A Time for Engagement

May 19, 2020 7:38 AM
by Lane Dilg

For two months, our community has lived under Stay at Home and Safer at Home orders issued by our public health authorities to keep us safe.  These orders have succeeded in preventing widespread loss of life.  While COVID-19 remains in our midst, hospital beds are available; the public is better educated as to essential health measures, like wearing face coverings when outdoors; and testing capacity has increased, including free testing available in and near Santa Monica.    

Today, however, the toll of our collective efforts to protect public health have also become evident.  Our civic life has been interrupted; our wellbeing, threatened; and our economy, devastated.    

In these challenging circumstances, we see more clearly than ever how closely our lives are woven together.  As our local businesses struggle and even shutter, the resulting economic slowdown has created a City budget deficit of more than $224 million.  This revenue loss together with new and changed community needs have forced us to scale back City operations, including ending employment for members of the City team who have served our community with dedication for many years, together with the beloved programs that they have designed and run.  These are the painful realities caused by COVID19.    

As we now see glimmers of hope in the first stages of phased reopening, our life as one community is equally visible.  We must rebuild together.  On May 5thCity staff put forth a plan to provide a stable foundation for recovery. Under this plan: 

With this foundation, we will keep the Santa Monica that we love healthy and safe.  But in Santa Monica, we have always prided ourselves on much more  a City that works to help all of its people thrive.   

Some have asked whether COVID-19 creates opportunity, whether to cut the budget or change City operations.  I have been clear: this moment is a tragedy, not an opportunity.  Here, however, lies the opportunity:  We can now see with clarity that we live not individually, but in community.  Just as my husband’s public health relies on your sister wearing a face covering, our collective recovery relies on all of us, together. 

So what can you do?  As a City, we will be looking for every opportunity to speak with you about your changed experience and needs, to offer opportunities for you to share your views with your neighbors, and, more importantly, for you to engage you in our shared recovery process.   

Here are a few ways to start: 

We have many challenges ahead.  My challenge to each of you is to join us. Collectively, we will show the tenacity and compassion that have always made our community unique.  In doing so, we will ensure a strong and sustainable recovery for all.  

Authored By

Lane Dilg
Interim City Manager