This is an update to fill all of you in on the coronavirus situation and how the city is dealing with it. At the direction of the Sebastopol Fire Chief and Director of Emergency Services Bill Braga, and in order to best protect our citizens, staff and elected officials from the threat of the COVID-19 virus, the city of Sebastopol is taking some steps to increase social distancing at its meetings and at the offices and different sites where the city performs its functions. We’re implementing ways for citizens to continue to have their voices heard and civic needs to be met — just not face to face for now.
First, I’d like to draw your attention to the CDC’s quick one sheet on how to stop the virus from spreading. It’s quick and easy and simple to understand and I think we’re all probably extremely well versed in those in those measures right now so just a reminder to everybody. We’ll get a copy of this up on the city website, which is cityofsebastopol.org.
Now to the nuts and bolts of what the city is doing:
City offices closing
All city offices will be closing on Monday, March 16, at 5:30 p.m., and they will remain closed until April 7. However, the city will continue to monitor the situation and if things improve, then that is certainly subject to change. The departments that are included (in the closure) are city hall, the building department, the planning department, the engineering department and the public works department.
City staff will be working from home, as much as possible, but key city staff will be ensuring essential services continue for the community.
Police and Fire remain open and available
Of course the police and fire departments will be operating as normal. As always, in the event of emergency, call 911.
(NOTE: A later clarification from the city reads, “While Sebastopol Police Services and Sebastopol Fire Department will continue to provide first response as usual, the counter at the Fire Department is closed. The Police Department front lobby will remain open. For non-life-or-safety-threatening situations, we encourage the public to or call the 24/7 police non-emergency line at 707-829-4400. )
Regarding city council meetings and other public meetings that the city holds. This has been a topic of some discussion. What we want to do is continue to have as much citizen engagement as we always have, but the problem with that now is the face-to-face interactions and the recommended six feet social distancing and how do we deal with that for public meetings. So what we will do is the following:
• As far as individual items on agendas, we request that you submit your comments for upcoming agenda items for city meetings via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 707-823-1153. It’s always useful to have the comments as far ahead in advance of the meeting as possible, but we understand that that’s not always possible … If you have a last minute comment, please continue to contact us and let us know what what your thoughts are on all the different agenda items.
We will be continuing to keep the community updated on the evolving coronavirus situation through our website, social media channels, and also through our local newspaper, as well as the regional newspaper. We are committed to following all state and county recommendations to help stem the spread of the virus.
The city of Sebastopol has a coronavirus resource page on its website with links to the latest news and resources.
News from Congressman Jared Huffman
Just before we started recording this, I received an email from our U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman … Capitol tours have largely been suspended, for obvious reasons, but his office is continuing to stand by to help anyone in need of assistance. The district office phone number is 415-258-9657. Share your name (with spelling), phone number and email address, and one of the field representatives will get back with you.
A personal message
A personal way that I'm trying to deal with this is three simple words: simplicity, patience and compassion.
We have uncharted waters we are well adrift into at this point, and a little bit of patience is important. A lot of compassion is important. And this is also a time where the simpler we can make things, the easier it will be.
I know that we have a lot of seniors in our community. We have a lot of folks who are in need, and the city is taking steps to help them. We’re doing things like working with the senior center who, though their facility is closed, are monitoring their website and their email. The staff is in the facility taking phone calls, answering questions. The Meals on Wheels program is very important. The Council on Aging is doing great things as far as keeping seniors in good stead.
The library is closed. That’s a very difficult situation for a lot of families, but let me remind you that there are lots of online resources: there are movies, there are books online. There are all kinds of resources that you can access through the library’s website and I encourage you to take advantage of those things.
The Sebastopol Center for the Arts is also closed, which is a community gathering point. They’re trying to figure out how to help their community and, right now social distancing, the separation of human-to-human contact, is what we can do to mitigate the effects of this virus that spreads incredibly easily. How we interact and how we overcome and learn new ways of communicating with each other is really important.
Look for future updates as needed in the near future. Things continue to evolve, and we are intent on keeping our community as up to date as possible.
For more information, email info@cityofsebastopol .org or by telephone at 707-823-1153.