CARLSBAD — The Carlsbad City Council approved more enforcement measures for businesses violating state and county health restrictions, including potential disqualification from the city’s pandemic assistance programs.
The council approved the enforcement measure 3-1 with Councilman Keith Blackburn voting no. As a property owner within Carlsbad Village, Mayor Matt Hall recused himself from voting on the citywide issue.
The council unanimously approved several small business relief and incentive programs.
The council did not act on an item during its Jan. 5 meeting brought forward by Councilwoman Cori Schumacher, although Councilwoman Teresa Acosta’s motion for the Jan. 19 item was approved.
The new enforcement regulations include additional “communication” with big box stores and retailers, pulling temporary activation permits and outreach to landlords of “persistent violators” to force them into compliance. All fines are administrative and not criminal.
Additionally, the city will engage in an active public relations campaign with a dedicated web portal to recognize businesses in compliance and continue collaborating with the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce, Carlsbad Village Association and Visit Carlsbad for a recognition program and engage with business organizations on potential direct aid programs.
“We need to model that level of compliance,” Councilwoman Priya Bhat-Patel said. “For those breaking the law, and it is, unfortunately, (we have to do this) until it is more under control. I support revocation of those permits if they are violating … while protecting the public health of our residents.”
In a 5-0 vote, the council approved modifying the pandemic assistance program. The city will increase the revenue cap from $3 million to $5 million and raise maximum loan amount from $25,000 to $50,000, according to David Graham, the city’s chief innovation officer.
Businesses need proof of a valid business license as of April 1, 2020, and they must be operating for at least six months with 50 employees or fewer. The microloan program for qualifying business remains intact with funds available up to $10,000.
However, businesses not in compliance with the state and county health orders will be disqualified. Those businesses with permits to operate outdoors on city property or in their own parking lot could have their permits revoked.
The city also approved several other measures including using the intergovernmental affairs team to engage state, county and local agencies to support the city’s priorities; engage with local, state and national organizations to support a comprehensive approach in addressing compliance; and existing matters such as evaluating other jurisdictional approaches, collaborating with the business community and volunteer groups.
“It’s clear that from public comment that folks in our business community are not being heard,” Acosta said. “We need to continue that strong collaboration with our business community. Want to make sure we have broad outreach … and urging compliance because it is the law, but it’s not our law.”
The meeting kicked off with heated public speakers lobbing accusations against Hall of spreading hate, encouraging disparaging comments toward Schumacher, including anti-LGBTQ speech, and allowing speakers over their allotted timeline. Others, though, fired back at Schumacher for pushing forward more restrictions outside those already in place and for her calling out Hall in an interview with NBC 7 last week.
A number of residents pleaded with the council to drop the partisan politics and work in the best interests of the city.