Del Mar approves mandatory vaccination policy for city employees

Del Mar City Hall
(Jon Clark)

The Del Mar City Council unanimously voted Sept. 20 to roll out a vaccine mandate for city employees.

“I think it’s very important that we require all of our employees to be vaccinated, period,” Del Mar City Councilman Dave Druker said. “It’s extremely important that Del Mar set an example here.”

Interim City Manager Ashley Jones mentioned a possible 90-day deadline to implement the requirement, but added that she will be “working with employees on that timeframe.”

About 77% of city employees are already vaccinated, according to a city staff report. The city’s fire staff is 100% vaccinated, Jones said.

The council declined to include an option that would allow employees to instead submit to weekly testing because of the cost.

“If you’re not vaccinated, you’re putting yourself at risk and you’re putting others at risk. Everybody has the right to be safe, particularly in their workplace,” said Del Mar City Councilwoman Tracy Martinez, a health care executive and registered nurse.

Del Mar Deputy Mayor Dwight Worden said he wants the council to consider more stringent vaccination requirements. He mentioned an executive order that recently went into effect in the city of West Hollywood that requires proof of vaccination to enter indoor restaurants, fitness facilities and other businesses.

“We see 2-3 million visitors a year,” Worden said. “They’re coming from all over the world. They’re coming from Louisiana and places that have much higher COVID rates, and they’re in our restaurants and they’re in our hotels.”

The city has been enforcing a mandate for proof of vaccination status or a negative COVID-19 test for events at city facilities, such as the Powerhouse Community Center.

Several Del Mar residents wrote to the city in support of a vaccine mandate for employees.

“I am confident that (politics aside) adoption of Agenda Item 10 is unequivocally the right thing to do,” Del Mar resident Frank Chisari, a physician and viral immunologist, said in an email.

The new Del Mar policy follows a series of vaccine requirements implemented by the federal government and local governments across the country. Last month, the city of San Diego notified city employees that they have until Nov. 2 to be fully vaccinated. Encinitas has also notified employees that they need to show proof of vaccination or submit to weekly testing. San Diego County employees have to show proof of vaccination or submit to weekly testing and wearing masks.