The City of Culver City is continuing its efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect public health and safety by ensuring local businesses follow all City and LA County public health regulations. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City and LA County have issued a variety of public health orders and regulations for businesses with the aim of reducing the spread of COVID-19 and preventing illness and death. Although most essential and non-essential businesses in the City have been allowed to re-open since the issuance of the Governor’s “Safer-at-Home” Order (with few exceptions), those businesses are required to adhere to the re-opening protocol enacted by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health in order to protect the health, safety, and welfare of those businesses’ employees, patrons, and the general public. For example, retail establishments are required to implement health screening of employees, ensure employees and patrons wear masks, and maintain social distancing. Other businesses, such as gyms/fitness centers, museums, and hair salons, barbershops, and personal care establishments (e.g., nail salons, tanning salons, and cosmetology) are authorized to operate outdoors only in compliance with mandated social distancing and sanitization requirements (and some of these outdoor operations are subject to the acquisition of a City “Temporary Use Permit”).
Personnel from the Culver City Fire Department’s Community Risk Reduction team make frequent in-person visits to local businesses to proactively distribute information on how businesses can keep their customers and employees safe and healthy. The Community Risk Reduction team also responds to complaints made to the City’s Coronavirus Hotline about businesses that are not following public health rules. Community Risk Reduction inspectors review the on-site business activities with business operators, discuss any public health protocols the business is implementing, and educate business owners and managers on any improvements that must be made. After educating operators during their first visit, Community Risk Reduction inspectors will return to the business a second time to ensure that the business has followed through on the recommendations. Community Risk Reduction will make additional visits if additional complaints are made about the business, however, in nearly all cases, upon receiving the information from the Community Risk Reduction inspectors, businesses take immediate steps to comply with the public health orders.
Recognizing that these are difficult times for everyone, the City goes to great lengths to ensure that enforcement is educational in nature. However, in certain circumstances, businesses have refused to comply with public health guidelines, despite multiple attempts to obtain their voluntary compliance with the mandated re-opening protocols necessary to protect public health. In these rare circumstances, and with the goal of protecting public health, the City has had to escalate its enforcement methods. This includes issuing administrative fines, which start at $100 and escalate to $500 for each daily violation of the public health orders. If a business were to fail to comply after the imposition of administrative fines, the City would pursue misdemeanor charges against the business owner, manager, and other responsible parties, which can result in fines of up to $1,000 and/or 6 months in jail for each day the business violates the public health orders. The City may also seek a court order prohibiting the unlawful business activities, or, in extreme circumstances, the City could revoke the business’ Culver City Business Tax Certificate, in which case it would be required to cease all operations.