SPECIAL REMOTE PROTOCOLS In accordance with Governor Newsom’s Executive Order No-29-20, this will be a teleconference meeting without a physical location to help stop the spread of COVID-19. This meeting will be conducted entirely by remote participation, in compliance with the Governor’s Executive Order N-29-20 allowing for deviation of teleconference rules required by the Ralph M. Brown Act. This meeting will be conducted via Zoom Webinar. Members of the public are welcome to login into the webinar as Attendees. During any public comment portions, attendees may use the “raise your hand” feature and will be called upon and unmuted when it is their turn to speak. The meeting will also be streamed on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cityofhalfmoonbay. Please click to join the webinar: https://zoom.us/j/91064388857 or join by phone at 669-900-9128, using Webinar ID 910-6438-8857.
CITY HMB SPECIAL AGENDA.
RECOMMENDATION: Adopt a resolution ratifying the Director of Emergency Services’ (Half Moon Bay City Manager) Proclamation of Local Emergency related to the CZU Lightening Complex Fires and confirming orders temporarily closing beaches on August 21-23 and 29-31, 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to protect evacuation routes.
Alternatively, if the Council decides not to ratify the Temporary Closure of Beaches and Beach Parking Areas from sunrise August 29 to sunrise August 31, 2020, the beaches and parking areas would stay open this upcoming weekend.
FISCAL IMPACT: To be determined. The Proclamation of Local Emergency is a prerequisite for requesting state or federal assistance. The City will seek to recover expenses related to temporary beach closures.
BACKGROUND: On March 17, 2020, the City Council adopted Resolution No. C-2020-16 proclaiming that a local emergency existed throughout Half Moon Bay as a result of the threat of COVID-19. During a proclaimed emergency, the Director of Emergency Services may issue rules and regulations on any matter reasonably related to the protection of life and property as affected by the emergency, as long as any rules or regulations are confirmed by the City Council.
Large public gatherings present an especially high risk for the community transmission of COVID-19, and the nature of such gatherings make observation and enforcement of required social distancing measures impractical and ineffective. During the Memorial Day holiday weekend, there was a surge of visitors to Half Moon Bay beaches with a majority ignoring face covering and social distancing regulations.
On July 1, 2020, the Half Moon Bay City Manager, acting in his capacity as the Director of Emergency Services, issued the order temporarily closing all City beaches and their parking areas, along with the portion of the Coastal Trail between Seymour Bridge and Kelly Avenue, during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
On July 21, 2020, the City Council confirmed the Order.
On August 19, 2020, the CZU August Lightning Fires in San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties forced evacuations of many residents of communities in the unincorporated Coastside, many of which are being evacuated to Half Moon Bay. San Mateo County declared a local emergency on August 19, 2020 to aid in providing resources needed to fight the CZU Lightning Complex Fire.
Fire and public safety officials urged people to avoid driving to the San Mateo County coast to keep roadways clear for emergency vehicles as well as residents evacuating from the CZU Lightning Complex Fire. “The number one contribution to the fire-fighting effort everyone can make is to avoid the coast,” said CalFire Deputy Chief Jonathan Cox.
On August 20, 2020, the City Manager issued an order temporarily closing beaches from sunrise August 21 through sunrise August 24, 2020.
On August 26, 2020, the City Manager proclaimed a Local Emergency related to the CZU Lightening Complex Fires and issued another order temporarily closing beaches and parking areas from sunrise August 29 to sunrise August 31, 2020.
DISCUSSION: Ratification of Proclamation of Local Emergency related to CZU Lightening Complex Fires Pursuant to the HMB Municipal Code and the California Government Code, the Director of Emergency Services’ Proclamation of a Local Emergency must be ratified by the City Council within seven days or the proclamation shall have no further force or effect. Ratification of the Proclamation of Local Emergency allows the City to exercise emergency police powers, such as evacuation; immunity for emergency actions; authorization of issuance of orders and regulations; activation of pre-established emergency provisions; and is a prerequisite for requesting state or federal assistance.
The City Manager proclaimed the Local Emergency based on several factors:
• The CZU Lightning Complex Fire has forced the evacuation of a great number of residents from the unincorporated south coast area, many of whom have been evacuated to Half Moon Bay.
• Half Moon Bay High School has been designated as a check-in point for evacuees, where they may obtain water, food, information, and other resources.
• Portions of Highways 84 and 35, and Highway 1 south of Half Moon Bay, have been closed due to the fire, leaving only northbound Highway 1 and eastbound Highway 92 as evacuation routes from Half Moon Bay and the coast.
• These factors are compounded by the state of local emergency effective March 17, 2020 related to COVID-19 and are imposing extraordinary requirements and expenses on the City, diverting resources from its day-to-day operations.
The need to continue the local emergency will be brought before the Council for review every 60 days until conditions warrant termination, as required by law.
Confirmation of orders temporarily closing beaches on August 21-23 and 29-31, 2020.
The City Manager made these orders to protect fire evacuees, community members, and the general public pursuant to his emergency powers. Government Code section 8630 and HMB Municipal Code section 2.25.060.A.6.a provide that the Director of Emergency Services shall have the power during a proclaimed emergency to make and issue rules and regulations on matters reasonably related to the protection of life and property as affected by such emergency, provided that such rules and regulations are confirmed at the earliest practicable time by the City Council. The City Council is now asked to confirm the Order.
The City Manager issued his orders closing beaches on the basis of several factors:
• The closure of the City’s beaches is necessary to discourage travel to Half Moon Bay, to prevent unsafe crowding on the City’s streets and beaches, and unsafe traffic congestion on evacuation routes.
• Camping reservations at California State Parks along the coast have also been cancelled through Monday, August 31 and beaches and parking lots within the San Mateo County Harbor District will be closed well. Additionally, San Mateo County parks along the coast will be closed. Absence of these closures would have likely resulted in unsafe crowding on the City’s beaches.
• State and County health orders require individuals to maintain at least six-foot social distancing from individuals who are not part of the same household or living unit, and large public gatherings present an especially high risk for the community transmission of COVID-19, and the nature of such gatherings make observation and enforcement of required social distancing measures impractical and ineffective.
Over the August 22 weekend, the City’s communications team provided a strong push on social media and other methods (news release, SMC Alert, evening news interviews, etc.) by all agencies involved. Staff received many inquiries regarding enforcement and the number of people at the beach. With the fire burning just south of Half Moon Bay, and the Sheriff’s office deployed on the fires, there were not sufficient resources to enforce the closure. Many reports were that traffic was down compared to other weekends and days, so it appears that the message reached enough people that it encouraged them to stay home.
As of the writing of this staff report, the fires are projected to be better contained for the August 29 weekend, but evacuation routes are still critically important to be maintained. City staff is available to enforce the beach closure with shifts all day Saturday and Sunday.
If the Council decides not to ratify the Temporary Closure of Beaches and Beach Parking Areas from sunrise August 29 to sunrise August 31, 2020, the beaches and parking areas would stay open.
Exhibit A – Local Declaration of Emergency Related to CZU Lightening Complex Fire
Exhibit B – Order of The Director of Emergency Services (Half Moon Bay City Manager)
Directing Temporary Beach Closure from Sunrise August 21 to Sunrise August 24, 2020 to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 and to Protect Evacuation Routes
Exhibit C – Order of The Director of Emergency Services (Half Moon Bay City Manager) Directing Temporary Closure of Beaches and Beach Parking Areas from Sunrise August 29 to Sunrise August 31, 2020 to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 and to Protect Evacuation Routes