Go Outside, but Where?

Governor Newsom will get my vote, but he and other state leaders are failing their constituency in a very basic way.

For the last few summer holidays during the hottest days of the year, Newsom has presided over the closure of public outdoor space, including beaches, natural forests, and state parks. During a pandemic in which we knew early on that sharing indoor air with others for extended periods is the worst thing you can do, does it make sense or is it even humane to close access to outdoor recreation opportunities and fresh air? If you’re lucky enough to have your own yard and pool and air-conditioning, perhaps these closures don’t represent much of a hardship, but if not, have fun finding some cool indoor space to sit around swapping virus with the rest of us.

Similarly, the University of California system, prior to 2020, had made outdoor recreation areas available for kids sports, such as AYSO soccer at Storke Field at UCSB. Not this year. By closing Storke Field, Henry Yang and UCSB are wasting a huge opportunity to serve their community when we need these spaces most — wide open green spaces with consistent onshore breezes to sweep away the miasma — to stay active and healthy. Now AYSO and other youth sports are crowded into smaller spaces to play all of their games. Is this really the best, publicly healthiest course?

Finally, the Santa Barbara backcountry is closed … for fire danger? It’s mostly burn scar back there. We depend on this space to decompress, to breathe, for our health.

All this locking of gates seems to be control for control’s sake by control freaks, and nothing else.

I’d like to think there are others out there who view their right to public space access right up there with other rights we have as citizens. Let us out!


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