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.
I am glad this ordinance was removed from consideration, and I want to take this opportunity to explain why.
While I fully agree that we all have to do our part to get through this pandemic, I believe imposing severe fines on business owners who are trying to keep afloat is a horrible way to do it. Especially when those fines come from a system that is being set up with no due process and a low to non-existent burden of proof for enforcement. 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.
Our public health department already knows that private gatherings are the number one largest source of Coronavirus spread in our community. It’s not retail, or restaurants, or gyms, or hair salons. Coronavirus is spread by people, mostly those who don’t wear masks while ignoring social distancing rules in private gatherings.
Additionally, the County already has enforcement tools that can be used to solve the problems being brought by the worst actors, such as using code enforcement, or in the most overtly egregious cases, using business license suspension or even cancellation. But the proposed ordinance was overly broad, and exposed good actors to costly regulations.
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.
Sacramento County Supervisor, District 4