Business associations push back on scavenger hunt plan

Posted at 5:22 PM, Jul 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-30 20:59:06-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Business associations in North Park and Normal Heights are pushing back against a plan organizers say could bring more customers to their parts of town.

Leaders from both business improvement districts are expressing coronavirus-related concerns over a scavenger hunt the city and the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition are planning beginning Aug. 12 and lasting two weeks.

"It's unpredictable, especially in this environment, when you're going to invite people to get out of their house for the first time," said Scott Kessler, who leads the Adams Avenue Business Association. "We just don't know what to expect."

Organizers say the event is all about social distancing. Participants download an app called Scavify, which they use to do things like find landmarks or answer trivia questions. Local businesses decide how much they want to be involved.

"Most of this engagement is done outside, socially distanced, and it's just about highlighting businesses and community organizations," said Sylvie Froncek, program director at the Bike Coalition.

But the business organizations say they are concerned about a lack of organization and late notice.

"We welcome shoppers, diners and people in need of essential services but we do not support any gatherings that cannot be managed or overseen for safety protocols. Bike events have traditionally brought great benefit to North Park because of the number of people who see them as a way to connect with friends while enjoying outdoor activity," Angela Landsberg, who directs the North Park Main Street Association, said in a statement. "Unless these events can be managed to ensure proper safety for our community at this time we believe they could do more harm than good."

Others say that fear is unfounded. The coalition held a scavenger hunt earlier in July in Imperial Beach, an event Councilman Mark West said was such a big success that they have scheduled another one.

"No one needs to be afraid of this, they need to embrace it and enjoy it because it's good for businesses, it's good for families and it gets you outside," West said.

In a statement, the City of San Diego says the event is a safe and virtual opportunity to support local business. It says it continues to seek creative ways to support local business and encourage healthy options.