As region waits for clarity on State watch list status, San Diego moves forward with new solutions to help struggling residents
As part of a continued effort to help San Diegans move activities outdoors where experts say the spread of COVID-19 is reduced, San Diego Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer today signed an executive order allowing gyms and religious institutions to operate in city parks where physical distancing is made easier.
The mayor’s order eases permitting for fitness studios and houses of worship that wish to safely operate outside in one of the City of San Diego’s nearly 340 parks. The directive, which goes into effect Monday, August 24, defers park permit fees for 60 days. Mayor Faulconer will bring an ordinance to City Council that would make the waiving of fees permanent.
“There is no city better than San Diego to take advantage of the fact that COVID-19 has a harder time spreading outdoors. Using parks as part of our pandemic relief response will help the mental health and physical health of thousands of San Diegans,” Mayor Faulconer said. “This executive order lets San Diegans workout and worship in parks across our city. Starting Monday you can join a small group to pray, do Pilates, or part ways with your Quarantine 15 weight gain, all in a healthy outdoor environment.”
Outdoor religious services and outdoor fitness classes and camps are all eligible under the executive order. Businesses must display their San Diego County Safe Reopening Plan, hold insurance naming the City of San Diego as an additional insured, and have a City business tax certificate prior to August 1, 2020. New permits will be available on a first-come, first-served basis for each park depending on the local demand and total space available.
Mayor Faulconer made the announcement at Mira Mesa Community Park. Joining him were Councilmember Chris Cate, the City Park and Recreation Department Director, the Mira Mesa Chamber of Commerce, and the owner of Hardcore Fitness on Miramar Road.
“On July 15th, I sent a memorandum to Mayor Faulconer requesting that Parks and Recreation staff evaluate the feasibility of allowing organizations to safely operate in public parks by allowing temporary outdoor permits,” said Councilmember Cate, Chair of the City’s Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee. “Mayor Faulconer’s executive order will allow gyms, such as Hardcore Fitness, to bring their physical fitness classes to our city’s parks. Opportunities like this will allow our gyms and churches the ability to welcome back their customers and parishioners in a safe manner.”
The executive order comes as public health experts continue to promote outdoor settings and physical distancing as two key tools to help slow the spread of COVID-19. It builds upon relief efforts Mayor Faulconer has spearheaded to support the local economy by providing safe alternatives for San Diego businesses to operate.
“As San Diego continues to navigate the ever-changing rules regarding doing business during this pandemic, we must become more creative at every turn,” said Bari Vaz, President of the Mira Mesa Chamber of Commerce. “This executive order will allow residents to continue participating in fitness classes and sharing their faith, until such time as we may safely return to the indoor venues.”
Mayor Faulconer has issued two previous executive orders – one for restaurants and one for fitness businesses, religious institutions, and personal care services such as hair and nail salons and barbershops – that authorized businesses and organizations to expand operations outdoors in places like parking lots. Both orders were later cemented and expanded upon by City Council votes. More than 250 businesses have been approved for outdoor business permits so far.
For information regarding economic relief, eligibility requirements or how to apply for a permit, visit sandiego.gov/coronavirus.