Officially the Orange County Vector Control District is saying that they canceled this week’s proposed mosquito insecticide spraying due to the weather and while it is true that the weather this week is not optimal for spraying the insecticide in question there is a lot more to this story.
When I first posted the first press release, last Friday, announcing that the mosquito spraying operation was going to begin this Monday, Sep. 8, 2014, I wondered why only Santa Ana was being targeted. I later received a phone call from a former Santa Ana Council Member asking me to follow up the press release with more information about the spraying in question.
I wrote that post and posted the link on the Facebook pages of various local elected officials and community/political organizations. The post included a full list of the local elected officials including their Facebook pages, phone numbers and both personal and government emails. And then the Facebook community responded…
When the smoke had cleared, my post asking why Santa Ana was the only city in Orange County being sprayed had received 3,837 views, on Saturday, Sep. 5, 2014, but that was only the beginning.
The story went viral on Sunday, Sep. 7, 2014, with an astounding 29,261 views. I received phone calls on Saturday from OC Vector Control District Trustee Cecilia Aguinaga and the OC Vector Control District Manager, Michael Hearst. Aguinaga was getting bombarded by emails and calls, as the OCVD Trustee for Santa Ana. I was informed that the spraying would not happen on Monday, Sep. 8, 2014, due to the weather.
I later received a phone call from Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido, who agreed with me that the notice of spraying was far too short. He then posted an update on his website, which we posted as well, explaining that he was going to talk to the city administrators and to OC Vector Control on Monday morning.
Since Sunday the various local politicians have been scrambling to respond to the thousands of calls and emails they have received. One of them, OC Supervisor Janet Nguyen, made sure to remind her constiuents that “the Orange County Vector Control District (“Vector Control”), is a special district agency solely responsible for the spraying being considered to address the West Nile Virus, and is not part of or under the control or jurisdiction of the County of Orange or the Orange County Board of Supervisors.”
Nguyen then wrote, “In light of your concerns, my staff has met with the Vector Control’s Manager, Michael Hearst, and his staff to request that they address the safety issues raised by the community prior to any spraying being done. We are happy to report that Vector Control has agreed to provide the public with more information. Given that the current weather conditions have stalled the scheduled spraying, the Vector Control District will use this opportunity to enhance their outreach efforts.”
Santa Ana Councilman Sal Tinajero responded as well, “There were news releases, two council presentations and we reached out to SAUSD.”
Do emailed news releases reach many of our residents? And did the residents in the targeted areas of Santa Ana, in the central part of the city, know about the spraying? Hardly anyone watches the City Council meetings and the SAUSD didn’t send out a notice until today.
The reality is that sending out a press release on a Friday, about spraying to take place that Monday, is far too short a notice! That is what I told Aguinaga when I encouraged her to have the OC Vector Control District make robot phone calls, in English and in Spanish, to the affected residents BEFORE doing any spraying. That is what the SAUSD does on matters that are important. It is a cheap and effective means of communicating with the public.
As most of the homes being sprayed are in Councilman David Benavides’ Ward he should have walked to each of those homes over the weekend and let them know what was going on. But he, like most of the Council Members, was at the City Marathon that took place on Saturday in Downtown Santa Ana. By the way Downtown Santa Ana is not in Benavides’ ward. So instead of taking care of his constituents, Benavides was off having a good time in Councilwoman Michele Martinez’ ward (she represents DTSA).
Tinajero also wrote, “We have already had one death and I don’t want another. I will weigh all options before moving forward on an item. If you could imagine, what if we did nothing? We would then be criticized for doing nothing and allowing West Nile to spread.”
One death? For one death due to the West Nile Virus we are going to spray dozens of homes with a powerful insecticide? When there is short notice and we are not sure if the local residents have closed their windows and secured their pets indoors?
Consider that the Orange County Health Care Agency reported, in February of this year, 16 deaths due to influenza. And the common cold kills scores of Americans every year as the elderly often are struck by secondary bacterial respiratory infections.
And the Center for Disease Control says that the West Nile Virus is no reason to panic:
Fortunately, most people infected with WNV will have no symptoms. About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms. Less than 1% of infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, neurologic illness.
Overreacting to one death in our city by dumping chemicals in our neighborhoods is highly questionable to say the least. The Mother Nature network has provided numerous alternatives to insecticide spraying, including:
- Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes breed by emptying in the saucers of flower pots, hauling off old tires, cleaning rain gutters and frequently changing the water in birdbaths. Walk your property with an eye for puddles. Fix the problem.
- Stock ornamental ponds with mosquito fish that eat the larva or treat them with larvicide mosquito rings sold at home and garden stores.
- Reduce mosquito shelter in your yard by trimming weeds and keep the grass short.
- Spraying the lower limbs of shade trees, shrubs and other plants with home-use products containing deltamethrin and lambda-cyhalothrin can reduce the adult mosquito population.
- Strategically placed fans will keep a deck or porch free of mosquitoes, says Joseph Conlon of the American Mosquito Control Association. “Mosquitoes are weak flyers and will not be able to navigate properly against or within the air stream,” Conlon says. “There is no set formula for how large a fan or how many you’ll need. It’s simply a matter of experimenting until you obtain the desired effect. It’s simple, yet very effective.”
The OC Vector Control District will no doubt try once again in the near future to spray our community here in Santa Ana. We need to keep up the pressure on our local elected officials! We should insist on better outreach to the public and on a vigorous exploration of alternatives to chemical spraying.
If you are unhappy about the spraying, here is who you should contact:
- The Orange County Vector Control District at this email. Call them at (714) 971-2421 or (949) 654-2421.
- Supervisor Janet Nguyen – she is so busy running for the 34th State Senate District that she is not doing her job as our County Supervisor. And as a resident of Garden Grove she could care less what is done to the people of Santa Ana. Email her here.
- Our representative on the Board of Trustees of Orange County Vector Control is Cecilia Aguinaga. She is running for office right now too, for the SAUSD School Board. Email her here or call her at (714) 971-2421 Ext.115.
- The Santa Ana City Council. Email them here.
- Santa Ana Councilwoman Michele Martinez, Ward 2. She is currently running for re-election. Email her here and here. Call her at (714) 887-9845.
- Santa Ana Councilman David Benavides, Ward 4. He is currently running for re-election. Email him here and here. Call him at (714) 475-1630.
- Santa Ana Mayor Pro Tem Sal Tinajero, Ward 6. He is currently running for re-election. Email him here and here. Call him at (714) 552-2800.
- Santa Ana Councilman Roman Reyna, Ward 5. He is currently running for Mayor of Santa Ana. Email him here. Call him at 714-647-6900.
- Santa Ana Councilman Vince Sarmiento, Ward 1. Email him here. Call him at 714-647-6900.
- Santa Ana Councilwoman Angie Amezcua, Ward 3. Email her here. Call her at 714-647-6900.
- Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido. Email him here. He is currently running for reelection. Call him at 714-647-6900.
- Santa Ana City Manager David Cavazos. Call him at (714) 647-5200.