Menlo Park declares 'local state of emergency' amid coronavirus outbreak, closing City Hall, other facilities | News | Almanac Online |


Menlo Park declares 'local state of emergency' amid coronavirus outbreak, closing City Hall, other facilities

Most facilities closed immediately; city staff working out plan to continue serving the public

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In a statement sent to the public today (March 12), the city of Menlo Park has declared a "local state of emergency" in response to the coronavirus outbreak in San Mateo County.

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.


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7 people like this
Posted by HR
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 12, 2020 at 12:18 pm

The rich people in Menlo Park can afford to drop off the face of the map for a while , but not the rest of us .

15 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Mar 12, 2020 at 12:28 pm

This was a wise and courageous decision that other communities will soon find that they need to follow.

The objective now is to slow the spread of the disease in order to lessen the peak demand on our health care system.

Every day that other jurisdictions delay taking actions like the City of Menlo Park has taken will mean more infected people and more demand on a very fragile health care system.

11 people like this
Posted by Sam Sinnott
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 12, 2020 at 12:41 pm

The building department, engineering, public works, and planning should continue to work but, possibly with paperless applications. Closing these departments stops all construction activity in the city which is probably overkill. Many lively hoods are at stake.

14 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Mar 12, 2020 at 1:10 pm

Having attended the Council meeting last night I am certain that there will be a lot of fine tuning to this shutdown.

The essential first step was to shut down all non-emergency functions NOW and then to evaluate how to bring back on-line other non-emergency functions when possible to do so in a manner that does not increase the risks of disease transmission.

12 people like this
Posted by Jim Lewis
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 12, 2020 at 1:19 pm

I'd highly recommend watching at least the first 45 minutes of the 2 hour Menlo Park City Council meeting, held Wednesday, March 11, 2020 In it, staff clearly explains the current status and the steps needed to deal with it head on.

Web Link

If it saves lives, an interim inconvenience is a small price to pay.

7 people like this
Posted by Longtime Menlo Parker
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Mar 12, 2020 at 2:00 pm

What about Little House? Is that facility closed?

8 people like this
Posted by Diesel
a resident of another community
on Mar 12, 2020 at 3:37 pm

I wonder if there’s some wAy to more easily share online library materials with residents and to advertise that? With fewer things to do outside the home, reading and movies become more valuable.

10 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 12, 2020 at 6:09 pm

Now if only someone could explain it all to Trump so he finally realizes the danger.His denials and inactions will sicken and kill i told numbers.

9 people like this
Posted by parent
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 13, 2020 at 11:37 am

Many local schools are closing for 2-4 weeks, moving to on-line learning, and planning to reassess the closures every couple weeks.

Epidemiologists are predicting peak cases in a couple months, then a decline in the summer, and then a resurge in the fall. We need to prepare for long-term closures or challenges.

7 people like this
Posted by David Terpening Architects Inc.
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 14, 2020 at 12:25 pm

The City of Menlo Park needs to keep the Building Dept and Community development depts. OPEN. They are way behind on the work load as it is. By electronic communication if no other way. If unable to perform their required inspections and function properly, then turn it over to the private sector for management. Last time I checked the world is still turning.

9 people like this
Posted by Ray Mueller
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Mar 14, 2020 at 1:01 pm

At the City Council meeting Wednesday night, City Professional staff indicated the Planning Division will move to electronic communication. Building inspections are continuing to take place at this time for projects already in the pipeline.

7 people like this
Posted by Sam Sinnott
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Mar 14, 2020 at 1:21 pm

Strongly agree with David Terpening. I appreciate Ray's comment BUT inspections are not enough. Expensive permit applications are in process and permits that have been issued need to have their revisions processed. Other building departments HAVE NOT CLOSED.This action unnecessarily brings construction activity in the City to a halt.

14 people like this
Posted by Ray Mueller
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Mar 14, 2020 at 1:45 pm

The City very much cares about serving it's residents and also the health and safety of it's residents AND it's employees.

The building and planning department are working on all projects in the pipeline and are moving it's operations to electronic format.

14 people like this
Posted by Ray Mueller
a resident of Menlo Park: University Heights
on Mar 14, 2020 at 1:47 pm

Additionally the City is determining how best take accept new plans going forward.

9 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Mar 14, 2020 at 1:57 pm

The first priority is quite properly to slow the spread of the virus. That trumps everything except emergency operations.

In the days ahead I am confident that SOME other functions will come back on line - when a safe way of doing business has been established.

People who need non-emergency services from the City should think carefully about how they can interact with a particular city function in a safe manner.

6 people like this
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Mar 14, 2020 at 6:57 pm

Peter Carpenter, your knowledge, leadership and clear awareness are much appreciated.

7 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Mar 14, 2020 at 7:17 pm

Hmmm - Thanks. I needed that.

I am getting very frustrated with my failure to get our local political leaders to start speaking out daily, to provide us with guidance and inspiration, to calming the waters and to mobilizing our efforts.

When this gets really nasty we will need local leaders who have established themselves as leaders beyond sitting at the dais.

4 people like this
Posted by Trump fired the national pandemic team
a resident of another community
on Mar 15, 2020 at 10:10 am

Hmmm: I agree, PC has been posting frequently, far and wide. Peter - thank you.

(and that is something I wouldn't have expecting scribbling here in the past...)


The next couple weeks are huge.

re: local pols - they're like most pols, they don't start a parade, but as soon as one forms to sufficient size, they'll jump to the front (and make the most noise, not unlike bandwagon sports fans.)

Relates a bit to the Preparation Paradox. If they were in front of the line screaming "PANDEMIC!", and we prepare, and thus avoid the pandemic thru preparation and actions, then a not insignificant number of posters here would be screaming for their heads (You scared us! You wasted tax money! It never happened! Another Big Government boondoggle!)

Anywho - thanks again.

Anyway -think Italian: we distance now - so we can embrace later.

5 people like this
Posted by Awarness
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Mar 17, 2020 at 12:15 am

I am not sure its a right page but did any of MP city officials are closley looking at FB facility where thousands of contractors are forced to work in this emergency situation. They come from all parts of bay-area with mixed background and it needs only couple of cases to errupt the pendemic in any area. I think the city counsil should take proper action for not allowing thousands of people working same facilities during this emergency.

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