Message from the City Manager
(Updated March 17, 2020 @ 1:30 pm)
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.
On March 13, I issued a Proclamation of Local Emergency. This Proclamation wasn’t because there were positive cases of COVID-19 in the community; or because the Town was 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. 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 COVID-19 website, issue via News Flash, and post on the Bulletin Board at Town Offices in the Park.
Changes to Operations
The Town will comply with the San Mateo County Health Officer directive for all individuals and businesses in San Mateo County. These changes in operations are effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020 and will continue through April 7, 2020. The full text of the order is available via the following link. Residents are urged to stay informed and follow the recommended COVID-19 prevention measures and the directives from the San Mateo County Health Officer. There is an FAQ section of the County’s website that is very useful.
— All businesses with a facility in the County, except essential Businesses as defined in the order are required to cease all activities at facilities located within the County.
— All public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring outside of a household or living unit are prohibited.
— All travel, including, but not limited to travel on foot, bicycle, scooter, motorcycle, automobile, or public transit, except Essential Travel and Essential Activities as defined in the Order, are prohibited.
— For the purposes of the Order, individuals may leave their residence only to perform Essential Activities, as defined in the Order.
— 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 or In the Community
— All organized activities at the Park are cancelled and will be rescheduled. The Park remains OPEN for non-organized recreational activities, compliant with Social Distancing Protocols.
— Scheduling of any new events at the Park through April 30 have been placed on hold.
— All currently scheduled private events, training, and classes from April 7 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 suspending their activities.
— COMMERCIAL CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITY is not permitted
. Construction on public facilities, private residences or public infrastructure is authorized to continue but is subject to limitations related to inspection services. No new permits will be issued until the Shelter in Place Order is lifted.
— Individuals may leave their residence to provide any services or perform any work necessary to the operations and maintenance of Essential Infrastructure. Essential Infrastructure includes, but is not limited to, Public Works construction, Town Facilities, construction of housing related to affordable housing or housing for the homeless, airport operations, water, sewer, gas, electrical, oil refining, roads and highways, public transportation, solid waste collection and removal, internet, and telecommunications systems, provided those services are done in compliance with Social Distancing Requirements as defined in the Order.
— Essential Governmental Services (to include the work of first responders) is exempt from the Order. The Town has identified the work of Police, Building, Public Works (MCE, Interwest), Planning, and Administrative Staff are the Town’s first responders and their work in support of the continuation of Town Operations is deemed essential.
At this time, all Town Offices are CLOSED to the public; but, Town operations are considered an essential service under the order and basic internal operations will continue. 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, building inspection and code enforcement), with the implementation of social distancing protocols and limitations.
— Town Offices are CLOSED.
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. 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