Laguna Declares Local Emergency, Closes City Buildings

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Laguna Beach declared a local state of emergency Sunday to protect public health and safety, clearing the way for a two-week closure of city buildings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Police, Fire, and Marine Safety services and 911 dispatch will operate as usual. However, Laguna Beach City Hall and the Community and Susi Q Senior Center will be closed to the public through March 27.

“The City is closely following recommendations from the federal, state and county level to ensure that we take all prudent steps to minimize, as best we can, possible impacts to Laguna Beach residents and visitors from COVID-19,” Mayor Bob Whalen said in a prepared statement.

The proclamation followed Gov. Gavin Newsom’s request Sunday for all people age 65 or over to self-isolate at home.

“I encourage everyone to comply with this request to the maximum extent possible,” Whalen said. “All of us need to take actions to contribute to the safety, security, health and well-being of everyone in Laguna Beach and I am confident that our residents will do just that.”

All city events and recreational classes are canceled for the rest of March, city staffers said. Age Well weekday lunches at the Susi Q Center are also canceled. Meals on Wheels will continue delivering to Laguna Beach residents in need.

The City Council will meet on March 17 to act on a trimmed agenda. City Manager John Pietig removed a handful of items from the agenda, including interviews of candidates for the Design Review Board and hiring a consultant to study possible future parking structures in and around Downtown Laguna.

The public is strongly encouraged to not attend the meeting and instead watch the live feed from home at lagunabeachcity.net or on Cox cable channel 852.

All commission, committee, and board meetings are canceled for the rest of March. This includes Planning Commission and Design Review Board meetings.

“These actions are necessary to help keep our community and our employees safe,” Pietig said in a prepared statement. “The decision to make these changes was made after much deliberation and in response to local, county, state and federal agencies guidance to slow the spread of the virus.”

Laguna Beach will be eligible for future reimbursement by the county, state and federal agencies because it has declared a local state of emergency, city staffers said.

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