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Vista council addresses unemployment, business resources

VISTA — Looking forward, the city of Vista is preparing resources and information to help ease the burden for businesses to reopen and residents to find jobs.

San Diego County has slowly reopened in line with the rest of the state, but Councilwoman Amanda Rigby brought forward a discussion during the council’s May 26 meeting on how to better serve businesses and residents who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The council already approved allowing businesses, especially restaurants, to use parking lots and right-of-way roads as a way to expand their capacity. Rigby and the rest of the council, however, are concerned over the staggering unemployment.

Rigby noted the 92081 ZIP code was one of the top 10 hardest-hit areas in the county due to the pandemic. So, the city will incorporate listings for jobs and unemployment resources, through a website link, in its special business edition of Our Vista Magazine.

“I’m worried some of our business will not survive or have not survived this,” Rigby said. “Is there any way we can help our constituents with unemployment? Families are devastated.”

Councilwoman Corinna Contreras said the unemployment rate is rising near 30% and constituents are struggling to meet rent payments, utilities and other expenses. Additionally, businesses are struggling to meet rent payments, but the March state order did not allow for evictions for 90 days.

Still, once those 90 days expire, landlords will be seeking payment. City Attorney Darold Pieper said, however, it is unlikely landlords will have much recourse in the coming months as the courts are massively overwhelmed and will only be hearing criminal cases once they reopen.

So, evictions through the courts are unlikely for the time being, but he said if tenants are evicted or leave, those landlords may have trouble filling those spaces.

“I think things will sort themselves out,” Pieper said. “Landlords are going to be hurt, but they are going to have to accommodate. Even when they can access the courts, where are they going to get new tenants? Because you can evict a tenant doesn’t mean you’ll find one who can pay rent.”

Also, the council discussed expanding cool zones as summer approaches. The council zeroed in on seniors, along with others who do not have air conditioning in their residences.

While the senior center is closed, the council discussed potential partnerships with restaurants and other possibilities to increase the presence of the zones.

In addition, they also spoke about how to connect with seniors through physical distancing events or even a drive-by dinner service with the council acting as servers.

“I’d like to see how much space we can find as soon as possible,” Councilman Joe Green said. “I love the idea of a physical distance dining event for seniors. Even them just driving by in their car and saying hi to show that we love them.”