On Tuesday, the City Council unanimously approved a new city budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1. There was praise all around from the City Council for the very professional, thorough and transparent manner in which staff prepared and presented the budget. I would like to especially commend our Finance Department for leading a very collaborative process that actively engaged all city departments.
Investing in City Council goals
The main new areas of investment involve the City Council’s goals around growth management, housing and homelessness, and fire and emergency medical services. We are also creating a new senior program manager position to oversee diversity, equity and inclusion and making a significant investment in technology infrastructure. The City Council asked that these two themes, plus an ongoing commitment to early and meaningful public engagement, be emphasized in everything the city does.
Managing the city’s long term financial health
Although the COVID-19 recovery has already begun, no one really knows for sure what the long-term economic impacts of the pandemic will be. We are also entering a time when, based on changes in development patterns and a growing population, projected revenues are not going to be enough to cover projected expenses in the not-too-distant future. We knew this was coming and will be working with the City Council to develop new strategies to ensure the city’s long term financial health.
Next week’s return to (the new) normal
Next week we will officially complete our transition to a hybrid work schedule. This means that all remaining employees will return to the workplace at least some of the time. Now, I know many employees have already begun this transition, and some, due to the nature of their jobs, never left. But this is still an important milestone and another sign of recovery from the pandemic.
Same rules, for now
With San Diego County entering the yellow tier yesterday, new CDC guidance on masks, the governor’s June 15 “reopening” of the state and Cal/OSHA’s meeting last night on new workplace rules, you are no doubt a little confused about what to expect next week.
To keep things simple and prioritize your safety and peace of mind, the City of Carlsbad will maintain the same policies, protocols and safeguards currently in place when we welcome you back next week:
Members of the public must wear masks when entering city facilities.
Employees must wear masks when physical distance cannot be maintained and when serving the public. (Review the city’s mask policy here.)
These rules apply regardless of vaccination status.
Cal/OSHA is meeting next Thursday to decide whether or not to align workplace rules with the California Department of Public Health’s latest guidance (which, in turn, follows the CDC’s much publicized guidance). We will of course closely monitor any changes and let you know how and when the city will adapt our own policies.
For now, however, it’s business as usual.
Reopening of city facilities
The final steps in our phased reopening of city facilities are as follows:
6/15: Faraday Administration Center (expanding front counter services to five days a week)
6/15: City Hall, and Homeless & Housing Services (formerly just Housing Services)
7/6: Senior Center
Even though we are returning to the workplace, we encourage you to continue with virtual meetings unless an in-person meeting is necessary. If an in-person meeting is necessary, the following guidelines must be followed to maintain a safe environment for all:
Staff must maintain 6 feet of social distance as much as possible
Face coverings must be worn anytime meeting indoors
Hand sanitizer must be made available in conference rooms
Employees should wash their hands often
Doors and windows should be left open for ventilation whenever possible
When possible, in-person meetings should be held outside
Whenever possible, notify staff of necessary in-person meetings at least 24 hours in advance to ensure they are available to be onsite.
What changes June 15?
Again, for the city’s rules, nothing will change on June 15. However, the state will drop the county-by-county color coded system of rules based on local COVID-19 spread, meaning almost all businesses and organizations can fully reopen (you can read more about it here). Masks and social distancing will not be required for people who are fully vaccinated except certain places, like public transportation and health care settings.
Here is where it gets a little confusing. For now, masks are still required in workplaces. That is why the City of Carlsbad will still be requiring masks, even for the public. We are putting up new signs at building entrances explaining the city’s policy, but we know some members of the public may not know they still need to wear a mask or may not want to.
Please continue to complete the mandatory health screening at the entrances of all city buildings. You can find more information about the health screening process and answers to other commonly asked questions about returning to the workplace on the intranet.
Customer service support
Based on reports from employees who are already working in public facing roles, the public has been very cooperative and understanding, requiring at most a gentle reminder. However, please know that if that is not the case, we are here to support you. We have prepared some guidance for how to handle situations that might come up related to masks and distancing at city facilities. You can find that here.
Your safety and peace of mind remain our top priorities.
It seems fitting to be offering kudos to our IT Department the week before we officially welcome everyone back. IT staff have had quite a year! They helped 500 employees transition to full time remote work, set up our City Council, Boards and Commissions to hold virtual public meetings, supported our community services departments in offering virtual programming, launched a new city website, and the list goes on.
Great job to our entire IT team.
That’s it for this week. As we prepare to enter this next chapter in the pandemic recovery, I want to say once again how proud I am of this organization and each of you. Carlsbad has consistently had among the lowest rates of COVID in the region, we carried on with city services uninterrupted and even managed to complete major new projects.
It hasn’t been easy, but we did it by working as a team, supporting one another and remaining focused on our mission of public service.
Thank you! And I look forward to seeing you soon!