Saturday, May 16 – Sunday, May 17, 2020

The yellow tape was gone yesterday. Does that mean the playground is open?

After a few hours of research this morning all I can say is, probably not, but I’m impressed by all the levels of government weigh in on making this kind of decision. The levels were always there, of course, but there’s nothing like a pandemic to make you acutely aware of how many layers of incredibly detailed regulation affect your everyday life.

First there is the homeowner’s association. SAMLARC (Rancho Santa Margarita Landscape and Recreation Corporation) is not actually a layer of government, but they do manage the amenities in our community, such as the parks, playgrounds, landscaping, and the lake. On April 30, 2020, they issued a directive describing parks and facilities closures which are in effect until May 31, 2020 https://www.samlarc.org/post/covid-parks-facilities. It clearly states that although the parks are open, the playgrounds, swimming pools, tennis courts, and fitness equipment are all closed.

Although the communication says “until May 31, 2020,” the association notes that opening public pools is prohibited by both the city and the state, so even though the community pools are private property, they plan to adhere to city and state guidelines.

As for the playground, maybe someone just took down the yellow caution tape on their own? But now I’m on a quest. It’s like putting together one of those Russian dolls.

The next layer is the city of Rancho Santa Margarita, a city with a population of a little less than 50,000. The RSM website https://www.cityofrsm.org/589/COVID-19-Information has a COVID-19 page giving the state guidelines for public health and opening businesses, which links to the mayoral correspondence and city executive orders on how the city has applied these to the local level. For example, the most recent order announces that the City Hall will reopen to the public on Monday, May 18, now that “Sneeze guards, signage, sanitization, and distancing protocols have been installed.”

Then we have the County of Orange https://www.ocgov.com/ which gives a wealth of information that affects county residents, such a big headline on paying property taxes if you are impacted by COVID-19 and where the newest COVID-19 test sites are in the county. In addition there is a May 13 announcement that parking lots and restrooms at county regional and wilderness parks will open starting today, Saturday, May 16. Some campsites will also be available. As I saw at Dana Point on Saturday, it is hard for families to use a recreational area with no parking places and no restrooms. The parking at county beaches is still closed, they note, as are community pools.

The state site can be found at https://covid19.ca.gov/ . This is the place to look if you want to actually read the March 19, 2020, stay at home order and the four stages the state has mapped out for us to open up again. We are at the beginning of stage two, which began on May 8 when the stay at home order was modified to permit curbside retail business to open. The state site is full of information on area such as testing, volunteering, stress management, financial help, etc.

Sequoia National Park 2004

And, up at the top, we have the federal government site at https://www.usa.gov/coronavirus where you can find links to all the federal agencies and information sites. Here, for example, you can link to the CDC, FEMA, the VA. national parks, Medicare, the IRS, and many other departments and agencies that are managed at the federal level of government. We find that national parks, for example, are being open in a phased approach, so you can look them up on an individual basis.

This interests me, because I have plans to take my son and grandchildren to Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon in August. So I checked. Sequoia and Kings Canyon are closed until at least Monday, May 25. Yosemite just says closed until further notice.

I made the reservations in January, before COVID-19 was on anybody’s radar. I really hope we can make this trip.

Today’s Notable Headlines

“National park closings gave wildlife room to roam. Rangers advise caution amid reopenings,” NBC News, May 16, 2020.

“What’s open and closed this weekend: Beaches, parks and trails in Southern California,” Los Angeles Times, May 15, 2020.

“In patchwork restart, parts of New York and other U.S. states reopen,” U.S. Legal News, May 15, 2020.

“Swim but don’t sunbathe – French Riviera beach re-opens with post-lockdown rules,” World News, Reuters, May 16, 2020.

Why am I doing this?

The coronavirus pandemic will be indelibly written on our memories just as the Great Depression or the Battle of Britain left their mark on past generations. It is my intention to journal the events of these days from three perspectives: as a retired medical technologist, a historian (Ph.D., 2014), and an ordinary person living through an extraordinary crisis.

You are on History’s Edge.

One thought on “Pandemic Days 67-68: Civic Layers

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