All council members were present for the Tuesday, December 1 City Council meeting. Open session started at 6:15 p.m. and ended at 10:08 p.m. Here are the highlights:
City will seek mandating telecommuting protocols imminently as more employees test positive for COVID-19. Mayor-elect Lula Davis-Holmes tasked the City Manager to return to the next council meeting with an action plan which looks into options to enforce staff to work via telecommuting. This comes after City Manager Sharon Landers announced that a couple employees tested positive for COVID-19 over the weekend. Landers added that some employees have not voluntarily signed up for telecommuting possibly due to the influence of “knowing that their bargaining units [AFCSME Local 809 and Local 1017] have not signed on to telecommuting.” Councilmember Cedric Hicks asked whether it is possible to mandate staff to telecommute if not doing so could cause liability for the city. According to Landers, the employees who recently tested positive followed all protocols in preventing the spread of the virus and that a total of 22 employees have tested since the pandemic began.
COVID-19 Update Reveals Alarming New Records. City Manager Sharon Landers presented updated COVID-19 totals revealing that the number COVID-19 cases currently in Los Angeles County exceeds peak numbers in July. On December 1, L.A. County recorded 7,593 cases, and according to Landers the weekly average rose to around 4,500 cases versus 3,200 in July. City Management stressed the importance of the rising number of cases with Landers stating, “The worry is that we will run out beds in our hospitals and equipment like ventilators.” Emergency Services Manager Raymond Cheung added, “We are now over 2000 folks hospitalized in the county, that is hitting a record as well, exceeding what we faced over the summer. There have been models showing that in L.A. County we expect to reach ICU capacity sometime in mid-December if nothing else changes.” As of Nov. 30, the City of Carson has 2,728 total cases with 65 deaths.
Council sends letter seeking Tent Reimbursements for Restaurants as Safer at Home orders stiffens. During the presentation on the updated state and county safer at home orders, Councilmember Jawane Hilton motioned to send a letter asking Los Angeles County to reimburse restaurants for their tent rentals or purchases. Hilton explained that the county gave no significant science or research showing individuals getting sick due to outdoor dining. He suggested that if the county wants to restrict dining, in turn they should reimburse restaurants which purchased tents to make outdoor dining possible. “People have spent thousands of dollars on tents and now they can’t use them,” said Hilton. Councilmember Cedric Hicks mentioned that at a recent South Bay Cities Council of Governments meeting, cities drafted similar letters and discussed establishing their own health department to bypass county and state restrictions. Mayor-elect Lula Davis Holmes informed the public on a county program, called Keep LA Dining that would offer up to a $30,000 grant to restaurants in the county. Enrollment begins Dec. 6 and applications can be filled out online at https://keeplacountydining.lacda.org/.
City Sponsored Special Events Suspended until July 2021 Except Virtual and Drive-Thru Events. The council unanimously ratified the disaster council’s decision to suspend all city sponsored events except Drive-Thru and Virtual events through June 30, 2021. Director of Community Services - Parks and Recreation Robert Lennox shared that all outdoor recreation programs have been cancelled, future program planning has been postponed and park playgrounds are closed to the public. While residents won’t be able to partake in functional fitness sessions, Lennox assured that staff is being trained to make programs virtual. He shared two events families can look forward to this month:
Zoom with Santa – Carson families can schedule a personalized Zoom Call with Santa Claus! Monday – Friday from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. beginning December 7th to the 23rd. Call (310) 835 0212 ext. 1496.
Carson Winter Holiday Drive-Thru – Come receive goodie bags and holiday cheer with the Carson Winter Holiday Drive-Thru. Saturday December 12, From 4:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m at the Community Center East Parking Lot. Toy Giveaway for first 500 kids to attend. Register Through Eventbrite.
General Plan Workshop set on Jan 19. Focuses on more Mix-use Zones and Open Space. The city will hold a workshop to discuss in public ideas for the city’s General Plan during the January 19 meeting. The General Plan is a 20-year framework for how the city land use will look like in the future and was last updated in 2004 when Mayor Pro Tem Jim Dear was Mayor. City staff indicated that the current preferred plan would result in 9,800 new housing units, 130,600 total residents, 115,900 total jobs, 470 total acres of parks, and change several commercial-only zones to mix-use zones. With December being Mayor Robles’ last month on the dais, he motioned to approve staff’s recommendation, however incoming Mayor-elect Lula Davis-Holmes substituted his motion to continue the item and hold a workshop for the public and council to add input on January 19. Mayor Robles, frustrated to not have a say in Carson’s future exclaimed, “The difference is that I am here today and I won’t be here on January 19, that is the difference. That is the white elephant in the room, or the light-skinned Mexican in the room.” Davis-Holmes motion passed 3-2 with Robles and Councilmember Hilton voting in opposition.