Covid-19: A Call for Local Ideas

At last Monday’s Council meeting I made a brief presentation to my colleagues about wanting to ensure we continued to fulfill our policy- and law- making duties during this emergency (you can find the PowerPoint at the end of this article). “Let’s not interfere with staff’s job…but let’s do ours”.

There was reasonably broad support for this idea provided we were careful to not use up scarce staff resources needed to address the emergency. We decided to provide staff with ideas for further consideration. The city manager will consolidate and organize those and we’ll prioritize them at our next meeting.

To that end I’d appreciate your input on policies or rules we need to tweak or impose temporarily to help San Carlos get through this crisis. Feel free to suggest whatever you think is important…but recognize the bigger an idea is the less likely it’ll find support on the dais1.

Here are some examples that I’ve already heard or received or thought of:

  • Restrict construction activity to reduce the noise impact on residents because we all have to shelter at home.
  • Extend the County’s ban on residential evictions to commercial evictions.
  • Adopt a “steady as she goes” budget to comply with state law.
  • Temporarily ban all commercial construction to minimize viral spread.

I look forward to hearing from you. Stay healthy. Stay safe.

Here’s the PowerPoint I mentioned above.


  1. You should make your suggestions to the entire Council. Doing so increases the odds that someone will propose your idea five-fold. 

1 thought on “Covid-19: A Call for Local Ideas”

  1. Jorg Heinemann

    Mark,
    thanks for reaching out. These are difficult times and San Carlos city leadership can really help. As I see it, our goals are to (a) keep us safe and healthy, (b) minimize economic disruption as much as possible. Some suggestions with those goals in mind:
    1. encourage and enforce social distancing in our parks, streets, businesses etc. BUT KEEP THEM OPEN AND ACCESSIBLE (e.g., tennis courts, fields and park bathrooms). Some good signage has already been added. More likely helps. Instead of closing bathrooms, add soap, hand sanitizer etc. Enable social distancing while minimizing restriction of activity.
    2. Publish guidelines for stores and businesses on how to implement social distancing. Seems some places are doing a good job of this already. Others not so much. Consistency and rigor will help.
    3. Keep the planning and other city processes moving, but shift to video. Don’t let the development engines and construction related jobs stall out. It’s a huge piece of our economy.
    4. Tread lightly on restricting construction. Maybe slight reduction in work hours, but allow projects — both residential and commercial to continue. Instead, focus on communication and enforcement of social distancing for those activities.
    5. Allow work activities that lend themselves naturally to social distancing, such as gardeners, to continue. Again, focus on the desired behavior–avoiding spread of the virus, while letting people work where it makes sense.
    6. Think long-term. We will likely be in this fight for many months. We need actions that make us safer and allow us to work to fight Covid-19 and other nasty bugs that will undoubtedly confront us in years to come.

    Note that I don’t have a personal stake in that outcome, other than wanting to see us stay safe and allowing some economic momentum continue.
    Thanks for your leadership
    Jorg Heinemann

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