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Fence Palisades Park? Really?

By Kip Dellinger

Perhaps the silliest coronavirus response from our Santa Monica political leadership so far is the fencing of Palisades Park along the west side of Ocean Avenue -- at least that area north of Wilshire.

It is uncertain what prompted this decision. But not unamusingly, it appeared to closely follow an LA Times article which relied on a ‘single’ expert to inform readers that coronavirus can lurk in sewage spills and run off to our ocean, the droplets of which can be wind-blown from the ocean across our beaches.

Then evidently either the wind sucks the virus up a couple hundred feet to reach Palisades level and waft through the Park -- infecting the mass of aged, immune compromised elderly that do not populate the Park. Or, it must infect the other masses of younger, non-vulnerable who race home to infect their elders.

And, while I’m not a medical professional, trust me -- those younger folks may contract the virus, but it won’t be from exercising in the Park. In fact, their exercise routine is a prime indication of their consciousness of health, which means they’re the most likely ones to take precautions in all aspects of human contact.

Interestingly, in the article, no consideration was given to the question that assuming such particles do blow from the ocean, whether after traveling literally thousands of feet there is sufficient viral load to infect a 70-year-old obese, diabetic -- let alone the population that actually was utilizing the Park over the past three weeks.

Over the course of the past two months, I’ve walked that stretch of the Park in the course of the my daily 3-to-5-mile walk through the westside of Santa Monica -- that’s right, I checked my ‘log’ and have not missed a day since late January. I’ve seen a diminished use of the Park and increasingly respectful social distancing as advisories were issued.

I don’t take the coronavirus lightly, I’m closer to my 76th birthday than 75th -- long beyond the cited vulnerability age and, like most at this age, have some underlying health issues, which may or may not be significant.

Anyone has a far greater chance of contacting coronavirus at the market or on the street, waiting for coffee or picking up take out food.

Now these may be essential services -- but so is fresh air and exercise. And, of course, ridiculously, our political leadership very carefully insured that the Palisades ‘fence’ project kept open access to the restrooms.

Ridiculous because the possibility of contacting coronavirus by inhaling droplets or touching anything in a confined restroom stall is infinitely greater than exposure from any walk or run in the Park. As my step kids used to say -- ‘go figure.’

One also must ask -- if the restrooms remain open while the Park is locked off from use, for whom are they left open?

One can surmise that they’re open to serve one of our most “at risk” populations, who will use and leave those restrooms to utilize other public and essential services and spread the infection throughout our community.

And, note, neither soap, nor hot water is readily available outside those restrooms, and cold water alone is not helpful in discarding the virus.

In fact, if anything was to be cordoned off, our political leaders should have directed that the restrooms -- the Park’s coronavirus petri dish -- should have been closed, not the Park itself.

Instead, they do the opposite. It would be interesting to inquire whether they even considered the matter.

Kip Dellinger is a tax expert whose opinions have appeared in The Lookout, LA Times and Wall Street Journal, among other publications.

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