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Diners flocked to Carlsbad Village on Dec. 11 to support restaurants and small businesses, despite health orders regulating capacity and outdoor dining. Photo by Steve Puterski
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Carlsbad to hold special meeting over COVID-19 enforcement

CARLSBAD — A special meeting has been called for Jan. 5 by the Carlsbad City Council after a request from Councilwoman Cori Schumacher to address “those in willful” violation of health orders from the state and San Diego County.

On Dec. 11, 150 small businesses from restaurants to nail salons in Carlsbad and Oceanside engaged in what they called a “peaceful protest.” A number of proprietors have told The Coast News directly or through social media posts that they cannot survive a second shutdown.

Schumacher requested the special meeting as a result of those businesses, specifically restaurants cited in her letter, not complying with the latest health orders. Specifically, Schumacher is requesting to discuss a “resolution under the city’s emergency powers for increased enforcement of the public health orders inclusive of administrative citations and fines.”

Schumacher said in her letter 17 cease-and-desist letters were issued between Dec. 10-15 in District 1, which she represents.

In Carlsbad, at least 20 businesses and churches have been served with orders from the county. On Dec. 12, a day after the launch of the protest, the county levied 13 cease-and-desist letters to Carlsbad restaurants. Two more orders were issued on Dec. 13 and one on Dec. 15.

“I have attached the agenda item that I have requested be re-heard by Council (sic),” Schumacher said in an email. “You’ll note, restaurants are not a part of this agenda item.”

The city will post the Jan. 5 agenda item on Jan. 4 as required by state law for a special meeting, according to a city spokesperson. 

According to the city’s website, “the purpose of the meeting is generally for a full council to reconsider the staff reports and recommendations regarding enforcement options for the county health order” from the Sept. 22 and July 28 meetings.

The agenda item Schumacher sent in her response was first addressed by the council on Sept. 22. It centered on the boardwalk and staircases along Carlsbad Boulevard and gatherings and businesses. 

The council voted 3-1, with Mayor Matt Hall against, to appropriate $69,210 from the General Fund to the Carlsbad Police Department’s budget for police officers to provide enhanced education and enforcement.

However, Michael Curran, an attorney who is working with dozens of small business owners in Carlsbad and Oceanside, said the appearance of the council enforcing potential fines or suspending business licenses against small businesses and restaurants is a threat to the livelihoods of the business owners and their employees.

Curran said those businesses are “peacefully protesting” and at this point “it’s not political, it’s survival.”

According to the state’s Dec. 6 guidelines for the State-At-Home order regarding regions in the purple tier, restaurants are not allowed to offer sit-down dining (although one of the county’s webpages regarding restaurants has not been updated since Nov. 24 and shows restaurants are allowed outdoor dining).

According to a KPBS report detailing outbreaks in the county, only two restaurants in Carlsbad have been reported. Those are Park 101 and That Pizza Place, with those investigations opening on Oct. 14 and July 24, respectively.

The report also notes restaurants and bars have accounted for 208 outbreaks across the county since March — the second-highest of any category — with 60 outbreaks recorded in November.

In Carlsbad, eight outbreaks have been documented at “manufacturing or other” businesses, five at senior living or nursing homes and three at retail or grocery stores.

The county’s data does not differentiate between customers and employees who’ve contracted the virus, KPBS reported.

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