The city of Yakima has taken tentative steps to extend its state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, at the same time the Yakima City Council continues to look at ways to help residents struggling financially.
Tuesday’s council meeting will include an update on the city’s response to the pandemic from Interim City Manager Alex Meyerhoff. His memo, available online, notes the city has taken precautions to minimize the virus’ spread, while maintaining existing services and starting to plan for an eventual reopening.
The memo reports staff are preparing a re-opening plan for city facilities, with a phased approach that will first welcome back employees, followed by members of the public with appointments, and finally the public without restrictions.
Plexiglass doors have been installed on all city buses, the Yakima-Ellensburg Commuter services are continuing as normal, and city staff are meeting weekly with FEMA regarding reimbursement for qualified expenses.
The memo also notes positive developments — such as staff continuing operations with less paper — as well as delays. The city’s inability to hold public meetings or hearings for the planning commission and the City Council have resulted in a backlog of projects put on hold until hearings can resume, Meyerhoff wrote.
Also on the council’s agenda for its Tuesday meeting are tentative resolutions extending the city’s state of emergency, as well as a tentative mayoral proclamation that could temporarily suspend some parking enforcement and towing for the duration of the pandemic.
The council will discuss changes to the city’s home occupation permitting process — the result of a request to see if the city could allow people to run businesses from their homes — as well as possible accommodations for bars and restaurants.
The council also is set to discuss possibly lifting limits on cruising at the Tuesday meeting.
The meeting will start at 5:30 p.m. Public attendance and general public comment will not be allowed due to COVID-19 precautions, but interested individuals can watch proceedings on the city’s livestream at https://www.yakimawa.gov/council/live-stream.