Fullerton City Council maps out road to reopening

(Daily Titan)

At Tuesday night’s virtual city council meeting, Fullerton council members expressed eagerness to reopen the city’s economy as they presented the city’s steps to follow California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s pandemic resilience roadmap.

“I in no way minimize any of the sickness and death that has occurred because of COVID, but simply put, people are desperate to get back to work. So, I want you to know that I am pushing as hard as I can within the constraints of the law to make sure we support our economy and our residents who want to get back to work,” said Mayor Jennifer Fitzgerald.

The governor’s plan consists of four stages: ensuring safety and preparedness in workplaces, opening lower risk workplaces, opening higher risk workplaces and finally, ending the stay-at-home order.

City Manager Ken Domer said that stage two preparations are underway to gradually open lower risk workplaces with adaptations.

“The concern is that we pull the order too early and then the virus reemerges stronger and then you have to go back into stay-at-home, so those are some of the things the governor and his roadmap are trying to avoid,” Domer said.

The city is preparing what they call “Stage 2 Lite,” which are plans to reopen retail businesses with curbside pickup capability, manufacturing, offices when telework is not possible and more public spaces.

Domer estimates that retail businesses could open within 10 days.

The full extent of stage two would be giving restaurants the ability to allow dining in with social distancing and sanitation protocols. However, the city does not have any set dates as to when restaurants will have this capability.

In preparation for these reopenings, council members unanimously approved recommendations that would support fully opening restaurants.

These measures will increase the allowable public and private space available for outdoor dining, Domer said. This will be done by allowing a reduction in on-site parking on private property with a property owner’s permission.

Additionally, the city will be waiving encroachment permit fees for utilization of public space for outdoor dining until Nov. 2.

“I love this idea. I think it could be a real shot in the arm to our restaurants and show them that we’re in this with them,” Fitzgerald said.

While these plans are in progress, Domer confirmed a few public spaces that would be open this weekend.

These include the equestrian center, the Independence Park pool for swimming practice and parking lots at park. However, Domer expressed concern in potential Mother’s Day celebrations this weekend.

“Hopefully, there will not be social gatherings at the parks which would probably force us to go right back and close the parking lots, but we want to be able to open up those parking lots and those opportunities for more people to visit and get out and get into the parks,” Domer said. 

He went on to say that there will be signage encouraging social distancing and warning patrons to utilize playground equipment at their own risk. 

The city is looking at a sanitizing regiment for their parks and obtaining mobile sanitizers which Domer describes as “Ghostbusters’ backpacks.” 

Though residents will have easier access to parks with parking lots open, Domer said restrooms will remain closed until the city has adequate staffing and sanitizing measures in place.

To improve residents’ park experience, council members approved funding $300,000 to replace play structures at Hillcrest Park and Fullerton Sports Complex, which had been deemed unstable and beyond repair.

This construction is estimated to take place from mid-July and finish mid-August.

Domer also announced that City Hall is expected to open on Monday after physical improvements are made such as adding sneeze guards, signage and other barriers.

Reopening lower-risk workplaces will be dependent on the governor’s announcements, and Domer said that the city will be proactive while they wait for that guidance.

“We greatly encourage the patience of everybody. We are working with the businesses on many things and getting ready for that time when the governor says go,” Domer said.

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