It seems citizens of Yucaipa are divided on the opinion that Yucaipa should be opened up for business versus continuing to comply with the stay-at-home orders to help curb the COVID-19 infection numbers. On Jan. 13, the California Supreme Court ruled against San Bernardino County denying its petition to overturn the state’s current stay-at-home order according to court records.

“In December and earlier this month the county had received supportive court filings from Yucaipa and Chino Hills. The cities agreed with the county that business closures were hurting the livelihood of proprietors causing joblessness and were not effective in slowing the spread of the virus,” wrote Steve Scauzillo of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

The ruling was decided by five of the seven member court with Associate Justices Martin J. Jenkins and Goodwin H. Liu recusing themselves.

On Jan. 14, San Bernardino County argued that the order — intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus by banning all gatherings except protests and religious services, closing many types of businesses and halting outdoor dining at restaurants — is illegal and an abuse of power.

San Bernardino County is the largest county in the United States with a land area of 20,105 square miles. The county is close to the size of the  state of West Virginia. The population recorded in 2020 by the U.S. Census Bureau notes approximately 2,193,420 people reside in the county compared to Los Angeles County with 10,081,570. San Bernardino County is considered the sixth largest county in California per population.

With every county being different in demographics, business diversity, economic stability, COVID-19 infection numbers, hospitalization and death numbers, it is hard to understand the restrictions and tiers of the stay-at-home order especially when a county line may be just across the street from your residence or the city you reside in. San Bernardino County and Riverside County’s orders haven’t been the same throughout this pandemic.

At the Dec. 14 Yucaipa City Council meeting City Manager Ray Casey spoke to the council regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic with regard to the citizens and businesses of Yucaipa.

Casey said, “We certainly have experienced the impacts of COVID-19 … and related issues … It is clearly impacting us locally, county wide and nationwide.”

Casey continued with, “At the same time, we certainly can’t forget about our businesses and our need to reopen businesses at the appropriate time and the appropriate types of businesses. With the vaccines becoming available this week, it is our hope that through the prioritization process for vaccine delivery, that medical employees followed by EMT’s, public safety folks, high risk folks in parallel order, that vaccines will become available to us as a society through December and January to the point where many of the folks that fit those categories will have access to vaccines.”

At that council meeting, council authorized City Attorney David Snow to prepare an amicus letter in support of the county’s effort to be filed with the California Supreme Court on behalf of the city of Yucaipa and support the county’s writ petition seeking immediate relief from the stay-at-home orders.

Also staff distributed a letter to the council for consideration to submit to the governor’s office requesting 1) Outdoor dining be reopened immediately as the percentage of COVID cases related to dining in general is a very small percentage of the total of cases and there is no evidence to indicate that outdoor dining creates a risk if patrons are appropriately social distancing and 2) That businesses be allowed to reopen as vaccines become available.

A motion made by Councilmember David Avila, second by Councilmember Justin Beaver and with unanimous consent, approved a letter to be addressed to the governor’s office requesting the extension of the existence of a local emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the El Dorado Fire and requesting that outdoor dining is reopened and to approve the creation of additional outdoor “parklets,” in the public rights-of-way, under the emergency declaration.

Mayor Greg Bogh said even from one city to another in the county of San Bernardino, what is transpiring from the effects of COVID-19 in one city doesn’t necessarily affect another city, using Yucaipa and Needles as an example.

In a press release dated Dec. 17, Bogh wrote, “In the interest of alleviating the impacts of the recent states’ stay-at-home orders, the county of San Bernardino has filed a petition of writ of mandate directly in the California Supreme Court seeking among other relief 1) an immediate order commanding the governor and other state officials to cease enforcing the recently issue stay-at-home laws, 2) an order annulling the stay-at-home laws that exceed the governor and other state officials’ powers under the California Emergency Services Act, and 3) a writ commanding the governor and other state officials to terminate the stay-at-home laws.

Bogh said he does realize the pandemic is very serious but said, “It is frustrating that the state doesn’t allow local agencies to determine what to do within their own specific hot spots!”

As of the Yucaipa City Council meeting of Jan. 11, the city did not hear from the governor’s office regarding businesses being allowed to reopen outdoor dining.

Many Yucaipa restaurants are compliant with the state’s directives. Others continue to offer indoor and outdoor dining options.  

The next council meeting will  be held Jan. 25, at 6 p.m.

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