Temecula closes city hall, launches virtual permit center

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TEMECULA — The city of Temecula late Thursday announced that it would be closing its doors to the public on Friday, March 20 and simultaneously launched a “Virtual Permit Center” designed specifically to support residents and local businesses that remain open.

“In a time when cities across the state and nation are suspending full operations of their permitting center to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Temecula Mayor James “Stew” Stewart said. “I am extremely proud of the innovative, resourceful and truly herculean efforts demonstrated by city staff within the Information Technology Department and Community Development Department to build a virtual platform that was largely completed in three days in order to allow the city to conduct business, despite needing to physically close city hall doors.

“Amidst this historic and unexpected worldwide health and economic crisis, there is a Temecula Strong sentiment of unity emerging within our community and among the public servants at city hall to do what’s necessary to help one another, stay safe, and remain open for business to our citizens, virtually,” he said.

Stewart said that city hall would reopen to the public when it is appropriate to do so. Each city department has adjusted to accommodate telecommuting and minimize staff physical presence inside city hall.

In the meantime, customers can contact the city via www.temeculaca.gov.

The decision came on the heels of the announcement that the California State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Public Health issued an order to all individuals living in the State of California to stay home or at their place of residence, except as needed to maintain continuity of operation of the federal critical infrastructure sectors.

“It is an unprecedented time in history throughout the world,” Stewart said. “In Temecula, we are a strong and cohesive community, and will continue to be the example of calm and kindness to each other and to our local businesses as we navigate these unprecedented times because we are all in it together, and this too shall pass.”

The order issued from the State of California can be found online at https://covid19.ca.gov/stay-home-except-for-essential-needs/ and notes that Californians working in 16 critical infrastructure sectors (as identified within the Order) may continue their work.