H.B. establishes payment deferral program, economic recovery task force and emergency shelter agreement

Huntington Beach Civic Ce
The Huntington Beach City Council adopted a number of measures Monday that attempt to address the economic impacts of the current COVID-19 crisis.
(File Photo)

As the city staff rolls out emergency plans to counter the impacts of COVID-19, the Huntington Beach City Council adopted numerous measures Monday that will establish economic and social safeguards for residents and businesses.

An economic recovery task force introduced by Mayor Lyn Semeta was adopted with unanimous support.

“The emergence of the coronavirus pandemic has triggered profound and lasting economic impacts worldwide,” Semeta said, introducing her item. “The impacts of these shutdowns are seen in massive employee layoffs, permanent business closures and disruptions to education, medical care, and other key sectors. Huntington Beach’s local economies are experiencing significant financial strain and there’s a need to develop and implement a definitive plan to support economic stabilization, recovery and resiliency during and after the COVID-19 pandemic,”

The task force will “develop and recommend a plan to help the local economy cope with a sudden loss in business and jobs,” she said.

“I think there’s a lot of interest in doing this. People want the economy to open up sooner rather than later. And this task force I think could be very helpful in that discussion of what we do in our city of Huntington Beach to make the recovery as quick and as robust as possible,” Semeta said.

“For economic recovery, you know, really, what government can do is really just get out of the way. And what we can do to facilitate economic recovery is ... make City Hall more business friendly in getting businesses restarted, new businesses have started and follow through on the permitting process,” Councilman Mike Posey said.

“I love this idea, and I know that the county is doing something similar. So I hope that whatever task force that we create in Huntington Beach can have some sort of partnership with the county and all the work that they’re doing,” Councilwoman Kim Carr said.

The City Council also unanimously approved an Emergency Facility Use Agreement with Orange County to establish an emergency shelter at 17631 Cameron Lane for homeless residents in Orange County who are not COVID-19 positive and do not show symptoms.

The collaboration will help the county meet its effort to supply 2,300 new emergency beds for homeless residents, as mandated by Gov. Gavin Newsom in March. The estimated $2-million project would be paid for, developed and operated by the county, though at the end of the agreement, the facility will be transferred to Huntington Beach and could be used for the city’s own infrastructure for homelessness services. There will be no capital or operating costs to the city under the proposed agreement.

The City Council voted to adopt contracts that award raises to approximately 700 city employees, despite outcry from residents that fiscal prudence is needed to weather current economic stagnation.

Mayor Pro Tem Jill Hardy requested that, as part of the project, the city staff work with the post office to reassign the property’s address to Beach Boulevard — where the property backs up to and will more clearly correlate with planned ingress and egress.

The City Council also gave the green light to a payment deferral program for local businesses that aims to provide a cushion for business license renewals and transient occupancy taxes payments. Local businesses would still owe their business license and TOT payment due, however payments owed in the period of March 1 through July 31 would be given a grace period until June 30, 2021. All payments are still owed in full.

The proposal was “developed to provide business support in a manner that does not relieve the obligation of businesses, hotels and motels to pay their requisite taxes, fees, and assessment,” the staff report said.

The program may also defer business improvement district assessments on properties and business for respective BIDs that direct the city to do so.

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