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Carlsbad City Council approved the emergency declaration during its March 17 special meeting. Courtesy photo
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Carlsbad, Vista both declare local health emergencies due to coronavirus

EDITOR’S NOTE: For information on the City of Vista’s emergency declaration, please see further down the page. 

CARLSBAD — The city has declared a local health emergency giving the city manager emergency powers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City Council approved the declaration during its March 17 special meeting. The declaration gives emergency powers to the director of emergency services, which is City Manager Scott Chadwick. The council approved the resolution to be in effect until May 15 or unless terminated earlier by the City Council, according to Kristina Ray, communications director for the city.

The new powers allow Chadwick the ability to obtain aid from any and all sources and make purchases of supplies, equipment and contractual services at the lowest rate.

But, some rules and regulations, such as public records requests and permit streamlining, will likely be suspended, according to the resolution.

“We’re continuing on services, we just can’t do anything with public contact with minimal exceptions,” Ray said. “

The city has also closed all its buildings to the public, although Ray said the Faraday Center, 2495 Faraday Ave., will have a tent in the parking lot for services with the proper social distancing measures in place.

Also, the City Council is not scheduled to meet for its March 24 meeting, Ray said, although the council may call for a special meeting. The council, which is not scheduled to meet on March 31, may also call another special meeting.

The meetings are most likely to be held at the Faraday Center, which would be a challenge for a potential livestream, Ray said. City Hall is not ideal, she said, as it is more difficult to practice social distancing, whereas the Faraday Center is easier for the council members and the public to maintain space from one another.

As for public comment, the city sanitizes the podium before each speaker, she added. Residents can submit their names, agenda item and comments to City Clerk Barbara Engleson ([email protected]).

Still, the best thing residents can do, Ray said, is to stay home if possible.

“Take it seriously,” she said. “The best way to help your neighbors it to stay home.”

Additionally, she stressed the city still has capacity for its senior meal and You Are Not Alone programs. The senior meal program gives one free meal person, which can be picked up at the Faraday Center.

The You Are Not Alone program has volunteers check on seniors who live alone. Due to the pandemic, calls are made to seniors and if there is no answer, Carlsbad police will conduct a welfare check, Ray said.

“They will call and check in on your loved one every day,” she added. “Normally, we go out in person once a week, but they are definitely calling. We have availability for more participants. All they have to do is call and we’ll get them signed up.”

The library is also looking at streaming its storytime offerings and providing drive-through options for checking out books.

Groups of 50 or larger are prohibited by the Health Officer of the County of San Diego along with the closure of all bars, clubs, on-site dining, wineries and breweries. In addition, President Donald Trump has issued guidelines for two weeks to slow the spread of the coronavirus including avoiding gatherings of more than 10 people.

Vista passes local emergency declaration

VISTA — The City Council adopted a local health emergency declaration during a special meeting on March 18 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The declaration gives emergency powers to the director of emergency services, Patrick Johnson, who is also the city manager. The council approved the proclamation for two weeks and will re-evaluate the issue depending on the status of the coronavirus and other regional and state mandates.

It gives Johnson the ability to obtain aid from any and all sources, make purchases of supplies, equipment and contractual services at the lowest rate.

But, some rules and regulations, such as public records requests and permit streamlining, will likely be suspended, according to City Attorney Darold Pieper. Councilwoman Amanda Rigby and Councilman John Franklin expressed concerns with the emergency powers and the suspension of those rules and perhaps others, so the council opted for enacting the declaration every two weeks.

“They are likely to be suspended because we lack the personnel to find those in a timely manner,” Pieper said of public records requests and other items up for potential suspension.

In addition, the council agreed to hold a regular meeting every week until emergency measures are lifted. The Vista City Council only meets twice per month, but the council wanted to ensure residents are informed on a weekly basis and have an opportunity to submit comments during those meetings.

The Vista Civic Center closed to the public on March 19 and the March 24 City Council meeting will be live-streamed through the city’s website. The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. and the council will be present through a telephonic conference call, which will be standard until the emergency is lifted, Johnson said.

Business with the city, though, can still be conducted online through the city website.

As for the public comment portion of the meeting, residents can view the agenda through the city’s website and email City Clerk Kathy Valdez [email protected]) stating their name, agenda item and comment, which will be read by Valdez.

Although residents can attend the meetings, the city is urging individuals to watch the meeting on TV or online. San Diego County Sheriff’s deputies will be present to enforce social distancing, which is ensuring residents are at least six feet away from one another.

Councilwoman Corinna Contreras asked Johnson about enforcing a no-eviction policy, easing on late rent payments and utility shutoffs. Since the item was not on the agenda, the council could not discuss it.

However, it is expected to be on the March 24 agenda and Contreras said the city could follow the policy set by the city of San Diego, which is providing relief for those facing potential evictions or late bill pay due to the economic impacts from the pandemic.

The city has also suspended operations for recreational sports leagues, programs, performances at the Moonlight Amphitheatre and AVO Playhouse, among others. However, meal programs for seniors are still operational.