CHICO, Calif. - The Chico City Council began to crack down on businesses that are staying open after the county was placed on the state's watchlist and for some businesses, the threat of facing all those fines worked.
For the first time since March, the Chico City Council will allow in-person comments at its meeting Tuesday night, Aug. 4.
One of the items on the agenda is how to punish businesses refusing to comply with state coronavirus orders.
"It's these two things at odds, where we want to keep things open, but we have to enforce the law," said Mark Orme, City Manager for the City of Chico.
The City Council will vote Tuesday whether to financially discipline violating businesses that are staying open despite the county's orders to shut down.
"We'll help them try and find a way to stay open to the best of our ability. But we also have to ensure that the law is being abided by," Orme said.
If the motion passes, violators could be fined $100 for staying open.
"Within a year's time if you're cited a second time it's $200. Within that same year's time, if you're cited a third time, it'll be $500," said Chico City Manager Mark Orme. "For every time you're cited within that year's period of time from the first citation, it is $500. $500, if you're over, three and over."
And one business says the fines are the reason they're closing indoor operations.
"When the code enforcement said $100, I was like alright I'll pay a hundred bucks and keep the business open," said Gearhead Barbershop Owner Anthony Eidem. "One of them told me it was $100 dollars a day, well I can't afford that."
The fines do not increase daily, but instead, every time the city staff has to visit that business, that's when the fines add up.
"And this is all complaint-driven," said Orme. "Not going out there trying to find people, but there are a lot of people calling and saying these folks are open. So then they'll go out there again and potentially there maybe another citation."
The City of Chico is counting on the public's help to call in businesses that are still open -- that shouldn't be.
The Chico City Clerk Tuesday morning, released the official guidelines for in-person meetings at Chico City Council meetings, city leaders are asking the public to be outdoors.
Everyone in attendance will have to wear face masks at all times and be six feet apart from others to comply with social distancing guidelines. The public is asked to remain outside on the lawn in front of the chamber until their names are called to speak for public comment.
People are encouraged to bring their own chairs in case the city council meeting runs longer than scheduled. Speaker cards will also be available.
Anyone who comes to the city council meeting and would like to speak is encouraged to sign up prior to the 6 p.m. meeting on the city's website, to do that, CLICK HERE.
If you would like to view the meeting online, CLICK HERE.