Fresno City Councilmember Garry Bredefeld’s attempts to reopen businesses from state-issued coronavirus lockdowns were summarily stripped by all but one of his colleagues.
Bredefeld submitted four resolutions to the council: the Open City Hall to the Public Act, the End the Snitch Hotline Act, the Anti-Oppressive Government Act and the Business Freedom Act.
During Thursday’s meeting before the council approved the agenda, Council member Nelson Esparza requested that Bredefeld’s four resolutions be removed from the agenda. Bredefeld made a motion to keep them on the agenda, which was seconded by council member Mike Karbassi.
The council voted 2-5 – Bredefeld and Karbassi were the two in favor – to keep the bills on the agenda. Given the vote, Bredefeld’s bills were removed.
The move was predicted by Bredefeld during a Wednesday press conference.
Instead of discussing Bredefeld’s proposals, the council approved a special resolution designed as a rallying cry around local restaurants out as they struggle through the coronavirus-imposed shutdown orders.
The resolution and accompanying letter garnered wide support from the council, Mayor Lee Brand, the county board of supervisors, the California Restaurant Association and the Fresno Chamber of Commerce.
In a statement to The Sun, Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra said the public health department is actively working with elected officials to reopen safely and welcomes all suggestions to reopen and maintain the good trends the county has seen with COVID-19 cases recently.
The letter, however, only carried the endorsement of Fresno County Supervisor Board Chairman Buddy Mendes and Fresno Mayor Lee Brand.
With the resolution, the City Council endorsed an ask of Gov. Gavin Newsom to improve the state’s current COVID-19 county tier system to allow for a more realistic pathway to return to indoor dining as soon and as safely as possible.
The resolution also states that the city is prepared to facilitate safe indoor dining in accordance with guidelines set by the state and the Fresno County Department of Public Health.
The third item of the resolution authorizes restaurants to continue outdoor dining once indoor dining is allowed, whenever that may be.
Bredefeld was the lone council member to vote against the resolution, saying he would not support it because he feels it ultimately does nothing to help the businesses who have suffered throughout the last six months because of the lockdowns.
“I understand that this gives the impression that something’s being done,” Bredefeld said. “But nothing’s being done, and people are still going to suffer. And in essence what’s happening is people are going to come together and ask nicely for the Governor to open up and violate his own four-color, four-tier system that now has once again changed.”
Council president Miguel Arias got the last word before the vote, attacking Bredefeld’s desire to allow restaurants to open up, calling it a “kamikaze approach.”
“My colleague’s proposal asks business owners to engage in a kamikaze approach that will only further kill my Latino community,” Arias said.
The letter, a result of the resolution’s approval, asked Newsom for a “more realistic pathway” to reopening indoor operations.
“The City of Fresno has consistently enforced all state and local COVID-19 regulations and remains committed to protecting public health while helping restaurants operate in a safe manner and at sustainable indoor capacity levels,” the letter reads. “Restaurants have some of the most stringent industry protocols and guidance issued by the state and enhanced by local health orders. They need to be able to move back inside in a safe and immediate manner with an achievable pathway to the maximum occupancy that the health and safety protocols will allow.”