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Our Community Focus

Pleasant Hill Mayor's Message

Apr 01, 2020 05:20PM ● By Matthew Rinn

I am writing this on day two of the three-week “shelter in place” ordered by our county health officer. By the time this print edition reaches homes, we will be two-thirds of the way through. Hopefully, you’ve been able to use this time to discover a favorite new TV show, catch up with friends and family over social media, and even clean out that junk drawer you’ve been meaning to get to.

I’ve been enjoying the creative posts on Facebook by the Pleasant Hill Police Department’s new Social Media Team. Realizing that the shelter in place order limits opportunities for positive interactions with the community, the Social Media Team is focusing on building relationships virtually. If you haven’t started following @PleasantHillPD on Facebook, @phpdofficial on Instagram, and @PHillPD on Twitter, now is a great time.

I’ve also been brainstorming ways to support the local businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19. Many have had to close during this shelter in place period, while those that are allowed to stay open may have seen a huge drop in customers. Nearly all of our restaurants have take-out or delivery options as well as gift certificates for future in-person dining. Retail stores, nail salons, and other small businesses that are closed during the shelter in place order may also have gift cards or certificates that you can buy now and give in the future for birthdays and other special occasions.

While these are unprecedented times, it’s good to know that we have a structure in place to manage any kind of emergency. The Standardized Emergency Management System (SEMS) is a statewide process that was put into effect after the 1991 Oakland Hills firestorm destroyed nearly 3,000 homes and killed 25 people. One of the challenges during that horrific firestorm was a lack of coordination between first responders, utilities, and government agencies. As a result, state lawmakers passed legislation mandating the creation of a standardized emergency management system that clearly lays out the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved in the response. In layman’s term, it helps us all “stay in our lane.”

In the case of COVID-19, Pleasant Hill is part of a countywide response led by Contra Costa Health Services. While we have not (at least at the time that I’m writing this) had to open our own Emergency Operations Center, we have been in daily contact with Contra Costa Health Services and the Office of Emergency Services to stay on top of developments and gain valuable information to share with our own community.

All of our city employees, from police to finance, are trained in SEMS. We also have a Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan that fleshes out how Pleasant Hill uses the SEMS structure to provide for the safety of our community in times of disaster. In addition to trained employees, we are fortunate to have a robust Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program, with volunteers ready to assist in our neighborhoods. CERT just revamped their website; if you’re looking for something to do during the rest of the shelter in place period, surf their site at pleasanthillcert.org and pick up some preparedness ideas so you’re ready for the next time we face an emergency. (Hint: Their Home Preparedness Kit checklist lists toilet paper under “essentials.”)

This time of “shelter in place” will come to an end, and we will be enjoying all Pleasant Hill has to offer again. I look forward to seeing everyone around town when that happens. And now, I’m going to go wash my hands again.