Among the notable changes that will be put in place as a result of the declaration are that all city facilities will be closed immediately, with the exception of the Menlo Park Senior Center in Belle Haven and child care centers, which will be closed by the end of the day on Friday, March 13.
The move was made at a special meeting Wednesday night, March 11, where the City Council voted unanimously to authorize City Manager Starla Jerome-Robinson to "adopt emergency orders or regulations to ensure the health and wellbeing of the public" during the coronavirus outbreak.
Jerome-Robinson signed a Proclamation of Local Emergency within the city limits of Menlo Park, under Municipal Code Chapter 2.44.
"The health and safety of our employees, residents and businesses remains the highest priority. We encourage those who are sick or who are at higher risk for serious illness to stay at home," Jerome-Robinson said. "This proclamation provides us the flexibility to position resources and to best address this public health crisis."
"This is a global outbreak that requires us to prepare for significant disruptions to our daily lives," said Mayor Cecilia Taylor. "We must take action now. The health and safety of the Menlo Park community is our highest priority.
"Our neighbors, friends and family can work together through neighborhood associations, CERT and emergency preparedness classes. When we are informed, we are stronger together and more resilient. Preparedness and prevention is our best defense,"
With the exception of the end-of-day Friday closures for the senior center and child care centers, the following Menlo Park city facilities are closed effective immediately, according to the city's statement:
● "Belle Haven" conference room
● "Downtown" conference room
● "Sharon Heights" Conference Room
● Arrillaga Family Gymnasium
● Arrillaga Family Gymnastics Center
● Arrillaga Family Recreation Center
● Belle Haven Branch Library
● Children's Reading Room
● City Corporation Yard
● City Council Chambers
● City Hall
● Belle Haven Classroom and Conference Room
● Menlo Park Library
● Neighborhood Service Center
● Onetta Harris Community Center
All outdoor parks remain open at this time, according to the city's Public Engagement Manager Clay Curtin.
In its statement, the city said, "This local emergency shall continue until it is terminated by proclamation of the City Council. Pursuant to Section 8630 of the Government Code, the City Council shall proclaim the termination of a local emergency at the earliest possible date that conditions warrant. The need for continuing this local emergency shall be reviewed within 60 days by the City Council."
As City Hall is closed to the public, Curtin confirmed that the city is currently discussing online alternatives for residents who need to conduct business with the city, such as permits and applications.
"Staff is meeting to discuss ways to address the needs of people who visit us to conduct business and looking for ways to complete as much of that work virtually/remotely, rather than in person," he said in an email. "I hope to have more information on that to share soon. In the meantime, this is having an impact on that work."
He said that all city employees are still working, though some remote work options are being considered.
Meanwhile City Council and Planning Commission meetings will still be held in the Council Chambers, but other city meetings are likely to be canceled. "City Council and Planning Commission meetings have been deemed essential due to their governmental functions and necessity as outlined in State law, so they will continue and will be held in the City Council Chambers typically," he explained in the email. "Other advisory body meetings (city commissions, committees, task forces, working groups) are likely not essential and will be considered for cancellation, postponement, etc. during this period of the local emergency declaration."
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by the Almanac, Mountain View Voice and Palo Alto Online here.