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December 8, 2020 – All county and city agencies are emphasizing education of businesses and residents regarding public health and safety measures, but enforcement mechanisms vary widely.

Nevada City’s City Council meeting agenda for tomorrow has several items dealing with public health and safety rules, including wearing masks. This is in contrast to Grass Valley, where “pushing hope and hunkering down” was advocated by City Manager Tim Kiser in a recent interview. “Let’s agree to disagree and come together like in a wildfire,” he continued. “Masks, no masks, at this point I don’t care anymore. Keep your distance, but let’s all come together.”

Kiser pointed to the allegedly extremely low number of complaints received regarding COVID regulation violations, “only 2 since March.” Nevada County officials stated they forwarded 31 complaints to the City of Grass Valley and 10 to the City of Nevada City so far.

Grass Valley’s City Council agenda for tonight lists “Continuance of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) proclamation declaring a Local State of Emergency” on the consent calendar, no other items regarding the Regional Stay Home or the travel restrictions (which are already in effect.)

How to comment and watch: Grass Valley

The meeting starts at 7:00 pm. This meeting is being broadcast “live” on Comcast Channel 17 by Nevada County Media, on the internet at www.cityofgrassvalley.com, or on the City of Grass Valley YouTube channel. Indexed archives of meetings are available via this link as well. Members of the public are encouraged to submit public comments via voicemail at (530) 274-4390 and email to public@cityofgrassvalley.com. Comments will be reviewed and distributed before the meeting if received by 5pm. Comments received after that will be addressed during the item and/or at the end of the meeting.

Nevada City to consider new educational campaign and enforcement tools

Nevada City Safe

At the November 20, 2020, Special City Council meeting, the City Council directed staff to create an easily recognizable brand “Nevada City Safe” self-certification program/educational campaign to help identify to the public which businesses in the City are following safety protocols and enforcing the State Face Covering Guidance. Council and Staff felt that this program is a positive way to encourage safety compliance and to encourage customers and the public to support the local businesses that are participating in this program.

At the November 20, 2020, Special City Council meeting, the City Council directed staff to create an easily recognizable brand “Nevada City Safe” self-certification program/educational campaign to help identify to the public which businesses in the City are following safety protocols and enforcing the State Face Covering Guidance.

Council and Staff felt that this program is a positive way to encourage safety compliance and to encourage customers and the public to support the local businesses that are participating in this program.

Outdoor Dining Regulations

While the overwhelming majority of local restaurants abide by the current regulations regarding outdoor-only dining, the city has to plan for the possibility of the Regional Stay at Home order going into effect once the Greater Sacramento region reaches the threshold of 15% ICU capacity. The regional order would revert to takeout/pick-up only for restaurants.

On Wednesday, the city council will decide to either rescind all encroachments permits granted to restaurants and have all outdoor dining setups removed from the public right-of-ways and private spaces or leave the encroachments permits intact with the explicit expectation that the businesses with the permits are following the COVID19 State mandates and only providing take-out/curbside service, not allowing indoor or outdoor dining.

Administrative Enforcement of State’s Face Covering Guidance

This urgency ordinance, if adopted, will enforce mask/face covering guidance issued by the state. Modeled on the City of Monterey’s existing ordinance which has proven to be effective, the city could issue administrative fines to people not wearing face coverings/masks if education on the current regulations are unsuccessful. City staff recommends fines of $100, $150, and $200, for first, second, and third and subsequent violation in one year, respectively, for violations of the face covering mandate. These amounts are lower than the Government Code limits of $100, $200, and $500 per day for first, second, and third and subsequent violations of the Municipal Code in a year. If adopted, the urgency ordinance would go into effect immediately.

Urgency Ordinance Prohibiting Violation of Any State or County Emergency Order as Public Nuisance

City staff has drafted, at the direction of the council, an urgency ordinance that would make violations of any orders of the State or the County Health Officer issued for the purposes of preventing the spread of contagious, infectious, or communicable diseases a violation of the Municipal Code and declares those violations to be a public nuisance. The Ordinance would allow for the City to use its nuisance abatement process, its administrative citation process, and other civil and criminal remedies applicable to all Nevada City Municipal Code violations to enforce violations of the COVID-19 health orders within the City of Nevada City.

How to comment and watch – Nevada City

Nevada City’s meeting starts at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, December 9 and can seen live on Public Television Channel 17, online at the city’s website www.nevadacityca.gov or Nevada City Public Meetings-YouTube Channel or at http://nevco.granicus.com/player/camera/2?publish_id=7

If you wish to make a comment on a specific agenda item, please submit your comment via email to NEVADACITY.OLSON@GMAIL.COM. Comments will be accepted at the email provided through the live meeting. You can also go to the Nevada City website at www.nevadacityca.gov and go to the public comment button to submit comments. Please include your name and address in your comment, as well as, including the agenda item letter and number in your subject line. Please keep your written comments to 3 minutes or less. Every effort will be made to read your comment into the record, but some comments may not be read due to time constraints.

Submitting a business compliance complaint

Business compliance complaints received by Nevada County’s Ask Nevada County app or website are sent to the respective municipal agencies if related to businesses within the city limits. Members of the public can contact the cities directly, by emailing Tim Kiser for Grass Valley and Catrina Olson for Nevada City. To reach Grass Valley City Council members, click here. Nevada City Council members can be reached here.