For millions of small business owners across country, including many in South Pasadena, they’ve seen their demand go from healthy, enjoying a strong U.S. economy, to debilitating, barely hanging on, seemingly overnight.
“Sorry Closed” signs are the norm both nationally and on the local scene through county and state orders, temporarily shutting down stores, fearful the pandemic racing around the world could last weeks, forcing closures indefinitely.
And now the wait is on as individuals running those mom and pop, brick and mortar businesses await a financial infusion from the government in the form of President Donald Trump signing the $2 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus bill Friday, putting the wheels in motion for Americans to get much needed relief as the pandemic significantly affects their bottom line.
South Pasadena Mayor Robert Joe, mindful of the troubles facing stores along Mission Street and Fair Oaks Avenue and those tucked in side streets, is encouraging business operators close to home to “stay strong,” while encouraging them to “come back and re-open,” once COVID-19 concerns have diminished.
“We appreciate our business community with unique restaurants and specialty shops,” noted Joe. “Many of which have just opened within the last few years. We are looking forward to seeing all of our businesses thrive.”
Joe is confident a financial rebound will take place in the city he oversees once the threat of the virus has gone away, and hopes storeowners can manage through the crisis. “What we are facing right now is an unprecedented global crisis, which is affecting not only our city but also the global economy,” said Joe. “Ups and downs in the economy are cyclical, and we will make it out of this as we have done in past downturns.”
Earlier in the week, the City of South Pasadena further reduced city services in response to L.A. County’s “Safer at Home” mandate to curb the spread of deadly disease.
“The health and safety of our community comes first,” said City of South Pasadena City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe. “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.”
Out of an abundance of caution, DeWolfe made the decision to reduce staffing levels to only essential city services to ensure the community has the critical services it needs.
“I would like to say thank you to our city staff,” said the mayor. “Our executive leadership has been at the forefront of this issue and has acted rapidly in a highly informed and coordinated fashion. Since January, we have been taking proactive steps to ensure the city is prepared and ready to implement recommended prevention strategies to effectively protect our residents. That includes regularly engaging with public health officials, partnering jurisdictions as well as state and federal agencies to stay up to speed on this quickly changing situation.”
Essential City services to be offered by the City until further notice include:
- Police and Fire
- Water, sewer and trash
- Emergency Public Works response to tree issues
- Senior lunch program
- Parks maintenance
- Limited administrative services, such as payroll
“Other non-essential services in other departments than can be provided remotely continue as well, such as issuing business licenses, answering reference questions at the library and issuing library cards, reviewing planning applications, and issuing permits,” added Joe.
He stressed that the city’s top priority is the health and safety of South Pasadena residents, noting, “It’s of utmost importance for all of us to be diligent during these times and follow the guidance of public health officials in order to stop the spread of coronavirus.”
Since the outbreak, Joe has heard the stories of South Pasadenans reaching out, lending a hand to helps by providing food and delivering food to those in need as well as supporting other needed services, such as the city’s team of volunteer grocery shoppers. “Seeing our community’s faith-based organizations, volunteers and nonprofits come together and stepping up is also heartwarming during this testing time,” he said. “So many South Pasadenans are helping out each other through providing food and delivering food to those in need as well as providing other needed services, such as the city’s volunteer grocery shoppers.”
Take-out orders from participating restaurants in town and online shopping from stores making items available on websites will help the local economy, insisted Joe.
He stressed the importance of honoring the ‘Safer at Home’ guidelines to help stop the spread of this contagious virus and to maintain a 6-foot social distance from others when outside the home. Joe would like to thank community member “for doing such a great job staying home to ensure we are all doing our part to ‘flatten the curve.’ We need to take this virus and its effects on the community seriously.”
Individuals infected with the coronavirus, according to health officials, have reported mild to severe respiratory illness with the following symptoms, including fever, cough and shortness of breath/difficulty breathing. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days following exposure.
“I am also happy to see that our community members are also committed to social distancing while outside during essential trips to the pharmacy or markets – which is critical,” Joe said. “We are all in this together and each of our actions has a huge impact. The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting every organization, and making all of us re-think how we work and live. As a city, we know that in this time of uncertainty and rapid change, our residents are relying on city staff to be available to provide essential city services, including police, fire, water utilities, and public works support. The support and trust of our residents during this time is invaluable to the city of South Pasadena, and we are steadfastly committed to providing support to our residents and businesses.”
The County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to monitor and respond to suspected cases in the region. Joe continues to urge his fellow citizens to frequently wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after coughing or sneezing.
“Most of our residents are staying home and practicing social distancing when it’s absolutely necessary to leave their home,” he said. “We do, however, see some of our community members carrying on as its business as usual and ignoring the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health’s ‘Safer at Home’ mandate. This is a cause of great concern, as we all need to do our part to stop the spread of this virus. Please remember to comply with the 6-foot social distancing requirement if you are outdoors. We want our residents to remain healthy and get fresh air by walking or jogging outdoors – especially now that we are in spring – but we must all comply with the new county orders. The health and safety of our community is our top priority and to ensure our public spaces remain in compliance with the county’s guidelines, we are now routinely checking parks, playgrounds, schools, and other areas where people gather to ensure they comply with the order or move along.”
On Saturday, a new Health Officer Order was issued to temporarily close beaches and hiking trails in L.A. County due to recent dramatic increases in COVID-19 cases. The order makes it imperative “that everyone, collectively, take action to slow the spread of COVID-19. County and City Parks may remain open for passive recreational activities.”
It’s effective immediately and will continue through April 19.
“The health and safety of our community is our top priority and to ensure our public spaces remain in compliance with the County’s guidelines, we are now routinely checking parks, playgrounds, schools, and other areas where people gather to ensure they comply with the order or move along,” Joe explained. “We want our residents to remain healthy and get fresh air by walking or jogging outdoors – especially now that we are in spring – but we must all comply with the new county orders. I am grateful that the majority of our community members realize that they play a crucial role in stopping the spread of this deadly virus and are taking the necessary steps in staying home and practicing social distancing when it’s necessary to go out.”
Joe admits it’s not easy to see one major event after another be cancelled, go by the wayside, disappointed to see the ripple effect the pandemic has caused, not only in the South Pasadena community but globally. “Canceling events was a necessary short-term step in stopping the spread of this virus,” he said. “While a lot of careful consideration went into canceling events, it was great to see event organizers throughout the city proactively cancel or postpone these gatherings out of an abundance of caution for our community members. Long term, we look forward to all of our community events – including the numerous ones our city hosts – to come back for our residents to enjoy.”
More than anything, Joe is looking forward to the city coming back to life once the crisis is over, and is confident it will. “I have called South Pasadena home for many years and the spirit, pride and generosity of our community is unmatched,” he said. “I am looking forward to our city to be back up and running full speed ahead.”
He’s grateful for the city’s executive leadership, city staff for being at the forefront of the issue, acting rapidly in a highly informed and coordinated fashion.
“Since January, we have been taking proactive steps to ensure the city is prepared and ready to implement recommended prevention strategies to effectively protect our residents,” explained Joe. “That includes regularly engaging with public health officials, partnering jurisdictions as well as state and federal agencies to stay up to speed on this quickly changing situation.”
He added: “Seeing our community’s faith-based organizations, volunteers and nonprofits come together and stepping up is also heartwarming during this testing time. So many South Pasadenans are helping out each other through providing food and delivering food to those in need as well as providing other needed services, such as the city’s volunteer grocery shoppers.”
Joe urges residents to support each other by practicing kindness and respect, check in on the elderly or those who may live alone, stay active – at a distance, of course – through walking, biking or jogging, and purchase only what they need in terms of food and critical supplies.
“Our individual actions will make all the difference,” he said.
The mayor made one final note.
“We are in this together, and we will get through this,” he promised.