City Departments Address Coronavirus (COVID-19) | Essential Resources and Safety Take Precedence

PHOTO: Eric Fabbro | News | South Pasadena Fire Department Chief Paul Riddle, speaks to City Council during an emergency proclamation meeting on Wednesday, March 18 regarding the coronavirus. Also Pictured are City Finance Director, Karen Aceves (Center Right), and City Clerk, Evelyn Zneimer (Right)

Top officials in key departments of the city gave a coronavirus update, designed to provide the public with an overview of the current status and the city’s response in face of COVID-19, during Wednesday’s South Pasadena City Council meeting City Hall.

With the health and safety of the community foremost concern, South Pasadena has closed its bars, entertainment venues, gyms, and has limited restaurant services in response to L.A. County’s efforts to slow the spread of the virus.

“All of our directors are doing an excellent job and showing outstanding leadership,” explained South Pasadena City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe, noting that the city is in constant contact with county, regional and state agencies in leading the emergency response effort. “I can tell you my office alone is asked to participate in approximately three conference calls per day from various agencies, all providing different aspects of situation status and sharing information so that we can be better in how we respond to the crisis. These meetings provide us with absolutely the latest information and expert technical support from people across the country and around the world, helping us better manage the situation.”

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A summary of how the city is addressing the issue was given by each of the department heads during Wednesday’s council meeting.

To help safeguard the public from exposure to coronavirus, the city, following the guidelines of the state and county, has suspended all commission meetings, cancelled the April 1 City Council meeting, relaxed leave policies to facilitate employees who need to be out of the office and is working to establish appropriate technology to allow for virtual community meetings in the future.

“Los Angeles County is the most populated county in the nation and the more we can do to limit our interactions will help to curb the spread of coronavirus,” said DeWolfe. “We’ve also implemented additional steps to slow the spread of coronavirus through closing City Hall in addition to our other City facilities, though, the public will still have the opportunity to conduct business with us through other means.”

All city facilities are closed to the public and employees continue to provide services via email, Internet and phone.

DeWolfe insists public safety and public works emergency response will continue to be a top priority in the city, where there is currently one known case of coronavirus, according to the County of Los Angeles.

Should conditions worsen, she expects the county to issue an order to “shelter in place” or “safer at home,” in an effort to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. The City of South Pasadena would follow in the footsteps of the seven counties in Northern California on Tuesday. The city would be asked to further reduce staffing to essential services only, for South Pasadena to include police, fire, water, trash, emergency response for trees, senior services (Dial-A-Ride and lunch programs), along with administrative areas, like payroll.

“I want to ask all of our residents to be prepared for change,” said DeWolfe, expecting the order to be passed down soon.

As part of the lengthy presentation on how each city department is responding to the virus, South Pasadena Fire Chief Paul Riddle opened the session by providing the latest statistical information and steps his fellow firefighters are taking in face of the disease, followed by a brief presentation by each department head.

Overview – Key Highlights

• March 12, 2020 California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Executive Order that addresses public health and safety.

• March 16, 2020 LA County Public Health issues order prohibiting group events and gatherings, requiring social distancing measures and the closure of certain businesses.

• March 18, 2020 City of South Pasadena City Council considered a Resolution Proclaiming a Local Emergency Due to the Outbreak of COVID-19.

• Department of Public Health requires social distancing and reduced public activity.

• Bars, gyms, theaters closed.

• Restaurants take out only.

• Schools are closed.

• Public events are cancelled.

• Warning to prepare for disruptions if the virus becomes worse.

South Pasadena Fire Department

Paul Riddle, Fire Chief

  • Currently Department is fully staffed.

• Currently, there are no projected reductions in staffing or interruption to Fire and EMS services in the City.

• Calls for service are down approximately 30%.

• Department has modified the training for our three new FF/PM, they will complete their two week orientation and be assigned to their respective shifts this week.

• Department is fully stocked with Personal Protective   

Equipment and additional EMS supplies. An additional order for supplies has been place through LA County Office of Emergency Management

• All training will be in-house with South Pasadena personnel only attending.

• All non-essential time-off requests cancelled.

• Screening of patients will continue and Fire personnel will don personal protective equipment for any patient exhibiting signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

• Fire has contingency plans to reduce staffing on apparatus in the event any personnel are subject to quarantine.

• Discussions are taking place with Area C Chiefs, Regional and State partners developing contingency plans for fire coverage in the event multiple neighboring cities have reduced staffing due to potential exposures.

Fire Prevention Activities

  • Plan checks will continue with a modified review process to adhere to proper social distancing practices.

• Routine Business Inspections are suspended UTF.

• Fire Inspector will continue to conduct essential field inspections. Such inspections will be properly scheduled to minimize social contact (Practice is subject to change as situation evolves).

Emergency Management

• The Emergency Operations Center is officially operational at a level 3. Level 3 allows the City to track and report costs associated with the outbreak, request additional equipment and be positioned to request reimbursement under the California Disaster Assistance Act (CDAA).

• Department has established communications with School District, high risk populations (Convalescent Hospital), Senior Center (Elderly population), and faith based organizations to ensure CDC guidelines are being adhered to. To the extent possible, tracking/triaging of high-risk population is underway to identify and assist any individuals in need of services.

South Pasadena Police Department

Joe Ortiz, Police Chief


• Overnight parking enforcement has been suspended until April 30, 2020. The South Pasadena Police Department will not be enforcing overnight parking restrictions while children are home from school. Both the City and Police Department will reevaluate this decision if more closures are warranted. All other violations are still enforced.

• Law Enforcement calls for service decreased 35% this week from last.

• Police vehicles are stocked with an Infectious Control Kit (also known as Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE). Included in the kit are disposable gloves, gown, an N-95 respirator and eye protection. All Police vehicles have been cleaned and sanitized.

• Officers on a routine basis screen individuals for indications of illness. If a person indicates they are ill, they are not booked at a jail facility, but are referred for medical assistance.

• Dispatchers are screening all callers that wish for personal contact with an officer. Residents are encouraged to utilize South Pasadena’s online services and report non-emergency incidents online or by telephone.

Keeping the Community Safe

• The Pasadena Humane Society has closed to the public. However, animal control officers will continue to respond to emergency animal welfare and public safety calls.


• South Pasadena Homeless Outreach and Education (HOPE).

Officers will continue to answer and respond to HOPE calls for service as needed.               

Union Station Homeless Services (USHS)

• Union Station will not have staff co-located with the partner cities until April 15th. Though they are not stopping all outreach services, they are limiting exposure as they are being mindful of staff and participants’ health.

• Union Station is working diligently to get supplies (masks, gloves, hand sanitizer) to be able to distribute accordingly to vulnerable participants. LAHSA and BOS have also extended some winter shelters until April 15. 

Holy Family Giving Bank

• Food distribution (Grocery’s that include canned foods, meat, produce, dry goods) is still operational every Monday between 9a.m.-10:30 a.m. (130 people were served this Monday). Holy Family Giving Bank is still open and serving lunch from 9a.m.-3p.m. Holy Family will be delivering groceries to South Pasadena residents on Mondays from 9-11 a.m.

Shower of HOPE

• The Shower of HOPE is still operational on Wednesday’s from 10 a.m.-2 p.m..

Homeless Outreach Service Team (H.O.S.T)

• As a safety precaution to all personnel and possible staffing shortage, the multi-agency taskforce has been cancelled until April.

Keeping Our Seniors Safe

• There are several telephone and internet scams targeting seniors. These scams claim to have vaccines or herbal remedies for sale. According to the FDA, there are no medications currently available to treat or prevent COVID-19.

• Be cautious of any email claiming to be from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

South Pasadena Public Works Department

Kristine Courdy, Deputy Director of Public Works

• Water is safe to drink and plenty of it.

• During this time, there will be no water shutoffs and late fees will be delayed.

• Providing meter reading, water quality, and essential services.

• Measures in place to keep staff separated and on different shifts.


Public Works Operations:

  • Operations staff providing services as usual.
  • Staff is on standby services after hours and on weekends.

Service Requests can be submitted:

  • Phone: 626-403-7370 (during business hours)
  • Phone: 626-403-7297 (Police dispatch after hours)
  • Email:
  • Public Works Engineering/Administration:
  • Processing permits electronically
  • Continue to provide Public Works plan check services
  • Public Works Department can be contacted at:
  • Phone: 626-403-7240
  • Email:
  • Environmental programs and water rebates are being processed electronically, Service Requests can be submitted:

Phone: 626-403-7240. Email:

Community Services Department

Shelia Pautsch,  Director  of Community Services

  • Dial A Ride is continuing services for medical appointments, grocery stores, pharmacy’s and banks (ATM) with hours 8a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Calls for service have dropped significantly.
  • In Drivers interactions with the passengers, they inquire if the passenger is doing ok and in need of any assistance or support and pass it along to the Senior Center staff.
  • Senior Center staff is continuing to pack hot meals daily for delivery by Dial A Ride to South Pasadena residents.
  • Senior Center is staffed 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to take phone calls for lunches, answer questions and Dial A Ride.
  • On Tuesday, delivery serves only began to all seniors who needed a lunch within South Pasadena. No more pickups area available. All home bound seniors have been called to ensure they were safe and if they were in need of additional food or medications.
  • Many people calling wanting to volunteer but at this time our staff is handling the situation.
  • Reached out to the local markets about a senior hour.


  • Camp Med will remain closed until the SPUSD opens schools again.
  • All Recreation Classes have been cancelled and prorated refunds are being completed.
  • Spring Recreation Class registration is on hold until further notice.
  • All facility and park reservations have been cancelled through April 6 and no reservations are being accepted at this time.
  • Staff is available 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Recreation office via phone to assist with any questions residents may have.

South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce

Laurie  Wheeler, Chamber of Commerce Director

  • Try to find suitable products online from your favorite stores/restaurants.
  • Purchase gift certificates/cards from your favorite stores/restaurants.
  • Check the social media, websites and other platforms to stay up-to-date with the latest hours, closures and other details of local businesses.
  • Businesses, please keep your information up to date as much as possible.
  • Explore creative ways to conduct business through phone, video and other remote access platforms with your professionals, teachers, advisors, etc.
  • Both commercial and residential landlords – talk to your tenants.  Tenants, commercial and residential – talk to your landlords.
  • Co-op deliveries – businesses, work with your neighbors to coordinate deliveries, pick-ups, etc.
  • Small specialty businesses – reach out to customers through facebook, constant contact and other outreach, encouraging on-line/video personal home or office appointments. 

Planning and Economic Development

Margaret Lin, Manager of Long Range  Planning of Economic Development

  March Commission meetings cancelled – Planning Commission, Cultural Heritage Commission and Public Art Commission

South Pasadena Public Library

Cathy Billings, Director of Library

  • Reference service available by phone Monday 10am-6pm, Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday 11am-6pm, Friday 10am-6pm, and Saturday 10am-5pm (626-403-7350).
  • Due date for all checked-out items extended to April 15.
  • Materials can be returned in exterior book drops.
  • Fines waived on all materials returned during closure.

Finance Department

Karen Aceves, Director of Finance

  • Budget Outreach
  • Services available online, phone, and by mail, including:
    • Utility Billing
    • Business Licensing
    • Permit Portal
  • Offsite Capabilities
    • Payroll

South Pasadena Management Services

Lucy Demirjian, Assistant to the City Manager

  The health and safety of our employees are a priority

  Counters and high use areas are cleaned multiple times daily.

  Hand sanitizers have been provided to each office.

  Social distancing is practiced at all levels.

  All employees are reporting to work despite closure of facilities to the public.

  Part Time employees (i.e. camp med, library) have been reassigned work to keep them working and paid.

  Those who are sick, or “high risk” are encouraged to stay home (per CDC/OSHA guidelines).

  We have relaxed leave policies to allow for employees to be home if they have childcare/family care issues.

  In communication with all employees and union groups

Communications & Public Health.


  Online, via email or phone to the extent possible.

  Exploring new technologies for conducting meetings.

  Telecommuting capabilities available for certain staff.