County Operations Under Shelter in Place Order

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I know these are trying times and I hope this email finds you as well as can be under the current conditions. Below is an update that went out in a news release earlier today about County operations during the shelter in place order. This is long but important information to share.

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shelter-in-place order has caused many of the County of Marin’s 22 departments to make service adjustments to adhere to recommendations to prevent the virus’ spread. The public shelter-in-place order issued March 16 will be in effect through April 7.

“Everybody is changing their normal routines on the home front because of this public health emergency, and we need to do the same as we deliver services to our residents,” said Dan Eilerman, Assistant County Administrator. “We’re making every attempt to continue the most essential services, and we hope everybody understands.”

With guidance from the County Administrator’s Office, departments are determining which services are considered essential to continue maintaining during the viral outbreak. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has the County’s largest departmental staff with more than 700 employees, and many of them are on the front lines of the public health emergency. Emergency personnel from the Marin County Sheriff’s Office and Marin County Fire Department are deemed essential, along with road repair crews from the Department of Public Works.

The County is discouraging walk-in visits to the Marin County Civic Center and other facilities where County employees work to adhere to social distancing recommendations by public health officials, as well as for residents’ safety. Many departments have limited staffing in offices as they have been encouraged to work remotely where possible. Although it’s not a good time for walk-ins, it’s a great time to check out the online Payment Center, where some business can be conducted. In addition, departments are ramping up customer service by phone to remain responsive in these extraordinary times.

Here is a summary of significant updates from County departments:

  • Board of Supervisors: The Supervisors plan to continue holding their meetings in the Marin County Civic Center’s Board chamber in San Rafael to conduct essential business during the COVID-19 outbreak. Nonessential business will be postponed, and all postponed agenda items will be rescheduled for dates to be determined later. The Board staff is working to accommodate residents who would like to participate in Board meetings but are concerned about restrictions on public gatherings. Information: 415-473-7331.
  • Agriculture/Weights & Measures: The Novato-based department is closed to walk-in service until further notice but is responding to phone calls and emails. Information: 415-473-6700.
  • Assessor-Recorder-County Clerk: All three divisions are discouraging personal visits to the Civic Center but remain open for urgent needs. Some Recorder requests can be handled online. Information: 415-473-7215 (Assessor); 415-473-6093 (Recorder); 415-473-6152 (County Clerk).
  • Child Support Services: The office in Novato is closed until further notice. Cases involving families through Child Support Services are being postponed by Marin County Superior Court. Parents with face-to-face appointments with staff are being contacted to make attempts to resolve issues over the phone and email, and the department is focusing on essential services. Information: 866-901-3212.
  • Community Development: The CDA Building & Safety Division suspended its over-the-counter plan review program, and the Development Services Center and Environmental Health Services permit centers are closed. Permit customers may still drop off their completed building permit applications at the dropoff box in the Permit Center lobby. Applicants will be notified via email of additional requirements to facilitate permit issuance. Applicants may request an appointment to meet with a counter technician. Self-serve online building permits are limited to reroofing, re-siding, electrical maintenance, plumbing maintenance, mechanical maintenance, and window replacement permits. Enforcement priorities will be to protect public safety, including responding to unsafe construction, food-borne illnesses, and sewage spills.  Planned public meetings have been canceled. Information: 415-473-6269 (Planning); 415-473-6907 (Environmental Health); 415-473-6550 (Building & Safety).
  • County Administrator: Many CAO staff members are part of the response team in the Emergency Operations Center, which was activated in early March because of COVID-19, or working to facilitate continued essential services for residents and County employees. The March budget hearings scheduled for March 23-25 will be rescheduled for a later date. Information: 415-473-6358.
  • County Counsel: The County’s team of attorneys mostly handles internal matters and does not provide legal advice to the public, but it does assist special districts. Business continues to be conducted remotely. Information: 415-473-6117.
  • Cultural Services: Events at Veterans’ Memorial Auditorium, Showcase Theater, and Exhibition Hall have been cancelled through May 11 and the Bartolini Gallery and Redwood Foyer Gallery are closed to visitors. Docent tours of the Civic Center are canceled. Information: 415-473-6400.
  • District Attorney: The public lobby is closed, but the DA is required to staff a courtroom with a misdemeanor and felony team attorney. Staff is reviewing custody cases to determine whether criminal charges will be filed and notifying witnesses that they will not be needed because of the postponement of most court sessions. Staff is sending new subpoenas for cases approximately 8 weeks out. The juvenile unit is still functioning and able to make court appearances remotely. The DA is discouraging face-to-face meetings and appointments but answering phone calls. Information: 415-473-6450; 415-473-5080 (victim witness services).
  • Elections: The Registrar of Voters reports steady progress on the recording of final votes from the March 3 Presidential Primary and will continue updates on until the tally is complete. Information: 415-473-6456.
  • Finance: Property tax collection is not being affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. April 10 remains the last day to pay the second installment without a penalty. For public health reasons, Finance is discouraging personal visits to the Civic Center to pay taxes and urging residents to pay online, by phone, or by mail (Marin County Tax Collector, P.O. Box 4220, San Rafael CA 94913). Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) payments and business license fees will only be accepted online or by mail (Marin County Central Collections, P.O. Box 4220, San Rafael CA 94913). Information: 415-473-6154 (main); 4151-473-6177 (Tax Collector and Central Collections); 415-473-6142 (Public Administrator).
  • Fire: Routine public safety operations are being performed. Fire prevention services are only available via phone and electronic submission because no field inspections services are available. Fire stations are closed to the public with the exception of emergencies. Previously planned community meetings at fire stations are cancelled. Information: 415-473-6717.
  • Health and Human Services: HHS employees are on the front lines of the local COVID-19 response, committed to the mission of promoting and protecting the health, well-being, safety and self-sufficiency of all Marin residents. Employees are either directly supporting the emergency response in areas such as public health or are committed to continuing to provide critical social, health and behavioral health services, following state, federal, and international guidelines. Many electronic and telephonic services are available for the public, and residents should consider conducting conversations over the phone or contacting HHS by email when possible. Public Health created a phone hotline, 415-473-7191, for residents to call with questions or concerns about the virus. The call center is open from 9:30 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. weekdays. A three-way phone line is used to assist non-English speakers. Information: 415-473-7191 (COVID hotline); 415-457-INFO (information resources for older adults, persons with disabilities, or family caregivers).
  • Human Resources: Civic Center volunteers and interns have been notified not to show up for planned assignments. The HR recruitment team is working with employment candidates to conduct interviews via conference calls or Skype if a candidate prefers not to meet in person due to social distancing concerns. Information: 415-473-6104.
  • Information Services and Technology: Many IST employees are assisting with website updates, teleworking and emergency operations services related to the COVID-19 virus. Information: 415-473-6309.
  • Library: The Marin County Free Library branches were closed as of March 16 until further notice, and all programs and events have been cancelled, including visits by the Bookmobile and Learning Bus. Information: 415-473-3222.
  • Parks: County park facilities were closed March 16, but open space preserves remain open. All ranger programs, interpretive programs and volunteer programs are canceled through April 5. Some staff members have been recruited to assist in the cleaning of park facilities. Since the County’s shelter order allows residents to get fresh air, Parks encourages residents to experience open space trails to get some exercise. Information: 415-473-6387.
  • Probation: Adult and juvenile offices are closed to the public, but routine public safety operations are being performed. Staff is contacting people who have been scheduled for orientations, parole hearings, and interviews to reschedule. Information: 473-6599.
  • Public Defender: With Marin County Superior Court closed except for in-custody or essential matters, the Public Defender’s Office has closed its lobby at the Civic Center and advised clients to call its office for updates. Information: 415-473-6321.
  • Public Works: Because of reduced staffing in some divisions, it may take Public Works workers a bit longer to respond to certain situations. Information: 415-473-6528.
  • Retirement: The Marin County Employees’ Retirement Association office is closed but the staff is continuing to provide one-on-one phone consultations. Applications for pending retirements are being processed normally and pension payments are on schedule. Many resources are available online at Information: 415-473-6147.
  • Sheriff: Normal public safety operations are still in place. See the Sheriff’s webpage for more details. Information: 415-473-7284.
  • UC Cooperative Extension / Farm Advisor: The Novato office is closed to the public through March, but employees are responding to phone and email inquiries. Educational programs and events have been cancelled through the end of March as well. Information: 415-473-4204.