The San Luis Obispo City Council declared a local emergency in the City of San Luis Obispo amidst coronavirus concerns. The declaration releases state and federal funds to the city and expands the city manager’s powers to address the coronavirus outbreak.
This means City Manager Derek Johnson is authorized to take any actions necessary to address the emergency, according to municipal code.
“The number one priority is to support our community,” Johnson said. “Our community expects us to act. We can’t get stuck in paralysis.”
Johnson can also authorize paid time off to any employee, such as those who are sick, in quarantine or need to care for children and other family members, Johnson said at the meeting Tuesday evening.
Declaring a state of emergency also provides the city access to state and federal funds allocated to address the pandemic.
“The big picture remains the same, in terms of isolating, social distancing, washing hands, staying away,” Council Member Carlyn Christianson said. “I want to reassure folks that this is a first official step, you know.”
The declaration follows President Donald Trump declaring a National State of Emergency, Governor Gavin Newsom declaring a State of Emergency in California, and San Luis Obispo County declaring a local emergency.
The city activated its Emergency Operation Center, which coordinates with Cal Fire, Cal Poly and other organizations in San Luis Obispo to collect resources, guide policies and take actions to protect the public during the coronavirus outbreak.
Because Cal Poly’s spring quarter is online, some students may need to break their lease and return home, microbiology junior and Associated Students Inc. board member Samuel Park said. In addition, lots of students may lose their jobs as coronavirus causes businesses to close their doors.
Park asked city council to create a policy that allows students to negotiate their rent and lease with their landlord.
In response, Johnson said that rent relief programs are under the jurisdiction of the state, not the city, so San Luis Obispo will follow state guidelines on rent.