The Coast News Group
Carlsbad Community

City passes emergency hep A ordinance

CARLSBAD — The City Council unanimously approved an emergency ordinance last month to allow for after-hours access to portable restrooms and hand-washing stations for the homeless.

Due to the hepatitis A outbreak in San Diego — which has resulted in at least 20 deaths and San Diego County declaring a local public health emergency on Sept. 1 — Carlsbad is allowing the use of hygienic facilities in parks after hours.

Typically, city parks are closed from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. Portable restrooms are located at Hosp Grove, Cannon and Zone 5, while hand-washing stations provided by the county are located at Magee, Maxton Brown, Holiday, Pine Avenue, Alga Norte and Stage Coach parks.

The ordinance allows for only the use of the facilities, not for park use after hours. The permanent restrooms will operate under normal conditions and hours.

“It would expire at the end of the hepatitis A emergency, which I believe the county says would be 50 days after the last reported case,” Carlsbad Assistant City Attorney Marissa Kawecki said.

Mike Calderwood, Carlsbad’s fire chief, said vaccinations and disinfecting of bathrooms is ongoing. Hepatitis A vaccinations, including those for the homeless, have been administered to more than 1,000 people.

Tamara Roe, who lives across from Holiday Park, said this ordinance will bring in the homeless who like to be up at night. She said those individuals are drug addicts and criminals.

Roe is concerned it will bring more people to the park. She urged the council to tour the area after hours to witness people high on drugs or other illegal activity.

“For instance, two o’clock in the morning and watch ‘Bicycle Guy’ ride around on another stolen bike,” she said. “Or you can walk around the park and see three people strung out on drugs in the gazebo. Nothing good happens in a park after dark.”

Kawecki explained the virus is spread when people do not properly wash their hands and is passed through fecal matter. Liquid sanitizer is not an option, she said, and soap and water is the alternative to combat any potential spreading of the virus.

Carlsbad Police Chief Neil Gallucci said the department will have extra patrols at any park covered in the ordinance.

The City Council members all agreed the emergency action was needed and looked at what taking no action would do in the long term for the city.

and its homeless population.

Mayor Matt Hall took aim at the California State Legislature and its lack of strong action and enabling of the homeless.

“The state has a policy of being very generous for those who need assistance, but they won’t do what it takes to get them off the streets and back into productivity,” he said.