Frustration, Emotion Boils as Carlsbad Tries to Address Health Order Violators

At Tuesday's virtual council meeting, callers defend councilmembers who proposed stepped-up enforcement. Others defend and support defiant business owners

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As many restaurants in Carlsbad continue to operate in defiance of public health orders, the city council is still working to fine-tune what it calls a "comprehensive approach addressing compliance."

At Tuesday's virtual city council meeting, several Carlsbad residents voiced their support for the city councilmember criticized, at times through mean-spirited personal attacks, for her proposal to discuss stepped-up enforcement two weeks ago.

At the same time, other callers voiced support for business owners who've chosen to stay open.

Tuesday's meeting began with public comments on non-agenda items. Most callers voiced support for councilmember Cori Schumacher, who called for a special meeting earlier this month to address compliance.

During that meeting, Schumacher was criticized by business owners. On her social media page, she publicly shared a profanity-laced email that even criticized her sexuality for her position on the issue.

It was a different tone at Tuesday's meeting.

"I wanted to thank councilmember Cori Schumacher for trying to start the conversation," said one caller.

"I want to thank Cori for doing her best by leading by example and trying to protect our community," said another caller.

Some of the callers asked for a more civil tone while discussing the issue of compliance.

"The relentless, cruel, and continuous personal attacks on councilmember Schumacher are unacceptable and you must stand together as a team to promote civility and decency," said another caller.

But while many called for a more civil tone, others harshly criticized Mayor Matt Hall, who Schumacher has accused of "egging on" the vitriol.

"You've allowed the division of the city to become so unbearable. We are an embarrassment to surrounding cities," said one caller.

"You have the ability to make sure our neighbors do not die. You are choosing not to," said another caller.

Hall has not yet responded to requests for comment.

Later, the council did take a step toward compliance by approving permit application procedures, for instance, permits that allow service in the public right of ways like streets and sidewalks.

"If they violate the terms of the permits and agreements by violating the health orders, their outdoor activation approvals will be either suspended or canceled and fines assessed. The city will also contact landlords of businesses out of compliance, as well as big box stores and other retailers to ensure they are aware of and are following the health orders," the city of Carlsbad said.

The council also laid out plans to provide an economic incentive for businesses following the rules.

"Businesses doing the right thing will be supported through a series of new initiatives, including eligibility for an expanded city loan program and potential marketing campaigns. The City Council also directed staff to work with businesses to develop microgrant and rent-relief program options for the City Council’s consideration at a future meeting," the city of Carlsbad said.

During the discussion on compliance, callers voiced their support for Mayor Hall and reiterated their stance and decisions to stay open.

"Please stop discriminating against small businesses," said a caller.

"We cannot continue to punish businesses that are simply not responsible for the rise in cases," said another caller.

"This citizen wants the entire council to hear this: This is not personal. This is business," said another caller.

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