$1K fine for gatherings in Fresno withdrawn in 6 to 1 city council vote

Coronavirus
February 07 2021 03:30 pm

FRESNO, California (KSEE) – Following backlash by Fresno’s police chief, Fresno County’s District Attorney, and a fellow council member, a proposal prohibiting gatherings of 15 or more people in a Fresno residence was withdrawn during Tuesday’s special meeting of the city council.

The motion was withdrawn on a 6 to 1 vote with Councilmember Luis Chavez saying the council needed more time to look at the language.

The amendment on gatherings sparked debate even before it was introduced. It received strong responses from Fresno’s police chief and Fresno County’s District Attorney. DA Lisa Smittcamp publicly questioned the legality of the proposal.

I know of no authority in California statutes or case law that would support this type of action, which would legally prohibit such gatherings.

Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp

If it had passed, the proposal would have prohibited gatherings of 15 people or more, and violators would face fines starting at $1,000 for the first offense, $5,000 for the second, and $10,000 for the third and subsequent offenses.

Council President Miguel Arias sponsored the proposal, citing diminishing hospital capacity due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, adding that the amendment could curb the spreads linked to gatherings.

Though withdrawn from Tuesday’s meeting agenda, the council could reconsider at a later date.

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