The Porterville City Council unanimously approved the declaration of the existence of a local emergency at Tuesday night’s Council meeting. This will allow the city to access state and federal resources during the coronavirus pandemic, if needed. 

City Manager John Lollis stated that he was earlier notified by the County Health Department that they will be closing all bars, effective Tuesday night. He also stated that Governor Gavin Newsom is predicting schools will be out through the remainder of the academic year.

The Council agreed that any social gatherings should be limited to no more than 25 people, per Health Department recommendations, but are encouraging people to keep gatherings even smaller than 25 people if possible. Council highly recommended keeping any gathering under 10 people.

Despite the absence of Council member Virginia Gurrola, the declaration of emergency was approved with a vote of 4-0.

The Council received seven emailed public comments, which were read aloud at Tuesday’s meeting. The first comment was an expression of concern related to COVID-19 and the community. The anonymous commenter claimed that this epidemic is bio-warfare and that the whereabouts of infected individuals should be made public knowledge. 

Most of the seven comments addressed concerns over the delay in closing Porterville Unified School District (PUSD) schools. One commenter mentioned she was a pregnant educator fearing for the health and safety of her unborn child, as she is around may people every day. A PUSD senior had emailed in her comment to state that it’s the last semester for many seniors and that more options for students should be available during this time.

After all of the submitted comments had been read, the Council shifted their attention to the only public hearing set for the night, a discussion revolving around the approval of a Conditional Use Permit for the construction of the Hampton Inn. The Council seemed to agree that the project would be a positive addition to the city, and approved the building of the hotel with a vote of 4-0. This project is a 52,200 square foot, four-story, 87-room hotel generally located east of Jaye Street and north of Montgomery Avenue. Amenities will include a meeting room, a breakfast area, a fitness center, an outdoor pool and an outdoor recreation area.

Once the hearing was closed, the Council moved into their scheduled matters. There were five community events on the agenda for Council approval, but due to the current pandemic with COVID-19 all of the parties who requested the events, withdrew their applications. This left the Council with no events to approve.

Instead, the Council moved forward to their last item for the night, the cancellation of their Special Meeting scheduled for March 24. After a bit of debate, the Council ultimately approved to keep the meeting set. They also predicted that they would be calling several emergency meetings in the near future, which require a 24-hour public notice.

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