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California

Coronavirus: L.A. City Hall is closed. What city services are still running?

Los Angeles City Hall
L.A. City Hall is largely closed to the public to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, but some municipal services are still running. Above, Los Angeles Civic Center.
(Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles City Hall is largely closed to the public to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus. Libraries and the zoo are shuttered too.

But some other municipal services are still running with restrictions on crowd size at public counters. City officials said plans could quickly change, but here’s a rundown of what the city was providing to the public on Monday:

Recreation and parks
This agency, among the hardest hit, has closed 147 recreation centers, 28 senior centers and dozens of swimming pools. Griffith Observatory, Travel Town in Griffith Park, the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro and the Sherman Oaks Castle also have been shut down.

Golfers may continue playing at the city’s 12 municipal golf courses, where workers are installing 6-foot barriers to minimize contact. “Golfers are now allowed to ride alone in carts without a penalty,” said agency spokeswoman Ashley Rodriguez.

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Park bathrooms are open during regular operating hours, which vary from park to park. Most parks are open from dawn to dusk, Rodriguez said.

Many senior centers will offer take-out meal service, but locations are still being finalized. The agency will work with the Department of Aging to distribute meals to older adults between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. each day this week. Older adults may pick up their meal or assign someone to pick it up on their behalf, Rodriguez said.

Water and power
The Department of Water and Power has suspended utility shut-offs for nonpayment, said DWP spokesman Joe Ramallo. “We also continue to offer generous repayment plans that can be setup online,” Ramallo said.

Animal shelters
The city’s animal shelters are closed to the public, along with the administrative office for the department. City staffers will continue to feed and care for shelter animals and respond to emergency calls for issues such as animal cruelty and dangerous dogs. Pet licenses can be bought or renewed online or by mail.

Animal Services is urging anyone who is considering surrendering a pet to hold off, but said that if that isn’t possible to call the nearest animal service center.

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Housing Authority
The Housing Authority of the city of Los Angeles, which runs public housing and issues housing vouchers, has closed its public lobby but is continuing to accept documents through a drop box, its President and Chief Executive Doug Guthrie said.

The agency is also limiting its inspections to “emergency matters,” limiting its work orders at public housing sites to urgent issues, and closing the doors of its property management offices.

Fire Department
Firefighters, paramedics and 911 operators continue to respond to emergencies. Although the department’s City Hall offices are closed to the public, the agency is providing some over-the-counter services — such as reviews of sprinkler systems for new buildings — in its offices on Figueroa Street.

“We are using social distancing to reduce the number of individuals our inspectors come into contact with at inspection locations and at our public counter,” said L.A. Fire Department spokesman Peter Sanders.

Inspections of high-risk buildings are continuing as scheduled. But routine nonessential inspections have been postponed a week. In addition, fire stations have been closed to the public, so no school tours, youth programs or meetings in the station’s community rooms.

Housing department
The Housing and Community Investment Department has closed its public counters, but people can still call 866-557-RENT or 866-557-7368 or submit questions to hcidla.lacity.org/ask-hcidla.

The department has also suspended its Systematic Code Enforcement Program inspections at apartment buildings — routine inspections that are not triggered by a complaint. It will continue to send out inspectors for safety violations.

Libraries
Los Angeles’ 73 public libraries will be closed through the end of March. Readers can still access digital services such as e-books and digital subscriptions at lapl.org. Librarians are also assisting by phone or through Ask A Librarian and Book A Librarian. No late fines are being charged and due dates are being automatically extended.

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Sanitation
Trash pickup is still happening. Sanitation crews equipped with face masks, gloves and protective suits are still doing cleanups of homeless encampments. (In rainy weather, however, such cleanings are more limited than usual.) The department is also working to distribute additional sanitation stations with sinks, showers and toilets across the city, according to spokeswoman Elena Stern.

The department has suspended several workshops and events, including composting and home gardening workshops and tours of its water reclamation plants.

Special events
StreetsLA is reviewing permits and applications for special events to decide if they should continue or be approved. People can still apply for permits, but the department is controlling the number of people at its public counters to maintain social distancing.

Building and Safety
The Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety is still issuing permits, checking plans and inspecting buildings, but it is limiting how many members of the public can be on each floor of its offices at a time. That will likely cause delays for customers, its spokesman Jeff Napier said.

Economic development
L.A.'s BusinessSource, WorkSource and YouthSource Centers that help provide business, employment and support services were still mostly open as of Monday afternoon, some with modified hours, according to the Economic and Workforce Development Department. Job fairs, workshops and orientations have been postponed.

Finance
Public counters for the Office of Finance are open in Van Nuys and West Los Angeles, but not at City Hall, according to city Treasurer Claire Bartels. People can also access online services or call by phone.

City attorney
A diversion program that serves nonviolent, first-time offenders will have all in-person meetings canceled in March, said spokesman Rob Wilcox. Dispute resolution meetings will still be held, via phone conference instead of in-person meetings. Two other programs, which assist homeless Angelenos and those at risk of homelessness, are currently on hold.

Cannabis regulation
The Department of Cannabis Regulation has closed its public counter where people can walk in to ask questions, but employees are still available to answer questions by phone. The cannabis department has also postponed a planned workshop on public health inspections and canceled a Cannabis Regulation Commission meeting.


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