Message from the City Manager
COVID-19 is a pandemic that has triggered a sea change in social contact protocols. The impact of these changes on daily life will at times seem quite dramatic; but, most will ultimately only be temporary interruptions in the conduct of business. Adapting to these changes with understanding, cooperation, and collaboration will help move us all through these times safely.
Today, I will be issuing a Proclamation of Local Emergency. This Proclamation isn’t because there are positive cases of COVID-19 in the community; or because the Town is experiencing an imminent threat of disaster. Instead, the Proclamation allows the Town to take the steps necessary to protect the safety of our community and Town staff in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. These steps include streamlined purchasing to secure the resources necessary to respond in a timely manner; the implementation of rules or regulations, as needed for the protection of life or property; implementation of programs or services to protect life or property; ramping up or down of Town service delivery in response to COVID-19 social distancing protocols; and the recovery of costs related to any of these responses.
The City Council will review and is expected to ratify the Proclamation at their March 18 City Council meeting.
Service Delivery Expectations
Fundamental Town services will continue to operate, but will do so incorporating social distancing protocols that will limit in-person public contact. The underlying fabric of services will continue - police, fire, emergency response, water, sewer, inspection services, etc. and will continue to be provided by the respective servicing entities. But, in-person public contact will be minimized and moved to electronic or telephonic communication systems wherever possible. Staff will be shifted to remote access when feasible. Some programs, services, and meetings will be postponed or cancelled; such as public events, community meetings, or other engagements at City Hall or the Park. At this time, the Town’s Post Office Annex will be restricted to limited hours of operation consistent with the Town’s in-person public contact hours only. This will remain subject to change. Details of these new hours of operation are below. These details and protocols are subject to being ramped up or down based on staffing availability and expansion of COVID-19 emergent issues. The Town will post any changes to its website, issue via News Flash, and post on the Bulletin Board at Town Offices in the Park.
Changes to Operations
The following changes are effective Monday, March 16, 2020 and will continue through April 30, 2020.
— All Town Committee Meetings have been cancelled through April 30 (Audit & Finance, Bicycle & Pedestrian, Environmental Programs, Park and Recreation, Rail, Transportation, and Tree).
— City Council and Planning Commission Meetings are limited to essential action items only.
— City Council and Planning Commission Meetings will be conducted pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Order regarding the Brown Act to allow maximum remote participation by the Public and Council/Commission. A public access meeting site will be established in the Pavilion at Holbrook Palmer Park.
— Special Meetings of the City Council scheduled for March 24 and April 1 are cancelled (Fire Services Issue and Budget Study Session).
Events and Activities at the Park
— The Town’s Earth Day event at the Park on April 26 has been cancelled and will be rescheduled.
— Scheduling of any new events at the Park during the period of March 16 through April 30 have been placed on hold.
— All currently scheduled private events, training, and classes through April 30 are encouraged to evaluate their audience and potential attendance and self-cancel or postpone, if appropriate. The Town will assist in facilitating a cancellation or postponement without incurring a fee to do so.
— Knox Preschool
is evaluating their operations for business continuity and reviewing options with their clients.
Unlike larger agencies, the Town does not have a depth of staff that would allow for full rotation of staffing should a COVID-19 quarantine need arise. Should there be a need to quarantine staff, a full shut down of services could result. As such, the Town is limiting public in-person contact to allow staff to telecommute where possible, use an A-Team/B-Team approach when at the office, and make adjustments to public contact situations (increased separation, phone contact, electronic interaction, outside waiting areas, etc.).
— All field services will continue operations (police, public works, code enforcement, inspection services), with the implementation of social distancing protocols.
— Library services
and programs will operate with limited staff and are subject to intermittent or full closure.
— Town Offices will be CLOSED to in-person public contact on Monday and Friday.
— Town Offices will be OPEN to in-person public contact on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 8 am to 11 am and 1 pm to 4 pm. These hours are subject to adjustment and may be ramped up or down based on resources available and response needs. Counter permit services available during this time include: building, public works, and post office. Planning Counter hours continue on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 am to 11 am and 1 pm to 4 pm.
During the next few weeks, you will experience delays and at times, an inability to immediately connect to staff. Please be patient and help us move forward cooperatively. Bottom line, if you can do it by phone or email - do that first. If it’s not an immediate need, wait. Our office space is small, if you are asked to wait outside to facilitate social distancing, please accommodate. If you are sick or experiencing a compromised immune system, please self-quarantine. There will be hand sanitizing stations at City Hall and available during public meetings. Please use them.
COVID-19 will require the patience of us all as its impact will at times seem quite dramatic; but, again, most will ultimately only be temporary interruptions. Adapting to these changes with understanding, cooperation, and collaboration will help move us all through these times safely.
Town of Atherton
Local and Regional Resources