Reader Rant: Barbara Bry and Kevin Faulconer Are Playing a Dangerous Game

by on April 21, 2020 · 19 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

The following opinion does not necessarily reflect the views of the OB Rag.

By Molly Maguire

Barbara Bry – who wants to be mayor – and now Mayor Kevin Faulconer – are playing a dangerous game with their calls to open up San Diego’s beaches.

On Friday, April 17, Bry called for the re-opening of the city’s beaches and parks during the first week of May – which is only 9 or so days away. They haven’t even been closed for a month yet. Well, almost. According to the Times of San Diego:

City Councilwoman Barbara Bry on Friday called for San Diego’s beaches and parks to be reopened as soon as the first week of May.

“As always, such decisions must be based on science and the advice of public health experts, but I believe it will be possible to develop prudent plans to reopen our beaches and parks by early next month,” she said.

The city closed parks, beaches and trails on March 23 because of weekend crowds that were not practicing distancing.

And in today’s Union-Tribune, Mayor Faulconer came out with similar declarations.

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel,” San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Monday afternoon in announcing that neighborhood parks would reopen in the city the following day.

“We’ve come a long way in five weeks,” he said, thanking area residents for following orders and recommendations that have turned life upside down for many people, but are credited with heading off a surge of patients In hospitals as COVID-19 spread throughout the county.

Faulconer said he had spoken with mayors of other coastal cities to discuss a safe, phased and coordinated approach to opening some sort of water access.

Faulconer said that beaches could be open be open by the end of the month. Nine days away.

These could be dangerous moves to prematurely open up access to places that have been locked down due to efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19. Why, just today, the U-T also reported that the World Health Organization said yesterday that “the worst is yet ahead of us” in the coronavirus outbreak, reviving the alarm just as many countries and US states are easing measures aimed at stopping its spread.

The governor of Georgia announced that certain businesses will be re-opened in that state this week, like gyms, tattoo parlors, bowling alleys and hair salons could open this Friday. Yet, Georgia cases are on the rise.

Bry and Faulconer want to reopen our beaches and parks very soon. This, despite protests by other governors that the Federal government has not supplied the states with adequate testing equipment. This despite a study just done in Los Angeles that found that the spread of the virus is perhaps much larger than is thought. This, despite protests by nurses that they are being forgotten “on the battle field.”

This despite recent polls that show the vast majority of Americans fear restrictions will be lifted too soon.

County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher is more cautious as is Dr. Wilma Wooten, the chief County health official. Dr. Wooten doesn’t know yet if it’s time. There are 6 federal guidelines that need to be met, and we’re not there yet, although, truthfully there have been some positive signs. But she has yet to make any declaration of “all clear.”

Fletcher said the county still has to develop a plan for testing, tracing and isolation. “We still don’t have enough testing capacity to determine how many people are sick, to track every single person they’ve come into contact with or require Isolation of anyone who’s tested positive,’’ he said.

Addressing when the county and local jurisdictions can begin to scale back restrictions, Fletcher said cities should begin working on their own plans for reopening parks and trails for active use. He also cautioned against moving too quickly, because the county could quickly lose ground It’s made with social distancing, closures and other orders.

“There are some out there calling for an Immediate return to normal, right now, because our cases are low,” he said. “

And all this despite what Dr. Fauci has recently said. He warned Americans against trying too quickly to return to normal. He said, “It’s going to backfire.”

Are Bry and Faulconer bending too quickly to the recent protests of small numbers of people who want everything back to normal? Bry may want to shore up the coastal vote by her declaration last Friday of favoring earlier access to the coast than could be medically prudent. Faulconer, a Republican, could be bending to the GOP corporate elite who also want businesses back up and running.

You know both of these are responding to the relatively low numbers of San Diego cases (under 3,000) and deaths (still in only 2 digits). Has there been adequate testing in San Diego? I know a lot of people, and not one has been tested.

Time will show if my concerns are justified or not. But by opening everything up – even with masks and social distancing – too early, both Bry and Faulconer – and other politicians in similar boats – are playing with our lives. And that’s a dangerous game.



{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Tyler April 22, 2020 at 6:28 am

A more dangerous game would be to continue to be one of the most restrictive cities in the nation in regards to controlling open spaces during this time, even when numbers are looking more positive and there is no real efficacious reason to keep them fully closed. That sows public distrust over time and can lead to a bad scenario if it gets worse in the Fall or next year and falls on deaf ears because the government went too far now… THAT’S a dangerous game.

How would a phased re-opening be a negative externality? Just like most places with common sense, you keep the lots closed and keep beaches open for exercise activities only. How is that any different than what’s allowed east of the sand? It just spreads people out more from the narrow sidewalk/street walking/exercising which by the way has clearly not led to any spikes of healthy individuals being a vector.


Frank Gormlie April 22, 2020 at 9:23 am

Common sense these days has not been the hallmark of our collective behavior nationally. Luckily many of us live in Calif where the political leadership did not listen to trump and moved early on to place restrictions on our public spaces. So, San Diego is “one of the most restrictive cities in the nation”??? What are you judging that on? Public trust will be destroyed by a premature opening. Most people in polls fear a reopening too early more than the restrictions. How the hell do we know anything without adequate testing? Did you see the news where the first US deaths were in Calif back in Jan / Feb?


Tyler April 22, 2020 at 12:03 pm

So, until some parks were partially re-opened yesterday, we were the only major city in the country with a complete ban on open spaces. We had a small bone thrown at us with some parks “opening,” but the city/county continue to impose some of the strictest rules on outdoor recreation. The only other city that compares is Los Angeles which has closure on all public spaces outside of parks through 5/15, but they are also experiencing a far worse situation than SD or anywhere else in CA at this time.

I’m not arguing here against re-opening too early. I’m with you on that. I’m specifically saying that a very partial and phased re-opening of some additional open spaces like beaches and the ocean is an entirely different argument. In fact, it’s likely to help alleviate some of the “density” being felt on sidewalks and roads. The fact is it’s a hilarious hypocrisy to see dozens of cyclists 2 feet from each other and runners/walkers everywhere yet society has deemed ocean activity as illegal. There’s nothing inherently more dangerous. And if you keep lots closed and only allow beaches/ocean for physical activity, you aren’t going to create a situation where people cluster and potentially cause issues. If this was truly going to cause issues, we’d be seeing large spikes in OC and Ventura, where similar rules are in place.

We need to continue to track several things, including testing. The most important things to track in addition to % of those tested are the trends in hospitalizations and the trends in positive cases as a ratio to the # of tests conducted. Those trends are looking good at this time, but we need more data through the next 2 weeks before the county is going to make any larger decisions.


Obkid April 22, 2020 at 9:26 am

Amen Tyler – exactly.


OBkid April 22, 2020 at 9:29 am

The author gave no concrete reason why the beaches should not be reopened to activity/exercise. Across San Diego County – 0.07% of the populations is infected….seems very low for these stringent measures and constitutional intrusions…let people walk on the beach and surf at least. This is insanity to lock down beaches from exercise…but allow people to cram into grocery stores, and cram onto sidewalks.

We do not need the government crying wolf here, as the comment above said, the trust will be lost in the next public emergency.


sealintheSelkirks April 22, 2020 at 12:43 pm

Tyler, do you know any Infectious Disease Specialists? Live near any biologists you can talk to? You want to trust POLITICIANS?

The 5 Republican WI Supreme Court judges denied a petition to extend the primary election April 7th, the same day they cancelled in-person courtroom appearances (actually it was on the SAME ORDER):

Intimations of Barbarism

And then this popped up two weeks later:

Yep,You knew it was coming – New Cases of Coronavirus Appear to Trace Back to Milwaukee Polling Site

Has anybody else seen the crowds on Jacksonville Beach last Friday when the Republican mayor opened the beach after the Republican Governor allowed them to MAKE THE CHOICE as the rates of infections continue to increase in that state? Even the stupid cop on the quad riding in the crowd on the beach didn’t have a mask…but then neither did anybody else. There’s a reason we OB-born surfers always called them Floridiots…–FloridaMorons-trends-on-Twitter-after-images-of-crowded-Florida-beaches-go-viral-amid-pandemic

Remember, the rates of infections are based on testing, and there is a severe lack of that going on in this country unlike South Korea that was testing 10,000 a week in their 60million population… Our politicians have NO IDEA how many people are sick. Not a clue and don’t wanna know.

Before San Diego opens their beaches I think I’d wait at least 3 more weeks and keep checking back on the Florida infection rates. But that’s just me. But then my neighbor to the north is a 75 yr old retired biologist who worked in US Army labs in Germany during the War on Viet Nam and…to put it bluntly, he’s freaking so I’m listening to him…not to stupid people.



Tyler April 22, 2020 at 3:55 pm

Actually, I do know a microbiologist (this is San Diego after all). He explained to me that if the viral particle is still inside a cell, the cell will provide more protection for longer for the biochemistry of the virus. But, the viral load, that is, concentration of virus, is going to get diluted and deactivated pretty quickly in the ocean to the point where although it’s not impossible to catch the virus, the chances of it being active in any real numbers in the line up are going to be small. The ocean is not a reservoir for the virus, it’s degrading in that environment, not multiplying, and it’s also diluting. Again, it’s technically possible, but rather improbable.


Tyler April 22, 2020 at 3:57 pm

I realize this is specific to the ocean and not the sand, but the sand is no different than the parks if regulated in that way.


Frank Gormlie April 22, 2020 at 4:12 pm

Tyler, I know you’re well-read and I wanted to share with you a funny, ironic story. Some city in Calif wanted to get the kids off the skateboard park during the pandemic. So they filled the skateboard park up with sand – which worked for awhile, and then the dirt bikes showed up.


Obkid April 22, 2020 at 4:27 pm

san clemente – yep – Frank this just shows how inane and insane some of these restrictions are.


Tyler April 22, 2020 at 7:07 pm

Ha! That is textbook. People always find some way around prohibition.


Peter from South O April 22, 2020 at 4:36 pm

The danger is not from the ocean water. The risk of contagion is in the form of aerosols expelled from the lungs of fellow surfers. Six feet of distance is only far enough to minimize exposure in STILL AIR when someone next to you is not sneezing or coughing.
For heaven’s sake people . . . our ONLY defense against an uncontrolled outbreak is staying home as much as is possible (that does NOT include travel for pleasure or a change in scenery) and practice social distancing until we can get a handle on this.


Geoff Page April 22, 2020 at 5:29 pm

The only people who sit near each other in the water are friends you may be surfing with. Most of us keep a good distance away from others as a normal practice in the water. The wind is blowing, the air is full of salty moisture, we are moving all the time, we are covered in neoprene and salt water. The possibility of catching anything that way in that environment just defies common sense. The only way surfers get sick in that environment is if there is something in the water that is ingested such as what can happen after the first heavy rains of the year. Otherwise, I cannot imagine a healthier place to be right now.


sealintheSelkirks April 22, 2020 at 7:02 pm

Geoff, I’m going to seriously disagree with you here.

Sitting in the line-up, just where are you going to sit waiting for a wave? Everybody at a MINIMUM of 6 feet away? 20 people in the water always on North Side of the Pier so what, they are strung out 180 feet north to south so they don’t suck each other’s air? That would put at least a couple in the pilings I would imagine and the other tail end past the lifeguard tower.

Where’s the peak breaking that day? It sure ain’t 180 feet wide. So one person sits in the take-off zone and the other 19 will…do WHAT exactly? Sit there bobbing around like a buoy and watch? Or drop-in on the prick who caught the only wave of the set because nobody else is allowed to sit at the peak? Get real, Geoff. There are far too many hungry surfers that are going to be scrambling for waves.

My ex-biologist/high school science teacher best friend in the Islands explained it this way (Hawai’i is stay at home no surfing allowed). And he walks out his front door to stare at Crouching Lion 1st/2nd/3rd reef, and farther west at the edge of the bay is the monster right Razorbacks… He’s lived there for 25 years, got a good local rep, and HE AIN’T SURFING. You know why? Because everybody, and you do, too, I’m sure just like I have my entire life, ducks under waves and then paddles back out to sit and clear the snot out of their nose and sinus. Lot of goop up there, right? HARRRNK! Globs of mucus floating in the water and some of it from an asymptomatic carrier out trying to catch a few waves. And his snot carries live virus in the middle of the blob that isn’t being affected by salt water because it’s in the middle of the blob and doing just fine floating there…waiting for a wave to break and somebody doing a duck dive comes up with that blob of snot smearing across their face and nostrils and lips. Which I’m sure we’ve all unknowingly had happen how many times?

He lives in Surfer Paradise and he ain’t going out. As he said, there are more people in the water than every because everybody is home and they are ALL crowded into the take-off zone. Reef breaks, ya know? Only one place to catch the wave. And North Shore and South Shore are closed so there are city folk showing up and crowding the local Windward Side breaks ridiculously.

Made sense to me but then he’s the ex-biologist. So imagine a healthier place to be other than a snot-filled surf break with 40 guys on the peak. Would hate to see your writing disappear from this site for a stupid reason…



Tyler April 23, 2020 at 9:26 am

FYI surfing actually is allowed in Hawai’i right now, unless you are specifically talking about Hawai’i island and they might have something specific I’m not aware of compared to the others. They instituted the same measures that SD is proposing with Phase 1. That is, exercise on the beach and ocean activity is allowed, but hanging out on the beach is prohibited.

> And his snot carries live virus in the middle of the blob that isn’t being affected by salt water because it’s in the middle of the blob and doing just fine floating there

I don’t think this is correct. Per my other reply to you, the second it hits the ocean it’s both degrading and diluting. Again, not impossible, but highly improbably you’d catch something.

Now this is my own personal opinion and I don’t have any data yet to back it up, but we still have not seen any efficacious information showing outdoor transmission, let alone in a salt water environment. Again, my own speculation, but we still have not seen any spikes or clusters of cases in coastal communities where surfing is still allowed, be it OC, Santa Cruz, Hawaii, parts of Oz, etc. By no means am I saying we should assume that’s correct, but as of yet there is nothing to refute that.


Tyler April 23, 2020 at 11:38 am

Here’s an article quoting a Harvard Infectious Disease Specialist saying it’s ok to open beaches with responsible measures:


Geoff Page April 23, 2020 at 11:06 am

It is about 800 feet from the pier to the lifeguard tower. 20 people x 6 feet equals 120 feet.
There are several breaks in that stretch, not just one.
I rarely surf there because it is so crowded and the ride is too short, I prefer the Sunset Cliffs reef breaks of which there are many. Hawaii is not San Diego.
Since you are a senior as am I, I wonder how old your ex-teacher must be.
A snot-filled surf break, was that a serious comment?
As Tyler mentioned, is there any data from places where they are still surfing?
Why would my writing disappear from this site?
We’re going to have to disagree, again, seal.


sealintheSelkirks April 23, 2020 at 12:55 pm

Should have worded it another way: my 40 years+ best friend the ex-high school biologist/biology teacher as he’s a couple years younger than me though he just retired a couple of years ago after teaching 25 years+ of Special Ed Early Childhood in Hawai’i because he shifted tracks in the late 80s and got his MS in that…is NOT surfing because of the crowds at the reef breaks in front of his house. Reef breaks, just like Sunset Cliffs are reef breaks.

How many surfers are living in San Diego County that have been sitting at home smoking bongs for weeks bored out of their minds just dying to get some waves? Where are they all going to park since the beach parking lots are all closed? I guess they’ll all be opened up at the same time? Everybody changing into wetsuits and such trying to ‘social distance’… And you can be sure that ALL of San Diego’s surfers will be heading for the ocean as soon as the ban gets lifted! Look at Jacksonville Beach in Florida. Great example of what will happen. You will, why would any of the…maybe a million or so(?) other surfers not be paddling out with you? If there is any swell at all at the Cliffs the place will be flat packed with all of you elbow to elbow waiting for a wave on the reef peaks. As for the Pier, screw the 20 paddling out, put 80 or more out there on Northside…and include the surf schools crowd, too, because they’ve been losing money and need to get back in business! Remember that every surfer in the county is going to be out in the water all at once. Every sandbar, every reef, every point, anywhere there is any kind of wave breaking is going to be just packed with starving surfers jostling and dropping in on one another because…that’s just how our species acts.

As for data, this country isn’t TESTING worth a crap. Not like South Korea who, with a population of 70 million or so, tests 10-20,000 a week since March and instant quarantine for those that are positive. Trump DOESN’T want to test because it’ll make his ‘numbers’ look bad and can’t have that…he refused viable working tests from the WHO and Germany months ago in favor of son-in-law sociopath Jared Kushner’s brother who opened up a business to make test kits…which still aren’t out there in the numbers needed by any stretch of the imagination. So this country with 336,000,000 people has absolutely no freaking idea how many are sick and how many are asymptomatic carriers getting others sick. There is no date on purpose, Geoff. As always in this country, politics and greed trumps science (I made a pun!).

Virus-Denialist-in-Chief: Trump Claims ‘You May Not Even Have Corona Coming Back’ as Fauci Says ‘I Am Convinced’ It Will

Snot-filled surf breaks…remember when the Navy’s dumped-off-ships used medical waste was washing into the Cliffs back in the early 80s and everybody freaked out because of the virus HIV/AIDS? You get 80 surfers on a reef honking their sinus cavities clear and there will be a layer of snot floating on the water. So yeah, that is a somewhat serious comment even if you don’t like it.

Why would your writing disappear off the Rag? Because you (and I) are in the ‘most likely to die of this crap’ age group, Geoff. One invisible microscopic droplet of water filled with 50,000 live virus is nothing to cough at. All it takes is one particle to get infected with.

Tyler: my partner is a local on Windward Side and there is a do not walk across the beach order by the Mayor of Honolulu/Oah’u. They CLOSED the beaches there though, of course, people are not paying a whole lot of attention. Cops are rousting people on South Shore but there aren’t enough cops to be at all the beaches unlike the meter maids hanging out in the Pier parking lot or cops on the stairs at Garbage, so South Shore surfers are driving to Windward and paddling out packing in the local spots to the extreme unhappiness of the locals who, of course, are already packing the reef breaks. Highly improbable to catch it. So’s dying while driving your car without a seat belt but I’m guessing you wear one anyway.

I hear a LOT of minimizing going on in these two replies. We wanna go surfing because…we wanna go surfing. And the it-can’t-happen-to-me justifications are threaded into the replies, too. Subtle, guys, subtle. According to the experts in Pandemics/epidemic diseases we are only in the start of Round One of this. As my retired 75 year old biologist around the corner told me over the phone the other day, wait’ll September and see what shape this country and the world are in when Round Two starts showing up. He was serious, no joking around about it. But then he’s got a very jaded view having been in a Infectious Disease Army War Lab in Germany during the War on Viet Nam working on genetically-modified war virus with a 98% kill rate.

But, as I’ve said too many times before (including myself because I do stupid crap, too), we are just not a very bright species. Intelligent enough to invent nuclear weapons but too stupid to get rid of them when we realized just how dangerous and poisonous to our world they actually are.

And Trump knew about SARS/Cov 19 in November:

Report warned White House of a ‘catastrophic’ outbreak in China weeks before anyone else knew



Geoff Page April 23, 2020 at 8:55 pm

seal, if I was retired, I’d be more able to engage but I’m still working. That said:

“reef breaks in front of his house. Reef breaks, just like Sunset Cliffs are reef breaks.” There are two miles of Sunset Cliffs reef breaks up to the Navy fence. So what does “in front of his house” encompass?

“sitting at home smoking bongs” That may be true of some but that is surely not the picture of most surfers, sounds like a bad worn out stereotype, dude.

Yea, the water will be crowded at first but you paint an unrealistic picture, a bit bombastic I’d say. I won’t go out right away for just that reason, virus or no virus, I don’t like crowds in the water. And, I’m sure there are many surfers who think the same way.

I didn’t say anything about testing, I just asked if there had been any outbreaks reported where they are surfing. While I appreciate all the information you’ve related, as good information for others, I’m very aware of all that. I read too.

The Navy dumping actual medical waste into the ocean is not a good comparison at all to this situation.

I don’t see how anywhere is safe outside based on your one little droplet scenario. So we all stay indoors, is that it?

So what is the story from all that crowded surfing in Hawaii? Any reports of surfers catching the virus in the water?

“I hear a LOT of minimizing going on in these two replies. We wanna go surfing because…we wanna go surfing. And the it-can’t-happen-to-me justifications are threaded into the replies, too. Subtle, guys, subtle.” No, you got that wrong for me and I’d say Tyler too. We are arguing for common sense not whining because we can’t go in the water. Common sense like why wear a mask while driving in your own car? Why close all the open spaces where responsible people will be careful and target those who aren’t. Blanket closure has lead to a lack of respect for the law as seen in all the torn down yellow tape. Why place three people in each of the Sunset Cliffs parking lots when one person could sit in one lot and watch all three? The lack of common sense is everywhere and I believe this includes barring people from the ocean. Hell, they won’t even allow people out on the bay in their own goddamned boats! Just because a few of us have argued for common sense, that doesn’t make us stupid.


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