NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.—Newport Beach has lifted its state of emergency status following a unanimous city council vote during a June 22 meeting.
Local elected officials have been unified in voicing support for lifting the city’s state of emergency, citing that a crisis no longer exists and that, at least for now, there is no catastrophe it can’t handle without federal or state support.
Councilmember Diane Dixon told The Epoch Times that should any unforeseen peril arise, the council is prepared to respond quickly.
“Should there be another crisis, we could have an emergency meeting, if need be we will deal with it responsibly,” Dixon said.
The lifting of the emergency status also repeals any related emergency ordinances and orders such as those related to outdoor dining or emergency duties. It also takes away special powers afforded to the city manager in her capacity as director of emergency services.
The City council moved to extend outdoor dining permits on June 8, prolonging the temporary use permits until Sept. 6, 2021.
The city’s beaches, parks, trails, and playgrounds have been fully reopened for months and all capacity limits at other city facilities, such as community centers or libraries, were lifted with the state’s June 15 reopening.
Little Fiscal Impact
The city staff report also indicated that “there is no immediate fiscal impact related to the adoption” of the measure to lift the state of emergency.
City manager Grace Leung said that Newport Beach has received the first of two installments of the American Recovery Rescue Plan Act funds, and didn’t expect any delay or withholding of the second payment. The only concern, she said, would arise if additional vaccination clinics or other measures are required in the future.
Several members of the public questioned the possible loss of federal or state resources or reimbursements for COVID-19 lockdown costs.
During the discussion, Councilmember Will O’Neill clarified the statute stating: “In order to maintain a status of emergency we have to, under the statute, be able to find an extreme peril situation where the local authority’s resources are inadequate to cope with the threat of COVID-19. We cannot make that finding any longer, it’s not a political statement, it’s a legal statement.
“Even if there was money somewhere that we would be able to go after, we would be doing so under false pretenses.”
Some council members noted the relevance of the lifting of restrictions as the city plans for the coming Fourth of July celebrations.
Prior to the June 22 vote, Dixon said: “Let Newport Beach celebrate Independence Day a little early. This is our Independence Day, we are free.”
Dixon told The Epoch Times that the council is doing everything the state is mandating at this time.
“We’re complying with everything the governor is requiring by order,” she said.
O’Neill said in an Instagram post following the meeting: “Every city and county should be looking at the law and concluding that they cannot make the finding sufficient to justify their state of emergency and end it. The only pushback I’ve heard so far is money. They’re not sure if they might possibly potentially get more funding if they exist in a state of emergency. Here’s my very blunt response: that’s garbage.
“Do you know what happens to citizens who request money based on false representations? They’re charged with fraud. So how can it be any different for a government to claim money based on a represented state of emergency that they cannot possibly justify any longer?”