Littleton City Council held its shortest meeting in memory on March 20, taking less than two minutes to ratify an emergency declaration that city officials say is necessary to make Littleton eligible for disaster relief during the coronavirus crisis.
Click here to read about the city's coronavirus response efforts.
Littleton Mayor Jerry Valdes was joined by four other councilmembers, standing far apart, outside city hall — another first — to ratify the state of emergency declaration signed by City Manager Mark Relph on March 14. Council also ratified a resolution allowing teleconference council meetings, which are expected to begin on April 7.
The emergency declaration establishes a line of succession of city authority if officials become incapacitated by illness, and calls for the city to coordinate with state and federal authorities to implement disaster plans.
It also authorizes the city manager to enact sweeping edicts, including establishing curfews, closing “any or all public places,” convening ration boards and imposing price controls.
Click here to read the full text of the declaration.
City Manager Mark Relph called the declaration's clauses boilerplate, and said he has no intention to enact any of the more extreme clauses unless following instructions from state authorities.
“That's how we've been approaching this so far,” Relph said. “I had no intention of closing down restaurants, but the governor did.”
Relph said he has been in touch with the Littleton Business Chamber, and the city is working to promote businesses that are remaining open through the crisis.
Click here for a list of businsesses open during the crisis.
Councilmembers Scott Melin and Pam Grove did not attend the meeting, because both are self-isolating after coming into contact with two attendees who later tested positive for COVID-19 at the National League of Cities conference in Washington, D.C. in early March.
Both Melin and Grove told Colorado Community Media they feel fine and are not showing symptoms, but wanted to err on the side of caution following guidance from doctors and the Colorado Municipal League.
Mayor Valdes, who also attended the conference, said he had been self-isolating, but said he did not have contact with the infected guests and felt confident about attending the special meeting.
“I'm not running up and kissing and hugging anybody,” Valdes said. “It's day 9 since the conference. I've been scrubbing up, and I feel perfectly fine.”
Under city code, Littleton Police Chief Doug Stephens is the city's emergency manager.
Stephens said the Littleton Police Department is fully staffed, but is attempting to minimize unnecessary contact in keeping with public health orders.
“If there are calls that aren't a high priority, like a theft from a garage or a car break-in, we'll take reports over the phone,” Stephens said. “Everyone has a role in this. If we all act responsibly, do what's asked, and don't panic, we'll get through this. It'll take time.”
Valdes said the city's emergency response team is meeting daily, and coordinating with local nonprofits in efforts to care for the city's elderly and homeless populations.
“We're going to come out of this stronger than ever,” Valdes said. “The United States has fought world wars and the Great Depression. We will overcome.”
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