Price Seeks Dec. 8 "Study Session" (No Council Action Item) On City Health Officer's Three Week Ban On Outdoor Restaurant Dining; Richardson Says He Doesn't "Favor" City Mgm't Order But Stops Short Of Flatly Opposing It, Signals Other Actions In Response
|(November 26, 2020, 8:10 a.m.) -- After LB City Councilmembers canceled three of their meetings (including their Dec. 1 meeting, LBREPORT.com coverage here) Councilwoman Suzie Price says in a November 25 mass emailing that she has asked management to agendize at the Council's next regularly scheduled Dec. 8 meeting a "study sesion" (effectively a "no Council action" item on the city management Health Officer implemented (effective 10 p.m. Nov. 25) three week prohibition on in-person restaurant dining.
"Over the past 24 hours I have received hundreds of emails from residents regarding the recent Health Order. I have asked for a study session on the topic of in-person dining at restaurants as it relates to the newly modified City of Long Beach Health Order to take place during our December 8, 2020 City Council meeting, and the City Manager has agreed to put it on the agenda."
Councilwoman Price's request for the study sesion comes less than 24 hours after she sent a November 24 nass email (6:46 p.m.) effectively defending (and clearly not opposing) city management's action, writing in part::
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At about the same time as Councilwoman Price sent her Nov. 25 mass emailing indicated she's requested a "study session" on management's action, the Long Beach Restaurant Association held a Nov. 25 press event urging a reversal of city management's action. . LBREPORT.com columnist Doug Krikorian attended the press event and reports in his latest column here that Councilman Rex Richardson appeared and when asked point blank if he was in favor of the latest lockdown of Long Beach restaurants, "he replied I thought grudgingly, 'I'm not in favor of it.'" (Richardson's careful verbal formulation that he's not "in favor of it" stops just short of openly opposing it.)
In the 2 p.m. hour Nov, 25, Councilman Richardson sent his own mass emailing describing other planned actions in response:
[Richardson maaa Nov. 25 mass emailng] Beginning at 10:00pm this evening, the city of Long Beach is making a difficult choice, in alignment with the County of Los Angeles, by shutting down in-person dining for at least the next three weeks.
In a November 22 release, LB Health Officer Dr, Anisa Davis, MD said that "as Long Beach has substantially similar data patterns to Los Angeles County with numbers currently at alarming levels, the City will be aligning with the County to prohibit in-person dining at restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars beginning Wednesday Nov. 25 for the next three weeks, at minimum, to slow the spread of transmission [of COVID-19] in Long Beach."
At a November 23 webcast briefing, Mayor Robert Garcia (who doesn't set city policy) voiced no publicly stated dissent to the Nov. 23 order by City Mgm't's Health Officer that prohibits on-site dining, including outdoor dining, at restaurants, brewpubs, breweries, bars, pubs, craft distilleries and wineries. The new order prohibits any service of food or beverages, including alcoholic beverages, where a customer remains on site to consume the food or beveragesa. It allows restaurants (which include brewpubs, breweries, bars, pubs, craft distilleries and wineries) to operate for drive-thru, curbside, doorside or other outdoor pickup and delivery under certain conditions.
Mayor Garcia acknowledged in the webcast briefing that the restaurant outdoor dining ban will hurt some of his friends and cause workers seriou personal and economic damage but said an important aspect of his job is to ensure available hospital beds/vebntilators and discourage gathers that can spread the virus. (LBREPORT.com coverage here.
On Nov. 24, the LA County Board of Supervisors voted 2-3 to defeat a motion by Supervisors Barger and Hahn that sought to continue outdoor restaurant dining.
During Supervisors' discussion prior to the vote, Supervisor Hilda Solis volunteered that LB Mayor Garcia had sent her a text message urging her to "do the right thing" (but didn't say what that was or provide other details.) To hear what Supervisor Solis said and didn't say (audio), click here.
Supervisor Solis went on to join the Board of Supervisors majority in voting down the Barger-Hahn motion and, like other Supervisors, signaled support (at least non-opposition) to new targeted restrictions recommended by LA County Health Officer Barbara Ferrer Ph.D. that would allow multiple activities at specified low levels. To hear details of County Health Dept. staff recommendations (audio), click here.
Pasadena (which has an independent Health Dept. like Long Beach) has discussed but taken no voted Council action thus far to curtail its outdoor restaurant dining.
During the City Nov. 23 news briefing, Mayor Garcia said that earlier in the day (Nov. 23) he took part in a virtual meeting with what he described as a "bipartisan group of Mayors" involving President-elect Biden and VP-elesct Harris. LBRFEPORT.com has learned that the virtual "meeting" was actually a media event involving multiple Mayors staged by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, a privately operated membership group (Mayor's dues paid by LB taxpayers) advancing the views of its member Mayors). The Nov. 23 media event was designed to show unity among Mayors with the incoming Biden administration on a number of issues including COVID-19.
After the event, the US Conference of Mayors said in a release that responding to the health and economic crises it has created "will require a significant legislative package like the House has already passed, and we will continue to make the case for pandemic relief for families, small businesses, and cities."
However Mayor Garcia went further in the Nov,. 23 City news briefing, assuring LB residents that cities, including Long Beach, could expect substantial sums from the Biden administration to deal with the effects of COVID-19. "We do expect, with this administration, a significant recovery package that will allow us to make some strategic and serious investments back into the city and into our economy." He said President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris concurred "that this plan is in the works."
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