Solana Beach declares local emergency due to coronavirus

Solana Beach City Hall
(File photo)

The Solana Beach City Council has declared a local emergency March 19 in response to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

“This has been an unprecedented emergency,” Solana Beach City Manager Greg Wade said during a special meeting, when council members unanimously adopted a resolution to affirm the local emergency.

The state and county have already issued declarations of emergency.

The council meeting took place concurrently with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement of an executive order asking all 40 million California residents to stay at home, except for essential reasons such as food shopping and medical needs.

There were 242 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, in San Diego County as of March 24, according to county data. More than half of those cases involve people ages 20 to 49, but people who are 65 and older, or those who have underlying conditions, face the highest risks of serious illness or death. There have been two coronavirus-related deaths in San Diego County.

As of March 25, there were 737 deaths in the United States and 54,453 positive cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Globally, the number of cases has surpassed 400,000, according to the World Health Organization.

To help reduce the spread of the global pandemic, state and local officials have closed or limited many businesses, including restaurants, gyms and entertainment venues. Solana Beach City Councilman Dave Zito said the city should explore ways to help them weather the economic standstill. Those plans would likely involve state and federal assistance.

“It’s going to be quite a challenge for them, I think,” Zito said.

President Trump has already signed one relief bill that provides paid sick and family leave for some workers. Congress is also expected to approve a $2 trillion stimulus bill that includes loans to businesses, expanded unemployment benefits and direct payments to most adults.

Zito and City Councilwoman Kristi Becker were the only two council members who attended the meeting in person. The other three participated by phone. Seating for the public was limited in order to properly space chairs for social distancing, but only a few city officials were in the audience.

Council members mentioned some of the other meetings that they’ve participated in remotely.

“It helps all of us feel connected to our jobs and each other,” Deputy Mayor Judy Hegenauer said.

They also discussed keeping local residents informed through the city website and social media updates.

Future council and commission meetings have been suspended until further notice. Solana Beach City Hall is closed to the public, but city personnel is still accessible by phone and email. Some staffers will be working from home.

Essential city services, including law enforcement and public works, will continue. Grocery stores will remain open. There will be no changes to garbage and recycling collection.

Solana Beach’s public facilities have also closed, including La Colonia Community Center, Fletcher Cove Community Center, the Marine Safety Center and the fire station. The Children’s Spring Festival and Egg Hunt on April 11 has been canceled, and the La Colonia Skatepark’s one-year anniversary celebration on April 26 has been postponed.

“I’m grateful for staff’s effort and diligence in response to this emergency situation,” Mayor Jewel Edson said.

All county libraries are temporarily closed. Due dates will be extended until they reopen. No returns will be accepted. Curbside service is no longer available.