Residents discuss citing individuals not wearing masks
Today, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors will discuss an ordinance that would allow peace officers and other public officials to cite individuals who aren’t wearing a mask in high-risk situations.
These officials include, but are not limited to, the district attorney, the sheriff, superintendent of schools, surveyors, veterinarians, county librarians and more.
This would be adopted as county law, and violators would receive either an infraction citation or administrative fine, starting at $100 for the first violation, $200 for a second and $500 for each additional violation within one year, according to a draft of the ordinance.
Thoughts on this ordinance vary among residents of Santa Barbara.
Ruby Haber grew up in Santa Barbara and works for a clothing store on State Street. She said she would be “fine” with citing people who aren’t wearing masks.
“Sometimes it depends on where they are,” she told the News-Press. “If they’re outside in a big open area six feet apart in nature, I don’t think it’s necessarily the worst thing to not have a mask on. But in town, in strips like this, I feel like wearing a mask is essential.”
Arthur Scott Bonilla, another local, said he doesn’t see the need for citations.
“I really don’t think it’s necessary,” he told the News-Press. “They have so many exceptions, like if someone’s short of breath or eating. I think people are doing a good job of self-regulating.”
Andrea Bartolini waits tables at Shaker Mill on 418 State St. He told the News-Press he supports the idea of citations.
“I think it’s necessary. It’s good that people wear a mask,” he said. “It’s nice to be aware of the danger of it and keep everyone safe.”
Chris Miller is the owner of M Special, a Goleta-based brewery that’s opening up a location in the 600 block of State Street. He said wearing masks is important for him to be able to start his business.
“I just think that if we don’t all get on board, it’s just going to prolong the problem,” he told the News-Press. “If we just do it for a short time and get our numbers where we need to be, I’d like to be able to open our business, and I feel like it’s just pushing things back and not everyone’s on board.”
Janice Evans is a longtime resident of the city, and opposes the ordinance. She mailed a letter to Gregg Hart, the chair of the board, outlining her concerns.
“It’s nothing but a power grab,” she told the News-Press. “I think it’s totally unnecessary. People who care about their own particular health situation also care about others.
“The numbers here in the county are being affected by the prisons, the jail facilities and some of the retirement centers. Generally speaking, our numbers are down in this county, and there is no need for this very ‘draconian’ stuff.”
The drafted ordinance included the following declaration of facts “constituting the urgency”: the local health emergency, significant increase in community-based transmission, insufficient quantities of critical healthcare infrastructure, the stay-at-home order, difficulty meeting the state’s reopening metrics, prohibited gatherings, mandatory face coverings in high-risk situations and reports of not complying with the mask mandate and more.
“For the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety, these conditions warrant and necessitate that the county adopt this urgency ordinance to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents in Santa Barbara County,” the draft stated.
The ordinance is on the agenda for today’s Board of Supervisors meeting, which is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. It will be broadcast live on CSBTV channel 20.
Videos of the meeting can also be found on the CSBTV20 YouTube channel.