City Talks Coronavirus Measures, Ratifies LCF Emergency

Among topics of discussion, eight local confirmed cases of COVID-19 were discussed by the La Cañada Flintridge City Council during a special meeting Tuesday night.
“If you look at the per capita rate, we’re way up there,” said Councilman Gregory Brown. “If you look at all the cities in L.A. County, we’re in the top 10% of per capita basis.”
The city’s eight confirmed cases were according to Los Angeles County Public Health, as of Wednesday. Earlier statistics had lumped LCF data together with Montrose and La Crescenta, but that is no longer the case, Brown noted.
Meanwhile, Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station Captain Todd Deeds told the council that everyone in the city has been “extremely” cooperative in trying to comply with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “Shelter in Place” order announced last month, giving directives on social distancing to stop the spread of coronavirus. A deputy at the local farmers’ market on Saturday spoke to some attendees about social distancing and they cooperated, Deeds said.
“Our call volume has been very low,” Deeds said. “Our crime for the month since the governor issued the order has been much lower than usual. It’s pretty quiet on our end, to be quite honest.”
The council also discussed ordinances on price gouging and protections for commercial and other non-residential evictions related to the coronavirus; members declined to take action for now.
Councilmembers acknowledged that price gouging, defined in a city statement as taking advantage of market demands by offering the in-demand products for sale at outrageous prices, would have a negative impact on city’s residents.
“I don’t see a downside in [the ordinance on price gouging],” said Councilwoman Terry Walker, adding such a measure would show the city is unified with similar state and county rules.
Councilman Michael Davitt said he understood Walker’s point but feels council could discuss the item again at its regular meeting April 7, and if “unscrupulous business activity” were to occur they could take action then, as well as letting the state or county enforce the rule.
Regarding that item, the city had received a single email from a tenant about a landlord wanting to raise his rent and extend the month-to-month lease to a 12-month lease, City Manager Mark Alexander said.
Enacting protections for the city’s commercial and non-residential tenants who are unable to pay their rent due to the coronavirus also failed.
Councilman Jonathan Curtis said the item was too focused on tenants’ rights and not on landlords’ rights, and he had received two calls on Sunday about the matter.
“I just really worry about going and interfering with normal commercial operations,” Curtis said. “You’ve got to be fair to the landlord. Recognize the landlord has bills, property bills and property taxes.”
Meanwhile, Davitt said he would like to continue to monitor the situation for now.
Council also considered business assistance measures with the city’s senior management analyst, Lisa Brancheau. A variety of ideas concerning that were discussed, including postponing the city’s sign ordinance so businesses can advertise and letting the city’s chamber of commerce take the lead on gathering information to list any business open in the city with a website and hours of operation.
Brown noted those measures would help landlords and businesses keep people employed, saying, “It’s a double win.”
The council passed resolutions that ratified a local emergency declaration, giving responsibilities of an acting emergency services director to Alexander. The existence of a local state of emergency, according to a city statement, enables the city to obtain assistance from county, state and federal agencies and deploy disaster services workers and seek reimbursement for expenditures on emergency response.
The council also approved a change to its public safety emergency preparedness budget, increasing it from $17,500 to $37,500 by reallocating $20,000 from the public safety professional services budget.
Separately, the council also adopted a resolution to delegate various fiscal tasks to Alexander during the period of emergency, meaning Alexander can temporarily serve as sole signatory on checks up to $50,000 and his purchasing authority will be increased to authorize acquisitions up to $150,000, compared to the current limit of $15,000.

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