KING CITY — An emergency ordinance to prohibit commercial evictions was put in place by the King City Council during its April 14 meeting.
The ordinance extends temporary protections to commercial as well as residential tenants due to nonpayment of rent or foreclosure related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We believe it was important to extend protections to commercial tenants to prevent evictions of local businesses that have been involuntarily closed due to COVID-19 restrictions and no fault of their own,” said City Manager Steve Adams. “This is intended to provide them time to recover once they are able to reopen.”
The city will re-evaluate whether to extend protections in May when more information is known from the Monterey County Health Officer regarding safety restrictions.
Also related to COVID-19 was an approved enforcement and appeals procedure for following the orders of the County Health Officer within King City.
“Most King City individuals and businesses have voluntarily complied,” Adams said. “We are very proud of how our community has pulled together to help keep each other safe and healthy.”
Adams explained there has been a “relatively small number of complaints from residents” concerning instances of non-compliance by businesses and fellow citizens.
“The approach of the police department is to seek voluntary compliance through public education,” he said. “No citations will be issued unless there is a flagrant violation and appropriate warnings have occurred.”
Adams said citations would not be issued unless police command staff has reviewed a case and approved the citation. This falls within the city’s aim of not wanting citations to be necessary. However, the order provided police the needed tools to enforce shelter-in-place restrictions to serve as a deterrent.
“Since the county order does not provide a clear process for citations and fines, this ordinance will enable the police department to enforce the restrictions in a much more fair and consistent manner and to be able to clearly communicate to violators what the repercussions may be if they refuse to comply,” Adams explained.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, council meetings had seen crowds and numerous public comments in regard to the distribution of medical cannabis within the city limits. The council approved an ordinance to allow dispensaries at a past meeting, and to enforce adult responsibility with the substance, they introduced a social hosting amendment, which underwent a first reading on its way to eventually being finalized as an ordinance.
“It extends current restrictions on providing alcohol to minors to also include cannabis and illicit drugs,” Adams said about the amendment. “The intent is to help prevent minors from obtaining cannabis products from adults that may purchase them from a legally permitted cannabis dispensary business.”
Also on the agenda was approval for a four-story hotel along with retail and food uses, to be built on the lot that was once the L.A. Hearne property along Broadway Street. The plan was already to move forward, but the council extended time before escrow closes in response to delays caused by COVID-19.
“The lease with the existing used auto sales dealer will be terminated effective in June,” Adams said. “The city is working with the business owner in hopes of securing another site in the city to move their business, but nothing has been finalized at this time.”
The council also approved an extension of the contract with CSG Consultants to conduct building inspections and provide a code enforcement inspector.
“At this time, the code enforcement services have been discontinued due to revenue impacts caused by COVID-19,” Adams said in regard to general code enforcement services beyond building inspections. “The duties will be temporarily transferred to other existing staff in order to reduce costs.”
The contract with CSG still includes the ability to request code enforcement services if needed on a temporary basis in the future.
With plans for a future First Street bypass, the city leaders considered and approved an expansion of the city’s sphere of influence to be able to provide wastewater services to property currently outside the city limits at the Gill Agricultural Employee Housing Project.
“The city supports the project because it will help address housing needs in the community,” Adams said. “Therefore, the city will be considering an agreement to provide sewer services to the project in order to help make it more feasible.”
In regard to the bypass, a bridge that would extend out from the current First Street overpass out to Lonoak, Adams said that is a project “unlikely to occur for many years.” The mention of the bypass in the agenda was to keep building projects from being placed on its planned pathway.
Another approved item was a resolution to designate for eligibility to receive funds from the state for emergency services in response to COVID-19. There is currently no exact figure for the city’s costs for responding to the virus.
“We don’t anticipate it will be a substantial amount,” Adams said. “At this point, direct costs related to COVID-19 activities have been materials and supplies, overtime by the police department … traffic control for the Food Bank food distribution activities and public information materials, printing and postage.”