Message from the Mayor - June 19
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
Like many of you, I followed this morning’s Forum discussion about the planned Black Lives Matter protest on Sunday. As is often the case, my fellow residents made important points more eloquently than I could hope to. I’m not here to tell anyone what to do or believe politically, but I will say that as a Portola Valley resident and a father, I will be at Alpine and Portola Road on Sunday, teaching my children the importance of standing up for what’s right. I know my Council Colleagues feel strongly about this as well, and we are doing what we can to bring these issues forward for discussion. I’ll touch on a couple of things here.
This week, we have raised the rainbow flag at Town Hall in honor of Pride Month. The Town celebrates Pride Month and honors the contribution of our LGBTQQI2S community to our Town. The Council passed a resolution on June 10th recognizing Pride Month. The story of the Stonewall Riots, which were a critical step in the fight for LGBTQQI2S rights, is an important chapter in American history, which we commemorate every June.
The other important event today is, of course, Juneteenth. Juneteenth is the oldest nationally recognized commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this came two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - which became official on January 1, 1863 – and nearly 89 years after the Declaration of Independence, which declared that “all men are created equal”, but obviously did not yet include slaves. Juneteenth celebrates African-American freedom and achievement, while encouraging increased understanding and respect for all cultures. As Juneteenth takes on a national, and even global, prominence, the events of 1865 in Texas are not forgotten, both as a celebration and a reminder of the unfinished task of forming our More Perfect Union.
The Town Council recognizes that even 157 Years after the Emancipation Proclamation, the American promise of liberty and justice for all is far from fully realized. Next Wednesday, the Town Council will be talking more about what we can do to work on this as a community. Please join us at the meeting. We need our community to come together to discuss how we can make real change.
New County Guidance on COVID-19
This week, the County aligned with the State and opened up many sectors of our economy. This does not mean that the virus is not still here. It means we must all take personal responsibility to slow the transmission. Life is not back to normal but we can do the things we enjoy just while wearing a mask and social distancing.
The new Health Order states that “The local shelter in place order of June 4, 2020, has been rescinded and replaced with a new health officer order emphasizing individual behavior and the practices businesses must follow as they resume operations.” It is important to note that because of the Statewide order, we are still under a Stay at Home directive. You can review the Stay at Home FAQ
Because we have only a few levels left in opening up the State, I will now send out messages once a week. You will hear from me every Thursday with updates. If you like being in the know there are several ways to keep updated. Sign up for eNotifications and get Town News sent to your email. If you see things that need fixing around town you can use the PV Connect App to report issues on your phone or computer. And as always, if you have a question about COVID-19 or what we are doing as a Town on issues such as racism, policing, sustainability, economy, growth (or any other issue important to you) please email us.
Figuring Out the New Health Order
This new phase in reopening has many changes to what is allowed. The County has created a reopening plan to help us navigate what is open for business. Face coverings are still required while you are in public. Both the County and the State have face covering requirements. If two rules are in confict, the more restrictive face covering rule applies. You can read the San Mateo face covering FAQ and the CA face covering Press Release for more details
The County is now in alignment with the State with a few overlaying restrictions. Each business and activity that is allowed to open has individual requirements that must be followed. Two useful pages to help us can be found on the roadmap for counties and the industry guidance. In my message on Wednesday, I outlined the business that opened this week. The Town is working on opening up every business and activity that is now allowed. With the face covering and six-foot distance requirements, we will be setting up a system that allows us to open permitted facilities as quickly as we can.
While many businesses are now open, there are still limitations on gatherings. The County has introduced the concept of Social Bubbles.
What is a Social Bubble?
Social Bubbles allows us to interact with other individuals outside of our household in a “Social Bubble” which is defined as a group of twelve or fewer people from different households or living units who have agreed amongst themselves to only socialize with members of their group. A Social Bubble must be maintained for a minimum of three weeks. You can only be a member of one Social Bubble at a time.
The county is also allowing participation in public and private gatherings of up to 50 people. Participants of gatherings of any size must adhere to Social Distancing and Face Covering Requirements unless it is a small outdoor gathering of individuals belonging to the same Social Bubble.
Additional San Mateo County Parks Opened
Coyote Point Recreation Area and the Coyote Point Marina in San Mateo were added to the growing list of San Mateo County Parks that have reopened in the last six weeks. In addition to trail access, water sports enthusiasts – windsurfers, kayakers, and sports fishermen and women – now have access to the various launch points in the park and at the marina.
In keeping with current health orders, playgrounds and services at some San Mateo County Parks remain closed as do drop-in and reservation picnic areas to discourage social gathering. See all open county parks and services https://bit.ly/3e6xfMT
Again, enjoy your weekend and be well.
Jeff Aalfs, Mayor
Town of Portola Valley