Local governments close shop, go online; Nevada City halts evictions
City staff will be available by phone via 530-265-2496 (Extension 100).
City staff is available via phone and email Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Government facilities in Nevada City, Grass Valley and across Nevada County will close indefinitely beginning today over concerns of spreading the COVID-19 disease.
Nevada City and Grass Valley will close their public counters, but all services will continue over the phone, via email or online.
“We’re trying to limit interaction between the public and city staff as much as possible to stop any potential spread,” Grass Valley City Manger Tim Kiser said. “We’ll have to deal with issues as they come up, but right now our goal is to have all our services available over the phone or online.”
Grass Valley is also waiving the regular credit card processing fees for paying utility bills online to make the transition easier.
Both cities will hold meetings remotely starting with their next council meetings. While the logistics still need to be finalized, public participation will be included, possibly through call-ins or emailed questions and comments.
The Nevada City Planning Commission meeting at City Hall today will be open for public comment, though planning commissioners will meet remotely. According to Nevada City Mayor Reinette Senum, there was not enough time to set up a telephonic public comment period for this meeting, so chairs will be spaced six feet apart.
According to officials from both cities, the move to close public facilities came in an effort to implement state recommendations in a locally coordinated fashion and not necessarily in response to any exacerbated conditions on the ground.
“Right now, we’re just trying to keep up with the recommendations made by the governor and making sure we protect the general public,” Kiser said.
According to city officials, there is no timeline for when services will open to the public again or what the criteria for reopening would be.
“We’re looking at looking at it for a two-week period and then we’ll reevaluate it, but with schools out until April 13 I think our goal is to kind mimic that and hopefully at that point in time, or between then, we’ll have a better idea of how effective this is and where we’re at in this situation,” Kiser said. “I’m hoping by April 15 we’re opening things back up and getting back to normal life.”
NEVADA CITY RELIEF
Nevada City went a step further and declared a moratorium until May 31 on business and residential evictions as well as utility shut-offs for residents impacted by COVID-19.
“I think we’re just being very proactive, people are in panic right now and we want to alleviate some of that stress, the fears and concerns that are very real,” Senum said. “All these jobs have just dried up, so we don’t want to create a bigger homeless issue and have people kicked to the road.”
The executive order applies to any resident unable to pay rent due to a substantial decrease in income or from substantial out-of-pocket medical expenses because of the COVID-19 disease.
The loss of income can come from layoffs or a reduction in hours; a substantial decrease in business due to decreased hours or demand; being sick with COVID-19 or caring for someone who is; compliance with government health authority recommendations to stay home; extraordinary medical expenses; or child care costs arising from school closures.
No specific documentation is required, but tenants must notify their landlords in writing (including text or email) within 30 days after the date their rent is due. Landlords will be able to collect rent once the order expires and tenants will have six months following that date to pay. Late fees for rent and utilities will be suspended during that time.
The order will also close all Nevada City parks and restrooms and authorizes the city to put some staff on paid administrative leave.
“I think we’re doing the right thing to let our residents and businesses know we have their back,” Senum said. “Every week is developing so quickly. Think about where we were a week ago and then a week before that. It’s just a wait-and-see situation, but for right now we want people to know that we’re trying to cover them to the best of our ability.”
As for the county, while essential services like law enforcement, road maintenance, social services and wastewater will continue, other services are not guaranteed. Employees are telecommuting when feasible, and many services will be offered remotely or online.
To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4229.
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