enjoy the wide variety of topics offered. I attempt to vary the topics so that my email communications are not too heavy in any one area. 

I also post updates of activities and decisions on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram nearly every day. Click on the icons at the bottom of the newsletter (below the final photo) if you want to see things not covered by this newsletter. 

I hope you and your family enjoy the rest of our summer, but to quote an old TV cop show, “Let’s be careful out there!”

In ongoing service,

P.S. The Blakespear family enjoyed an escape to the Sierras for a backpacking trip on the Rae Lakes loop, which was quite rigorous but very fun. It’s great that our kids are old enough to carry all their own stuff, but my husband Jeremy (the one taking the photo) still ended up with a 50-pound pack!