City Council urges degree of autonomy to reopen our economy in phases based on health data and safety practices

Updated April 24, 2020
On behalf of the City Council, Roseville Mayor John B. Allard II sent the following letter to Supervisor Bonnie Gore, Chair, Placer County Board of Supervisors and  Dr. Aimee Sisson, Placer County Health Officer on April 23, 2020.


Dear Supervisor Gore and Dr. Sisson:

On behalf of the Roseville City Council, I’d like to thank you for your leadership during this most challenging crisis of our lifetime. Placer County’s coronavirus data proves that the decisions made at the County level have been successful. They’ve kept our community safe by slowing the spread of the virus.

We are deeply grateful for that.

We are encouraged that the health data in Placer County shows we’ve flattened the curve. We’ll continue the momentum of vigilance about hygiene and physical-distancing practices that this stay-at-home order has initiated. We will integrate new ones, too, as we slowly and carefully reopen our community, preserve our health, and stave off further economic damage.

It cannot be overemphasized that many elements of our economy are nearing a point of irretrievable loss.

The immediate public-health response focuses on damage from the virus itself. But we must now include a focus on the long-term damage that response has created. The trade off has been heartbreaking: In order to be effective, the stay-at-home order has required immeasurable sacrifice from individuals and institutions. It’s led to a severe economic crisis that sets the stage for even bigger problems with food insecurity, homelessness, mental health crises, and domestic violence. The key answers we don’t have are: How deep will the economic crisis be and how long will it last?

On behalf of the City of Roseville’s residents and businesses, I would strongly urge Placer County to take the following actions:

  1. Appeal to the governor to allow a degree of responsible autonomy at the county level. Counties should be given latitude to determine reopening timelines after meeting certain criteria, similar to what the federal government has given to states.
  2. Involve local leaders in plans to reopen the economy. Form an advisory task force involving leaders from public health, business, education, non-profits, government, and faith-based communities to begin planning for the safe reopening of our economy, particularly in the population and commerce hub of South Placer County.

 

Here’s why we urgently encourage these two actions:

Responsible autonomy to determine timelines

We need latitude to make decisions at the local level that reflect the data in each county. This will ensure one area’s economy isn’t sacrificed because of what’s happening in another part of the state.

We already have precedent for this. Though the virus knows no jurisdictional bounds, different timelines and approaches currently exist in our country and throughout the world with regard to the response.

We will strongly support the County’s efforts to ensure we can hit the targets needed in order to safely reopen. Whether it’s advocating for more testing in Placer County or obtaining the PPE we need, we’re ready to coordinate with public- and private-sector organizations to achieve these objectives.

Proactive, science-based, data-backed approaches that weigh multiple risks and factors will yield effective policy. We continue to encourage that timelines remain solidly rooted in health data, ensuring appropriate procedures are in place and being followed.

 

Involving business and community leaders in developing guidelines they operate under will provide several key benefits:

  • Mutual understanding of perspectives and rationale among the health experts and business and community leaders.
  • Accountability in enacting and following guidelines—Those with industry expertise can weigh in on procedures that can be reasonably and consistently enacted. Since the economy will open in phases of unknown lengths of time, having these leaders involved will provide ongoing ownership of the rationale for the procedures in place.
  • Clarity—Inviting industry leaders to help develop guidelines ensures that the policies will be understandable and can be practically implemented. This is a critical venue for data to be exchanged and operational procedures to be developed. Raising issues and asking questions before policies are adopted will ensure the clearest direction moving forward.

The City of Roseville yesterday completed a two-day FlashVote poll of our community to gather and prioritize concerns related to the coronavirus crisis. Ranking as the top concern: The long-term societal effects of the current stay-at-home order rank, particularly related to the economy. The results are available on our website and include a strong 59% response rate, with 1,309 responses and just a 3% margin of error.

On a municipal level, for a city like ours that is too small to receive fiscal relief through the federal CARES Act, our ability to maintain police, fire, road, and parks services has no safety net. We rely almost entirely on the success of our economy via tax revenues to fund 70 percent of these services.

We see no relief in sight: At the federal level, we’re observing a reluctance to provide financial relief to cities with populations less than 500,000 in the next federal aid package as well. Yet, our residents and business are as deserving of federal help to protect their public services as larger cities are.

As we work together on the best path forward, we must account for both the immediate and long-term consequences of our actions so that we can protect and safeguard our residents now and over the next several months and years.

Best regards,

John B. Allard II

Mayor

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