On March 4, 2020, the Governor proclaimed a State of Emergency relating to the coronavirus identified as COVID-19 and the worldwide spread of a new disease against which most people do not have immunity. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic, and on March 13, 2020, the President declared a National Emergency. On March 16, 2020, the City Manager declared a local emergency by proclamation, but this action must be ratified within seven days.
As of the date of this report, there are currently no known cases of COVID-19 in the City of Chino Hills, and one known case in the County of San Bernardino. However, given the scope of the potential danger and the likelihood that the pandemic will worsen, the City’s Emergency Management Coordinator and the City Manager, acting as the City’s Director of Emergency Services, are recommending the City Council proclaim a local emergency by adopting the attached resolution.
The proclamation of a local emergency is important for several reasons, including:
- It gives public employees, such as first responders, and governing bodies, such as the City Council, legal immunities for emergency actions taken.
- It allows the City to request state assistance under the California Disaster Assistance Act.
- It allows the City Manager or designee to take any measures necessary to protect and preserve public health and safety, and exercise all authority granted by the City’s code relating to emergency services (Chino Hills Municipal Code (CHMC) Chapter 2.44).
If the resolution is adopted and a local emergency is proclaimed, the City Council must review the need for continuing the local emergency at its regularly scheduled meetings until the local emergency is terminated. Currently, the CHMC requires that the review must take place within 14 days after the resolution is adopted. (CHMC Section 2.44.080.) When this provision was enacted in 1994, state law required that this periodic review be every 14 days. However, over the years the Legislature has steadily increased the time for periodic review so that now Government Code section 8630 only requires that this review occur every sixty (60) days. Given the nature of this crisis that can cause severe illness, there is a possibility that some or a majority of the Council Members may be too ill to meet every fourteen days. Thus, there is an urgent need to lengthen the time for public review to conform to State laws' longer review period. Finally, in keeping with our standard policy to always adopt a "back-up" ordinance in case the urgent ordinance is invalidated for some reason, staff also recommends that the identical regular ordinance be introduced.
The City Council must proclaim the termination of the local emergency at the earliest possible date that conditions warrant. (Gov. Code § 8630.)
The COVID-19 Pandemic continues to impact all facets of our community. Declaring a local emergency will provide flexibility to the City for rapidly responding to this crisis. Doing so will help protect the City’s residents and visitors.