Actions taken to allow enforcement as an administrative citation rather than misdemeanor

City of Hermosa Beach logoTo help slow the spread of the coronavirus, the Hermosa Beach City Council voted Tuesday night to require face coverings to be worn at all times in the more crowded parts of the City including Downtown Hermosa Beach, all City Parks, the Strand, Greenbelt and Beach when out of the water. The ordinance also reinforces the County requirement to wear a face covering any time someone may be in close contact with non-household members in all other locations in the City and imposes administrative fines for violations, rather than a misdemeanor.

“Small actions can make a big difference as we continue to re-open our local economy and businesses, and wearing a face covering is one of the few tools we have at this time to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” said Hermosa Beach Mayor Mary Campbell. “We have seen how similar measures and visible enforcement in other cities have increased compliance and help assure our residents and visitors that Hermosa Beach is a safe and welcoming place to spend time. This is a time for our community to come together and take action to protect one another by wearing a face covering when in public.”

The urgency ordinance, which went into effect immediately upon its approval by the Council Tuesday, authorizes City enforcement officers to issue administrative citations to individuals that fail to wear a face covering at any time when in Downtown, all City Parks, the Strand, Greenbelt and Beach when out of the water, and when not maintaining physical distance in any other public location in Hermosa Beach consistent with County and State health orders. It defines Downtown Hermosa Beach as the area bounded by 10th Street on the south and 14th Street on the north and the Strand on the west and Hermosa Avenue on the east. It also includes Upper Pier Avenue from Hermosa Avenue to Valley Drive.

Citations will come with fines of $100 for the first violation, $200 for a second violation and $500 for each subsequent violation of the face mask requirement within a 12-month period. Without the urgency ordinance, the City’s enforcement officers only option to enforce the Public Health Orders’ face mask requirements was to enforce with a civil misdemeanor, which could mean fines of up to $1,000. Therefore, the City took this action to allow administrative citations with the above-mentioned amounts as a preferred tool for the enforcement of wearing face coverings, in lieu of the only previous option of a civil misdemeanor charge.

City Manager Suja Lowenthal said the City plans to contract with a private firm to provide code enforcement officers to enforce the urgency ordinance for face coverings. Exceptions to the requirements to wear a face mask in crowded parts of the City include:

  • When a person is eating or drinking or engaged in swimming or other water activities.
  • Children younger than age 2.
  • Those instructed not to wear a cloth face covering by a medical provider are also exempt from wearing one. Individuals who are exempt from wearing a face covering due to a medical condition and who are employed in a job involving regular contact with others must wear a non-restrictive alternative, such as a face shield with a drape on the bottom edge, as long as their medical condition permits it. A drape that is form fitting under the chin is preferred.
  • Persons who are hearing impaired, or communicating with a person who is hearing impaired, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.

In other actions, the Council voted to ratify an Emergency Executive Order issued July 17 that established a permit system for gyms, fitness centers, hair and nail salons and other personal services businesses to operate outside. The City acted to expand outdoor business operations in response to State and L.A. County Public Health Orders prohibiting indoor operations at these businesses.

With additional public health measures in place regarding face coverings, the Council also voted to re-open the parking structure for monthly permit holders and to the general public with a three-hour time limit.