PALM SPRINGS — David Ready, the longest-serving city manager in the Coachella Valley, is the first and only city manager in the Valley to declare a local emergency in the city of Palm Springs to address COVID-19.
Ready declared the local emergency over the weekend to reduce and the slow the rate of coronavirus infections and exposure to city residents, workers and visitors, given the city’s demographics of 40% of residents are age 60 and older with another 10% or more with compromised immune systems.
Uken Report posed a series of questions to Ready. His answers are printed in their entirety.
Uken Report (UR): I believe you are the first and only city manager to declare a local emergency. What prompted you to do this? What was the tipping point?
David H. Ready (DHR): With the goal being safety of our residents, visitors, workers and businesses – given our special demographics (40% over age 60 and possibly 10% with other compromised immune systems from several types of illnesses) – the action was taken to assist in creating an environment where we can positively affect the reduction of possible virus infections.
UR: What does declaring a local emergency do? Does it open the city up to receiving any additional resources, financial, or other?
DHR: It allows the City to use certain authorities, provided by the State, to enforce extra restrictions as deemed necessary to mitigate threats to health and safety of our residents and visitors. Also, it allows greater flexibility with labor bargaining units on assigning workers in an emergency situation. Finally, if a state or federal formal emergency is declared that has accompanying resource reimbursements, this action will assist with eligibility.
UR: Do you think you are overreacting or scaring people?
DHR: Given where we currently are – statewide, nationally and internationally, we strongly believe this is not an overreaction. Our intent is not to panic, but to raise vigilance of everyone to protect themselves, and all they come in contact with.
UR: Do you foresee closing any businesses in the future? Is that option on the table?
DHR: Such actions would likely come from the county, state or federal government – which I understand the Governor just closed all bars in the state.
UR: How long do you see your emergency declaration remaining in effect?
DHR: We don’t have a specific timeline – however, we will be re-evaluating frequently.
Pursuant to thes emergency declaration, Ready said he will take actions that exceed state and county recommendations and requirements due Palm Springs’ demographics.
These actions include:
- He is strongly advising and asking all businesses and locations open to the public to limit occupancy by 50% of their current legal limit effective immediately.
- He is requiring all businesses to post signage at a visible location at every entrance regarding recommended reduction in occupancy, how guests can protect themselves and others, and additional critical information. The city will provide sign information next week.
- Ready will be restrict public access at City Hall effective Tuesday with continued operations through alternative methods of continuing business through telephone, remote and online methods.
- He is restricting public access and closing all other indoor City public facilities effective Monday, as well as the Swim Center and Skate Park; outdoor parks will remain open.
The declaration of local emergency will be scheduled for ratification by the City Council at its meeting on Thursday, March 19, which will be held at the Palm Springs Convention Center. That meeting will also be devoted to addressing issues related to the health emergency.
Ready said he will continue to update and announce other measures to address the pandemic in ways to best protect residents, workers and visitors to this international tourist destination.
The city’s website will continue to be updated with information for residents, workers and businesses, Ready said.
- David H. Ready: City of Palm Springs
- Palm Springs: Shutterstock