Carpinteria’s City Council voted unanimously to ratify a proclamation of local emergency for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on Monday, March 23. The council met under conditions of social distancing, with only councilmembers and essential staff permitted in the chamber, and six feet of distance between each person. Councilman Al Clark participated remotely, along with one member of the public who provided comments by phone.
The emergency proclamation will allow the city to utilize all resources necessary to respond to COVID-19 and to receive state and federal assistance funds for response and recovery, according to City Manager David Durflinger, who is also acting director of emergency services.
“Lower income families, the elderly and small businesses will be the most vulnerable and the hardest hit,” said Durflinger. “There is an urgent need for assistance.”
Since March 2, the city has been expending resources and incurring costs in its response to COVID-19. To cover these costs, Durflinger stated that the city would be pursuing state and federal support and is deprioritizing some activities.
Durflinger also noted that the state campgrounds have been closed but day-use parks are open.
Looking towards helping small businesses stay afloat and recover, Councilmember Roy Lee suggested that city fees for businesses could be suspended, such as the one required for “Downtown Business Improvement.”
Councilmember Gregg Carty asked about the city’s plan to care for the homeless. Durflinger responded that the nonprofit Home for Good had redoubled their efforts. He also mentioned the services provided by Freedom Warming Centers, although these have been suspended because of the pandemic. No specific plan was stated for the city’s unhoused population.
Lieutenant Butch Arnoldi reviewed the key concepts that his deputies would be adhering to during the local emergency. He noted flexibility and adaptation during an ever-changing situation. He also stated that law enforcement “must be a stabilizing influence in the community … educated … and must help alleviate the community’s concerns regarding safety and security.”
Arnoldi also emphasized that the Sheriff’s Office would “maintain visibility,” with patrol officers spending increased time on the streets and less in the station.
Following recommendations from California’s Department of Public Health, police officers will be selective in making arrests to minimize the number of people in jails, which can be hotbeds for spreading the infection. “Don’t worry though,” said Arnoldi, “The proper people who need to go to jail will go to jail.”
In terms of people breaking the governor’s “Stay-at-Home” Order, Arnoldi said arrest and citation will be the last resort to enforce compliance.
“Hopefully we get through this together by working together,” said Arnoldi.
During the local emergency, MTD is offering free transportation on its buses, which are being cleaned regularly. Amtrak train services have been reduced but trains are still running. The city is cleaning the platform to CDC standards.
HELP dial-a-ride services have been suspended but the nonprofit Easy Lift is still providing rides to eligible residents. To sign up, visit easylift.org.
In other city news…
Fire Code amendments
With one councilmember recused for a potential conflict of interest, the council voted 4-0 to ratify Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Protection District’s Ordinance to adopt the 2019 California Fire Code with amendments.
City Council unanimously approved the street selections for the 2021 Pavement Rehabilitation Project. Streets that will have portions paved are 4th Street, 3rd Street, Calle Ocho, Elm Lane, 8th Street and Holly Avenue.