Phoenix Mayor Gallego Declares State of Emergency in Response to COVID-19 — Bars to close by 8pm March 17, restaurants to shift to take-out/delivery/drive-thru only

Below is the statement issued from the Mayor’s office this afternoon:

“After extensive discussions with medical professionals, business leaders, and community members I am working with my fellow councilmembers and city leadership to implement a State of Emergency in the City of Phoenix in response to COVID-19. Tomorrow’s City Council meeting includes a scheduled vote on this State of Emergency Declaration. The parameters and further details on the proposed declaration will be available following tomorrow’s vote.

The most immediate effect of this declaration is that Phoenix bars have been asked to close by 8pm tonight and all restaurants (or bars that serve food) are asked to shift to a take-out/delivery/drive-thru only model. We have not assigned an official end date to these closures. We’re reviewing needs on an hourly basis based on medical input. The other largest cities in the nation have already made the difficult to move bar and restaurant service to take-out/delivery/drive-thru only models.

This was not a decision made lightly–we understand we are talking about people’s livelihoods and lives. Servers, bartenders, wait staff, and others will need our support during this time. It is imperative that all levels of government partner to put forward innovative solutions to support our businesses and residents.

I’ve spoken with medical professionals who continue to reiterate that our system is not prepared for a deluge of COVID-19 patients. They’ve asked that community leaders do anything possible to help stem the spread of this virus. We have learned from the mistakes made in other nations in their efforts to combat this virus and we do not want to repeat them. The priority is the health and safety of our residents. This decision will save lives.

What our community is experiencing right now is unprecedented. The steps we take will define the future of our city and our residents. Every Phoenician can be part of the solution. Stay home and save lives. The city has set up an inbox and phone number for residents with questions around city service changes related to COVID-19. Email contactus@phoenix.gov or call at (602)262-3111.”

In addition, the scheduled March 18 Formal City Council meeting will be conducted audience-free. Residents can submit comments on any item on the March 18, 2020 Formal City Council meeting at councilmeeting@phoenix.gov or call with comments before 2pm Wednesday, March 18, at 602.262.6001. The agenda is posted at phoenix.gov; click the button in the middle of the home page that says “City Council Meetings.” Resident comments will be read into the record.

For additional information on how to watch the March 18 meeting, visit https://www.phoenix.gov/newsroom/article/1047.

Keep up-to-date on information in Phoenix at https://www.phoenix.gov/newsroom.

 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources to Know & Updates From North Valley Municipalities

TOWN OF CAREFREE

With the recent cancellation of sporting events, concerts and other community events the concerns regarding the coronavirus is at the forefront of everyone’s mind.  There are a number of resources which can give you up to date information on the evolving circumstances related to the virus and what to do to protect you and your family.  Please share these resources with your family, friends and neighbors. 

For important information, including travel advisories:
www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/index.html

For specific questions, see the CDC’s FAQ section:
www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html

For Arizona:
https://www.azdhs.gov/preparedness/epidemiology-disease-control/infectious-disease-epidemiology/index.php#novel-coronavirus-home

For information about COVID-19 in each state, search each state’s health department, which works with the CDC to monitor and implement all recommendations:
www.cdc.gov/publichealthgateway/healthdirectories/healthdepartments.html

For up-to-date developments, research, and guidance from government health authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO), go to:
www.idsociety.org/public-health/Novel-Coronavirus


TOWN OF CAVE CREEK

The Town of Cave Creek has issued a statement about the situation and will keep the community informed with updates as we receive them from federal, state and county officials. Read the full statement on our website at https://tinyurl.com/vtphfy8.


CITY OF PHOENIX

Mayor Gallego Statement on Phoenix Response to COVID-19

March 12, 2020 PHOENIX- The City of Phoenix is in regular communication with all appropriate emergency response agencies to ensure we are working together to limit exposure to COVID-19 in Arizona. This collaboration allows the city to implement safety protocols that are based on facts and to pass along updates, so that employees and residents can make informed decisions.

The city has two main goals–to keep the public safe and accurately informed and ensure flexibility to monitor this fast-moving situation. Phoenix will be providing regular updates to both city residents and employees through our social media channels and Phoenix.Gov.

“Phoenix is working closely with the appropriate emergency response agencies to provide accurate and up-to-date information to our residents. Our goal is to alleviate fear and give residents the needed tools to best protect themselves and others,” said Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego.

City Plans

  • As of March 12, the City of Phoenix Water Department has halted all water shut-offs for non-payment to ensure residents have access to water for COVID-19 sanitation purposes. Those currently disconnected will be re-connected and receive low-flow water service adequate for sanitation and cooking.
  • We are coordinating closely with our Fire and Police Departments to ensure they have the resources they need.
  • The city is reviewing possible alternative options for upcoming public meetings and gatherings.
  • We are working with each of our city departments to determine possible telecommuting needs for city staff should the need arise. Work travel for city business has been greatly restricted for the time being. All staff who feel ill are asked to stay home.
  • City staff and custodial vendors have increased cleaning efforts in all city facilities, targeting surfaces like elevator buttons, handrails, bathroom handles, fixtures and doors.

Prevention Strategies

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds (or use hand sanitizer).
  • Stay home when you are sick. Consider using telemedicine if healthcare is needed.
  • Cover your cough/sneeze with elbow or tissue.
  • If you are sick and have traveled to impacted areas in the last 14 days, please call your healthcare provider.

To learn more, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Frequently Asked Questions page at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

[Additional resources: https://www.phoenix.gov/newsroom/em-and-hs/866]


CITY OF SCOTTSDALE

Coronaviris update

The city continues to serve the public throughout situations like the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Scottsdale’s All Hazards Incident Management Team is a cross-functional group staffed by employees from throughout the organization who are meeting regularly to share current information and ensure that city staff and the public are protected, and that city operations continue despite any interruptions that could occur. This team is in regular contact with partners at Maricopa County Public Health and the Arizona Department of Health Services, who are providing updated guidance as needed. Learn more: https://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/news/coronavirus-update.

Children’s Nature Play Space Opening at Desert Botanical Garden Feb. 29

Photo courtesy of Desert Botanical Garden

Desert Botanical Garden is inviting children to engage with the outdoors around them at Cactus Clubhouse, a brand-new nature play space opening at the Garden. The open-aired, 8,000-square-foot play area will provide unstructured, child-led activities for children ages 0 to 12 to discover the fun of the natural world by climbing, creating and building with various organic materials.

Throughout Cactus Clubhouse, children will encounter several stations and activities designed to spark independent play, while encouraging physical, cognitive and behavioral growth. Activities include:

  • Nature Art — Children will work with natural materials such as seed pods and leaves to develop a deeper appreciation for the natural world, while strengthening skills in observation and creativity.
  • Music and Movement — This space will feature nature-based instruments and a place to move in order to help children discover basic concepts of sound and rhythm.
  • Climbing — Children will climb, balance, jump and crawl to develop confidence, balance, coordination and risk-assessment.
  • Messy Materials — This area is filled with large-scale, loose parts to encourage building and imaginative play, which gives children a sense of accomplishment and belonging in the outdoors.
  • Building – This area will feature blocks made from natural materials to give children a different sensory and spatial experience, while strengthening math skills and conceptual thinking.

Cactus Clubhouse was made possible by a $50,000 grant from the USDA Forest Service, which awarded the funds for the Garden to open this Nature Explore certified outdoor classroom. Nature Explore is a nature-based educational program of the Dimensions Educational Research Foundation, which seeks to incorporate nature as an integral part of children’s daily learning. They have designed and built nearly 200 outdoor classrooms across the United States, providing spaces for children to stimulate development, support creativity and learn about nature.

“The Garden has been a place for relaxation and connection with the natural world for 80 years, and we help visitors of all ages discover the beauty of the Sonoran Desert and learn to care for it,” says Ken Schutz, the Dr. William Huizingh executive director. “As we look to the future of desert conservation and preservation, we know that the children of today are the conservationists of tomorrow. We see Cactus Clubhouse being a fun and safe place where children can form those vital connections with nature and establish an appreciation in the outdoors that can follow them through adulthood. We are truly grateful to the Forest Service for helping us with this achievement for not only the Garden but for our community and desert enthusiasts around the world.”

“We are excited to partner with Desert Botanical Garden, where local kids — and kids from around the world — will have an opportunity for hands-on experiences in nature,” said Marie Sebrechts, director of communication and engagement for the Southwestern Region of the Forest Service. “The Forest Service shares similar values with Nature Explore and the Garden about supporting youth and the importance of conservation and community. Cactus Clubhouse is a great example of what we can build together when we all bring our expertise and passion to the table.”

Cactus Clubhouse opens Feb. 29 and is included with Garden admission and membership, and hours will vary seasonally. For more information, visit dbg.org.

Phoenix City Council Approves Solid Waste Rate Increase

During the Feb. 11 Policy Session, the Phoenix City Council approved staff’s recommendation to increase the current monthly residential solid waste rate of $26.80.

The increase of will be phased in over two years, which means residential customers will notice an additional $3.75 in their April 2020 bill and then another increase of $3.25 in January 2021.

The Council statement said that the decision to approve the increase in the solid waste monthly rate was based on feedback from the public gathered by Phoenix Public Works staff, who implemented a community outreach strategy during the months of December 2019 and January 2020.

According to the City, more than 5,800 collected surveys from the community revealed: a 90 percent satisfaction with the city’s delivery of solid waste services nearly; 90 percent of the respondents value recycling and waste diversion programs and believe they are important; and 60 percent of respondents were in favor of maintaining the current level of solid waste service.

Midtown Celebrates Seventh Annual Urban Living Tour Nov. 2

The seventh Annual Midtown Urban Living Tour is coming to town Nov. 2 to showcase some of the city’s longest-standing residences. The self-guided tour will provide participants with exclusive access to explore unique buildings across Midtown Phoenix. Included in the list of stops are the award-winning Artisan Lofts on Central, the historic Villa Del Coronado, Tapestry, 1 Lexington, Beadle View and Chateau de Ville, built-in classic New Orleans style.

By offering a glimpse into Central Phoenix’s most unique high-rise condominiums and more, The Midtown Neighborhood Association hopes that more residents and tourists will view the district as a prime place to live alongside incredible cultural centers and businesses.

“The Midtown Urban Living Tour allows thousands of attendees to see what urban living in Phoenix truly is about.” said Susan Thompson, president of Midtown Neighborhood Association. “One of the few dense areas in Phoenix that is surrounded by historic neighborhoods, impeccable restaurants and outstanding community, we are so excited to show off what makes this neighborhood truly special.”

Free trolleys will run from 11am to 5pm to give tour-goers easy access to each of the buildings. All day tickets are $20/ day. Tickets are available online at bit.ly/mult2019tix.

Each building is within walking distance of a light rail station. The Midtown Neighborhood Association also encourages participants to use Grid Bike Share and ride-share apps like Lyft and Uber.

SUSD’s Nutrition Services Eliminates Reduced Lunch Fee — 800 Students Could Benefit

For many years, the Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) has charged $0.40 per lunch to students who qualify under federal guidelines for a reduced-price meal. Beginning with the 2019–20 school year that starts Aug. 5, SUSD will waive that $0.40 fee for participating students, offering them lunch at no charge. SUSD already waives reduced-price breakfast fees.

In the 2018–19 school year, nearly 800 SUSD students qualified for reduced-price meals.

SUSD Nutrition Services Director Patti Bilbrey says SUSD is pleased to be able to assist families that depend on school meals through the federal Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act in a new way.

“We saw a growing need in the community of families that used to qualify for free meals just missing the cutoff and moving into the reduced-meal category,” says Bilbrey. “We never want to see a student go without a meal, so we worked out a plan to be able to waive lunch fees to help these families in need.”

Bilbrey says that the combination of the Jan. 2019 increase in Arizona’s minimum wage to $11 an hour and no change in federal poverty guidelines has resulted in some families now having too much income to qualify their students for meals for the upcoming school year. More than 5,000 SUSD students qualified for the free meal program last school year.

“Because we run Nutrition Services like a business, keeping a strict eye on our costs and ensuring that we are not wasting food by making too much, we have the fiscal strength to be able to waive these fees,” Bilbrey says. “It’s the right thing to do for our families.”

Families must apply and meet federal income guidelines every school year in order for their students to receive free or reduced-price school meals. Their previous year’s status is good for 30 days into the new school year, but they must re-apply within that time in order to continue. Applications for the 2019–20 school year can be completed online at susd.org/meals or by downloading a paper application at that same link and turning it in at the student’s school.

SUSD’s Nutrition Services offers meals on each of the district’s 29 school campuses throughout the school year and during summer programming. On average, it serves 11,000 meals per school day and more than 2 million meals throughout the school year.

For additional information about the Scottsdale Unified School District, visit susd.org.


Photo by USDAgov on Foter.com / CC BY

City of Phoenix Special Election Slated For Aug. 27 — Voter Registration Deadline is July 29

The City of Phoenix will conduct a Special Election Tuesday, Aug. 27, in whi​​​ch registered voters will decide on two ballot measures that propose to amend City Charter provisions pertaining to Pensions and Light Rail. Early voting will begin July 31.

The first measure, Proposition 105, is a proposed Charter Amendment submitted by Initiative I-4-18 pertaining to Light Rail.

The second measure, Proposition 106, is a proposed Charter Amendment submitted by Initiative I-1-18 pertaining to City of Phoenix Pensions.

​​​​Voters in City of Phoenix elections are not required to vote at a specified polling place in the voter’s precinct. Voters can use any of the voting centers to cast a ballot. The voting centers will be open for voting for three days. This method of voting is only available for City of Phoenix elections. For faster service, voters are encouraged to bring their driver license, state-issued identification card or voter identification card.

The voting centers for this election will be open for three days:

  • Saturday, Aug. 24, from 10am to 4pm
  • Monday, Aug. 26, from 9am to 6pm​
  • Tuesday, Aug. 27 (Election Day) from 6am to 7pm

A Publicity Pamphlet with additional information on both measures is available online, as is additional information about City of Phoenix elections.

Those who are not already registered to vote, July 29 is the last day to register in order to participate in the Aug. 27 Special Election. To register to vote in this and future elections, visit https://servicearizona.com and click on the “Voter Registration” link.

July 4 Restrictions Set for Phoenix Trailheads

In an effort to reduce fire danger, the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department will restrict vehicle access to trailheads located in the city’s desert parks and mountain preserves on July 4 starting at 3pm. The annual fire ban for those areas that started on May 1 remains in effect.

City of Phoenix Park Rangers will close entrance gates at 3pm to Camelback Mountain, Deem Hills Recreation Area, Papago Park, Phoenix Mountains Park and Recreation Area, Phoenix Mountains Preserve, Phoenix Sonoran Preserve, North Mountain Park, Rio Salado Habitat Restoration Area and South Mountain Park/Preserve. Additionally, the upper lookouts in South Mountain Park/Preserve will be emptied and closed at 1pm.

The following list of regulations will apply July 4 in those areas:

  • No fireworks
  • No open fires (part of annual fire ban that went into effect on May 1)
  • No charcoal fires, even in established picnic areas (gas grills are permitted)
  • No smoking outside of a vehicle (part of annual fire ban)
  • No alcoholic beverages
  • No glass beverage containers

Parks and Recreation Department staff encourage residents to celebrate Independence Day by attending one of the city’s official events. Information about those free, family-oriented events is available at phoenix.gov/fabphx4.

Phoenix Park Rangers remind those who visit the city’s desert parks and mountain preserves during warm weather months to use extra caution. Heat-related illnesses are common from May to October, and generally occur because the victim has been overexposed to heat or overexerted their body. The Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department and Fire Department ask that trail users follow important “Take a Hike. Do it Right.”” safety guidelines and advise against hiking during triple-digit heat.

Park rangers also remind trail users that dogs are prohibited on all City of Phoenix trails when the temperature is 100 degrees or warmer.

Additional information is available at phoenix.gov/summer.

Phoenix Mayor Announces Public Safety Policy Meeting

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego has scheduled a July 2 policy meeting to discuss the issue of public safety.  This meeting comes just two weeks after the Community Listening Session at which Mayor Gallego assured residents that the city would come back with ideas within 30 days to address community concerns.

At last week’s Phoenix City Council Meeting, discussion included having an ad-hoc committee to review past recommendations and to have the council look into a civilian review board.

Mayor Gallego plans to address these items at the July 2 policy meeting.  The council will also hear from Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams.  The chief will give an update on her action plan in response to the mayor’s commitment to present ideas to the community within 30 days. She will ask council to approve two items.

The two items up for action are:

  • Request to issue procurement for early intervention system
  • Request to issue procurement for public opinion research firms

Discussion items:

  • Staff will present civilian review board options and council will provide direction on further policy development and research

The July 2 policy meeting will be held at the regular time, 2:30pm, at the City Council Chambers.  The agenda will be posted by Thursday, June 27.

For additional information, visit www.phoenix.gov.


Photo by Got Credit on Foter.com / CC BY

Public Safety Exercise in Downtown Phoenix

During the month of June, the Phoenix Police, Fire and Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management departments will be conducting public safety training exercises in the downtown Phoenix area near the Phoenix Convention Center. This first exercise will occur in the early morning Sunday, June 2.

Residents in and around downtown Phoenix may see emergency vehicles and equipment from multiple public safety jurisdictions as preparations begin for the 2019 National Homeland Security Conference coming to the Phoenix Convention Center.

The purpose of this public safety exercise is to enhance first responders’ preparedness.

Any questions concerning the exercise from the public can be directed to 602.376.3981.

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