After more than a year of virtual services, Palo Alto is planning to slowly expand City Hall's in-person operations over the next two weeks.
The city announced Thursday night that starting this Monday, Aug. 2, customers will be allowed to enter the Development Center at 285 Hamilton Ave. to book in-person appointments that will start Aug. 9. The operation that issues building permits will be switching from virtual-only appointments to "hybrid" appointments, which combine in-person, phone and virtual meetings. The city will also continue to offer phone and online services for parking permits, planning appointments, police reports and utility bill payments.
Various City Hall services are already now available in-person by appointment, including business that involves code enforcement, revenue collections, police records services and utility billing, the city announced. All visitors are required to wear masks regardless of vaccination status and to maintain social distancing protocols, according to the city's announcement. The policy was driven by growing concerns over the spread of the delta variant of COVID-19 and is based on safety recommendations from Santa Clara County and state health officials, the city's announcement stated.
"While we monitor the rise in COVID-19 delta variant cases and continue to implement strong safety protocols, we're pleased to launch the second phase of expanding City hours and services," City Manager Ed Shikada said. "We're doing everything we can, in the face of staff reductions, to balance ever changing safety needs with the community's desire to return to some semblance of a normal life."
The reopening of City Hall and Development Center is the latest phase in the city's plan to gradually reopen facilities that have been largely closed to the public since March 2020. The city has already reopened the Mitchell Park, Rinconada and Children's libraries and it plans to reopen the Downtown and College Terrace libraries in late August, according to the latest announcement.
Community centers are also now open to the public between Tuesday and Thursday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and the Cubberley Theatre is once again available for rentals.
More information is available at cityofpaloalto.org.