The city of Carlsbad held a special city council meeting Tuesday evening to consider a more stringent enforcement policy in regards to coronavirus safety protocols.
A proposal called for authorizing local authorities to bypass the District Attorney's office and issue citations and fines to defiant businesses.
A short-handed council was deadlocked 2-2 on a similar proposal in July 2020, but on Tuesday, a full five-member council didn't even vote on the matter.
A large crowd rallied outside city hall Tuesday afternoon, chanting and waving signs demanding the recall of councilmembers and California Governor Gavin Newsom. Many said the pandemic-related restrictions in place are unfair to businesses, or even obsolete.
"It's denying people, who are at the lower end of economic spectrum, their jobs," one protester said about the stay-at-home order.
"The data and the science doesn't indicate, to me, the virus is being spread at restaurants," another said.
The county has seen a rise in businesses openly defying the stay-at-home order, which, right now, bans indoor and outdoor dining and limits restaurants to to-go service only.
Among the defiant businesses are some who have in the past been issued cease-and-desist orders.
"We really cannot afford another shutdown. There is no government assistance. No one is coming to help us," bar manager Sebastian Delatorre said.
Councilmember Cori Schumacher proposed increased police enforcement to get those businesses back in line. In addition to the large protest crowd, councilmembers heard from another 120-plus residents who called into the virtual council meeting. Less than a handful supported the idea of increased enforcement.
Councilmembers opted not to vote on the enforcement proposal, but agreed to a motion in favor of creating a more comprehensive compliance strategy that includes financial incentives for compliance instead of civil punishment for defiance.
There is no set date for city council to consider that motion.
Schumacher requested Tuesday's special meeting in a letter to Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall on Dec. 26.
“Two weeks ago, restaurants in the district I represent willfully violated the public health order leading to 17 cease and desist orders issued by San Diego County between December 10 and December 15 in District 1,” wrote Schumacher.