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Rep. Mike Levin and Mayor Esther Sanchez
Rep. Mike Levin and Oceanside Mayor Esther Sanchez during a March 24 virtual townhall meeting. Screenshot
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Levin, Sanchez discuss new COVID-19 relief at virtual townhall

OCEANSIDE — Rep. Mike Levin (D-San Juan Capistrano) together with Oceanside Mayor Esther Sanchez answered constituent questions and celebrated federal COVID-19 relief going directly to cities located within the 49th Congressional District during a March 24 virtual town hall.

Levin highlighted how the American Rescue Plan, signed into law by President Joseph Biden earlier this month, will positively impact the district.

“There’s so much in this bill that’s going to help us and our neighbors,” Levin said.

The bill included the $1,400 stimulus checks, extended the federal unemployment benefits at $300 per week and several other benefits for individuals and families.

The plan is also providing more money to schools, nonprofits and local governments than previous COVID-19 relief plans have.

“Past COVID relief directed funding to cities with larger than 500,000 people, which frankly wasn’t of any use to the cities in the 49th district,” Levin said.

With the American Rescue Plan, all nine of the district’s cities will receive direct federal funding.

Oceanside is due to receive the most money ($33.4 million), followed by Vista ($26.7 million), Carlsbad ($13.4 million), and roughly $8.8 million each to Encinitas and San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano ($6.7 million), Dana Point ($6.3 million), Solana Beach ($2.5 million), and Del Mar ($812,000).

All of the 49th Congressional District’s cities have seen “significant revenue losses” due to COVID-19, particularly in the tourism sector, which is usually a huge source of revenue for coastal cities.

Sanchez said the funding will help with the city’s emergency response times, which are down significantly due to the lack of personnel, increased calls due to coronavirus and the need for personnel to quarantine after exposure.

“The American Rescue Plan is going to help us out tremendously,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez also noted that the city has big plans to address its homeless situation, including allotting about $8 million to build a shelter and affordable housing in the city and implementing a voucher program to move people living on the streets into a motel for about 180 days or longer if necessary.

The mayor said she hopes the plan will not only help the city get back to where it was before the pandemic but improve things moving forward. Although the city had 34 businesses permanently close in the last year, it has also gained 43 new businesses and has 29 more in the process of opening.

“The sooner we get through this, the sooner we’ll be able to open all of our businesses,” Sanchez said.

Local school districts are also benefitting from the Rescue Plan, receiving a total of $125 million to help schools reopen safely and catch students up on lost learning during the pandemic. California as a whole is set to receive more than $15 billion to support K-12 schools.

Oceanside Unified is receiving $30.8 million and Vista Unified, which also services many students who live in Oceanside, is receiving $46.7 million.

Other North County school districts set to receive relief money include Carlsbad Unified ($7.8 million), San Dieguito Union High ($6.3 million), Encinitas Union ($3.2 million), Del Mar Union (roughly $2 million), Cardiff Elementary ($620,000) and Capistrano Unified ($39.9 million).