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Letter from Mayor and City Manager

June 22, 2020

Dear Residents,

We are living at what feels like a momentous time.  John W. Gardner, founder of Common Cause, said, “History doesn’t look like history when you are living through it.”  We wonder how this moment will appear when we have the luxury of looking back.

First, peaceful protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement following the murder of George Floyd, and others, continue to engage all communities in Marin in powerful ways.  On June 8, 2020 at the City Council meeting, Mayor Kemnitzer delivered a Statement on Racial Justice, which you can read here.  Many Belvedere residents are participating in the ongoing rallies, to listen and learn about these important issues.  If you go, please remember that these events still require cautious social distancing, masks, and hand hygiene, to avoid contagion to yourself and everyone else.

Secondly, innovative graduation ceremonies celebrated our students at every level the past weeks, despite the disruption of COVID-19. Even as college commencement speeches enthrall internet audiences, we want to highlight one of our own. Aly Valente just graduated from fifth grade at Bel Aire School. Her classmates chose her speech to be their commencement address.  With her family’s permission, we are making it available here*.  Its message of resilience, strength and optimism speaks the truth for all of this year’s graduates – no matter what age – whether stepping up to middle school or accepting a doctorate degree.   Aly, we wish you and every Belvedere graduate of 2020, all the best.

Thirdly, the Marin economy is cautiously reopening. We are working with other city leaders on the Marin Task Force on Economic Recovery and the County Health Department to help business owners craft safety protocols particular to each sector. Thus, dog groomers got the green light before hair salons, and some of us are feeling a bit shaggy.   You may wonder why some counties, like Placer (Lake Tahoe), seem to be much more relaxed and open. The basic shelter-in-place order remains in effect throughout California, but counties that can demonstrate certain criteria may apply for a “variance” from the order. Thus, despite an increase in the number of cases in Marin, County Health Director Dr. Willis says that testing, hospital capability and contact tracing are in place for dealing with spikes or surges. Marin applied for a variance last Tuesday.  We expect to hear from the State any day now, and this will determine whether additional activities will be allowed to resume on or about June 29. You can read the details here.

The responsibility for our health now lies with each of us as individuals and families, because it is painfully clear that COVID-19 is not going away soon. Risk is based on proximity and length of exposure to the virus.  Small groups are safer than large; and for all groups, outdoors is safer than in. Masks are required indoors in public spaces, and outdoors if within 6 feet of someone outside one’s family group. You can read the Governor’s most recent mask order here.  Marin statistics show a rapid increase in percentage of patients under age 35, likely because seniors are taking this more seriously. Younger people are less apt to die, but can still get really sick and infect the whole family. The saying goes, the devil is in the details. But in this case, the devil is in the denial.

Meanwhile, our Block Captain program continues to be active. The steering committee meets regularly and will offer a webinar on Monday night June 22 at 5:00 available to all residents at this Zoom meeting location.  Produced by Adam Gavzer and Adam Brolan, it will address what events activate the Block Captains in an emergency, how to locate and shut off utilities in a disaster, and mental health issues to be aware of during COVID-19 (with special guest expert Astrid Johnson).

Anyone graduating in 2020 will remember at least fragments of this momentous time forever. And some of them may write the history books.

Nancy Kemnitzer, Mayor

Craig Middleton, City Manager