The Chino Hills City Council conducted a special meeting Monday to vote for the filing of an “amicus letter of support” of the petition filed by the County of San Bernardino against Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home orders.

The Board of Supervisors filed an action on 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.

According to assistant city attorney Elizabeth Calciano the special meeting was necessary because the California Supreme Court set a briefing schedule in which the county’s reply brief was due at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Chino Hills Mayor Brian Johsz said the city has been lumped into the broader Southern California region from San Luis Obispo to the Mexican border under the governor’s “Regional Stay-at-Home Order” issued on Dec. 3.

“The city supports the county’s position that a one-size-fits-all approach to regulations and orders should not be imposed on the largest county in the continental United States,” he said.

Mayor Johsz said residents in Chino Hills who own businesses have spent thousands of dollars to put up tents, easy-ups, and outdoor heaters, only to be given notice that in 72 hours, a new metrics has been set that nobody has control over.

“Our restaurants have established safe outdoor dining and on a whim, the rules have changed,” he said. “That’s not appropriate. It’s heartbreaking.”

Curt Hagman, chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said the county is seeking 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 significantly different counties such as Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Diego.

“The governor is not permitted to act as both the executive and legislative branch for nine months under the California Emergency Services Act,” Mr. Hagman said.

Mr. Johsz said some businesses in Chino Hills have been forced to close. 

“There are profound consequences to our city and residents if businesses do not see relief from restrictions that prevent them from safely operating,” he said.

According to building official Winston Ward, it is difficult to track the date that businesses close because most of the time they just lock the door and leave without advertising their closure.

Some businesses appear to be closed because of COVID restrictions but it’s hard to know if they are going to reopen, he said.

He provided a partial list of Chino Hills businesses that closed in 2020, but some could have closed in January or February.

Some of them are Master Smokes, Which Wich Superior Sandwiches, Souplantation, Jos A. Banks men’s suits, Pinkberry Frozen Yogurt, Bruxie Waffles, Active Ride Shop, Charming Charlie’s, The Children’s Place, J Crew, Justice, Miniso, and Burgerim.

He said Chaparral 300 in the Woodview Plaza has been closed during COVID, and it is not known if the bowling center went out of business or if it will come back after restrictions are lifted.

Mayor Johsz said the city finds itself in a place where the state issues ever-changing edicts without regard for specific local conditions, and those edicts endanger the livelihoods of the small business community.

“We are asking for checks and balances that ensure the State Legislature provides necessary oversight during declared emergencies,” he said.

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