Tuesday, June 2, 2020
June 2, 2020

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Cheers & Jeers: Parklets a plus, but crime isn’t

The Columbian

Cheers: To parklets. In preparing for a reopening of the economy, the city of Vancouver is planning to allow restaurants and bars to set up tables in the streets outside their businesses. The idea is to use parking spaces left empty during COVID-19 closures, moving tables outside to increase restaurant capacity while preserving social distancing. “We’re working through the details,” city official Chad Eiken said. “We do want to provide some guidance providing barriers to make it safe for people who are congregating in those areas.”

The proposal is worth a try. Local governments must think creatively to help businesses succeed in the wake of the pandemic and an expected reduction in capacity. Many restaurants and bars would not be able to survive if capacity is reduced by 50 percent, a fact that calls for innovative solutions.

Jeers: To more property crimes. The Vancouver Police Department reports a sharp increase in crime with businesses unattended because of stay-at-home orders. Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, burglaries are up 56 percent compared with the same time period a year ago. Auto theft is up 42 percent, while vehicle prowling has increased 35 percent and vandalism 24 percent. Rape and robbery reports have decreased.

Jeff Kipp of the Vancouver Police Department said: “This is speculation, but all of the sudden, there are a ton of people with too much time on their hands.” It also must be noted that officials released 147 inmates from the Clark County Jail to reduce crowding; 16 have been rearrested. Whatever the reason, the increase in crime is a reminder that we need to watch out for each other during trying times.

Cheers: To a giving community. The coronavirus pandemic has created frustration and anxiety, but it also has brought out the generosity of Clark County residents. Recently, PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center noted that it has received more than $100,000 in food donations, 12,542 protective masks, and numerous other gifts from businesses and individuals. That is just one of many stories featuring the giving nature of local residents.

During the pandemic and likely long after, nonprofit organizations that help the needy in our community will require assistance from Clark County residents. Throughout the crisis, local charities have had to cancel or alter fundraising events, diminishing their ability to provide help when our neighbors need it the most.

Jeers: To a decline in the housing market. The economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic is evident in the local market. Clark County reported 675 new listings during April — a 41 percent decline from the previous April, and there was a 21 percent year-over-year decline in closed sales.

The housing market often is a microcosm of the larger economic picture, and the decline in activity represents the uncertainty being felt by many people. But experts point out that low interest rates make this a good time to purchase a home, providing some hope for a relatively quick recovery.

Cheers: To a daring landing. Both occupants of a single-engine airplane swam to safety after crashing into the Columbia River near Cascade Locks, Ore. Witnesses reported that the plane was attempting to land at Cascade Locks Airfield, but the landing gear was not deployed. The plane touched down in the river, skipping along the water before coming to rest.

The plane sank, but both people in the plane — a man and woman from Bellevue — made it to shore. It wasn’t exactly a flight of fancy, but we’re thankful it didn’t turn out worse.