Fencing off Palisades Park has made physical distancing harder in the rest of Santa Monica. Our City only has so many outdoor spaces, and each additional closure puts more pressure on the remaining areas that are still open.

COVID-19 is deadly serious. We need to do all that we can to limit its spread. However, I worry that closing Palisades Park was a shortsighted decision that has only made our problems worse. The sidewalks east of Palisades Park are now overflowing with people and it has become near impossible to maintain six feet of separation while out. Many (myself included) have taken to walking in the middle of the road to avoid close contact with other people. Cars we can at least see. The virus is invisible.

Safer at home does not mean always at home. People have to spend at least some time outside, either to go to the store, or to exercise, or just to get some fresh air for their mental wellbeing. Unfortunately, it feels like Santa Monica is making very little effort to allow people to safely do so. Maybe Palisades Park really was too much of an attraction and needed to be shut down. But if that’s the case, why didn’t the city create additional outdoor space elsewhere?

Creating more outdoor space would not be hard to do. With schools and non-essential businesses closed, our roads now sit nearly empty. We could very easily close a few down and allow pedestrians, joggers, and cyclists to use them instead. This would allow people to more safely spend time outdoors and take pressure of our overflowing sidewalks. All you would need is a few cones, fences, and simple signs.

COVID-19 doesn’t spread by being outside. It spreads by being too close to other people. By closing parks but not opening roads, Santa Monica is forcing people closer together. For the sake of everyone’s health and wellbeing, I hope we soon change that approach.

Matthew Stevens, Santa Monica

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  1. Your made excellent points, but our city administration used our tax dollars to build a fence around the park not because if it was evidence-based, but because it was politically correct.

  2. Agree 100%. People were practicing distancing in the park prior to the fencing. Exercise and fresh air are important for mental and physical health. This is a resource that should not be denied to city residents.

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