The mayor of Santa Monica, California, issued a stark forecast for the city’s economy as it struggles through the coronavirus pandemic.
“Things are financially pretty grim. We want to get the city reopened as quickly as we can, but we need to protect people, not only from each other, but from themselves. Our local economy has tanked. We are a tourism town. People have been coming here for over 100 years. Tourism has ended for the time being,” Mayor Kevin McKeown said in an interview with CNN today.
McKeown went on to discuss how the city will be “down by $224 billion” over the next two years, which is needed to fund “police and fire, to pick up the trash, to have clean, pure water in the pipes.”
“So that’s going to mean other services now in this city have to be cut. And that’s very hard to do,” he said.
There have been layoffs and voluntary retirement for city staff, McKeown said.
“We’ve had recessions before, but never anything that happened this suddenly or this deeply that took that much money out of the city coffers so quickly,” he said.
The city’s beaches are open for recreational activities, but parking lots are closed and people cannot sunbathe or go in the water. The famous Santa Monica Pier is also closed. Santa Monica is now “the home of the three-piece bathing suit: a bikini and a face mask,” the mayor said.
McKeown also slammed the federal government for not implementing more relief funding for cities that are suffering economically.
“It’s been about 10 weeks since I really had a good night’s sleep or had a day off. I’m not saying that for pity. It’s just the reality of trying to run a local government in these unprecedented circumstances,” he said.