Changing how we work to protect Santa Monica
March 15, 2020 5:45 PM
by Rick Cole
The spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed every aspect of our lives – school closures, teleworking, sports seasons cut short, bars shuttered. In Santa Monica we are adjusting how we work in this local emergency. Our goal is to focus all our energy, resources, and talent to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
We will continue to provide essential public services, but are changing how we do it to limit exposure for our workforce and for residents. Here’s what this means for our operations:
- The City is currently operating in a local emergency and this means our staff – planners, administrative assistants, architects, and IT experts become Disaster Service Workers in order to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency and to ensure the public health, safety, and welfare, including protection of property.
- Only essential staff will be coming into work while most of our workforce will telework and collaborate through teleconferencing.
- All non-essential City travel has been suspended and City staff will not attend in-person events or conferences that gathers people for a non-essential purpose.
Here’s what this means for you now through March 31:
- City Hall will be closed to the public and all non-essential staff. Reach out to us via phone, email or the City’s website.
- Santa Monica Public Library branches will also be closed. All items checked out will be renewed and late fees waived for the duration of the closure. No fines will be incurred and materials will be automatically renewed. The book drops will be closed; we encourage everyone to hang onto their materials until the library reopens.
- Facility closures, including Annenberg Community Beach House, Camera Obscura Art Lab, Clover Park office, Memorial Park buildings, Miles Memorial Playhouse, Reed Park tennis office, Swim Center, and the Virginia Avenue Park campus.
- Public counters like the Animal Shelter, Housing Division office, Rent Control, GoSaMo Center at Parking Structure 5, and Finance Office will be closed. The Public Safety counter will remain open.
- Youth and recreation programs have been cancelled for the duration, including CREST, PAL, adult sports leagues, tennis court permits, swim classes and the like.
- All Board and Commission meetings have been suspended. The March 24 Council meeting will proceed, but with a different format that is accessible to the public (more on that soon).
These changes are significant, and they are necessary. We’ve taken them to protect you and your neighbors from the profound health and economic impacts of this global pandemic.
That’s why we have also issued an emergency proclamation placing a moratorium on evictions for non-payment of rent by residential tenants impacted by COVID-19. We’ve also suspended water and sewer service shut-offs for non-payment and are waiving late fee penalties for water and sewer bills and the late fee penalties for parking tickets.
Your City team is working around the clock to implement best practices. Please follow this advice to protect yourself and your neighbors:
- If you are over age 65, stay home and shelter in place. If you need nutritious food, there are resources available, including many Meals on Wheels West (310-394-5133, extension 1) and delivery services like Postmates and Instacart. Local grocery stores also offer similar services, including Bob’s Market, Ralphs, Gelson’s, and Pavilions.
- Everyone else should limit activities outside your home and practice “social distancing” by putting six feet of distance between you and others.
- Avoid people who are sick or who may have been exposed to those who are sick.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Please continue to check santamonica.gov/coronavirus for the latest updates. I will share daily updates and videos through this SaMoNews community newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. All information is accessible at santamonica.gov/coronavirus.
The situation is changing daily, even hourly. We are adapting our operations, taking guidance from State and County public health officials. Santa Monica is a community with a heart and strong sense of family. Take care of yourself and let’s work together to take care of others.
Stay informed. Stay calm. Stay healthy.