Full Public Participation in City Council Meetings Must Be Ensured During the COVID-19 Crisis!

The Voice of OC recently noted that “Throughout the coronavirus shutdown, many of Orange County’s public agencies have struggled to provide access for constituent voices to be heard.”

In Irvine, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced our city to limit in-person participation for members of the public during City Council meetings.  As a result, since the onset of social distancing and emergency public safety measures in March 2020, members of the public have been limited in their ability to participate in the decisions made by the City Council during public meetings.

Currently, the public can make comments only through the eComment feature on the City of Irvine website, and only a very limited number of these comments have been read aloud during our live City Council meetings.

I believe this situation raises serious questions about government openness and public participation under the Brown Act, which states that “the public commissions, boards and councils and the other public agencies in this State exist to aid in the conduct of the people’s business. It is the intent of the law that their actions be taken openly and that their deliberations be conducted openly. The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created.”  As I told the Voice of OC, “This isn’t actually a hearing, [since] there’s no testimony from the public.”

Clearly, we need to do much better to ensure public participation in our City Council meetings, while still maintaining public safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

For this reason, Councilmember Farrah Khan and I have placed a discussion for better accommodating public participation and accessibility on the agenda for the Irvine City Council meeting on August 11, 2020. 

In addition, we must also ensure that the public can fully participate in our very important Commission meetings.

We look forward to hearing from City staff, the Mayor and other City Councilmembers, and the public, on ways to best ensure full public participation in our meetings during the COVID-19 crisis.

Please use the eComment feature to make your views on this important topic known to the Mayor and the City Council.

Watch the City Council meeting live online HERE.

 

Join Our OC Education Forum on COVID -19 Safety and Our Schools! Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 5 PM!

Join me on Wednesday, August 12, 2020 at 5 PM for an Orange County Education Forum on COVID-19 Safety and Our Schools.

For many of us, there is no bigger question right now than whether our children will be attending in-person classes this fall.

President Trump seems desperate to have schools re-open regardless of the danger to students, teachers, and staff, even threatening to cut federal aid to school districts that decide that the risk of COVID-19 infection is too great to return to in-person classes.

Yet the federal government has provided no real guidance for determining when it is safe to re-open schools, or the proper procedures for school to follow to limit the spread of COVID-19 if they do re-open.

In the absence of federal leadership, these decisions and procedures have been left to governors and, crucially, local school districts. As USA Today put it, “Abandoned by any semblance of national leadership during a raging pandemic, students, teachers and staff are being told to jump into the deep end and return to school buildings.”

Here in Orange County, our Board of Education made national headlines when it voted 4-1 (with the sole Democrat dissenting) to re-open this fall, without requiring the use of face masks or social distancing.

For many, there was tremendous relief when California Governor Gavin Newsom stepped in to mandate that any schools in counties on the state COVID-19 watch list, which includes Orange County, could not have students in classrooms. The Republicans on the OC Board of Education then responded by suing the Governor over his decision to prevent schools from opening in-person.

We will be discussing this lawsuit, as well as the larger questions when and how to re-open our classrooms, with three leading members of Orange County school boards currently dealing with the COVID-19 crisis: 

Kerie Kropke of the Brea Olinda School Board. Kerie earned a B.A. in political economy from U.C. Berkeley, an M.A. from Cal State Fullerton in History, a post baccalaureate from Chapman University in Communication Disorders, and a M.A. from Cal State Fullerton in Communication Sciences.  She is an elementary public educator with a California Clear Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and has recently become a speech language pathologist specializing in language, early intervention and autism spectrum disorder.

Gina Clayton-Tarvin of the Ocean View School Board. Gina is a long-time educator, and was first elected to the OVSD Board of Trustees in 2012. She was recently voted President of the Board, after serving as Clerk, Vice President, and three terms as President of the Board. Gina holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in Anthropology and a California Multiple Subjects Teaching Credential, as well as a California Secondary Single Subject Credential in Biology. She holds an English Learner (EL) Authorization and Cross-cultural, Language, and Academic Development (CLAD) Certificate and is authorized to provide instruction to English learners. She has also worked for Special Education as a home school teacher. She successfully completed the California School Board Association Masters of Governance program and received her certification in 2014.

Kris Erickson of Orange Unified School Board. Kris is the founding attorney at the Law Office of Kristin A. Erickson. She has held board positions on PTA, put on fundraisers for student events, mentored at-risk kids, coached mock trial, and planned our annual staff appreciations to honor hard-working teachers. She also started a grassroots organization, CARE, with several other parents to bring long-needed improvements to our high school campuses. Kris attended Western State University School of Law.

Jamison Power of the Westminster School Board. Jamison was first elected to the Westminster School Board in 2012 and was re-elected in 2016.  He received his B.A. from UC Irvine and his J.D. from UCLA.  In his professional life, Jamison serves as in-house counsel for Hyundai Motor America.  He also provides free legal assistance to low income families, and has received multiple awards for his work.  He previously served as a member of the Vietnamese-American Education Advisory Council, and he worked closely with the Superintendent and the Board to ensure that WSD became the first district in California to implement a Vietnamese-English dual immersion program.

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Irvine Community Land Trust to Distribute Free Face Masks

As Chair of the Irvine Community Land Trust, I’m pleased to announce that the Land Trust will be among the non-profit organizations that will be distributing the face masks that FivePoint Communities has donated to the City of Irvine.

I want to thank FivePoint for its generous contribution.

I also want to thank Farrah Khan, my colleague on the Irvine City Council and a Community Land Trust Board Member, for arranging and coordinating the delivery of these face masks from FivePoint to the Land Trust so that we can distribute them free of charge.

We hope these free face masks will help you to continue staying safe during these unprecedented times.

We ask that you do your part as well, and wear your mask when in public, especially when shopping.  It’s the law in Irvine, and common sense and good neighborliness everywhere.

Specific details regarding mask distribution are being arranged and will be posted soon.

I am honored to serve as Chair of the Irvine Community Land Trust  guiding its mission of providing secure, high-quality affordable housing for the benefit of income-eligible families.  

We’re all in this together!

Irvine Again Extends COVID-19 Testing at the Great Park

Due to continued high demand, the City of Irvine has again extended the time period for COVID-19 testing at the Great Park.

Irvine began to offer COVID-19 testing on July 13.  On July 24, we added additional test appointments.  Tonight, we agreed to have the testing program continue for an additional 30 days.

Testing is available for individuals who live or work in Irvine, regardless of whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic. Only PCR testing, which determines if someone currently has the SARS-CoV-2 virus, is available.

Testing is by appointment only and is available Mondays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Lot 6 at the Great Park. There is no out of pocket fee for this COVID-19 testing.

To sign up for an appointment, visit curogram.com/covid-testing/irvine. Please note that Chrome and Firefox are the preferred web browsers for registering.

In order to facilitate the registration process, please have the following information available:

  • Insurance card, if you have insurance.
  • Driver’s license or state ID.
  • Proof of residence or employment in Irvine (i.e. any utility bill with Irvine address and your name or copy of pays tub from work with an Irvine address. If your pay stub lists a corporate address NOT in Irvine, please ALSO include some identifying document with your name and place of work in Irvine.

Once residency or employment verification is complete, you will receive an opportunity to select an appointment. This may take several days and participants will be processed in order of registration.

At the appointment, patients must remain in their vehicle, bring a driver’s license or photo ID, and registration confirmation. During the appointment, a licensed healthcare professional will be present during the self-administered nasal or oral swab test to collect the specimen to send to FDA-approved laboratories. Test results should be expected within three days after the appointment.

Tests will be conducted by Curogram and multiple medical laboratories, including Orange County based Pangea Laboratory.  Curogram has worked with many other cities, including New York City and Atlanta, to provide COVID-19 testing.

The Orange County Great Park is located at 8000 Great Park Blvd. Lot 6 can be accessed via Marine Way and Skyhawk. Visit ocgp.org/maps for complete directions. Please note that GPS systems may not provide reliable directions.

For more information, please review the FAQ at cityofirvine.org/covid19testing.

As I have said before, while I am pleased to have authorized expanding these much-needed tests, Irvine should never have had to provide COVID-19 testing on its own.  We are now doing so because of the failure of the federal government and Orange County Board of Supervisors to provide adequate COVID-19 testing. 

Irvine does not have a public health officer or a public health department.  We rely on Orange County to provide these critical services.  The taxes we pay to the State of California for public health services go to Orange County, not the City of Irvine.  Orange County received all of our CARES ACT funds from the federal government.  But regarding COVID-19, we can not rely on Orange County.

The City of Irvine is providing COVID-19 testing — at our own taxpayers’ expense — because at this point, with COVID-19 infections setting new records on an almost daily basis in both Orange County and the nation, we have no other choice.

We should not be in this position.  While other nations are seeing declines in the number of new COVID-19 infections, our new infections continue to rise.  The basic reason for our continuing rise in infections and deaths is the catastrophic failure of our federal government to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, including President Trump’s continuing denial of its seriousness and his undermining of social distancing and face coverings as the best weapons we now have against this virus.

Our Board of Supervisors followed Trump’s lead and also bear responsibility for the rising number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Orange County.  For months, it was unclear how or even if California’s statewide mask mandate would be enforced in Orange County

As the Voice of OC reported, “Throughout the pandemic, OC officials haven’t strictly enforced business closures on restaurants and bars.  And OC Sheriff Don Barnes said he wouldn’t enforce former health officer Dr. Nichole Quick’s mandatory mask order, which was issued over Memorial Day weekend as diners and shopping centers reopened.”

The Board of Supervisors also allowed Orange County’s chief health officer Dr. Nichole Quick to be driven from office by threats against her life from anti-mask and conspiracy theory extremists, failing to back up her public health orders or provide her with protection.

Under these circumstances, it is good that Irvine is now providing free COVID-19 testing for residents and people who work in Irvine. But Irvine’s COVID-19 testing also highlights the failure of our federal government and the Orange County Board of Supervisors to provide testing or any effective strategy in response to this deadly disease. Our friends and neighbors who live or work in other Orange County cities still have no good COVID-19 testing options.

Be safe and wear a mask!

Schedule a COVID-19 Test Appointment HERE.

 

Say Thank You From Orange County to Governor Newsom For His COVID-19 Leadership!

Dear Governor Newsom,

As residents of Orange County, California, we wish to thank you for your caring, steadfast, and science-based leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically, we wish to counter the narrative that a majority of Orange County’s residents object to Governor Newsom’s orders mandating social distancing and face covering in order to stop the spread of this deadly virus.

We are appalled by the much-publicized and politically motivated opposition to the Governor’s COVID-19 orders by the Orange County Board of Supervisors, the Orange County Board of Education, and individual “anti-maskers” in Orange County.

They do not represent us.

On the contrary, we stand with the great majority of scientists, doctors, nurses, and other health care and public health professionals in calling for mask wearing and social distancing.

We want our economy and our schools to reopen, but we know that to do so safely we will need to increase testing and reduce the rate of infection.

We join with you, Governor Newsom, in saying that social distancing and wearing a face covering is critical for keeping people safe and healthy, keeping businesses open, and getting people back to work and school.

Again, thank you, Governor Newsom, for your leadership during this challenging time!

Melissa Fox

Sign on to this letter HERE.

Irvine Adds Additional COVID-19 Testing Appointments

The Irvine City Council has expanded COVID-19 testing capacity at the Great Park.  Registration for testing will re-open on Friday, July 24 at 12:00 p.m. to fill additional appointments available through this expansion.

Testing is available for individuals who live or work in Irvine, regardless of whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic. Only PCR testing, which determines if someone currently has the SARS-CoV-2 virus, is available.

Testing is by appointment only and is available Mondays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Lot 6 at the Great Park. There is no out of pocket fee for this COVID-19 testing.

To sign up for an appointment, visit curogram.com/covid-testing/irvine. Please note that Chrome and Firefox are the preferred web browsers for registering.

In order to facilitate the registration process, please have the following information available:

  • Insurance card, if you have insurance.
  • Driver’s license or state ID.
  • Proof of residence or employment in Irvine (i.e. any utility bill with Irvine address and your name or copy of pays tub from work with an Irvine address. If your pay stub lists a corporate address NOT in Irvine, please ALSO include some identifying document with your name and place of work in Irvine.

Once residency or employment verification is complete, you will receive an opportunity to select an appointment. This may take several days and participants will be processed in order of registration.

At the appointment, patients must remain in their vehicle, bring a driver’s license or photo ID, and registration confirmation. During the appointment, a licensed healthcare professional will be present during the self-administered nasal or oral swab test to collect the specimen to send to FDA-approved laboratories. Test results should be expected within three days after the appointment.

Tests will be conducted by Curogram and multiple medical laboratories, including Orange County based Pangea Laboratory.  Curogram has worked with many other cities, including New York City and Atlanta, to provide COVID-19 testing.

The Orange County Great Park is located at 8000 Great Park Blvd. Lot 6 can be accessed via Marine Way and Skyhawk. Visit ocgp.org/maps for complete directions. Please note that GPS systems may not provide reliable directions.

For more information, please review the FAQ at cityofirvine.org/covid19testing.

As I have said before, while I am pleased to have authorized expanding these much-needed tests, Irvine should never have had to provide COVID-19 testing on its own.  We are now doing so because of the failure of the federal government and Orange County Board of Supervisors to provide adequate COVID-19 testing. 

Irvine does not have a public health officer or a public health department.  We rely on Orange County to provide these critical services.  The taxes we pay to the State of California for public health services go to Orange County, not the City of Irvine.  Orange County received all of our CARES ACT funds from the federal government.  But regarding COVID-19, we can not rely on Orange County.

The City of Irvine is providing COVID-19 testing — at our own taxpayers’ expense — because at this point, with COVID-19 infections setting new records on an almost daily basis in both Orange County and the nation, we have no other choice.

We should not be in this position.  While other nations are seeing declines in the number of new COVID-19 infections, our new infections continue to rise.  The basic reason for our continuing rise in infections and deaths is the catastrophic failure of our federal government to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, including President Trump’s continuing denial of its seriousness and his undermining of social distancing and face coverings as the best weapons we now have against this virus.

Our Board of Supervisors followed Trump’s lead and also bear responsibility for the rising number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Orange County.  For months, it was unclear how or even if California’s statewide mask mandate would be enforced in Orange County

As the Voice of OC reported, “Throughout the pandemic, OC officials haven’t strictly enforced business closures on restaurants and bars.  And OC Sheriff Don Barnes said he wouldn’t enforce former health officer Dr. Nichole Quick’s mandatory mask order, which was issued over Memorial Day weekend as diners and shopping centers reopened.”

The Board of Supervisors also allowed Orange County’s chief health officer Dr. Nichole Quick to be driven from office by threats against her life from anti-mask and conspiracy theory extremists, failing to back up her public health orders or provide her with protection.

Under these circumstances, it is good that Irvine is now providing free COVID-19 testing for residents and people who work in Irvine. But Irvine’s COVID-19 testing also highlights the failure of our federal government and the Orange County Board of Supervisors to provide testing or any effective strategy in response to this deadly disease. Our friends and neighbors who live or work in other Orange County cities still have no good COVID-19 testing options.

Be safe and wear a mask!

Schedule a COVID-19 Test Appointment HERE.

 

Irvine Providing Free COVID-19 Testing at the Great Park! Make an Appointment Now!

The City of Irvine will begin providing free drive-up COVID-19 testing for individuals who live or work in Irvine beginning Monday, July 13, 2020, at the Orange County Great Park.

Irvine will be the first city in Orange County to provide testing to those who live or work in Irvine, regardless of whether they have symptoms.

This month long testing program will be available by appointment only and will take place Mondays through Thursdays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Lot 6 at the Great Park. To schedule an appointment, visit https://curogram.com/covid-testing/irvine.

The Great Park testing site can accommodate approximately 200-260 tests per day. Only PCR testing, which determines if someone currently has the COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2 virus), is available.  No testing will be provided for the presence of anti-bodies.

At the appointment, patients must remain in their vehicle, bring a driver’s license or photo ID, and registration confirmation. During the appointment, a licensed healthcare professional will be present during the self-administered nasal or oral swab test to collect the specimen to send to FDA-approved laboratories. Test results should be expected within three days after the appointment.

Tests will be conducted by Curogram and multiple medical laboratories, including Orange County based Pangea Laboratory.  Curogram has worked with many other cities, including New York City and Atlanta, to provide COVID-19 testing.

The Orange County Great Park is located at 8000 Great Park Blvd. Lot 6 can be accessed via Marine Way and Skyhawk. Visit ocgp.org/maps for complete directions. Please note that GPS systems may not provide reliable directions.

For more information, including an important FAQ, visit cityofirvine.org/covid19testing.

I agree with my Irvine City Council colleague Farrah Khan that “I’m happy to see that we will now be offering COVID-19 testing in our City. I understand that people were frustrated with the delay. However, it is important for us to make sure that we provide residents and workers with a quality test vendor.”

I would also add that Irvine should never have had to provide COVID-19 testing on its own.  We are now doing so because of the utter failure of the federal government and Orange County Board of Supervisors to provide testing. 

Irvine does not have a public health officer or a public health department.  We rely on Orange County to provide these critical services.  The taxes we pay to the State of California for public health services go to Orange County, not the City of Irvine.  Orange County received all of our CARES ACT funds from the federal government.  But regarding COVID-19, we can not rely on Orange County.

The City of Irvine is providing COVID-19 testing — at our own taxpayers’ expense — because at this point, with COVID-19 infections setting new records on an almost daily basis in both Orange County and the nation, we have no other choice.

We should not be in this position.  While other nations are seeing declines in the number of new COVID-19 infections, our new infections continue to rise.  The basic reason for our continuing rise in infections and deaths is the catastrophic failure of our federal government to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, including President Trump’s continuing denial of its seriousness and his undermining of social distancing and face coverings as the best weapons we now have against this virus.

Our Board of Supervisors followed Trump’s lead and also bear responsibility for the rising number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Orange County.  For months, it was unclear how or even if California’s statewide mask mandate would be enforced in Orange County

As the Voice of OC reported, “Throughout the pandemic, OC officials haven’t strictly enforced business closures on restaurants and bars.  And OC Sheriff Don Barnes said he wouldn’t enforce former health officer Dr. Nichole Quick’s mandatory mask order, which was issued over Memorial Day weekend as diners and shopping centers reopened.”

The Board of Supervisors also allowed Orange County’s chief health officer Dr. Nichole Quick to be driven from office by threats against her life from anti-mask and conspiracy theory extremists, failing to back up her public health orders or provide her with protection.

As a result of the Board of Supervisors’ failures to follow or enforce basic state-mandated guidelines for stopping the spread of COVID-19, a Harvard University website that shows “How severe is the pandemic where you live?” places Orange County in the red extreme danger zone.   Today, the Orange County Register reports that “In the last five days, 5,796 new cases were reported [in Orange County], and more than half the cases of the virus in the county have been reported in the last 30 days.”

Under these circumstances, it is good that Irvine is now providing free COVID-19 testing for residents and people who work in Irvine. But Irvine’s COVID-19 testing also highlights the failure of our federal government and the Orange County Board of Supervisors to provide testing or any effective strategy in response to this deadly disease. Our friends and neighbors who live or work in other Orange County cities still have no good COVID-19 testing options.

Be safe and wear a mask!

Schedule a COVID-19 Test Appointment HERE.

Orange County Needs to Provide Us With More Information and Transparency — and More Leadership — on COVID-19!

The Irvine City Council has repeatedly demanded MORE information and transparency on the effects of COVID-19 from the County, now they are providing even less!

Where are there outbreaks?

Which communities are hardest hit?

Where are the most deaths occurring?

Where should we be increasing testing?

When there is an outbreak in an Orange County nursing home, that goes unrecorded because patients will have an official residence elsewhere, and the nurses who became ill are also unrecorded for the same reason. The same issue is present with OCTA drivers, restaurant workers, grocery clerks, and janitors. If they live elsewhere, when they get sick from COVID-19 while working in Orange County, their illness or death will not be attributed to Orange County.

Anaheim officials were told by Orange County officials to keep secret COVID-19 data that shows how badly it has hit parts of that city. Have they done the same in Irvine? Orange? Tustin? Lake Forest?  In your city?

Orange County residents and city officials need this information!

There were 26 deaths reported from COVID-19 in Orange County just yesterday.

The brute fact is that this pandemic is not on the decline in Orange County, but is on the rise.

Despite this fact, It remains unclear how or even if the statewide coronavirus mask mandate will be enforced in Orange County, after County Supervisors on Tuesday declined to address any enforcement approach, ignoring the scientific consensus that face covering is the best weapon we now have against this virus, Ignoring the numerous residents advocating for it, and ignoring the fact that our infections and deaths from COVID-19 are steadily increasing.

As the Voice of OC reports, “Throughout the pandemic, OC officials haven’t strictly enforced business closures on restaurants and bars.  And OC Sheriff Don Barnes said he wouldn’t enforce former health officer Dr. Nichole Quick’s mandatory mask order, which was issued over Memorial Day weekend as diners and shopping centers reopened.”

As a result of the Board of Supervisors’ failure to follow state-mandated guidelines for stopping the spread of COVID-19, including enforcement of the state’s mask wearing order, Orange County is in grave danger of losing out on our share of a proposed $2.5 billion state bailout package.

Orange County residents and businesses desperately need this financial relief!

The infuriating truth is that the catastrophic failure of leadership in Orange County regarding COVID-19 has mirrored — and is the best direct result of — the catastrophic failure of leadership in the White House.

Like the White House, Orange County needs to stop ignoring science, and stop playing games with the numbers, the facts, and our lives!

 

 

Irvine Should Help Renters Impacted by COVID-19: Ban Evictions and Rental Increases, Prohibit Unconscionable Lease Termination Fees, and Create an Emergency Rental Assistance Program

The deadly COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 100,000 Americans, including nearly 5,000 deaths out of more than 125,000 cases in California and nearly 200 deaths out of more than 7,000 cases in Orange County.

In addition, the economic shock of the pandemic has been devastating, causing billions of dollars in business losses and an unemployment rate of 16.3% nationally and nearly 25% in California.

,

As a result, our pre-existing California housing crisis has been exacerbated, with increases in our already much too high levels of homelessness and housing insecurity.

Faced with these tremendous COVID-19-related challenges regarding incomes, jobs, and housing, many of the residents of our City -– more than half of whom are renters — are pleading with the Irvine City Council to protect them. So far, we are failing them.

I have repeatedly asked my colleagues on the Irvine City Council to take action to help renters, but my requests for real help for our renters have been rejected. In March, not one other member of the City Council supported my motion to order an enforceable moratorium on evictions and rent increases.

More recently, my attempt to have the City Council order an enforceable moratorium on evictions and rent increases was rejected on a 3-2 vote, with each of my Republican colleagues voting No.

Mayor Christina Shea and her Republican majority on the City Council have claimed that our renter residents do not need these protections. But we know from thousands of emails, social media posts, and demonstrations in the streets, that our renter residents are pleading with us for help in this crisis.

We should stop ignoring their voices and enact meaningful protections for renters immediately.

First, we need to (1) approve the basic protections that I called for in March and to order an enforceable moratorium on evictions and rent increases. Our renters are entitled to peace of mind about not being forced out of their homes because of the COVID19 crisis.

We also need to (2) prohibit unconscionable, and likely unlawful, lease termination fees.  Many people in Irvine, including students, have lost their jobs, and therefore their incomes, as a result of the COVID19 crisis. Yet I have been told by residents that lease termination fees charged by the Irvine Company have exceeded $15,000.

In addition, we should (3) create an Emergency Rental Assistance Program.  Even with a moratorium on evictions, paying back rent for many of our residents is a very high mountain to climb.  We should direct our City staff to develop an Emergency Rental Assistance Program. These programs have been enacted in other cities, including our neighboring city of Anaheim, to help residents through this unprecedented public health and economic crisis.

As city officials, we have the power and ability to help protect our residents, including renters, both student and non-student. I believe we also have the moral obligation to do so. We should do it now without any further delay.

Watch Melissa Fox’s Town Hall with Dr. Ebony Jade Hilton — “Exposing Inequalities During COVID-19”

Black and brown communities in the United States are being hit much harder by the COVID-19 pandemic than white communities. 

On May 28, 2020, Irvine City Councilmember Melissa Fox held a virtual Town Hall Meeting with special guest Dr. Ebony Jade Hilton on “Exposing Inequalities During COVID-19.” Irvine City Council Member Melissa Fox and Dr. Hilton discuss why people of color have a much higher risk of being infected and dying from COVID-19, what the pandemic reveals about the underlying racial and economic disparities in our society, and what we can — and must — do about it.

Dr. Ebony Jade Hilton is Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Virginia Medical School, medical director of Goodstock Consulting, and a nationally recognized expert on how institutional racism has led to more severe impacts for communities of color from diseases such as COVID-19.

Dr. Ebony Jade Hilton received her M.D. from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in 2008. She remained at MUSC for completion of her Residency in Anesthesia, followed by a Fellowship in Critical Care Medicine. In 2013 Dr. Hilton made history as she was hired as the 1st African American Female anesthesiologist since the hospital’s opening in 1824.

Throughout her tenure at MUSC Dr. Hilton’s passions have centered on exploring the issue of health disparities, particularly as it pertains to race, and bridging the gap between physicians and the communities they serve. Her works have led to her integration in the medical school curriculum, serving as a clinical instructor for fourth year medical students in Intern 101 and has taken her across the globe as a participant in numerous medical mission trips via Project Madaktari at Bugando Medical Center in Mwanza, Tanzania.

Now as a practicing physician at the University of Virginia – Charlottesville, Dr. Hilton has continued advocating for underserved and marginalized populations.

Her efforts have been recognized by the National Medical Association as well as the National Minority Quality Forum as one of the top 40 under 40 Leaders in Health Care award recipients.

She is also the author of the children’s book “We’re Going to be O.K.,” a book about staying safe, healthy, and optimistic during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Watch the full Town Hall on “Exposing Inequalities During COVID-19” here:

Exposing Inequalities During COVID-19

Part One

Part Two

Irvine Creates Local Business Support Program From $5 Million in Federal CARES Act Funds to Help Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

(Irvine, CA) — At a special meeting on May 29, the Irvine City Council voted to establish a Local Business Support Program to provide financial support to small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Irvine has received close to $5 million for COVID-19 related grants for the City’s small business community from the federal CARES Act, distributed to Irvine by the County of Orange.

“Thank you to our outstanding Orange County Congressional delegation — Katie Porter CA-45, Harley Rouda CA-48, Lou Correa CA-46, Mike Levin CD-49, Gil Cisneros CA-39, Alan Lowenthal CA-37, and Linda Sanchez CA-38 — for your hard work in bringing these crucial federal dollars back to Orange County.” Irvine City Councilmember Melissa Fox said.

“We are very happy to be able to use these federal funds to help our small businesses begin to recover from the economic shock of COVID-19.”

The program will allow Irvine-based small businesses that meet the following criteria to apply for one-time grants of $10,000.

To qualify, businesses must:

  • Have 25 or fewer employees
  • Have an active Irvine business license at the minimum of one year
  • Demonstrate a financial impact due to COVID-19, and
  • Have reopened or are ready to reopen, meeting guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, the State and Orange County.

An estimated 500 businesses will be able to receive relief funds. Sixty percent ($3 million) of the $5 million City allocation will be directed to businesses that generate taxable retail sales. The other forty percent ($2 million) will be available to other small businesses with 25 or fewer employees.

Applications will be accepted for 30 days beginning next week, with grant funding awarded quickly on a first-come, first-served basis. Funds could be used to meet eligible businesses’ working capital needs such as payroll or operating expenses.

Businesses will be asked to provide a budget reflecting the proposed use of grant funds, and will be required to submit a post-expense report detailing how the funding was actually utilized.

“I’m glad we’ll be able to provide some basic recovery to our small businesses, which employ so many people who have been hit hard by the economic consequences of the quarantine, including many people who are self-employed” Councilmember Fox said. “I wish it could be more.”

“Now we need to get the U.S. Senate to pass and the President to sign the federal Heroes Act, already passed by the House of Representatives, which would give $2.7 billion in federal recovery funds to Orange County, so that our first responders, front-line health care workers, teachers, and working families will get the economic help they need and deserve.” Fox added.

More information and a grant application will be available at cityofirvine.org this week.

Roadmap to Recovery: Irvine Issues New Rules and Guidelines for Stage 2 Re-Opening!

As Orange County moves into the next part, Stage 2, of Gov. Newsom’s Resiliency Roadmap, the City of Irvine has prepared a guide for residents and visitors regarding what is now open in Irvine and what is required and recommended to maintain our safety during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. 

 In Stage Two, the County of Orange will be allowed to have the following businesses re-open with adaptations:

🥙 In-person dining reservations.

🛍 Retail shopping with social distancing and curbside pickup.

🔗 Manufacturing.

🏢 Offices (when telework not possible).

🏯 Outdoor Museums.

▶️ Limited Services.

🚫 What is NOT allowed in Stage 2 🚫:

– Personal services such as nail salons, tattoo parlors, gyms and fitness studios.

– Indoor museums, kids museums and gallery spaces, zoos and libraries.

– Community centers, including public pools, playgrounds, and picnic areas.

– Limited-capacity religious services and cultural ceremonies.

– Nightclubs.

– Concert venues.

– Live audience sports.

– Festivals.

– Theme parks.

– Hotels/lodging for leisure and tourism – non-essential travel.

– Higher Education.

Please be mindful that the pandemic is not over.  COVID-19 is still among us.  It is still highly contagious and potentially deadly.

Face masks are still required by customers and employees in retail businesses and are strongly recommended for everyone whenever going out in public. Social distancing and hand washing remain our most important lines of defense against the spread of COVID-19.

As we re-enter the social world, we need to take care of ourselves and be careful not to harm others.

We are getting through this together.

For more information visit, cityofirvine.org/reopenirvine

For links to resources and information, please see my COVID-19 Resources and information page.

 

The OC Board of Supervisors Should Increase COVID-19 Testing, Work with OC Cities to Distribute Federal CARES Act Funds, and Follow the Governor’s Guidelines to Re-Start Our Economy

As of Monday, May 18, 2020, there have been 4,434 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Orange County, with 88 deaths.  Over the past week, Orange County has averaged 125 new cases and 1.7 new deaths per day

Recently, California Governor Gavin Newsom has issued new, less retrictive guidelines for moving further into the four stages toward reopening our economy. 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government passed the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act,” or CARES Act, which created a $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund to be used to help state, local, and tribal governments navigate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

These federal funds were mean to help American cities remain fiscally responsible while organizing essential emergency actions such as food delivery to seniors, support for small businesses, personal protective equipment, and rental assistance to tenants.

Orange County received $554 million in CARES Act funding from the federal government, earmarked for local jurisdictions, in order to pay for services such as police and fire protection, as well as social services.  But none of these funds have been released to Orange County cities.

Orange County COVID-19 Tracker for Mon., May 18, 2020. Source: OC Register

In fact, although 31 out of Orange County’s 34 mayors recently requested that the county distribute the $554 million in CARES Act funding it received from the federal government, the Board of Supervisors has been silent on when, how or whether it intends to fulfill its obligation under the CARES Act to distribute this much needed funding so that our cities remain able to function..

In addition, while the Board of Supervisors has indicated that it plans soon to “re-open” Orange County, the County has not provided the COVID-19 testing and contact tracing needed to improve public confidence and sustain our economic recovery.

Therefore, I have joined with Sunny Park, Buena Park City Councilmember, and 19 other local Orange County elected leaders in writing a letter to the Board of Supervisors calling on them to increase testing, work with local cities to distribute federal CARES Act funds, and follow the Governor’s guidelines to keep OC residents safe from COVID-19 as we re-start our economy.

Here is the full text of our letter to the Board of Supervisors, as printed in the Voice of OC:

“Everyone wishes we could just go back to our old normal life of hugs, handshakes, restaurants and ball games. But we know we’re not going to achieve our “new normal” without a thoughtfully planned process that increases our understanding of the virus, reduces risk of exposure, and includes all responders in coordinated action.

A successful and sustained economic recovery requires that we avoid COVID-19 outbreaks. This is especially true for Orange County, because we depend on tourism, retail, restaurants and entertainment to fuel a significant portion of our economy. If customers do not feel safe in our county’s businesses, recovery will be much more difficult, if not impossible.

Orange County has been operating under a shelter-in-place order since March 19. Governor Newsom acted quickly and, in large part, the residents and businesses of Orange County have complied. As of May 13, there were 3,749 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Orange County, 80 deaths, and 248 were currently hospitalized. While those numbers represent immense human suffering, they certainly would have been much worse without the profound, selfless sacrifices made by our entire community to comply with the stay-at-home order.

New COVID-19 Cases in Orange County by Date Reported. Source: OC Health Care Agency.

We are moving toward carefully reopening the county. Governor Newsom is set to move into Phase 2 of his plan by reopening certain retail businesses in a matter of days, again with appropriate precautions. We support a thoughtful, incremental reopening that avoids the risk of an outbreak that would set back the substantial progress we have made at great cost.

More testing and contact tracing can improve public health and accelerate our economic recovery. More information could allow restrictions to be more narrowly tailored to those who are infected or at-risk.

We need the right kinds of tests to know who is currently infected with COVID-19, and who may have already recovered from it. This is why, as fellow elected officials committed to safely and effectively reopening Orange County, we respectfully requested that the Board of Supervisors aggressively increase antibody and antigen testing in each city that has a qualified testing facility.

Not only do we need the right kinds of tests, we need to consider who receives them. While the Board of Supervisors has taken new steps to allow teachers, essential workers, and senior citizens to receive tests whether they have symptoms or not, it won’t be enough to rebound our economy. We have encouraged the Board of Supervisors to expand this eligibility pool, allowing anyone who requests a test to receive one, regardless of symptoms.

Each city in Orange County has taken local emergency actions on COVID-19, but these actions have significant costs. The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, set aside funds to help cities remain fiscally responsible while organizing essential emergency actions such as food delivery to seniors, support for small businesses, personal protective equipment, and rental assistance to tenants.

Thirty-one out of Orange County’s 34 mayors recently requested that the county distribute the $554 million in CARES Act funding it received from the federal government, which is earmarked for local jurisdictions. Unless the county begins to distribute these funds soon, our cities will be crippled, which could impact services such as police, fire, or social services.

Each of us can do our part to reduce COVID-19 by practicing social distancing and wearing protective face masks. In addition, we urge public support for more testing in Orange County, and the collaborative distribution of CARES Act funding to our local communities, each of which desperately needs it.”

The letter was signed by the following Orange County elected officials:

  • Sunny Park, Councilmember, City of Buena Park
  • Jordan Brandman, Councilmember, City of Anaheim
  • Jose Moreno, Councilmember, City of Anaheim
  • Glenn Parker, Councilmember, City of Brea
  • Art Brown, Councilmember, City of Buena Park
  • Katrina Foley, Mayor, City of Costa Mesa
  • John Stephens, Councilmember, City of Costa Mesa
  • Andrea Marr, Councilmember, City of Costa Mesa
  • Manuel Chavez, Councilmember, City of Costa Mesa
  • Jan Florey, Mayor, City of Fullerton
  • Diedre Thu-Ha Nguyen, Councilmember, City of Garden Grove
  • Kim Carr, Councilmember, City of Huntington Beach
  • Melissa Fox, Councilmember, City of Irvine
  • Sergio Contreras, Councilmember, City of Westminster
  • Kerie Kropke, Board Clerk, Brea Orlina Unified School District
  • Ian J. Mcdonald, Boardmember, Centailia Elementary School District
  • Joanne Fawley, Boardmember, Fullerton Joint Union High School District
  • Cynthia Aguirre, La Habra Unified School District
  • John Polacio, Santa Ana Unified School District
  • Chris Brown, Board Vice President, Savanna Unified School District
  • Lorainne Prinsky, Board Vice President, Coast Community College District

If you agree with us that OC Board of Supervisors should increase COVID-19 testing and tracing, work with OC cities to distribute federal CARES Act funds, and follow the Governor’s guidelines to re-start our economy, please let the Orange County Board of Supervisors know by contacting them at (714) 834-3100 or sending them an email.

Thank you.

For more information and resources regarding COVID-19, please click here.

 

 

 

“ReOpen OC Safely” — Orange County Business Council Posts Guidelines for Safely Reopening Orange County Businesses

The Orange County Business Council (OCBC) has developed and published a set of guidelines called “ReOpen OC Safely: Requirements and Best Pratices for Reopening Your Business Safely and Within Current Guidelines” for safely reopening Orange County businesses as the county continues to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. 

ReOpen OC Safely was developed in collaboration with Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce, North Orange County Chamber of Commerce, Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce, and Visit Anaheim as a resource to prepare to safely reopen for business as the county continues to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. 

The State of California has issued “stay at home” emergency orders, but is slowly reopening business segments, subject to restrictions, with modified operations, click here to learn more.

The OCBC guidelines are intended to conform to the restrictions and recommendations of both the State of California and the federal government regarding COVID-19.

Regardless of your industry sector, OCBC recommends that businesses begin planning to reopen, consider guidelines of the Center for Disease Control (CDC), state, county and local guidelines (which may be more restrictive), and plan to ensure the safety and well-being of employees, customers and all those interacting with your business. Note: many draft guidelines will be changed as new information is obtained. Stay engaged. Some general guidelines for developing your plan may include:

  1. Social Distancing : Develop a plan that enables social distancing with current CDC guidance in mind. When possible, practice social distancing by staying at least 6 feet apart from others, particularly for prolonged periods of 10 minutes or more. Develop a plan to manage customer density in queues, restaurants, retail environments or other business facilities.
  1. Cleanliness and Sanitation: Develop a plan that provides enhanced cleaning procedures including establishing frequency, products, and methods on all high touch areas.
  1. Screening and Prevention: Develop a plan that incorporates government/medical recommended screening procedures and preventative measures including personal protective equipment (masks or gloves). 
  1. Transactions: Develop and implement a plan to expedite transactions and where possible incorporate technology like online/mobile order pick up or touch-less transactions.
  1. Employee Training and Tools: Develop a plan that includes training for employees regarding  procedure and expectation changes related to COVID-19

The OCBC guidelines also include specific guidance for individual sectors of the economy, including manufacturing, healthcare, transportation and logistics, professional and business services, global trade, utilities, construction, hospitality and tourism, retail, child care, communications infrastructure, hotels and lodging, life sciences, real estate, theme parks, convention centers, delivery services, agriculture and livestock, food packaging, public transportation, restaurants, and shopping centers.

The OCBC provides links to a checklist for what to do when an employee tests positive for COVID-19, as well as a link to a survey of California businesses regarding re-opening issues.

There are also links to many helpful resources from state, county, and federal agencies.

I strongly recommend that all businesses (and business patrons) in Orange County become familiar with these guidelines, and that they be followed in order to prevent a spike in COVID-19 infections as Orange County businesses begin to re-open to the public.

Thank you to the Orange County Business Council for developing these extremely helpful guidelines!

COVID-19 Notes

I’ve added a new “COVID-19 Community Resources and Information Page to my blog, with links to up-to-date and reliable resources and information from federal, state, and county sources, as well as the cities and public schools in the 68th Assembly District.

I have also decided to use my Assembly campaign phone-banking and community outreach resources to call seniors and people in need of critical services in the cities of Assembly District 68 — Lake Forest, Tustin, Orange, Irvine, Anaheim Hills and Villa Park — to ask how they’re doing during this stressful time and to see whether they need any help, including food assistance and mental health assistance and other community resources.  Our volunteer callers will be able to provide information and connect seniors with any community assistance or resources they might need. Read the story in the O.C. Register.

If you would like to join our “Supporting Seniors” virtual phone-bank and be a volunteer caller, please contact Carson at carson@votemelissafox.comSee our event page on Facebook HERE.

If you need help yourself or have any questions, don’t hesitate to email me at melissa@melissafoxlaw.com or call me at 949-683-8855.

Watch Melissa Fox’s Town Hall on Small Business Assistance, Affordable Housing, and COVID-19 with California State Treasurer Fiona Ma and Small Business Majority’s Claudia Moreno

COVID-19 has impacted both small businesses and housing in California.

In this Town Hall held on Wednesday, April 29, 2020, Irvine City Councilmember Melissa Fox , California State Treasurer Fiona Mam and Claudia Moreno of Small Business Majority discuss the impact of COVID-19 on California’s economy, small business assistance programs, and new opportunities for affordable housing.

Fiona Ma is California’s 34th State Treasurer. She was elected on November 6, 2018, with more votes (7,825,587) than any other candidate for treasurer in the state’s history. She is the first woman of color and the first woman Certified Public Accountant (CPA) elected to the position.

Claudia Moreno is an Southern California Outreach Director for Small Business Majority, a national small business advocacy organization. She previously worked at the White House during the Obama Administration in the Executive Office of Presidential Correspondence where she served as an intermediate between the President and the American people. She also took lead in the Office’s Spanish Analytical Department as an interpreter to support the President’s vision to serve all communities.

Melissa Fox is an Irvine City Councilmember and an attorney, and also serves as Chair of the Irvine Community Land Trust, dedicated to building more affordable housing.

Watch the Town Hall here:

Note:

Join me for our next virtual Town Hall!

On Wednesday, May 5, 2020, at 4:00 p.m., I’ll be speaking with California State Controller Betty T. Yee about the COVOD-19 Crisis and the California Economy.

The title of the Town Hall is “The California Economy Challenged.”

The ZOOM Meeting ID is 951-321-0807.

Please contact my Chief City Council Aide Allison Binder at abinder@cityofirvine.org.

I hope you can join us!

 

Irvine Among Best Cities to be Quarantined!

It’s not something I would have ever anticipated bragging about, but these are unusual times.

In a recent analysis of the best and the worst cities to be quarantined, Irvine was rated #2 overall and #1 in California!

Zippia, a career resource site, analyzed 99 U.S. cities to determine the best and worst places to be quarantined.

Fast internet, more public green space per 1,000 residents, larger apartments and more takeout options meant the city was ranked higher on the list.

The best five cities were (1) Scottsdale, Arizona, (2) Irvine, California, (3) Las Vegas, Nevada, (4) San Diego, California, and (5) Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Here’s what they had to say about Irvine:

Park Land Per 1k People: 39.1
Broadband Internet: 86.1%
Apartment Size: 912 sq ft
Take-out Options: 1695

In 2nd place, we have Irvine, California. 86% of residents in Irvine had broadband internet– the third highest rate in the nation. That speedy internet means more folks in Irvine can prop their feet up, stream Netflix, and order from one of the many delicious restaurants a stone’s throwaway.

Zippia noted that “Overall, while everyone is struggling with quarantine– residents in some cities have a few advantages to help them cope. Fast internet, spacious apartments, take-out, and beautiful parks don’t make up for the lack of human contact and everyday normality. However, they certainly help. Sure, binge watching Tiger King and ordering no-contact delivery is probably not how you imagined an exciting Saturday night a few months ago, but it could be a lot worse. Don’t believe me? Just imagine spending every day, all day in a studio with dial up, no nearby parks, and a few crummy dining options.”

The worst five cities: Laredo, Texas; Buffalo, New York; Paterson, New Jersey; Hialeah, Florida; and Newark, New Jersey.

Irvine Should Require COVID-19 Protections for Nursing Home Patients and Staff

Nursing homes in California have been hit hard by COVID-19. 

As the Los Angeles Times points out, “Nursing homes have become a tragic focal point of the coronavirus outbreak, with their elderly residents, many of whom have underlying health conditions, accounting for a large percentage of COVID-19 deaths across the country. More than 30% of those who have died in Los Angeles County were residents of long-term care facilities; more than 70% of the deaths in Long Beach have been nursing home residents.”  

Patients are removed from Magnolia Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Riverside after dozens tested positive for the coronavirus and staffers, afraid for their safety, stopped showing up for shifts.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Nationally, outbreaks in nursing homes and assisted living centers have been among the most quick-spreading and deadly of the crisis.

Long-term care facilities have accounted for at least 221 deaths in Washington, or about half of the deaths in the state. In New York, more than half of nursing homes have positive cases, and more than 1,700 people in such facilities, about a third of nursing home residents with COVID-19, have died.

Yet, even as deaths from COVID-19 continue to climb in California, especially among older people, our state, county and local governments have not acted with the decisiveness needed to protect our most vulnerable population.

The Los Angeles Times reports that “As the novel coronavirus continues to tear through nursing homes, state and local governments have been slow to inform the public about the scope of the crisis. The state’s list, which officials have promised to update regularly, does not show how many people have died at each facility. It is also plagued by apparent omissions and undercounts. For weeks, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has been publishing names of group living facilities with COVID-19 cases, without specifying how many people have tested positive at each place. Some of those homes do not appear on the state list. The state list also does not include data from California’s 7,461 residential care facilities.”

The Los Angeles Times further explained that “Dotting the state are nursing homes where the deadly contagion has taken hold. In San Bernardino County, at least 25 people have died, about half of them residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. At least 94 confirmed cases came from a single facility in Yucaipa where 10 residents have died. Four people have died and 38 others have tested positive for the virus at the Kensington assisted living facility in Redondo Beach. More outbreaks have been reported in Orinda, San Jose, Burlingame and San Francisco. At a care center in Hayward, 49 staffers and residents tested positive.”

As the devastating impact of COVID-19 on nursing home patients (and staff) comes into sharper focus, many jurisdictions have taken steps to alleviate the crisis and reduce the number of deaths by requiring special protections for nursing home patients.

I believe that our nursing home patients and staff in Irvine also need and deserve these special protections.

Accordingly, at the next Irvine City Council meeting, I will propose that City of Irvine staff determine the protocols relating to preventing the spread of COVID-19 that are currently being followed at nursing home facilities within the City; what additional measures and protocols other jurisdictions are now requiring to protect residents and staff in the subject facilities, and that City staff make recommendations regarding actions to be considered and taken by the City Council to provide additional special protections for nursing home residents and staff during the COVID-19 crisis.

These additional protections may include:

1) Limiting entry into Licensed Congregate Health Care Facilities;
2) Prohibiting employees who have tested positive for or who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 from returning to work until having fulfilled CDC Criteria for Return to Work;
3) Suspending communal dining and activities;
4) Providing separate areas and staff for those with COVID-19;
5) Requiring all staff to wear a surgical masks at all times in the facility;
6) Requiring all staff to follow all infection prevention guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the CDC;
7) Requiring all residents and patients to wear a surgical mask or clean face covering when outside their room;
8) Requiring symptom screening for all; and
9) Requiring daily temperature checks for staff, patients, and residents. 

My goal, as with other matters related to preventing the spread of COVID-19, is to ensure that Irvine’s residents and businesses have the most effective and appropriate help from government that we are able to provide, guided first and foremost by the advice of medical and public health professionals.

Please contact the Irvine City Council to voice your support for additional measures to protect our most vulnerable population!

You can contact all of us on the Irvine City Council at citycouncil@cityofirvine.org.

Also, because the April 28, 2020, Irvine City Council meeting will be held online, you may make a comment opposing the proposed resolution (Item 5.2) and supporting an order for a moratorium on evictions. Your comment will be part of the official record. 

Submit your comment at: Ecomment on Agenda Item 5.2

Thank you!

* * *

COVID-19 Notes

I’ve added a new “COVID-19 Community Resources and Information Page to my blog, with links to up-to-date and reliable resources and information from federal, state, and county sources, as well as the cities and public schools in the 68th Assembly District.

I have also decided to use my Assembly campaign phone-banking and community outreach resources to call seniors and people in need of critical services in the cities of Assembly District 68 — Lake Forest, Tustin, Orange, Irvine, Anaheim Hills and Villa Park — to ask how they’re doing during this stressful time and to see whether they need any help, including food assistance and mental health assistance and other community resources.  Our volunteer callers will be able to provide information and connect seniors with any community assistance or resources they might need. Read the story in the O.C. Register.

If you would like to join our “Supporting Seniors” virtual phone-bank and be a volunteer caller, please contact Carson at carson@votemelissafox.comSee our event page on Facebook HERE.

If you need help yourself or have any questions, don’t hesitate to email me at melissa@melissafoxlaw.com or call me at 949-683-8855.

Join Me for a Virtual Town Hall on Small Business Assistance and Affordable Housing with State Treasurer Fiona Ma!

Join me on Wednesday, April 29, 2020 at 4:00 p.m. for a Virtual Town Hall on Small Business Assistance and Affordable Housing with California State Treasurer Fiona Ma!

ZOOM Meeting ID is 951-321-0807

COVID-19 has impacted both small businesses and housing in California.

Join Irvine City Councilmember Melissa Fox and California State Treasurer Fiona Ma as they discuss the impact of COVID-19 on California’s economy, small business assistance programs, and new opportunities for affordable housing.

Fiona Ma is California’s 34th State Treasurer. She was elected on November 6, 2018 with more votes (7,825,587) than any other candidate for treasurer in the state’s history.

She is the first woman of color and the first woman Certified Public Accountant (CPA) elected to the position.

Melissa Fox is an Irvine City Councilmember and an attorney, and also serves as Chair of the Irvine Community Land Trust, dedicated to building more affordable housing.

For more information, contact Allison Binder at abinder@cityofirvine.org.

To see the Facebook page for this event, click here.

UPDATE:

Melissa Fox will also be joined joined on the Virtual Town Hall by Claudia Moreno, Southern California Outreach Manager for Small Business Majority.

Claudia Moreno develops relationships with both business partners and small business owners across the region to discuss ways to best help small businesses thrive in their local economies. Claudia also works closely on statewide policy initiatives. The daughter of a small business owner, Claudia understands the importance of giving back to her community and intentionally working to empower under-served entrepreneurs.

She previously worked at the White House during the Obama Administration in the Executive Office of Presidential Correspondence where she served as an intermediate between the President and the American people. She also took lead in the Office’s Spanish Analytical Department as an interpreter to support the President’s vision to serve all communities.

Melissa Fox Tele-Town Hall on Pediatric Mental Health During COVID-19 with Dr. Ben Strack

Please join me for a ZOOM Tele-Town Hall on Pediatric Health During COVID-19. 

My very special guest is psychologist Dr. Ben Strack.

Dr. Strack is a licensed psychologist and certified sport psychology consultant (CMPC). Over the past 15 years he has consulted H.S./Collegiate athletes, professional athletes (MLB, MiLB, NHL, PGA, NBA, Professional Soccer/USL), and Olympic athletes (Women’s Indoor Volleyball, Speed Skating, Swimming, Fencing).

He is a former division I college baseball player and founding partner of Proball Inc., private baseball academy. During the 1999 and 2000 MLB seasons, he was the batting practice pitcher for the Anaheim Angels. From 1999 to 2004, he was hand-picked to pitch in the MLB Players’ Association and ESPN’s Big League Challenge Home Run Contests where he was the personal pitcher for Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Raphael Palmeiro, Jose Canseco, Shawn Green, Magglio Ordonez, Andruw Jones, and Troy Glaus.

Dr. Ben Strack is a United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Sport Psychology Registry Member, board member of the Orange County Psychological Association and a co-chairperson for the Optimal Performance/Functioning division of the Association of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. He is also an active member of the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Association for Applied Sport Psychology (AASP).

As an adjunct professor at California State University Long Beach and Argosy University, Dr. Ben Strack taught sport psychology classes in the undergraduate and graduate programs. He is also a frequent speaker at workshops and conferences throughout the country. His work with athletes has appeared in various media including ESPN, The New York Times, and on local television shows in Southern California.

The video of our Tele-Town Hall is below:

StoryTime with Melissa Fox: Melissa Reads Children’s Books Recommended by A Whale of a Tale Bookshoppe!

Welcome to StoryTime with Melissa Fox!

I’ve always loved reading children’s stories out loud.  During this time of social distancing, I’ve decided to make some videos of me reading children’s books aloud in the hope that your children might find these stories entertaining.

All the books that I’m reading were recommended by my insightful friend Alexandra Uhl, the founder and proprietor of the wonderful A Whale of a Tale Bookshoppe, located in Irvine, which has been part of our family’s reading experience for many, many years.

All of the books I’m reading are available to purchase at A Whale of a Tale Bookshoppe!

Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, A Whale of a Tale has had to close to the public.

However, they are offering carry-out curbside book service You can order these books from A Whale of a Tale and pick them up curb-side. Not only will you great books — you’ll also be supporting one of our most community-oriented local independent small businesses!

A Whale of a Tale is located at 16277 Laguna Canyon Rd, Ste G, 92618 Irvine, California.
Their phone number is (949) 854-8288.

 

Now for the stories!

Our first story is “What Does an Anteater Eat?” by Ross Collins.  As a former UC Irvine student, and the wife of someone who received his M.F.A. and Ph.D from UC Irvine, and am very partial to anteaters. In fact, there’s one in my office!

Our next story is “If I Build a Car” by Chris Van Dusen. Did you ever stay up all night dreaming about your next invention? This book’s for you! Feeling like you need to go somewhere? Well, let’s go in Jack’s spectacular car! This one goes out special to Christine Tully and Coleman!

Next is “The Story Book Knight” by Helen Docherty & Thomas Docherty.  Here is a lovely tale about a gentle knight and the power of a good story. Even dragons love a good story!

Feeling like you need some more space? Bear and Mousie are having issues too! Here’s a great next story called “There’s a Bear in My Chair” by Ross Collins that’s perfect for quarantine!

Our next story is one of my favorites, especially when you’re not feeling too happy and want to complain — like many of us feel at times during this quarantine! This wonderful story called “Penguin Problem” by Jory John is about a complain-y penguin and has some wise advice from Walrus that might be very helpful right now.

That’s it for now!

Thank you for reading along with me.

Thank you again to Alexandra Uhl and the great folks at A Whale of a Take Children’s Bookshoppe!

I’ll keep adding new stories as I record them, and I’ll be posting them on a new page on my blog called StoryTime with Melissa — so keep there checking for updates!

Stay safe!

We’re all in this together!

Melissa

 

Child Care is Now Available for Essential Workers in Orange County!

Early Childhood OC is working with agencies across Orange County to compile a searchable database of currently open child care centers and family child care homes serving children aged birth – 12.

This database will be updated every Friday.

To find available child care, click here.

Governor Newsom’s executive order allows essential workers to access child care payment assistance, regardless of their income, while schools are closed because of COVID-19.

Children’s Home Society of California (CHS) has three Child Care Payment Programs that provide subsidized child care services to eligible families: Alternative Payment, CalWORKs, and Family Child Care Home Education Network programs.

Through these programs, in Fiscal Year 2018, CHS provided services to over 9,700 children and over 5,500 families. In all, more than 2,099,000 days of care were provided to children across California.

To find out more about child care payment assistance, click here.

If you operate a child care facility, are currently open, and would like it listed in the data base, click here.

The City of Irvine also has several hundred child care spots available for essential workers.  To find out more, click here.

COVID-19 Notes

I’ve added a new “COVID-19 Community Resources and Information Page to my blog, with links to up-to-date and reliable resources and information from federal, state, and county sources, as well as the cities and public schools in the 68th Assembly District.

I have also decided to use my Assembly campaign phone-banking and community outreach resources to call seniors and people in need of critical services in the cities of Assembly District 68 — Lake Forest, Tustin, Orange, Irvine, Anaheim Hills and Villa Park — to ask how they’re doing during this stressful time and to see whether they need any help, including food assistance and mental health assistance and other community resources.  Our volunteer callers will be able to provide information and connect seniors with any community assistance or resources they might need. Read the story in the O.C. Register.

If you would like to join our “Supporting Seniors” virtual phone-bank and be a volunteer caller, please contact Carson at carson@votemelissafox.comSee our event page on Facebook HERE.

If you need help yourself or have any questions, don’t hesitate to email me at melissa@melissafoxlaw.com or call me at 949-683-8855.

Celebrate “The Week of the Young Child” at Home with Pretend City Children’s Museum!

The Week of the Young Child (April 11-17) is an annual celebration hosted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) celebrating early learning, young children, their teachers, and families.

Unfortunately, this year, young children are stuck at home, away from their schools, teachers, and friends.

The good news is that although Irvine’s Pretend City Children’s Museum is temporarily closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it has made it easier to celebrate the Week of the Young Child from your home — and keep your young children moving, thinking, and expressing throughout this quarantine period.

The staff at Pretend City has said, “We want to share our sincere hope that you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy. As we continue to monitor COVID-19, our top priority remains the well-being of our Pretend City citizens -– all of you! While we’re adapting to new ways of serving you while the museum is temporarily closed, our team is committed to working together to support you.”

Pretend City has put together some fun at-home activities for young children for every day of the week.

To view these activities, click HERE.

Pretend City has also put together a terrific “Way to Play Guide” for Pretend City @ Home, providing age and development appropriate play activities for children from birth to 6 months old, 7 to 12 months old, 13 to 18 months old, 19 to 24 months old, 2 to 3 years old, 3 to 4 years old, 4 to 5 years old, and 5+ years old.

To view the “Way to Play Guide” for Pretend City @ Home, click HERE.

As Pretend City says, “You are your child’s best teacher. By trying these simple and fun play activities, you are helping your child reach his or her developmental milestones. This process of change involves learning skills like walking, talking and playing with others, often at predictable times during the first five years of life. You can use this sheet as a tool to help you better understand your child’s milestones, gauge each new stage of growth and encourage emerging abilities in your child’s life.”

To learn more about helping Pretend City Children’s Museum continue its great work during this difficult time, please click HERE.

Visit Pretend City Children’s Museum on Facebook HERE.

COVID-19 Notes

I’ve added a new “COVID-19 Community Resources and Information Page to my blog, with links to up-to-date and reliable resources and information from federal, state, and county sources, as well as the cities and public schools in the 68th Assembly District.

I have also decided to use my Assembly campaign phone-banking and community outreach resources to call seniors and people in need of critical services in the cities of Assembly District 68 — Lake Forest, Tustin, Orange, Irvine, Anaheim Hills and Villa Park — to ask how they’re doing during this stressful time and to see whether they need any help, including food assistance and mental health assistance and other community resources.  Our volunteer callers will be able to provide information and connect seniors with any community assistance or resources they might need. Read the story in the O.C. Register.

If you would like to join our “Supporting Seniors” virtual phone-bank and be a volunteer caller, please contact Carson at carson@votemelissafox.comSee our event page on Facebook HERE.

If you need help yourself or have any questions, don’t hesitate to email me at melissa@melissafoxlaw.com or call me at 949-683-8855.

 

Irvine Child Care Spots Available for Essential Workers!

I am pleased to announce that Irvine has several hundred spots now open for child care for essential workers.

I currently serve as the Irvine City Council’s representative on the board of directors of the Irvine Child Care Project, along with other representatives from the City of Irvine and Irvine Unified School District. 

Established in 1984, the Irvine Child Care Project (ICCP) is a Joint Powers Agreement between the Irvine Unified School District and the City of Irvine, overseen by the Irvine Child Care Project Board of Directors. It is a unique partnership in which the City of Irvine and the Irvine Unified School District collaborate to accommodate more affordable and quality child care in the City.

On Thursday, April 9, 2020, the ICCP Board had a virtual meeting to discuss some of the critical needs of the ICCP during the COVID-19 crisis.  We made several important decisions at this meeting to help facilitate and increase the availability of child care for essential workers during the COVID-19 crisis.

Crucially,  we voted to waive rental payments from ICC providers for April, May, and June.  Waiving the rent for these providers means that essential child care services will remain accessible to families in need of child care during this crisis. 

Currently, 10 out of the 28 ICCP programs are open to serve children of essential critical infrastructure workers. The sites that are open are located on the following campuses: Canyon View Elementary, Deerfield Elementary, Oak Creek Elementary, Plaza Vista Elementary, Springbrook Elementary, Stonegate Elementary, Turtle Rock Elementary, University Park Elementary, Vista Verde Elementary, and Woodbury Elementary.

These 10 sites currently have the space to enroll approximately 200 additional children. 

If you are an essential critical infrastructure worker and need child care, please click here to access a searchable database of currently open child care centers and family child care homes serving children aged birth –1 2 compiled by Early Childhood OC.  This database will be updated every Friday. The Countywide list linked above lists all open programs in Orange County including, ICCP locations.  In addition, each ICCP location below is identified as OPEN or CLOSED.

Kiddie Academy of Irvine, Prestige Preschool Academy and several family child care providers are open and able to serve school age children, including non-residents.  These programs would be able to serve at least 100 additional children (combined capacity), even with the new guidance from the state regarding decreased capacities for best health and safety practices.  Contact information for each of these programs is available in the searchable database of currently open child care centers and family child care homes compiled by Early Childhood OC. This database is updated weekly.  I anticipate the number of providers on this list to increase as programs re-open to provide emergency child care to essential workers.   Several providers have contacted child care coordination this week to discuss their plans to re-open.

ICCP sites (10 open operated by Child Development Incorporated) are only able to serve Irvine residents and/or children enrolled in the IUSD school district. This is based on the Joint Powers Agreement between the City of Irvine and the Irvine Unified School District.  The ICCP Board has the authority to waive this stipulation, if that is something that the Board would be interested in considering at the May meeting.

You can find more information about these sites and enrollment here

View a directory of ICCP sites here.

Please note: Essential workers include those who work in the following fields: healthcare and public health, emergency services, food and agriculture, energy, water and waste water, transportation and logistics, communications and information technology, government services, critical manufacturing, hazardous materials, financial services, chemicals, and defense/industrial base.  For more details, click here.

COVID-19 Notes

I’ve added a new “COVID-19 Community Resources and Information Page to my blog, with links to up-to-date and reliable resources and information from federal, state, and county sources, as well as the cities and public schools in the 68th Assembly District.

I have also decided to use my Assembly campaign phone-banking and community outreach resources to call seniors and people in need of critical services in the cities of Assembly District 68 — Lake Forest, Tustin, Orange, Irvine, Anaheim Hills and Villa Park — to ask how they’re doing during this stressful time and to see whether they need any help, including food assistance and mental health assistance and other community resources.  Our volunteer callers will be able to provide information and connect seniors with any community assistance or resources they might need. Read the story in the O.C. Register.

If you would like to join our “Supporting Seniors” virtual phone-bank and be a volunteer caller, please contact Carson at carson@votemelissafox.comSee our event page on Facebook HERE.

If you need help yourself or have any questions, don’t hesitate to email me at melissa@melissafoxlaw.com or call me at 949-683-8855.

Tell the Orange County Board of Supervisors to Require Face Coverings for All Food Service, Grocery, and Other Essential Workers!

Did you know that every neighboring county of Orange County requires face coverings for all food service, grocery store, and other essential workers except Orange County?

Did you know that many of these workers are under the age of 18?

In order to stop the spread of COVID-19 and to protect both workers and customers, every neighboring county of Orange County — including San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino and Los Angeles Counties — now require face coverings for all food service, grocery store, and other essential workers.

Only Orange County does not. I believe this failure to protect public health is unacceptable and unconscionable.

My friend, Gina Clayton-Tarvin, President of the Board of Trustees at the Ocean View School District, who has also been a classroom teacher in Orange County for 25 years, has started a petition to address this very serious problem.

The petition calls on Michelle Steel, Chair of Orange County Board of Supervisors, to “allow a vote to order face coverings for all food service, grocery store, and other essential workers, many of whom are children under the age of 18, to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Orange County.”

I have signed this petition because I believe that all workers who are providing us with food, groceries, and other essential goods and services during this pandemic deserve to be as protected from this deadly virus as possible.

As customers of these businesses and as residents of Orange County, we also deserve to be protected.

The protection of public health is an essential responsibility — and must be a top priority — of any government.

As a member of the Irvine City Council, I have already voted to require all retail workers in Irvine to wear face coverings.

Our Orange County Supervisors need to step up now and do the same, and stop putting our food, grocery and other essential workers — and ourselves — in unnecessary danger of contagion and death.

Please sign the petition HERE.

Thank you.

* * * *

COVID-19 Notes

I’ve added a new “COVID-19 Community Resources and Information Page to my blog, with links to up-to-date and reliable resources and information from federal, state, and county sources, as well as the cities and public schools in the 68th Assembly District.

I have also decided to use my Assembly campaign phone-banking and community outreach resources to call seniors and people in need of critical services in the cities of Assembly District 68 — Lake Forest, Tustin, Orange, Irvine, Anaheim Hills and Villa Park — to ask how they’re doing during this stressful time and to see whether they need any help, including food assistance and mental health assistance and other community resources.  Our volunteer callers will be able to provide information and connect seniors with any community assistance or resources they might need. Read the story in the O.C. Register.

If you would like to join our “Supporting Seniors” virtual phone-bank and be a volunteer caller, please contact Carson at carson@votemelissafox.comSee our event page on Facebook HERE.

If you need help yourself or have any questions, don’t hesitate to email me at melissa@melissafoxlaw.com or call me at 949-683-8855.

Irvine Orders All Retail Personnel to Wear Face Coverings

Irvine.FaceMasks.01Effective Wednesday, April 8, 2020, by order of the City Manager in his capacity as Director of Emergency Services,  all retail personnel in the City of Irvine will be required to wear face coverings.

This executive order applies to all retail businesses in Irvine, including, but not limited to:face-mask-480x240

  • Grocery stores
  • Pharmacies
  • Restaurants providing take-out or delivery services
  • Banks, Savings and Loans, and Credit Unions
  • Home Improvement stores
  • Gas Stations
  • Convenience stores

The use of cloth face coverings could reduce the transmission of COVID-19 by individuals who do not have symptoms and may reinforce social distancing. Face coverings can include items such as bandanas, fabric masks, and neck gaiters.

It is important to note face coverings are not a substitute for social distancing and hand washing, which remain our most important line of defense against the spread of COVID-19.

Read the full order here.

For more information about the use of face coverings or to find a provider, visit cityofirvine.org/covid19.

Note: I’ve added a new “COVID-19 Community Resources and Information Page to my blog, with links to up-to-date and reliable resources and information from federal, state, and county sources, as well as the cities and public schools in the 68th Assembly District.

I have also decided to use my Assembly campaign phone-banking and community outreach resources to call seniors and people in need of critical services in the cities of Assembly District 68 — Lake Forest, Tustin, Orange, Irvine, Anaheim Hills and Villa Park — to ask how they’re doing during this stressful time and to see whether they need any help, including food assistance and mental health assistance and other community resources.  Our volunteer callers will be able to provide information and connect seniors with any community assistance or resources they might need.

If you would like to join our “Supporting Seniors” virtual phone-bank and be a volunteer caller, please contact Carson at carson@votemelissafox.com. See our event page on Facebook HERE.

If you need help yourself or have any questions, don’t hesitate to email me at melissa@melissafoxlaw.com or call me at 949-683-8855.

 

Irvine Community Land Trust Continues Mission of Providing Affordable Housing During COVID-19 Crisis

Last week, my colleagues on the Board of Directors of the Irvine Community Land Trust (ICLT) unanimously elected me to serve another year as Chair.  I am grateful for their support and for the opportunity to continue to lead the important work of the Land Trust in this difficult time.

As we fight this deadly outbreak, secure and affordable housing has never been more important.

I’m very happy that California Governor Newsom has issued an Executive Order halting evictions due to non-payment of rent due to medical or financial consequences of COVID-19.  Adding to California’s already far too high 150.000 homeless population would make it even more difficult for us to stop the spread of the virus.

At our next meeting, which will be conducted electronically and to which the public is invited, we will be adopting new measures to help our tenants deal with the COVID-19 emergency, including rent deferments and other forms of assistance.

Our Executive Director of the Irvine Community Land Trust, Mark Asturias, has released the following statement in regard to ICLT’s response to COVID-19:

“Greetings,

There’s no shortage of uncertainly in the world lately, so I’d like to take a moment to tell you exactly how the Irvine Community Land Trust is navigating the post-COVID world.

As an affordable housing nonprofit, our communities are comprised of some of Irvine’s most vulnerable populations, even when there isn’t a global crisis weighing on them. No matter the circumstances, we remain steadfast in our commitment to our residents and to ensuring they have a place they can be proud to call “home.”

We will not falter, but we are doing things a little differently to best protect the health and safety of our staff, board members, residents and partners in the community.

For starters, we’re observing social distancing by moving our regular public board meetings online. Earlier this week, we held the ICLT’s first online board meeting, utilizing both Zoom and a public phone line to great effect. Information on joining our future digital meetings will be posted as available at http://www.irvineclt.org/agenda.

At each of our properties – Parc Derian, Alegre and Doria – we’re working with property managers to ensure residents are equipped with the knowledge and resources they need to navigate these trying times.

Through a series of special government protocols, we’re continuing construction on our new community, Salerno. Out of concern for our construction workers, we’re also undertaking extraordinary measures to ensure they stay safe and healthy while on the job. And, in cooperation with our community partners, we’re continuing our work to make Irvine the best it can be, no matter the challenges we face.

In the coming weeks, the next edition of our newsletter will be delivered as usual, packed with the latest and greatest from the ICLT. For now, rest assured that our commitment to our mission burns stronger than ever as we rise to face this unprecedented situation.

Until next time, stay safe and stay healthy – we’re all in this together.

Sincerely,

Mark Asturias
Executive Director
Irvine Community Land Trust”

For links to up-to-date COVID-19 Resources and Information, click HERE.

 

 

Join Our “Supporting Seniors” Virtual Phone-Bank!

Governor Gavin Newsom has urged all Californians to check in on their older neighbors with a call, text or physically-distanced door knock to make sure they’re okay during this COVID-19 outbreak and stay-at-home order.

Our campaign — Melissa Fox for California Assembly (AD68) — has decided to use our phone-banking and community outreach resources to call seniors and people in need of critical services in the cities of Assembly District 68 — Lake Forest, Tustin, Orange, Irvine, Anaheim Hills and Villa Park — to ask how they’re doing during this stressful time and to see whether they need any help, including food assistance and mental health assistance and other community resources.  Our volunteer callers will be able to provide information and connect seniors with any community assistance or resources they might need.

If you would like to join our “Supporting Seniors” virtual phone-bank and be a volunteer caller, please contact Carson at carson@votemelissafox.com.

You can also sign-up on our campaign website at https://www.votemelissafox.com/callseniors

See our event page on Facebook HERE.

Thanks!

See also: COVID-19 Resources and Information

A Whale of a Tale Children’s Bookstore in Irvine Now Offers Curbside Pick-Up Service!

My longtime favorite Irvine bookstore is A Whale of a Tale Children’s Bookshoppe!

When my son, Max, was little, we loved to go to A Whale of a Take together to hear famous authors read from their books or just to browse their shelves.  I believe our favorite was Dave Shannon, author of “No, David!” and “How I Became a Pirate.”

We especially loved their magical late-night parties when the newest Harry Potter books were first released!

For 20 years Irvine’s own secret garden of children’s books, owned and run by Alex Uhl, has given time and dollars to enhancing community spirit and the education of young people.  They’ve truly lived up to their motto of “Integrity + Service + Respect + Love of Books and Community.”

Irvine City Councilmember Melissa Fox with Whale of a Tale children’s bookstore owner, Alex Uhl.

Because of the COVID-19 outbreak, A Whale of a Tale has had to close to the public.

However, they’ve now announced that they will be offering carry-out curbside book service!

It also a great way to support one of our most community-oriented local independent small businesses!

Here’s their announcement:

“Dear Book Readers,

We hope you are safe, healthy, and enjoying some quality time with your family!
As you know, A Whale of a Tale is closed to the public till further notice…and of course, all of our March and April events have been cancelled.  However, in order to satisfy your need for books and to support your local independent bookstore….

Beginning April 1st we will be offering
BOOK CARRY-OUT curbside book service…
pick-up ONLY!

Interested? We do not have an active on-line shopping cart, but you can still order via e-mail.  So, complete this form if you would like to purchase (add a couple of alternative options)   or e-mail a list to  bookwhale@aol.com 
 (Please include your phone number)

We will gather the books, package them and have them ready for curbside pickup.  If we don’t have a specific book, we will make every effort to order (might take a day or two longer) and/or offer an alternative.  As soon as your order is ready, we’ll give you a call to arrange for payment and pick up. 

Not sure about selection???  Give us your child’s age, gender and interests and we can pull together a SURPRISE Bag of books!! 

 Whale of a Tale is an independent bookstore, in business since 1989, serving children of all ages in greater Orange County, especially Irvine.  It is an honor to serve this community, and we are grateful for your support.
 
We are committed to physical distancing and to keeping everyone healthy.  Still, it goes without saying that bookstores and books are essential in their own special way, especially now with schools and libraries closed, and our children at home.
 
Books keep your spirits up and minds active!

Stay safe, stay healthy, take care of each other…. and make time to READ together!  

Please note that due to the current health situation, books purchased at this time are not returnable.”

A Whale of a Tale Children’s Bookshoppe
16277 Laguna Canyon Rd. Suite G  Irvine, Ca.
Phone: 949-854-8288
www.awhaleofatale.com

I’ve aways loved reading stories out loud and we’ve spent many wonderful hours at A Whale of a Tale Children’s Bookshoppe in Irvine. I’ll be reading a selection of great children’s books handpicked by Alex, the proprietor. Here is “What Does an Anteater Eat?” by Ross Collins.

Let’s Help UCI Medical Center’s PPE Donation Drive!

UCI School of Medicine is in urgent need of personal protective equipment (PPE)!

Medical students are hosting a personal protective equipment (PPE) drive the week of March 30 – April 4, 2020.

UCI Medical Center is accepting the following supplies in unopened and unused condition:
-N95 Respirators
-Surgical Masks
-Face Shields
-Protective Goggles
-Disposable Gloves
-Hand Sanitizer
-Isolation Gowns

Drop Off Locations and Dates:

3/30, 3/31, 4/1, 4/2, 4/4 @ 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Gavin Herbert Eye Institute Parking Lot
850 Health Sciences Rd, Irvine, CA 92697

3/30, 3/31, 4/1 @ 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Albertsons Ladera Ranch
27702 Crown Valley Pkwy Suite B, Ladera Ranch, CA 92694

For questions or concerns, please email donatemasksucisom@gmail.com.

Thank you for your support!

 

California Governor Orders Halt in All Evictions Due to COVID19

Today California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a new Executive Order halting all evictions statewide for those affected by COVID19.

The measure prevents the evictions of renters over the nonpayment of rent through May 31.

It covers those who have lost work because of the pandemic, have become sick or have had to take care of family members with COVID19. Law enforcement and the court system also would be prohibited from executing evictions while the order is in effect.  Renters are required to eventually pay all the rent they owe, and must notify their landlords in writing within seven days of their nonpayment.

In an earlier Executive Order, Governor Newcom had given authority to local governments to ban evictions due to COVID19 for 60 days.  Many cities had exercised this power to halt evictions, including Anaheim and Costa Mesa in Orange County, as well as San Diego, Long Beach, San JoseLos AngelesLong BeachEl MonteFresnoSan Francisco,  CamarilloOjaiOxnardThousand OaksMoorpark, and Santa Monica.

The Governor’s new order is especially welcome in cities like Irvine, where this week, by a 4-1 vote, the Irvine City Council refused even to vote on my motion to order a legal moratorium on evictions due to the COVID19 crisis, opting instead to “strongly encourage” landlords not to seek evictions by passing a non-binding resolution with no legal force. I voted No because Irvine renters need real protection but the resolution passed by the Council has absolutely no legal force or effect. 

Now, renters in all California cities — including Irvine — are protected from eviction due to COVID19.

Thank you, Governor Newsom!

 

“Irvine Neighbors Helping Irvine Neighbors” — City of Irvine and Families Forward Host Food Collection Event on Sat., March 28

City of Irvine staff has coordinated with Families Forward, an Irvine-based non-profit dedicated to helping low income & homeless families, for an “Irvine Neighbors Helping Irvine Neighbors” Food Collection event this Saturday, March 28 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The event will be held at two locations — the Irvine Civic Center (north parking lot next to the Child Care Center) and at the Orange County Great Park (Lot 2, Festival Lot).

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, food assistance requests to Families Forward have increased 500%.

They are in most need of the following items:

  • Cereal
  • Peanut Butter
  • Canned Chicken
  • Canned Tuna
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Dried Pasta
  • Baby Wipes

Familes Forward.donate-page-with-familyThe event will be staffed by Families Forward volunteers as a “drop-and-go” with items being removed from the trunk of vehicles to adhere to social distancing requirements. Participants are required to remain in their vehicles.

A traffic safety plan has been developed for both sites with the assistance of Irvine Public Works & Transportation, Public Safety, and Community Services staff to facilitate anticipated traffic.

Families Forward is an Orange County, California, non-profit that exists to help families that are homeless or at-risk of homelessness achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through housing, food, counseling, education, and other support services. It assists families in financial crisis to achieve and maintain self-sufficiency. As Families Forward explains, “We do not just provide support; we supply the tools for families to once again become independent, productive residents of the community.”

To make a financial donation to Families Forward, click here.

At one time or another, any family may find itself in need of some form of support. If you are in need of support, please contact Families Forward at (949) 552-2727 or info@families-forward.org.

The Irvine City Council Refuses To Order Moratorium On Evictions. Instead, Council “Encourages” Landlords Not To Evict. Tell Them To Order That Irvine Residents And Businesses Be Protected From Eviction Due to the COVID-19 Crisis.

At tonight’s Irvine City Council meeting, Mayor Christina Shea and three City Councilmembers refused to order a legal moratorium on evictions due to the COVID19 crisis, and instead adopted a non-binding resolution to “strongly encourage . . . residential and commercial landlords, and all utility providers, in the City of lrvine to abide by the provisions of the Governor’s Executive Order, and to specifically refrain from evictions, foreclosures, rent increases, or service and utility disconnections during the period of the COVID-19 emergency.”

Photo: Tomoya Shimura, Orange County Register.

I voted No because the resolution passed by the Council has absolutely no legal force or effect. 

I am extremely disappointed in the Mayor and my Irvine City Council colleagues, who have failed to use the authority granted to us by the Governor to fully protect our residents and businesses by legally ensuring that they will able to remain their in homes and shops during this crisis — as has been done in many other California cities, including San Jose, Los Angeles, Long Beach, El Monte, Fresno, San Francisco,  Camarillo, Ojai, Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, Moorpark, and Santa Monica.

The Council also claimed that it had no authority to halt evictions due to foreclosure, although the Governor’s Executive Order explicitly states that local governments like the City of Irvine are empowered to halt evictions where “The basis for the eviction is nonpayment or rent, or a foreclosure” due economic loss because of COVID19.

Our residents and businesses deserve a legally binding order halting evictions due to COVID19.

Corporations are always asking for certainty and clarity in laws and regulations. Don’t the people also deserve certainty and clarity?

If the Mayor and the rest of the City Council choose to attack me personally because I stand for real protections for our residents and local businesses, so be it.

See the Voice of OC story HERE.

However, I have not given up on the people getting the Irvine City Council to do the right thing and use the our authority to order a legally binding moratorium on all COVID-9 related evictions.

Please continue to contact the Mayor and the members of the Irvine City Council and ask them to exercise their full power to protect Irvine residents and businesses from eviction.

If you are personally in danger of eviction, or in the process of eviction, please let them (and me) know.

You can contact all of us on the Irvine City Council at citycouncil@cityofirvine.org

Thank you.

We’re all in this together.

Melissa

 

 

California Apartment Association Calls for Halt on Evictions, Rent Freeze, and Property Tax Relief

Last week I called for the Irvine City Council to use the power specifically granted to us by the Governor to order a temporary 60-day ban on evictions for all residential and business tenants and subtenants, as well as for those people who are unable to pay their mortgage, due to reasons related to COVID-19.

Irvine City Hall (Tomoya Shimura, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Today, I received an email from the California Apartment Association (CAA), the nation’s largest statewide trade group representing owners, investors, managers and suppliers of apartments, which has adopted a program it calls the Safe at Home Guidelines, asking its every California rental housing provider to commit to the following through May 31, 2020:

  • Freeze rents on all residents & pledge to not issue any rent increases.
  • Halt evictions on renters affected by COVID-19, absent extraordinary circumstances.
  • Waive late fees for residents who pay rent after the rent due date because they have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and related government actions.
  • Offer flexible payment plans for residents who cannot pay rent by the due date.
  • Direct renters to available resources to assist with food, health, and financial assistance.
  • Communicate with residents proactively that you are available to assist them and want to work with them to ensure they remain housed.

The CAA further noted that “As our members continue serving residents, they continue to incur expenses such as mortgages, taxes, insurance, maintenance, and payroll. Therefore, we are seeking your support in advocating for property tax and additional mortgage relief beyond those that are backed by federal programs. Temporary relief will benefit California renters, homeowners, and housing providers who are all struggling from the COVID-19 virus.”

I applaud the CAA for stepping up in this crisis. 

I also strongly agree that state and local property tax and mortgage relief measures are necessary to help property owners through this difficult time.

Accordingly, it is even more important that the Irvine City Council, at its meeting on Tues., March 24, order a temporary 60-day ban on evictions for all residential and business tenants and subtenants, as well as for all those people who are unable to pay mortgage, due to reasons related to COVID-19, in addition to property tax relief measures.

If you believe, as I do, that the currently agendized proposal is inadequate in the face of the crisis, and that, instead, the City of Irvine should  use the power specifically granted to it by the Governor to order a temporary 60-day ban on evictions for all residential and business tenants and subtenants, as well as for those people who are unable to pay their mortgage, due to reasons related to COVID-19, please email the Mayor and the Irvine City Council to let them know.

Send emails to: citycouncil@cityofirvine.org

Also, because the March 24, 2020, Irvine City Council meeting will be held online, you may make a comment opposing the proposed resolution (Item 5.2) and supporting an order for a moratorium on evictions. Your comments will be read into the record. 

Submit your comment at: E-Comment Link

Thank you.

We’re all in this together.

Melissa

UPDATE:  The Irvine City Council Refuses To Order Moratorium On Evictions. Instead, Council “Encourages” Landlords Not To Evict. Tell Them To Order That Irvine Residents And Businesses Be Protected From Eviction Due to the COVID-19 Crisis.

 

 

THE IRVINE CITY COUNCIL SHOULD ORDER A 60-DAY BAN ON ALL EVICTIONS DUE TO THE COVID-19 CRISIS

During California’s housing crisis, we now face a pandemic of exponential growth and danger. This public health emergency would be made worse by adding to our homeless and unsheltered population.

Amid layoffs, job losses, business closures, and wage and stock market losses, families are struggling to stay housed and obtain food, medicine, and other staples. Every local Irvine business is experiencing stress from the impacts of this pandemic. Most of those who will become ill from this virus will go through it at home, cared for by family, friends and neighbors.

In response to the need to keep people sheltered and financially secure during this epidemic, the Governor of California issued an Executive Order on March 16, 2020, that specifically authorizes local governments such as the City of Irvine to halt evictions for both renters and homeowners.

Irvine City Hall (Tomoya Shimura, Orange County Register/SCNG)

The Governor stated, “Californians are experiencing substantial loss of hours or wages, or layoffs related to COVID-19, affecting their ability to keep up with their rents, mortgages, and utility bills. People shouldn’t lose or be forced out of their home because of the spread of COVID-19. Over the next few weeks, everyone will have to make sacrifices – but a place to live shouldn’t be one of them. I strongly encourage cities and counties take up this authority to protect Californians.”

At this time of unprecedented stress and vulnerability to our residents and businesses, we cannot add to our homeless and unsheltered population. It is a matter of conscience as well as public health and safety.

We must also help our business community survive.  Therefore, I am calling for a temporary 60-day ban on evictions for all residential and business tenants and subtenants, as well as for mortgagees, who are unable to pay their rent or mortgage due to reasons related to COVID-19 (as spelled out in detail in the Governor’s Executive Order).

Any meaningful relief from eviction during this crisis must include mortgagees as well as renters.  The power of local governments like the City of Irvine to order a moratorium on evictions due to foreclosure is specifically included in the Governor’s Executive Order. The critical importance of this protection during our present crisis has been acknowledged by mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which, along with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, have already suspended foreclosures and evictions of homeowners behind on their mortgages.

Based on the above, I believe that the proposal by Mayor Shea and Councilmember Khan that is now agendized as Item 5.2 for the March 24, 2020, Irvine City Council meeting is inadequate to deal with the current crisis.

According to the memo submitted by Mayor Shea and Councilmember Khan, rather than enacting an order declaring a moratorium on all evictions, it is proposed instead that the Irvine City Council would “memorialize” a commitment between the City and major landlords/developers The Irvine Company and FivePoint Holdings that they are “both committed to honoring the spirit and intent of the Governor’s executive order.” The memo further stated that “If, despite our best intentions, we see a need to enact a local ordinance to limit evictions, we will immediately do so.”

The currently agendized proposal is inadequate for the following reasons:

  • It does not protect homeowners paying a mortgage who are in danger of foreclosure.
  • It does not protect tenants of any landlords other than The Irvine Company and FivePoint.
  • It does not protect subtenants.
  • It does not offer full legal protection, affording no real security or peace of mind.

Therefore, I recommend that the Irvine City Council order a temporary 60-day ban on evictions for all residential and business tenants and subtenants, as well as for all those people who are unable to pay mortgage, due to reasons related to COVID-19.

If you believe, as I do, that the currently agendized proposal is inadequate in the face of the crisis, and that, instead, the City of Irvine should  use the power specifically granted to it by the Governor to order a temporary 60-day ban on evictions for all residential and business tenants and subtenants, as well as for those people who are unable to pay their mortgage, due to reasons related to COVID-19, please email the Mayor and the Irvine City Council to let them know.

Send emails to: citycouncil@cityofirvine.org

Also, because the March 24, 2020, Irvine City Council meeting will be held online, you may make a comment opposing the proposed resolution (Item 5.2) and supporting an order for a moratorium on evictions. Your comments will be read into the record. 

Submit your comment at: Ecomment on Agenda Item 5.2

Thank you.

We’re all in this together.

Melissa

UPDATE:

See The Irvine City Council Refuses To Order Moratorium On Evictions. Instead, Council “Encourages” Landlords Not To Evict. Tell Them To Order That Irvine Residents And Businesses Be Protected From Eviction Due to the COVID-19 Crisis.

 

 

California Governor Orders Everyone to Stay Home Except as Needed for Essential Services

This evening, the California State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Public Health is ordering all individuals living in the State of California to stay home or at their place of residence except as needed to maintain continuity of operation of the federal critical infrastructure sectors.

Read the full Executive Order here.

How long will we stay home?
This goes into effect on Thursday, March 19, 2020. The order is in place until further notice.

What can I do? What’s open?
Essential services will remain open such as:

Gas stations
Pharmacies
Food: Grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, take-out and delivery restaurants
Banks
Laundromats/laundry services
Essential state and local government functions will also remain open, including law enforcement and offices that provide government programs and services.

What’s closed?
Dine-in restaurants
Bars and nightclubs
Entertainment venues
Gyms and fitness studios
Public events and gatherings
Convention Centers

\Where does this apply?
This is in effect throughout the State of California.

For a complete list of measures in effect in the City of Irvine and for regular updates on this rapidly evolving situation, visit cityofirvine.org.  See also:

Irvine Proclamation of Emergency for City of Irvine COVID-19

Irvine Coronavirus Emergency Measures

Please also see my earlier posts related to COVID-19:

California Extends Tax Deadline to July 15, 2020, for Payments Due of Up to $10 Million for Corporations and $1 Million for Individuals

City of Irvine Leaders Close City Hall, Proclaim Local Emergency in Response to COVID-19

New Statement of the Orange County Health Officer Re COVID-19 (March 17, 2020)

California State Tax Deadline Extended to June 15 Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

Irvine Schools Providing Lunches for Students During COVID-19 Closure

Irvine City Council Issues Response to Coronavirus Outbreak

California Financial Support for Employers and Employees Affected by the Coronavirus

We’re All in this Together. The Coronavirus Doesn’t Discriminate. Neither Should We.

Consult these additional resources for up-to-date information.

Orange County’s Amended Order Re COVID-19 (March 18, 2020)

Late this afternoon, Orange County issued an Amended Health Officer Order to provide additional clarity and guidance to residents and businesses.

According to the County, the earlier order was amended “in light of new and changing State guidelines and to provide clarity for Orange County residents and businesses. It is important for all Orange County residents and businesses to read the Order and Guidance in its entirety.”

In contrast to its earlier order, the Amended Order states that no businesses are required to close except bars and other alcohol-serving establishments, movie theaters, gyms and health clubs.  Restaurants can operate, but only provide delivery pick up and drive-through service.

Now, the County states in a press release accompanying the Amended Order that “It is important for Orange County businesses to remain open while practicing social distancing consistent with the California Department of Public Health’s guidance.”

Read the Press Release and full Amended Order HERE.

For a complete list of measures in effect in the City of Irvine and for regular updates on this rapidly evolving situation, visit cityofirvine.org.  See also:

Irvine Proclamation of Emergency for City of Irvine COVID-19

Irvine Coronavirus Emergency Measures

Please also see my earlier posts related to COVID-19:

City of Irvine Leaders Close City Hall, Proclaim Local Emergency in Response to COVID-19

New Statement of the Orange County Health Officer Re COVID-19 (March 17, 2020)

California State Tax Deadline Extended to June 15 Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

Irvine Schools Providing Lunches for Students During COVID-19 Closure

Irvine City Council Issues Response to Coronavirus Outbreak

California Financial Support for Employers and Employees Affected by the Coronavirus

We’re All in this Together. The Coronavirus Doesn’t Discriminate. Neither Should We.

Consult these additional resources for up-to-date information.

City of Irvine Leaders Close City Hall, Proclaim Local Emergency in Response to COVID-19

IRVINE, Calif. (March 17, 2020): Today, City of Irvine officials issued a proclamation declaring a local emergency, announced the closure of City Hall, and took additional steps to protect the public and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

“We want our community to know that the City is taking every step necessary to safeguard the health and well-being of our residents and businesses,” stated Irvine Mayor Christina Shea. “The City of Irvine is an innovative and diverse community. We ask that you follow the State and Federal guidelines. Even though they are not mandated, we encourage you to exercise them to the best of your ability. By respecting these preventative measures, we are protecting ourselves and each other, doing our part to slow the progression of COVID-19.”

Irvine City Hall (Tomoya Shimura, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Local Emergency Proclamation: The local emergency proclamation will go into effect on Wednesday, March 18, enhancing the City’s ability to access state and federal funding for COVID-19 response.

City Hall Closure: City Hall will be closed to the public, effective Wednesday, March 18. Limited City staff will remain available to maintain essential services online, via telephone, and/or via video conference. The Irvine Police Department remains open, but the public is strongly encouraged to call or email before coming to the station.

Irvine Animal Care Center: The Irvine Animal Care Center will be open on an appointment-only basis. No drop-in services shall be available. Community members can call the Center at 949-724-7740 to make an appointment.

After School and Spring Break Programs: Given the closures of the Irvine Unified School District, Santa Ana Unified School District, and Tustin Unified School District, after school programs are and spring break programs are canceled.

These measures are in addition to actions the City Council put in place at an emergency City Council meeting on March 12. The Council closed senior centers, canceled all City-sponsored community events through the end of April, including the Great Park Balloon and Carousel, and canceled all adult recreation programs, as well as indoor and outdoor youth recreation programs through April 30.

“The changes in work and home life caused by COVID-19 are significant and evolving,” City Manager John Russo said. “These additional operational modifications have been devised with a goal of protecting all City employees and community members, while continuing to provide public service. The declaration of local emergency will not affect services provided by the Irvine Police Department, Building Inspections, and Code Enforcement. We are asking for the community’s assistance, understanding, and patience, as we navigate these unprecedented times together.”

For a complete list of measures in effect and for regular updates on this rapidly evolving situation, visit cityofirvine.org.

Proclamation of Emergency for City of Irvine COVID-19

Coronavirus Emergency Measures

Please also see my earlier posts related to COVID-19:

New Statement of the Orange County Health Officer Re COVID-19 (March 17, 2020)

California State Tax Deadline Extended to June 15 Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

Irvine Schools Providing Lunches for Students During COVID-19 Closure

Irvine City Council Issues Response to Coronavirus Outbreak

California Financial Support for Employers and Employees Affected by the Coronavirus

We’re All in this Together. The Coronavirus Doesn’t Discriminate. Neither Should We.

Consult these additional resources for up-to-date information.

New Statement of the Orange County Health Officer Re COVID-19. UPDATED* (March 17, 2020)

On March 17, 2020, the Orange County Health Officer has issued the following Order:*

”We are taking these mitigation steps in line with a directive issued by Governor Newsom to help slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Nichole Quick, County Health Officer. “We recognize community members may experience anxiety related to the social disruption caused by COVID-19, and want to encourage residents to reach out to loved ones using appropriate methods like telephone, video messaging, email and text.”

View the Order online HERE.

* UPDATE

This evening, Orange County issued the following update and clarification of their earlier Order:

ORANGE COUNTY OPERATIONAL AREA

EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTER

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Molly Nichelson

EOC Public Information Officer

714-628-7062

 PRESS RELEASE # 008

Date: 3-17-20      Time: 18:51 hours

Public Health Order is NOT an Order to Shelter in Place

Today’s order from County Health Officer Dr. Nichole Quick is NOT an order to shelter in place. It is not a lockdown. It is important for all Orange County businesses to remain open while practicing social distancing consistent with the Governor’s guidance. However, following State guidelines, all bars and other establishments that serve alcohol and do not serve food shall close. All restaurants and other business establishments that serve food shall close all onsite dining. Pickup, delivery and drive thru services may remain open. It is important for all Orange County residents to read the order in its entirety.

Unfortunately, the order as written caused wide-spread confusion. In order to provide additional clarity requested by Orange County residents and businesses, the County will be issuing an amended Health Officer’s Order.

Should you have questions, please contact the County of Orange Public Information Hotline at (714) 628-7085. Please do not call 9-1-1 unless it is an emergency.

For general information about COVID-19, please call the OC Health Care Agency’s (HCA) Health Referral Line at (800) 564-8448, visit http://www.ochealthinfo.com/novelcoronavirus, or follow the HCA on Facebook (@ochealthinfo) and Twitter (@ochealth).

View the Press Release here.

Please also see my earlier posts related to COVID-19:

California State Tax Deadline Extended to June 15 Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

Irvine Schools Providing Lunches for Students During COVID-19 Closure

Irvine City Council Issues Response to Coronavirus Outbreak

California Financial Support for Employers and Employees Affected by the Coronavirus

We’re All in this Together. The Coronavirus Doesn’t Discriminate. Neither Should We.

Consult these additional resources for up-to-date information.