Due to COVID-19 physical-distancing requirements, the Signal Hill City Council met virtually by video conference for its regularly scheduled May 12 meeting.
Among other agenda items, the council heard a COVID-19 update and appointed a new planning commissioner to fill a vacant seat created by a previous commissioner appointment last month.
The council appointed Signal Hill resident Armando Lopez to fill a vacant seat on the Planning Commission with a term expiring May 31, 2021.
The seat had been vacated by Perica Bell, whom the council appointed last month to fill another vacant seat on the commission with a longer term.
City Manager Hannah Shin-Heydorn said the City ran a second open recruitment after the council’s April 14 meeting and received an additional qualified candidate to add to four applicants who applied previously.
[See related article: “SH council recap: Signal Hill City Council selects replacement planning commissioner”]
The council had already interviewed candidates Jewel Cowart, Armando Lopez and Randy Shipp in April. During Tuesday’s meeting, it interviewed candidate Triphina Moore, who could not be interviewed in April, and new candidate Judd Keuhling.
During his interview, Keuhling said he has been a Signal Hill resident since 2016 and works in digital marketing with previous experience in real-estate finance and degrees in economics and business.
In answer to council questions, Keuhling said housing development needs to balance different income levels and that he’d like to see a youth-sports facility in the city.
Former educator Triphina Moore said she is a 19-year Signal Hill resident and president of her homeowner’s association.
She said one project she’d like to see in the city is a mid-size hotel but she would strive to maintain Signal Hill’s small-feel and balance of commercial and residential activity as it modernizes.
“Do we want a crowded city, or do we want a city that is easy to move about in?” she asked.
After interviewing these two and bringing forward the other three candidates it had interviewed last month, council members nominated Keuhling, Lopez and Shipp for vote consideration.
Two council members voted for Keuhling, two for Lopez and one for Shipp.
Since no candidate received a quorum of three votes, Vice Mayor Tina Hansen agreed to change her vote to Lopez.
Mayor Robert Copeland encouraged the other candidates to apply again for city commissions in 2021.
“Stay involved,” he said.
Hansen concurred and suggested that the candidates, and any other residents, approach council members for ways to serve the city.
“If you want to get involved,” she said, “we can find a place for you.”
Shin-Heydorn gave an update to the council on how COVID-19 is affecting Signal Hill as of that day, pointing out an increasing trend in the numbers of confirmed cases, hospitalizations and fatalities in the county and state.
“In Signal Hill, we are also seeing a slow increase in the number of confirmed cases,” she said. “As of today we are at 13 confirmed cases.”
Shin-Heydorn also said Phase 2 of Governor Newsom’s reopening plan has allowed some retailers to open for curb-side pickup and delivery as of Friday, May 8.
“Car dealerships, showrooms and sales departments were also allowed to open,” Shin-Heydorn said. “Employees and customers must practice physical distancing and infection-control procedures.”
The City also opened its trails, she said, but stressed that users should follow all posted rules and access restrictions.
Trail-users should also allow six feet of distance between household-members and all others, avoid crowded areas and keep a face-covering on in parking lots, trailheads and on trails when other groups are nearby, Shin-Heydorn said.
“Don’t use trails that are crowded,” she said. “If you notice a crowd, go back. If it is unavoidable, wear your face-covering as you pass.”
She added that hikers should not linger along trails unless taking a short break.
Shin-Heydorn also said beaches in LA County, including Long Beach, were opening Wednesday for activities, including surfing.
However, she said face coverings are required when out of the water and around others not from the same household. Beachgoers cannot bring accessories such as chairs, canopies or coolers, and sunbathing is prohibited. Bike paths, piers and boardwalks also remain closed, and no group sports or gatherings are allowed.
Shin-Heydorn also said that Metro riders need to wear masks on buses and trains as of May 11.
Given the still-increasing numbers of cases, Councilmembers Lori Woods and Edward Wilson encouraged residents not to “jump the gun,” as Woods said, in pushing to resume business and recreational activities.
“To go from five to 13 [cases] is a big jump for our city,” Wilson said. “With the push to open, […] people will sometimes move away from what the numbers are actually telling you.”
The next Signal Hill City Council meeting will take place virtually on Tuesday, May 26 at 7pm. For information on accessing and participating in the meeting, visit the council’s webpage.