Local residents and elected officials responded positively to the pending reopening of the Rose Bowl Loop on Wednesday.
“It’s a good decision and I’m looking forward to the city, finding ways to make sure that everybody is safe and practicing appropriate guidelines when using the loop,” said nearby resident Geoff Baum.
The City Council affirmed the City Manager’s decision to reopen the popular exercise destination at Monday’s meeting.
“Now we are requiring that people adhere to physical distancing and that they wear face coverings,” said Public Information Officer Lisa Derderian.
Derderian said the loop will open at 6 a.m. on Wednesday.
Derderian emphasized the importance of wearing proper face covering while exercising.
“I really want to emphasize that although the next few days are expected to be cooler during the day when you exert yourself and you’re wearing face covering, or especially a mask, that could lead to medical issues. So if you’re going to be running bicycling, anything where you’re really exerting yourself cardio wise, please wear a bandana or a type of loose fitting face covering, so that you can breathe easier than if you’re wearing a mask.
Local residents must now practice social distancing, the loop will be closed to vehicular traffic and parking Lot I will be open for parking.
Parking will be limited to 90 minutes and strictly enforced.
Seco Street and Washington Boulevard will remain open for east/west traffic. Lot I will be staffed from 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. for parking according to a city staff report.
Staff will monitor attendance at the loop and remind and encourage physical distancing when necessary.
About 2,800 people visit the loop every day, according to a city staff report.
“People want to get out and we understand that,” said Councilman Gene Masuda. “We understand, but we have to make sure it’s safe.”
The City Council has discussed closing the area to traffic several times and now traffic will be banned per the recommendation to reopen the area.
“It’s always been viewed as a sort of a super pedestrian environment,” said Mayor Terry Tornek. “And the circulation for the most part, you know, is not critical to the overall circulation pattern of the city.”
Tornek said he didn’t want to predict the outcome.
“If it’s successful, I would think that we would consider doing it on a permanent basis,” Tornek said. “So this may be one of the happy results of this whole nightmare.”
City Manager Steve Mermell closed the popular exercise area in March soon after the Safer at Home order was issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom after visitors to the loop did not follow social distancing guidelines.
“Now we are opening the loop, because, there’s been some thought that possibly the worst is behind us,” Kennedy said. “I’m not there yet. I’m okay with a measured opening, but I’m just not there yet. I’m not sure that we are, in front of this pandemic yet.”
The city has moved from its initial response phase of attempting to control the virus to include a recovery phase, which has included reopening parts of city government and discussions with local merchants.
Last week, the city reopened some businesses and issued an order requiring them to do curbside business.
Sixty-five local residents have died from complications due to the virus. However, from Friday to Monday the city reported no news deaths.
Tornek said that the city still has not defeated the virus.
“We’re doing it because we think we have some better handle on what the rate of infection is,” Tornek said. “And if the rate of infection gets away from us, and it explodes on us, then we’re right back to where we were in terms of the danger of overtaxing overwhelming the, uh, the medical system and not having enough ventilators and not having enough ICU beds. We haven’t fixed that.”