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City opens Miramar, Murray and Lower Otay reservoirs, but leaves others closed indefinitely

Photo: Lake Murray, by Miriam Raftery

May 15, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Lake Murray, Lower Otay Reservoir and Lake Miramar reopen today for fishing, boating, cycling and walking, the city of San Diego announced. But other lakes remain closed. Four of them – El Capitan, Hodges, San Vicente and Upper Otay, are being evaluated for potential reopening later, but Lakes Barrett and Sutherland are slated to stay closed all year, even if stay-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic are lifted.

Earlier this week, Joel Anderson, candidate for County Supervisor in the 2nd district, launched a petition he urges the public to sign. It calls on County Supervisors to intervene and  “save our lakes.”

In an email sent to media and voters, he writes in part, “Some of the most important fishing and hunting recreation in East County is operated by the City of San Diego. San Vicente, Lake Barrett, El Capitan, and Sutherland to name a few. According to City of San Diego budget documents, it's only a $700,000 funding shortfall that would shutter three of our precious public reservoirs indefinitely.”

He adds, “The downtown crowd cares more about beaches than they do about hunting and fishing in East County, a point made obvious by the fact that beaches opened 2 weeks ago, yet the reservoirs remain closed despite getting a green light from the County Health Officer. Now, due to budget cuts, the City wants to close hunting and fishing access at Barrett, Sutherland and El Capitan as of July 1 -- with NO plans for reopening. We simply can't let this happen. These lakes are vital to the health, well-being, and heritage of our communities.

Anderson says that if protecting rights and access to public hunting and fishing was a priority for elected officials, “they would find creative solutions to this small budget problem. That is why I have written a letter calling on our County Supervisors to step up and save our lakes! We just can't leave this in the hands of the City of San Diego anymore -- they've made it clear they have other priorities.”

Poway Mayor Steve Vaus, who is running against Anderson for the 2nd supevisorial seat being vacated by Dianne Jacob after the November 2020 eleciton due to term limits, also wants the lakes reopened.

"Because it is a City of SD decision I’ve communicated directly with Mayor Faulconer urging him to open the city owned lakes in East County," he told ECM via email today. "I’m aware that Supervisor Jacob has also stressed to him her strong support for opening the lakes."

In a letter to Mayor Faulconer sent May 13, Supervisor Jacob urged that he "find any necesasry meanst o keep these lakes open to the public. These lakes provide the recreational activities and educational programs that contribute towards a healthy and thriving community. More so, as we continue to evaluate our re-opening plans for the regio, there is no better time for these lakeas to provide the recreational outlets needed for our mental and physical well-being. I am hopeful you will work with the stakeholders frmo the boating and fishing community to come up with a solution.  I'm certain the users of these lakes are wiling to do their part to keep the lakes operational."

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer issued this statement on reopening the first three reservoirs after area residents did their part to continue flattening the COVID-19 growth curve. “As we continue to reopen safely and responsibly, we’re looking to expand recreational opportunities for San Diegans eager to stretch their legs or take their boat out on the lake. We’ve reopened neighborhood parks and beaches, and San Diegans continue to stay classy. Now we’re going to take the next step by opening reservoirs for fishing, boating and exercise with new protocols in place to keep everyone safe.”

At the three lakes that have reopened, parking lot capacity will be cut 50 percent, restrooms will be cleaned every two hours, and visitors will be monitored for compliance with facial covering and social distancing rules under an “education first” focus prior to any citations.

























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The parks must reopen, and practice the janitorial arts!

Saliva, mucus and airborne droplets spread Covid-19. Nobody disagrees on this. It is much better to be outside with large air masses carrying the droplets away. Masks don't protect yourself as much as they protect others, but if we all wear them without complaining like a little sissy, we will greatly slow transmission. We need to stay away from closed spaces, and away from other people touching the same surfaces. So there is no reason we can't open our great parks, alongside and with proper social distancing regulations. And likely, we will need some better sanitation of public restrooms and frequently touched surfaces. And of course, hand washing. Do what you mom taught you, people. A vaccine looks iffy and WHO thinks this could turn from pandemic to endemic. So indoor recreation - not to mention indoor work and shopping - are going to remain dangerous perhaps for years because they spatially concentrate droplets and create many shared touching surfaces. The more people who spread out and recreate in our wonderful parks, the better off we will be in every way. Parks are good for us. Our public parks are California's, and America's greatest invention. And they are part of the solution to Covid-19, so open them up!