The California Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected San Bernardino County’s lawsuit against Gov. Newsom’s stay-at-home order, the day after residents criticized the Chino Hills City Council’s decision to support the lawsuit with an “amicus letter of support.”

Several residents told the council during Tuesday’s meeting via emails read into the record by City Clerk Cheryl Balz that the council should rescind the support letter and focus on keeping residents safe during the pandemic.

The court’s rejection of the lawsuit the following day made the city’s letter moot.

The cities of Yucaipa and more recently Rancho Cucamonga also filed amicus letters in support of the county.

The Board of Supervisors filed an action Dec. 15 directly in the California Supreme Court asking the court to find that the governor’s orders exceed the authority found in the California Emergency Services Act.

The county argued that it needs to exercise local control in response to the pandemic instead of being restrained by the state’s regional approach that treats the county the same as Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Diego.

Unhappy with decision

Chino Hills resident Candy Soares stated in her email that she was unhappy to see the council attempt to overturn the stay-at-home order during the throes of a deadly pandemic. 

On Thursday, Ms. Soares said she was pleased the lawsuit was rejected. “I firmly believe our city’s best course to normalcy is to listen to the science and follow the recommendations of the scientific and medical experts,” she said. “A lawsuit only muddies the water and wastes money when we need real leadership from our elected officials.”

Jim Case wrote in his email that the best way to end the crisis is to follow the directions of statewide public health experts, not to oppose it. 

He said it was disheartening to see the council “waste time and legal resources” instead of addressing the pandemic.

On Thursday, Mr. Case said the California Supreme Court affirmed the right of statewide public health officials “to do what is necessary to protect our health, so we can all better manage this emergency.”

Chris Master, a retired registered nurse and nurse practitioner, said she is very supportive and appreciative of the excellent job the city council does in managing the city but as a health professional, she is concerned and disappointed with the amicus brief.

Ms. Master said she understands the city’s concern to exercise more local control and support the business community but “this may lead to an irresponsible lessening of restrictions at a time of extremely dangerous viral levels and an intensive care capacity of zero. “

She wrote, “Chino Hills is not an island. Although our current numbers are relatively low, our surrounding cities have alarming numbers of cases and deaths.”

Others who opposed the city’s amicus letter were residents Harriet Snyder, Mary and Gary McCarthy, Brenda Kapila, Vincent Hennerty, and Lisa Greathouse.

Small businesses

Following the meeting, Mayor Brian Johsz said he appreciates that residents expressed their thoughts on the council’s decision to support the lawsuit.

“We by all means understand the need for mask requirements and would never want to give the impression that we were against the entire stay-at-home order,” Mayor Johsz said. “That is why we have enforced state and county mandated health requirements.”

The city wanted to clarify that one size does not fit all, especially after small businesses in Chino Hills have spent hard-earned money to make their operations safe for customers, Mayor Johsz said.

He said he was disappointing that the California Supreme Court ruled against the county.

“Our concern with the one-size-fits-all approach is that it will now continue to harm resident’s ability to earn a living and keep people employed,” the mayor said. “This ruling means that our small business owners will keep struggling even though they have made their best-faith efforts to safely serve customers and protect employees.”

He added, “The fate of their livelihoods will continue to be tied to the actions of those who are hundreds of miles away, not six feet away.”

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