In a conscious effort to impress on residents the importance of following self-quarantine and social distancing guidelines, the entire Los Alamitos City Council attended the “regular” meeting on Monday, March 16, by telephone. Council members were represented by their official photo at their seat on the dais. (The photos made it feel oddly like a no-casket funeral.)

The only City staff members present were the City Manager, the City Clerk, the Chief of Police, the City Attorney, and the technician in charge of video and audio.

Residents took prior warnings to heart, and stayed away in droves. The only audience member was the editor of Orange County Breeze, who sat at the back of the room.

Council member reports were quick and to the point, with repeated endorsements of following guidelines to stem the spread of COVID-19.

The first discussion item, 11A, was approval of Craig Koehler as Interim Finance Director. The City Attorney, following Brown Act requirements, read into the record the compensation agreed upon for his employment. A roll call vote was required, rather than a voice vote, because Council members were not physically present. Mr. Koehler’s appointment was unanimously approved.

The second discussion item, 11B, was approval of funds for polling residents on their priorities for City services, in the face of not only the COVID-19 crisis but also the structural deficit faced by the City. A 1½-cent sales tax has been proposed to correct the deficit. This item, also, was approved unanimously on a roll-call vote, with Mayor Richard Murphy commenting that accurate public feedback was vital.

If you have an opinion on City services or the proposed sales tax, you are urged to email members of the City Council to explain your preferences.

The audience area of the Los Alamitos City Council Chambers just prior to the start of the meeting on Monday, March 16, 2020. The placement of chairs reflect social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The anomalous pair of chairs at the back of the room was used by the editor of Orange County Breeze — the second chair held only equipment, not another person. Photo by C.E.H. Wiedel.