The Fresno City Council approved new regulations Thursday in an effort to help local businesses struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sponsored by Fresno City Council members Mike Karbassi and Luis Chavez, the bill has three main components: It caps third=party food delivery service fees at 15 percent, offers rent deferral and eviction moratorium for commercial tenants and limits the liability to businesses that are acting in good faith with the coronavirus health-safety guidelines.
The 15 percent service cap and eviction moratorium will be in effect for 90 days after the local emergency is terminated.
Karbassi said many restaurant owners have told him that third party food delivery services have been price gouging by “highjacking” their menus and charging high prices to customers
“It still allows them to be profitable,” Karbassi said about the delivery services. “But it still gives our restaurants a fighting chance because the margin of 30 to 35 percent that’s happening now is so challenging because the margins for restaurants are so low, they don’t really have a chance to make money.”
To take advantage of the rent deferral and eviction moratorium, the bill requires residential and commercial tenants to notify their landlords in writing that they cannot pay rent due to a coronavirus-related impact and provide documentation supporting the claim.
In order to limit liability of businesses acting in good faith with the health guidelines, the bill states: “No cause of action shall exist against a business for COVID-19 infections alleged to stem from the business, so long as the business is in full compliance with state and local mandatory safety measures related to COVID-19.”
The bill passed 5-1-0 – Garry Bredefeld was the lone “no” vote, and Esmeralda Soria did not vote – and the council directed legal counsel to create an educational plan for businesses to ensure compliance with CDC guidelines and local health-safety orders.