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Kellie Shay Hinze and Clem Chavez
Clem Chavez and Deputy Mayor Kellie Shay Hinze hold Chavez’s winning mask design at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas. Photo by Caitlin Steinberg
Cities Community Encinitas Encinitas Featured

Volunteer group hands out free masks on Encinitas beaches

ENCINITAS — Each weekend, locals and visitors flood Encinitas’ beaches, walking the line between COVID-19 safety procedures and enjoying their summer.

Packed in their beach bags and stuffed into their wetsuits are masks, or at least, based on the state’s public health orders, there should be.

Organized by Deputy Mayor Kellie Shay Hinze, the volunteer initiative has assisted the city’s Lifeguard and Marine Safety department in handing out over 10,000 masks since July 4.

According to Hinze, the project started before the holiday weekend, as regional COVID cases began spiking causing alarm and fear of impending crowds and low safety compliance seen at beach access points.

“The Acting City Manager, Jennifer Campbell let me know that the city had 10’s of thousands of masks provided for lifeguards to pass out, but the lifeguards’ main focus needed to be on the water, as that weekend there was huge surf,” Hinze said. “The morning of (July) Fourth, Jennifer took Moonlight Beach and some friends and I set up at Beacons to hand out the lifeguard’s provided masks, making sure every person who came up or down during the course of the day was wearing one.”

The masks are made of a breathable black cotton polyester blend and are American made.

“We’ve seen a lot of surfers tuck them into their wetsuits while they surf and then easily pull them out when they’re about to walk back up the trail to Beacons,” Hinze said.

Since July Fourth, the initiative has been run completely by local volunteers, often families with children, signing up for shifts each weekend from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and handing out masks to any person without one.

According to Hinze, several local families who have requested to remain anonymous, have volunteered to fund the purchase of future masks as well as a competition for a unique Encinitas themed design.

“They’ve all participated as volunteers, had a really positive experience and wanted to give back to our community in a way that increases [Coronavirus safety] by making it a part of our city’s culture,” Hinze said.

An online contest between 25 unique designs from local artists of all ages, resulted in one popular design choice, created by Encinitas native Clem Chavez.

Chavez, 33, was raised in Encinitas, where he now lives with his wife and two children.

His design includes a yellow female surfer and the text, “Help Keep Beaches Open… Mask On.”

“Masks are essential,” Chavez said. “They’re definitely the most consistent part of this entire epidemic. I work for a large company that provides sanitation and disinfectant programs for restaurants so I’m in tune with how industries are helping and the massive, most consistent part of all these [solutions] are masks.”

Chavez’s design spread on social media, shared by Kelli herself, bringing more attention to the volunteer effort.

“After the community noticed the mask design competition, word about our project grew,” Hinze said. “Suddenly, we had four times the number of people interested in volunteering because they loved the idea of a locally designed mask.”

Currently, the group only has enough volunteers to staff two beach locations, Moonlight and Beacons, for eight hours each weekend, however, Hinze would like to expand the project, noting that enough residents near Stone Steps have recently volunteered to open a third location in the near future.

“My hope is that in the future we could do a ‘mask of the month’ and could feature artists from all over the city of different ages and backgrounds portraying their Encinitas,” Hinze said.

While the city has not signed on to assist in the expanding project, Hinze said she hopes the increased attention garnered by the design contest and the group’s consistency in volunteerism, could provoke a conversation on how the city could possibly help.


Margaret Thompson August 9, 2020 at 3:33 pm

Is the distribution still in progress? I went down to Moonlight this afternoon, Sunday August 8, and neither two lifeguards nor the person at the concession stand could provide information about it.

concerned August 7, 2020 at 6:31 pm

It certainly is a good way to get her name in the paper without paying for it. Will she make any comments on her actions as incumbent councilwoman and zoning.
The mayor and council can change the zoning ordinances at any time to financially benefit developers which is why enormous developments have been submitted. It isn’t state law that created the new city ordinances. On the council agenda next week is consent item 8E a letter to a state committee from the mayor and council supporting a bill to give the developers more money from these developments. This is part of the letter:
“The City of Encinitas is pleased to support Assembly Bill 3153 (Robert Rivas) that would allow housing developers to replace some of their required car parking spaces with bike parking or car-sharing spaces.”
Another part of the letter:
“Additionally, parking requirements drive up the cost of building housing and effectively subsidize motor vehicle use at a time when public resources and regulations should support alternatives to the automobile. AB 3153 simultaneously helps California achieve its affordable housing goals and its sustainable transportation goals and deserves your support. We support AB 3153 and
urge the Committee to pass the bill.” This state bill is in committee. It hasn’t become law yet, but Blakespear, Hinze, Kranz, Mosca, and Hubbard want it to become law. This mayor and council don’t represent the residents of Encinitas.
The proposed Goodson development which is now up to 283 apartments at the intersection of Rancho Santa Fe and Encinitas Blvd. would benefit financially from building less parking spaces.
Vote the incumbents out. It is time to clean house. Please remember that the mayor and council sued the residents of Encinitas to stop them from voting on zoning changes under Prop. A.

Christine August 6, 2020 at 2:45 pm

@Steve: I definitely think it’s promoting Kellie’s campaign. That said, I think she’s been pretty consistent about looking for strategies to promote masks at the beach. For me, when other cities have leaders who are trying to load up on cops and citations to keep their beaches open, I appreciate Kellie’s leadership by way of civic engagement and organizing volunteers. I also think it took awhile to secure the donors, manufacturing, and organization to distribute masks… but that the timing for 4th of July was extremely helpful. Full Disclosure: I don’t know Kellie or Clem super well, but we were always in the same schools here, and I feel good about seeing familiar faces presenting solutions for our hometown.

Steve August 6, 2020 at 9:00 am

Is this really volunteerism or a PR stunt by someone from the Encinitas City Council who will be running for Mayor in 2024? Why didn’t she hand out masks at the Floyd paddle out with thousands of outside people that came in to our community when the city was under quarantine? Asking for a friend.

Leslie August 6, 2020 at 3:35 pm

Interesting comment, Steve. She has not declared any intention to run for mayor and why do you choose 2024? Surely, as an engaged citizen you are aware that mayoral terms in Encinitas are 2 years, not 4. I’ve seen several anti-Blakespear citizens post comments about not wanting another 4 years, and the fact they are not even aware of our local terms is strange to me. Identity politics, I suspect.

Stephanie August 5, 2020 at 8:54 pm

Nice to see the spirit of volunteerism and kindness is thriving here!

Sheila Fehrenbach August 5, 2020 at 8:41 pm

This is so generous of people to offer to pay for the free masks for everyone and to offer their time to hand them out to people. Why can’t everyone understand that this virus kills people? Many people still think it is not that serious or it is a hoax. 155,000 people have lost their lives to Corona virus. No joke. Do your part and go buy masks for yourself and family and friends. Be a good citizen and save lives. Kindness is everything.

L August 5, 2020 at 5:23 pm

That’s a beautiful mask. Clem, It’s so well-thought out–glad you won.

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