A modest proposal
EDITOR: I write to you today as a citizen who is concerned for the welfare of many members of our community. As you are aware, Congress has, so far, failed to pass a third COVID-19 aid bill. For many members of our community who worked in hotels, restaurants, tasting rooms and retail establishments prior to the pandemic, the people who make Healdsburg a great place on a daily basis, this is an immediate crisis. State unemployment compensation does not come close to covering the basic expenses of these families, including rents, mortgages, food, utilities and other monthly costs.
When the pandemic started, and it looked like the Payroll Protection Plan program would be delayed, city council wisely stepped up and created a city-backed loan program which provided a lifeline to many of our small businesses. Now is the time for council to step up and support individual members of our community when they need it the most. Let us not put our friends and neighbors in the untenable position of deciding whether to put food on the table, pay the utility bill or pay the rent.
According to the May 2020 Investment Report, the city has in excess of $40 million in investments (Market Value). These funds are our ultimate "rainy day" fund. Well, the ultimate rainy day has arrived for many community members. Now is the time to use a small portion of these funds to assist members in our community,
I propose using $500,000 of these funds (about 1.25%), or more as needed to create a no-interest loan program to support members of our community. Those who provide proof that they are currently receiving unemployment compensation as a result of COVID-19 would be eligible to receive a loan that would either (a) fully replace the $600/week which has ended or (b) backfill to the level of $600 should Congress decide to re-fund the program at a lower level, such as the $200 per week currently being considered. Of course, should Congress fully reinstate the $600 per week benefit, this would be moot and the funds can be reinvested.
I would also suggest that city council be forward looking and begin debate on a proposed city-wide eviction moratorium to put into place when the current state moratorium expires in September.
Thank you for your consideration of this proposal.
Hats off to open streets
EDITOR: Hats-off and kudos to “Open Streets Healdsburg.” This was fabulously conceived and came out of the SDAT report two years ago and in recent weeks materialized as a result of overwhelming community participation and support. Hats-off to Stephen Maduro and the crew at Duke’s Spirited Cocktails for building business owner support to realize the closure of Plaza Street, for the flexibility of Janet Ciel and the Farmers Market moving to Matheson Street on Tuesdays, and for the selfless giving by Bridget Doherty and Encore Events. Kudos for the speedy 72-hour high-quality leadership, planning and implementation by Mark Themig and Community Services, and with great support from Larry Zimmer and Public Works, and Jason Boaz and the Healdsburg Fire Department. To keep this going please, mask-up. It is critically important to wear our face coverings, to maintain a physical distance of six feet at all times when outside of our homes and to wash our hands. These simple steps will not only keep us healthy, they will allow us to continue to restore our downtown local economy and way of life as much as possible. Thanks all around and "thumbs-up" city council.
Tim and Rene Unger