Newly seated Solvang mayor, City Council members stop revolt against stay-at-home order
The newly seated Solvang Mayor and City Council members came out swinging immediately after being sworn in.
The former council announced last week that Solvang would not actively enforce county and state stay-at-home orders, a unanimous decision by the council in addition to sending a letter requesting a new Central Coast region.
However, new Mayor Charlie Uhrig had different plans, and after being sworn in alongside Council members Clau Orona and Mark Infanti, he told local businesses and residents to comply with state law.
“Our newly seated council believed the decision to keep the ‘status quo,’ albeit with the best intentions, put the health and safety of the public at risk,” Mayor Uhrig told the News-Press. “The old decision could also potentially put the city at risk of being held liable for possible damages from tourists or business’s staff who may have contracted COVID-19 in their outdoor dining areas, not to mention possibly losing state grants or emergency funds to assist the businesses during this pandemic.”
He said in the meeting on Tuesday that he’s “not in favor of the city condoning any type of activity disregarding public health officials.”
No state office has responded to the written requests for a Central Coast region from the County Board of Supervisors, public health officials or other municipalities. In addition, no businesses took up Solvang on its offer to repurpose parklets as public dining areas to allow outdoor dining to proceed.
“To further complicate the matter, businesses could be cited for the health violations, fined up to $5,000, and lose their health permit license for a year,” Mayor Uhrig said. “That would be more detrimental to the businesses than the three week restrictions currently in place.”
He added that during the meeting, the city manager informed the council that County Code Enforcement Officers were present in Solvang to ensure compliance.
Mr. Infanti said in the meeting that their issue with the defiance is that they can’t defend anyone if they break the law.
“The idea of converting the parklets is intriguing, but without additional information related to city liability, they will probably remain unused for now,” Mayor Uhrig added.
While the new members disagree with refusing to follow the stay-at-home order, the new council does agree with forming its own Central Coast region, and remains optimistic there will soon be a response back from the state.
Mayor Uhrig said that Solvang retail businesses and restaurants are “open, safe and eager to serve the community and tourists, and operating under the latest health orders in place.”