By Mike Hazlip–
Sacramento County Supervisor Sue Frost, who represents Citrus Heights and surrounding areas at the county level, said she’s glad an ordinance that would have imposed stiff fines for businesses who do not comply with the state’s COVID-19 restrictions was removed from consideration at Tuesday’s meeting.
Public opposition to the ordinance was strong, with protesters showing up at the Dec. 8 meeting to voice opposition to the proposal and board members reporting several thousand public comments being submitted on the topic.
The ordinance would have levied fines of up to $10,000 each day for businesses not in compliance with health orders. Frost, who formerly served as mayor of Citrus Heights, said she supports citizens doing their part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but called the ordinance “onerous” and “overly broad.”
“Moments ago, amid an avalanche of public opposition the likes of which I have never before seen, Sacramento County removed from the agenda an ordinance that would have authorized financial penalties up to $10,000 every day against businesses that violate public health orders,” Frost said in a statement following Tuesday’s meeting.
Frost said she prefers an approach that favors education and awareness to bring businesses into compliance.
“We should be focusing on outreach and education to ensure compliance, due in part to how confusing and onerous the “open/close/open/close” dynamic has been for businesses, coupled with a lack of consistent information from the State regarding what is currently allowed/not allowed,” she said.
She said the health department has already identified private gatherings as a main source of spreading COVID-19, not businesses. Additionally, Frost said there are existing tools for enforcement that are available to the county.
“I will continue to push for efforts to increase outreach and education to businesses so that we can work on gaining compliance with a helping hand, rather than with threatening policies,” she said.
A description from the meeting agenda said the ordinance was needed “to address the small but increasing number of businesses and activities that are being conducted partly or entirely in a manner that disregards Public Health Orders adopted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The draft ordinance said businesses that do not enforce state guidelines “present a serious and immediate risk to public health and safety.”
County health officials say they may return with a modified proposal in several weeks that would instead target large private gatherings with fines, according to The Sacramento Bee.