SAN MARCOS — The San Marcos City Council met Tuesday, Jan. 12, to file a “friend of the court” (amicus curiae) brief to support a lawsuit against the state regarding outdoor dining restrictions.
San Diego County, along with several other Southern California counties, have been under a state-mandated stay-at-home order since the beginning of December due to the critical situation in hospitals and a shortage of ICU beds.
The order temporarily closes a number of businesses including on-site dining, even outdoors, at restaurants, breweries and wineries. Hair salons and barbershops, personal care services, museums and zoos, movie theaters, and indoor recreational facilities also had to close.
In mid-December, Midway Venture LLC filed a lawsuit against Gov. Gavin Newsom challenging cease-and-desist letters issued to the company’s adult entertainment (strip club) facilities.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Joel Wohlfeil issued an injunction that permitted plaintiffs to operate indoors and exempted all restaurants in San Diego County from the closure orders, including the state’s regional stay-at-home order.
The state and the county have since appealed Wohlfeil’s ruling and were granted a stay on the ruling pending the appeal.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the San Marcos City Council voted 5-0 to file an amicus brief to support the restoration of outdoor dining.
“When you look at all of the closures of the businesses and the infection and the outbreaks… there’s been no proof offered by the state or the county that has shown that outdoor dining is a contributing factor to an outbreak,” Mayor Rebecca Jones said. “There are businesses that are going out of business, like San Marcos Brewery, that just couldn’t make it with the closures. … I’m in favor of supporting outdoor dining.”
Councilmember Randy Walton agreed with the mayor, adding that restaurants have not been treated equally to other businesses throughout these restrictions.
“I support this effort, as well. I’m a person who believes that the reasonable government restrictions that attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus are a good thing … but we’ve got to let the science lead our policymaking,” Walton said. “Our policies and restrictions to business should be applied equally to all business, but with restaurants that hasn’t been the case. … Our restaurants have been hit disproportionately hard.”
The matter was set for oral arguments this week.
The council also made appointments to various city boards and commissions and approved creating a San Marcos Civic Smile award program to recognize residents for outstanding contributions to city life.