In a near five-hour meeting, the Goleta City Council on Tuesday approved mandatory face masks for employees and patrons for some businesses, and OK’d a survey of the community about whether it could support a sales tax hike in November.
The vote was 5-0 to approve the masks.
“I don’t want us to create something overly burdensome or onerous and put extra work on the businesses,” Councilman Kyle Richards said. “We would want to cooperate with them. We would want to do what we can to elicit their cooperation.”
If a business violates the order, Goleta could suspend the business license, order them to close, issue a citation or prosecute it as a misdemeanor.
Assistant City Attorney Winnie Cai said the city would not play an active role in finding people without masks.
“The issue of enforcement will hopefully be dealt with through self-enforcement,” Cai said.
Kristen Miller, president of the Goleta and Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce, said the organization has distributed thousands of face coverings and she is supportive of people and employees wearing masks. She prefers, however, for face coverings to be voluntary.
“We don’t want to create a further burden on businesses that are already burdened,” Miller said.
She said most businesses are already requiring customers to wear masks. Miller also said if Goleta goes beyond the bounds of what the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department has recommended, that it could send a mixed message to the public.
“Most people are wearing masks already,” Miller said. “Our request would be that the city find a way to provide masks for anyone who wants one.”
Among the requirements in the city’s resolution: Workers and patrons of essential businesses must wear face covers; essential businesses shall prohibit entry of any person not wearing a face covering; all workers of essential services are required to wash or sanitize their reusable face covering at least once a day and to discard any single-use face coverings in a trash receptacle; all essential businesses must provide the face coverings for their workers and ensure access to clean, sanitary restrooms and the necessary cleaning products to observe hand sanitation as recommended and required by Santa Barbara County health orders.
The Goleta City Council also voted Tuesday night to spend $22,250 to poll 300 people on whether they could support a 1 percent sales tax increase for the November ballot.
The vote was 3-2.
Council members Roger Aceves and Stuart Kasdin opposed the survey because of the economic uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We might be heading into an enormous recession or worse and the idea that the response to that situation is to levy a sales tax just seems off, inappropriate,” Kasdin said.
Aceves said it also was bad timing.
“If we put this on the ballot in November,” Aceves said, “we’re still going to have people looking for work. And now we are asking people to come to the ballot and give us a 1 percent increase when they can’t even pay their rent.”
Aceves said people would not support a one percent increase when there’s massive unemployment.
“They are going to think we are crazy to be asking them in the polling if they would consider a tax increase at the time they are suffering such severe financial hardships.”
The city already surveyed Goleta residents in February about whether they would support a sales tax increase; a majority said they would, but since the pandemic hit, some on the council supported doing the poll again to see if people were still on board.
Councilman James Kyriaco said a new poll was needed because the city should know whether the residents support a sales tax. It might be that they do want to fund the city and help it rebuild out of the economic pandemic.
“Just deciding to move forward with the sales tax increase without any further discussion, without any further polling, without any further outreach, that just doesn’t feel right,” Kyriaco said. “That doesn’t feel like Goleta. And that’s not something I want to support.”
The council did decide to drop an additional $8,000 expenditure to hire a consultant to send out an outreach mailer because members felt like the community would see it as promoting a sales tax increase, when the main goal at this point is to just conduct a poll.