The City of Burbank has received a number of inquiries in regards to enforcement of the latest Los Angeles County Public Health COVID-19 Orders requiring business closures; and in particular, the City’s response to Tin Horn Flats refusal to obey the recent Public Health Order to close restaurants.
Within the City of Burbank, we follow a 3-step process:
- When the City receives a complaint Code Enforcement speaks with the business and reminds them of the Order requirements – it is all about education.
- If we receive a second complaint, Burbank Police will make a visit and again attempt to educate.
- If there is non-compliance or a third complaint, then the matter is referred to the County Public Health Office for enforcement.
When it comes to restaurants/bars the County and State have the tools to close a business, if necessary.
- The County could suspend their health permit, which Public Health issues to the restaurant to prepare and sell food.
- The State Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) can suspend or revoke the liquor license.
- Both actions are powerful tools that the City doesn’t have at its disposal.However, to suspend or revoke a license takes time – notice and a hearing and a right to appeal.
Most of the cities that have their own prosecutors try to gain voluntary compliance and some will use administrative citations, like Burbank is doing to enforce our face covering order. Most do not resort to criminal citations.
The City believes the County should take civil legal action to close a business because it is a County Order. At this point we are aware of the County filing a civil suit against a church and some gyms that have been in non-compliance with closure orders.
Through this process, City staff continues to actively cooperate with Supervisor Barger’s office and County Public Health on enforcement issues.
With respect to Tin Horn Flats enforcement, the City followed the above explained process. Also, the City proactively contacted the County and the Burbank Police Department contacted ABC and asked for their assistance. Code Enforcement spoke with the business and members of the Burbank Police Department visited the business last Thursday night. Again, these contacts were to encourage voluntary compliance with the closure orders.
It is our understanding that County Public Health has visited the business several times and has issued citations for violating the closure orders. Further, County Public Health has started the process to suspend their health permit.
State ABC visited the business last Friday and have issued a “Notice of Violation,” which starts the administrative process to suspend a liquor license. They plan to visit the business again this week to see if they have come into compliance and if they have not, they may proceed with a suspension process of their alcohol license, which is inclusive of a hearing and appeal.
There is no magic bullet to just close a business that is not voluntarily complying with health orders. In most situations a license or permit holder is entitled to a hearing before a permit can be suspended or revoked. Even if a license is suspended or revoked, if the business does not close voluntarily, a court order is needed to close the business.
Both the County and ABC have active enforcement actions pending. The City will continue to monitor the situation and actively engage with County Public Health, Supervisor Barger’s Office and ABC concerning their respective enforcement actions.
While we completely understand how challenging this situation is for residents and businesses that are complying with the Health Orders, please know the appropriate governmental agencies are involved and are taking the necessary steps to address this businesses non-compliance with the County and State Orders.