Story by Sofia Alva
Photo by Katelyn Hernandez
City of South Pasadena department heads gave coronavirus update presentations at the City’s online city council broadcast on Wednesday, Apr. 15. All departments have continued to stay in contact with neighboring city’s staff to ensure the best steps are taken to prevent further spread of the virus.
City Manager Stephanie Wolfe opened the online meeting, noting the consequences of the coronavirus on the city’s budget and economy.
“We have experienced a large loss in revenue to date because of the safer-at-home order, which we know is going to be going on for another four weeks,” Wolfe noted. “There are so many unknowns, but we do know that the recovery is going to take a long time. Early in this process there was conversation that we could flip the switch and the economy would come back on, but now we know that’s not the case.”
Deputy Fire Chief Riddle spoke on the operations of the fire department during the lockdown. The fire department remains fully staffed and there are no projected staff shortages due to all non-essential time off requests being canceled through May. Riddle also ensured that all SPFD staff have been equipped with the proper protective equipment and have been taking the necessary precautions to remain safe.
“I really want to encourage our citizens that if you have any needs that you would’ve thought of calling the fire department for, continue to do that,” Riddle said.
Police Chief Ortiz echoed Chief Riddle’s statements, urging the public to continue to file online reports when needed and to know that the city is safe. The SPPD front lobby and desk are still open and patrol and dispatch are still functioning as normal. In addition, the overnight parking exemption has been extended to May 4.
SPPD has also begun reaching out to the homeless residents of South Pasadena and directing them to services and shelters and supplying care packages which include masks and hand sanitizers.
The Community Services Department has begun delivering hot meals to seniors in the area through the Senior Center and Dial A Ride programs, with an average of 70 to 80 meals and around four passengers for the Dial-A-Ride program served daily.
“[Seniors] love getting the meals and every day we get new applications,” Community Services Director Sheila Pautsch. “The staff loves to see them and make sure that they wait for them to make sure they’re doing okay.”
The South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce gave an update on resources available to local businesses. Residents are urged to buy local and support small businesses during this time.
“There’s so much need out there [from businesses] that business grants and loan application processes are being overwhelmed,” President of the Chamber of Commerce Laurie Wheeler said. “Businesses are trying to keep going. Please try to buy local as much as you can.”
The Public Works Department has continued offering services and has taken the appropriate measures to keep staff safe. Late fees are being delayed and water shutoffs are not being issued to residents. The Finance Department has also canceled all late fees regarding licenses and permits in the city.
The Planning and Development Department has made it a priority to provide consistency to residents applying for permits and inspections. All communications have been moved online and in-person inspections will only be conducted on non-occupied structures. The South Pasadena Library has extended all due-dates to June 1st and has a digital library that is available 24/7. The staff has also continued to issue library cards electronically for access to online resources.