An ordinance proposed by Fresno City Councilmember Luis Chavez Monday evening is already being met with pushback from fellow council members.

“I never like to rush to judgment,” says Paul Caprioglio.

Garry Bredefeld says, “Lockdowns do not work.  All they do is cause more pain and suffering as we have witnessed for nearly ten months now.”

I will not support a shutdown of businesses because there is no evidence to show that shutting businesses down is going to actually help change behavior and reduce the ICU numbers,” says Mike Karbassi.

Mayor Lee Brand issued a statement late Tuesday afternoon. “Nothing prevents the spread of a pandemic more effectively than equal doses of common sense and personal responsibility,” said Brand. “We should focus our efforts on convincing everyone to follow these simple requests rather than further punish the people who have suffered the most financial pain.

The emergency ordinance would “completely shut down” all retail businesses in the city of Fresno when intensive care bed capacity in the county reaches zero. The language of the ordinance includes an exception for “medical facilities.”

The ordinance is currently in draft form, but Chavez says it will be ready for an immediate vote by the full City Council should ICU capacity be entirely depleted.

The state of California has repeatedly shown the designated San Joaquin Valley region at 0% of ICU capacity on its COVID tracking dashboard. As of Monday, state data showed Fresno County with 14 ICU beds available.

GV Wire℠ asked Chavez if it was the state’s numbers that would trigger the ordinance, or local bed capacity. “When Fresno County ICU bed capacity reaches 0, that’s when it will be voted on,” said Chavez.

It does not appear Chavez has enough votes to get the order passed.

“I never like to rush to judgment.”Paul Caprioglio, Fresno City Council Member

The Proposed Ordinance

The ordinance reads in part, “Upon notice to the City of Fresno by the Fresno County Health Officer that the number of available intensive care beds in the County of Fresno has been exhausted and is at zero all retail businesses throughout the city shall completely shut down and be closed without exception for all in-person sales and services for a period of five consecutive days.”

Violators would be subject to a fine of $1,000 for the first offense, $5,000 for the second offense, and $10,000 for the third and subsequent offenses.

At the end of the emergency shut down, should the ICU bed capacity not improve, the order could be extended for an additional five day period, according to Chavez.

Though the draft ordinance says businesses “shall completely shut down”, Chavez says the ordinance would not preclude businesses from offering curbside pickup.

Draft Copy of Proposed Emergency Shut Down Ordinance

Pushback From Council Members

Photo of Mike Karbassi

“I don’t see the five votes (needed for passage) being there.”Mike Karbassi, Fresno City Councilmember

Karbassi says he wants to have actual data in his hands before making any decisions.

“I can’t just make a decision purely based on intuition,” says Karbassi. “I don’t see the five votes (needed for passage) being there.”

Karbassi does agree with Chavez about having conversations about ICU bed capacity and what the council can do to help in that regard.

“We should talk about getting much more vaccine here, getting more resources so that we can free up bed space,” says Karbassi. “Shutting down businesses, that’s just going to depress the economy right at Christmastime and make it worse.”

Caprioglio, who describes himself as a pragmatist, says he hasn’t seen anything that would support a five day shutdown of businesses. “It (if passed) would finish off any businesses that have any hope of surviving,” he said.

Bredefeld amplified the sentiment. “Government has destroyed businesses, lives and livelihoods. These draconian measures must end. They have not stopped the spread of COVID because it’s a highly contagious virus,” says Bredefeld in an email to GV Wire℠.

GV Wire℠ tried contacting SaveMart, Home Depot, Target and Costco for a response to the proposal. None of the companies responded by the time of publication.

Physician Issues Statement About Holiday Surge

As COVID cases surge across the county, Community Medical Centers’ chief medical officer issued a public plea on Tuesday discouraging holiday gatherings.

“Today, there are nearly 400 COVID positive patients we are treating in our hospitals, there will likely be more tomorrow, and the day after,” Dr. Thomas Utecht said. “Every heart-wrenching hour we try to save another patient with everything we have. Sometimes it’s enough. And sometimes it’s not.”

Utecht focused on a number of points as he urged residents to take steps to slow down the surge of cases, saying:

  • “We all want our small businesses to open back up – so wear your mask.”
  • “We all want our kids back in school – so don’t have large gatherings.”
  • “We all want to see family on holidays – but we want to see them next year too – don’t share your air.”

Fresno County Concerned About Overwhelmed Hospitals

“We are in a dark period requiring all of us to be super vigilant in following COVID safety rules and recommendations.”– Fresno County Administrative Officer Jean Rousseau

Fresno County Administrative Officer Jean Rousseau says there is significant concern about hospital systems being overwhelmed in the upcoming weeks.

“We are in a dark period requiring all of us to be super vigilant in following COVID safety rules and recommendations,” says Rousseau in an email to GV Wire℠.

Owner of Pismo’s, Westwoods BBQ Sues Fresno Leaders for ‘Discriminatory’ Treatment

“I think they need to go to the source of the problem versus taking it out on businesses.”Dave Fansler

Although not included in the most recent proposal, Fresno restaurant owner Dave Fansler doesn’t believe it’s the right approach.

“I think they need to go to the source of the problem versus taking it out on businesses,” said Fansler, who owns Pismo’s Coastal Grill, Westwoods BBQ, and Yosemite Ranch.

Fansler recently filed a lawsuit against the city of Fresno by way of high powered local attorney Warren Paboojian. He claims his businesses were singled out and were unfairly denied approval for outdoor dining. Fansler says he went above and beyond the efforts of other restaurants to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but says the city did not agree.

He says his restaurants have lost between 80%-85% of their normal revenue, forcing him to lay off 200 employees.

“You’ve got a complete discrimination against people that own restaurants with alcohol licenses,” Fansler tells GV Wire℠. He claims there many other restaurants in Fresno that aren’t being cited as his have been.

According to the Fresno City Attorney’s office, Fansler’s restaurants have not incurred any fines during the pandemic, though the have received written warnings and verbal notices.

Fansler’s lawsuit challenges, “the Constitutionality of Defendant’s unequal and selective enforcement of those State Orders.”

7 Responses

  1. Bernard Rieux

    Evidence that shutdowns, public gathering bans, and shelter-in-place orders work:

    It’s not that there’s a lack of data. It’s that Karbassi and Bredefeld aren’t motivated to look at what the data say because they’re more committed to representing business owners than people in high-risk groups from neighborhoods most likely to suffer from overflowing ICUs.

    Plus I think people are overestimating how much of the economic downturn was caused by shutdown orders and underestimating how much of it was caused by the threat of the virus itself. The best way to get the economy back on track is to finally get the virus under control until everyone can be vaccinated.

    • Heather Aaron

      Get off your soapbox. If they allowed nurses back from furlough, increased capacity of beds- which has been a problem for at least a decade, and subtracted out the number of Non-covid patients, and lastly reported EVERY ICU is near capacity this time of year, then we would listen. Instead your BS agenda doesn’t work, otherwise we would all be open in CA.

      Ps- where is the accurate reporting on actual cold and flu numbers this year? It’s at a record low… gee? Think they could be counting any cold virus (aka a coronavirus) as Covid 19 in tests to get funds? DUH! The people are wise. Stop the BS

    • Ron Sherrin

      Thank you! The U.S. has 4% of the world’s Population, 19% of the world’s Covid-19 deaths. Nothing political about that William! No national strategy, keep it political by leaving it to the states. That’s what the worst President in U.S. History this country. His base is made up of suckers & losers. Look at the Pardons!!! Murderers pardoned. Criminal Republicans pardoned. Medicare fraudster pardoned. The dark personality of a party gone mad in their support of the most horrible human being ever to occupy the White House. We will never forget. Trump lost.

  2. William

    Those links are not clinical studies . Bernard you need to do better than Google searches and actually include clinical study: its design, duration , outcomes, abstract, conclusion.
    You have no farther to look than the warning box on each mask which clearly states that ” masks do not protect against Covid-19 and other viruses.”
    Your negative remarks toward Karbassi and Bredefeld clearly show you have a political ideology driving your opinion and not proper quantifiable measurement.

    • Ron

      Of course the boxes say that, in this overly litigious country manufacturers have to put warnings on everything. They don’t want to be sued because someone wearing a mask under their nose gets sick and wants to get money for medical and suffering.

      Do masks prevent you from getting exposed 100% when worn properly? No, nothing is 100% except totally isolation, but that is too extreme. So we all take risks and go out to do what we have to do, but those that are smart limit the risks as much as we can. Wear a seatbelt, drive the speed limit (or near it), etc… Wearing a mask will limit your exposure and thus limit the likelihood of spreading the virus. And some masks do a better job than others, so at worse, if everyone wore a cheap cloth mask the likelihood of spread would be cut by nearly 60%. If we all did our part we could have tamed the virus until the vaccine was ready.

  3. Elaine

    The only thing the City of Fresno needs to do is to boot Luis Chavez, chief idiot Miguel Arias, Nelson Esparza, and non-entity Esmeralda Soria (even though she’s vacating her position soon, boot her off anyway), off the city council. That will solve this city’s problems immediately.

    • Mark

      The people who really know what’s going on in Fresno would agree with your opinion. Thank God that Major Brand Lee is leaving, he’s not a real leader, he’s been hiding. He bends over to easily and wants to be “friends” with everyone, jeopardizing the City’s needs. I understand Fansler’s frustration, but he just starting doing things without having the proper council and communication and expected things to just run smoothly. He received enough money from the small business handout and he’s not making a real statement, he shouldn’t be too greedy. He should realize other businesses are hurting too.


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