Our vibrant community continues to stand strong with the entire globe amid these challenging times. While our streets may be quieter, the love our community shares for one another is evident in each person’s commitment to the safety and well-being of themselves and their neighbors. From the early days as the “Tuna Capital of the World,” seeing more than 6,000 Italian families flourish in the neighborhood, to its decline and the destruction of 35% of Little Italy due to the construction of Interstate-5 freeway, we have always united together and stayed resilient. As the Little Italy Association (LIA), currently consisting of 28 Board Members, we aim to support the community and have taken action to keep our neighborhood safe and our businesses successful.
While we are excited to see life come back to our charming neighborhood sidewalks, European-style public piazzas with Italian-inspired fountains and our popular Little Italy Dog Park, they have been altered or closed in an effort to avoid social gatherings. Further measures have been taken to promote sanitization throughout the neighborhood as well. LIA sought state approval to ensure all maintenance employees were classified as “essential workers” and shifted field operations staff to sanitizing all touchable surfaces in Little Italy, including street light buttons, utility boxes, tables and chairs and more. Also, the frequency of sidewalk pressure-washing has been increased to ensure the public rights of way are kept clean from the virus.
With the closure of surrounding public parks, Little Italy has seen a growth in new homeless encampments under the bridges and throughout the neighborhood. LIA has been working closely with the City of San Diego Neighborhood Policing Unit to move the homeless into shelter at the Convention Center and other County and City managed facilities where they can be safe and receive medical attention, if needed.
To respond to the community’s need for essential food sources, we have worked closely with the Mayor’s office to reopen the Little Italy Mercato on Saturdays in a modified format so residents and San Diegans have access to fresh produce and groceries. The farmers’ market has been condensed from its standard six blocks to three blocks to provide farm fresh fruits, vegetables, locally raised proteins and packaged grocery items. Vendor tents are widely spaced and one person from each household is encouraged to shop by adhering to the County Health directives by practicing 6-foot physical distancing while wearing a face covering. All purchases are made through one-touch shopping where the buyer points at the goods and the vendor bags them.
Our website has become an invaluable tool to keep Little Italy residents and businesses updated on the latest mandates, directives and health protocols to prevent the spread of the virus. While tables may be gone, many of our businesses are still open to support and serve. We continue to populate our website with a list of restaurants open for takeout and delivery and have now added open retailers serving curbside pickup following San Diego County’s recent announcement around retailers reopening. We encourage local residents to support these small businesses during this difficult time. LIA has made free short-term parking available with clearly marked street signage making pickup easy.
We know this is just a temporary state of living and as restrictions are gradually lifted, we look forward to welcoming you back. For the latest updates on Little Italy and our efforts, please visit us at LittleItalySDUpdates.com or follow us on Instagram @LittleItalySD, Twitter @LittleItalySD and Facebook @LittleItalySD.