City of Pacifica: New County Ordinance Allows Fines for Violating Health Orders

Pacifica, CA (STL.News) On August 04, 2020 the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors adopted an Urgency Ordinance allowing new penalties for those who violate health orders, including refusing to wear face coverings.  This urgency ordinance may be enforced in both unincorporated areas and incorporated cities within the county, including the City of Pacifica.  San Mateo County joins several other Bay Area counties adopting similar penalties.  The Board adopted this ordinance after San Mateo County saw an increase in the number of COVID19 cases linked to social gatherings and individuals not wearing face coverings.
Unlike misdemeanor violations of health orders, which can only be enforced by law enforcement, this ordinance may be enforced by “enforcement officers”- anyone designated by a city with responsibilities for enforcing local ordinances, including code enforcement officers and rangers.
These penalties differentiate between individuals and non-commercial entities, and commercial entities where violations impact the health of employees as well as community members.  Individuals may receive a $100 fine for a first violation, $200 for a second violation, and $500 for any additional violations within the same year.
Commercial entities could receive a fine between $250 and $3,000 per violation.  The level of these fines would be determined by the seriousness of the health risk, the number of previous warnings and a good faith effort to comply with health orders.  While enforcement officers would need to witness a violation to issue a fine to individuals, violations involving commercial entities could be issued based upon investigation following a credible report of non-compliance with health orders.  Any entity or individual cited may dispute the violation and fine.
The City of Pacifica intends to focus our enforcement efforts on flagrant violations of the health orders and those involving commercial entities.  Chief of Police Daniel Steidle said, “We had come a long way in this fight against COVID19, but have recently taken some steps back. It is critical to everyone’s health that we follow the orders of the health officials and wear our masks. Also, we want to avoid another complete shutdown which would undoubtedly devastate our local businesses that are already in dire straits.”