Costa Mesa set to create Disaster Council to coordinate coronavirus response

Costa Mesa coronavirus presser
Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley, accompanied by other government officials, speaks last month about the city’s decision to file for a temporary restraining order against state and federal agencies to block coronavirus patients from being held at the Fairview Developmental Center. On Tuesday, the City Council is expected to formally adopt an ordinance for emergency preparedness, organization and coordination regarding the coronavirus outbreak.
(Faith E. Pinho)

Readying with all hands on deck, the Costa Mesa City Council is prepared to pass an emergency preparedness ordinance establishing a Disaster Council, on the heels of declaring a local emergency because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The council will meet as scheduled Tuesday — perhaps virtually, for some members — to formally adopt an ordinance related to emergency preparedness, organization and coordination.

The council conducted an emergency meeting Friday evening to unanimously approve an urgency version of the ordinance and formally ratify City Manager Lori Ann Farrell Harrison’s proclamation Thursday of a local emergency.

As of Friday, there were no known cases in Costa Mesa of the coronavirus that causes the respiratory disease COVID-19, the city said.

“We need to assure the city employees, members of the public, business owners, visitors, local stakeholders and partners that their city leaders and public safety officials are prepared and are securing the full suite of resources to help mitigate and reduce the community’s risk,” Farrell Harrison said in a statement.

The ordinance on the table Tuesday would set up a Disaster Council consisting of the city manager, emergency services manager, department heads and leaders of local organizations. The council would become the go-to resource for emergency management in the city — making rules and regulations guiding protection of life and property, acquiring supplies and equipment and developing the city’s emergency plan.

Costa Mesa has adhered to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s recommendation Wednesday to cancel gatherings of 250 people or more. It also has canceled all nonessential functions and special events through April, including youth sports, adult recreation classes and some commission and committee meetings, and halted nonessential access to the senior center. Meals and social services are still available at the senior center on a limited basis, according to the city manager.

“These are extraordinary times, which call for extraordinary measures, and we will continue to refine plans as we move forward,” Farrell Harrison said in a letter to the public.

The city’s actions come two weeks after it won its battle against state and federal agencies to keep coronavirus patients from Travis Air Force Base in Northern California from being quarantined at the Fairview Developmental Center on Harbor Boulevard.

City leaders have been meeting about COVID-19 for the past month, the city manager said.

Tuesday’s council meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 77 Fair Drive. People who are sick, have recently traveled internationally or been in contact with anyone who has are asked to stay home. The meeting will be accessible online at or on Spectrum TV Channel 3 and AT&T U-Verse Channel 99.

Those who wish to submit a comment for the meeting without attending can send it to City Hall or email by 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Support our coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.