An important letter to residents from Menlo Park Mayor Cecilia Taylor about COVID-19

by Contributed Content on March 28, 2020

Dear Residents of Menlo Park,

Your patience, courtesy and adherence to the shelter in place order are very much appreciated. We are living a new normal in navigating our day-to-day lives, where things are changing rapidly every day due to COVID-19. What has not changed, I assure you, is the City of Menlo Park’s commitment to your health and safety during this public health crisis.

There have been many additional measures considered and implemented to help protect the health and safety of all residents in Menlo Park and employees. Fortunately, our County’s Shelter in Place Order was one of the first across California, which started reducing the spread of COVID-19 and flattening the curve. Governor Newsom also acted decisively by putting a stay-at-home order in place, with limited exceptions, throughout California.

COVID-10 has reminded us of the interconnectedness of all our lives and how we depend on each other to make it through such a crisis. As a reminder, do your bit to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by social distancing and frequent hand-washing. Please continue to stay at home. Only leave for essential activities, food, medical necessities or outdoor exercise. Learn more about how to protect yourself at the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention website.

Access in the time of crisis
In these times, we as public officials have to quickly analyze complex information, make quick decisions and understand that these decisions have impact on those we serve at their most vulnerable time. A vision or perspective using the lens of equity must be included in these decisions. Challenging times are particularly difficult for people who have not reaped the benefits of our fruitful county or booming economy. For them, the limited access that existed before COVID-19 still exists today, and the impact is felt even harder.

Many residents do not have options to stock up on food and supplies. Others are worried about being evicted and may not be aware of the resources available now. Many live in an area zoned for much higher density without many resources, making social distancing strategies more difficult.

The city and county have made the following resources available to address these needs:

The city of Menlo Park has allocated $100,000 as emergency funds to cover rent, food and utilities. The city has collaborated with Samaritan House to disburse funds. Visit the Samaritan House website for more information.

The San Mateo County Board of Supervisors this week approved $3 million to seed a fund called San Mateo County Strong to support residents, nonprofit organizations and small businesses through this crisis. The fund will cover basic household expenses for residents, help local businesses avoid layoffs and stay open, and support nonprofit organizations that take care of our most vulnerable populations. If you are interested in donating to this fund or applying for economic help from this fund, visit their site for the latest updates.

San Mateo County has approved a resolution establishing a temporary, countywide eviction moratorium for nonpayment of rent by residential tenants directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

What are my priorities as a Mayor in the coming weeks and months?

I will continue to focus on these priorities:

  • Proactive and regular communication – increased phone hours and video town hall meetings on specific subjects, leverage technology for virtual connections
  • Increased volunteerism, including with needed City projects that can be done remotely. We would like to put up a website with needs that the community can offer to help with
  • Early childhood education resources for in-home schooling
  • Moratorium on evictions for small business owners
  • Encourage all residents to participate in the 2020 census
  • Resources for health and wellness, education and life-long learning, families and small businesses
  • Updated emergency evacuation plan for each neighborhood in Menlo Park
  • Creating a council of churches to build networks within communities to share resources more easily
  • Listening campaigns in all districts with proactive community outreach and education
  • Virtual Office Hours including next Tuesday, March 31, 2020, from 10-11 a.m.

What is your personal responsibility?

  • Stay home. It makes a difference.
  • Check in with neighbors who live alone, the elderly and the chronically ill. Call them so they do not feel so alone, and be aware of who needs help so we can help them. Social distancing does not mean social isolation. We just need to learn different methods to stay in touch.
  • Stay informed by visiting our city’s coronavirus website

What is your civic responsibility?

In the coming weeks, I will be sharing more health and wellness resources. I am very mindful of how sheltering in place is affecting all of us. We have come to a time where we need to rely, trust and support one another. Keep doing the things you’re doing to stay safe and take care of yourself and your loved ones.

In times like this, I am inspired by the human spirit and this quote from Maya Angelou: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

InMenlo file photo (c) 2017

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