By City Manager Ken Striplin
There has been nothing in our lifetime as disruptive to daily life as the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. There is not a single person in the Santa Clarita Valley who has not been affected, either by having a loved one fall ill, owning a business that was forced to close or changing daily routines to work from home or support their child’s education through distance learning.
As we hear news from Los Angeles County in regard to extending restrictions, we know our community (and our City Council) is anxious to reopen businesses and get back to work. Following last week’s announcement from the county that orders could extend through the end of July, there was a loud and strong outcry from our residents for the City to take action.
On the day of last week’s council meeting, City Hall phones were ringing off the hook, urging a quicker path to reopen than what the county had laid out. In addition, the flood of emails we received was at a level I have never seen during my 25 years in local government. During a span of just a few hours, we received more than 800 emails, the vast majority of which, asking for the restrictions to be lifted.
The City Council is with you! At the council meeting on May 12, the council voted to send a letter to Los Angeles County expressing opposition to any additional extensions to the safer-at-home orders. In addition, we are setting up a meeting with County Supervisor Kathryn Barger to voice our City’s concerns.
There has been so much confusion during this time in regard to who has the authority to reopen and where the direction comes from for Santa Clarita. On May 6, Los Angeles County released its “Roadmap to Recovery,” which lays out a cautious reopening of different sectors of the economy across various stages. It is important to note that the roadmap applies to all cities in Los Angeles County that do not have their own public health department. In fact, of the 88 cities within the county, only Long Beach and Pasadena have their own health departments.
The City of Santa Clarita falls under the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and orders from the State of California. However, state and county orders at times differ, with restrictions set by the state being more lenient than those put in place by the county.
However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach that will work for every community in California or even Los Angeles County. The City Council has heard the response to these orders from our residents, including business owners, employees, landlords, tenants and more. The City is committed to engaging the county in discussions to immediately ease restrictions on cities like Santa Clarita that meet certain criteria, such as testing availability, hospital capacity and coronavirus case reduction while implementing appropriate health and safety protocols.
As we push for restrictions to relax, I encourage all of you to support Santa Clarita businesses that are open. Even with restrictions in place for delivery or curbside pickup only, spending your hard-earned dollars locally will help stimulate our economy. The phrase “business as usual” may not mean the same thing for some time, but together we can support our local organizations to ensure we have a diverse business community offering a variety of options to our residents, now and into the future.
To learn more about the City of Santa Clarita’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, please visit SantaClaritaEmergency.com.
Ken Striplin can be reached at [email protected]. The views expressed in his column are those of the City and do not necessarily reflect those of The Signal.