CARLSBAD — When Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted statewide COVID-19 restrictions in various regions on Jan. 25, news spread quickly among small business owners in Carlsbad.
While the governor’s order allows restaurants to resume outdoor dining, a number of local restaurant owners are calling on the Carlsbad City Council to readdress its enhanced COVID-19 enforcement policy passed on Jan. 19.
Any councilmember can bring back the item to the council for further discussion of abandoning enforcement orders, according to city staff. However, the council has yet to bring up the matter.
A number of municipalities have lifted tougher restrictions on outdoor dinings, such as Los Angeles County.
Each councilmember was asked by The Coast News about readdressing the city’s agenda item for a third time, despite sowing a deep division between struggling small business owners and angry residents seeking enhanced penalties for willful violators of state and county health orders.
Only Mayor Matt Hall and Councilwoman Teresa Acosta responded to questions about the new orders and state of the city’s incentive and enforcement efforts.
Justin Jachura, co-founder of Señor Grubby’s, said a group of Carlsbad Village restaurateurs, and other business owners in the city, have been told the council is willing to collaborate.
Jachura said he spoke with Councilwoman Priya Bhat-Patel but has yet to hear from Councilwoman Cori Schumacher, the District 1 representative for Carlsbad Village.
Others called for the creation of a “Merchants Committee” with the city to push forward collaborative efforts and solutions to their concerns.
“We are thankful as an industry and community that the state chose to lift restrictions,” Jachura told the council during public comment at its Jan. 25 meeting. “We would love to get with our District 1 representative and anyone else on the council. We would love to collaborate with the city for marketing, economic structure and planning. We should divert some of those funds that were used for fines into marketing. We’re committed to our community, our workers and safety, safety, safety.”
Councilwoman Teresa Acosta, who brought forward the Jan. 19 item regarding a comprehensive approach establishing incentives and further enforcement, did not commit to bringing back the item at a future meeting.
Acosta said there is conflicting information about the public health orders. Acosta added the public health orders are issued by the state and county, and not by cities. As for Carlsbad, she said they working to keep in compliance and protect the health and safety of our community to the best of their ability.
“The Carlsbad City Council’s comprehensive approach is flexible,” Acosta said. “We included financial assistance and promotional incentives to local small businesses in this challenging time. We stepped up our efforts to coordinate and collaborate with the County (sic) and other cities in the region. And we made clear that pandemic assistance, including special permits to extend operations into the public right of way, would only be available to those businesses complying with state and county health orders.”
Each council member was also asked if they are comfortable, or support, San Diego County’s refusal to release data relevant to outbreaks from COVID-19. The county has not released data regarding outbreaks at businesses and other sectors, thus allowing residents to unknowingly patronize or engage in some with those entities, said Mayor Matt Hall.
Hall said he does not understand the lack of data being provided and questioned the motives of the state and county regarding small businesses.
“It’s one more step of being punitive … I mean, give me a break,” Hall said. “No science, no fact, no study for what they’ve through small business through over this last nine months,” Hall said.