Please read through to the end this cannot stand! The following was just posted by a local business in Cotati California.
To all of the hospitality business in Sonoma County we STAND with you. The threat is real, the fight of our lives is happening. Our business models will all change the question is will we survive to get a chance to try the new model. From a BBQ place in Healdsburg, a brew pub by the coast, a sports bar in Santa Rosa or a rock’n bar in Petaluma were in the fight….were just on the ropes. As we have tried to stay relevant during this forced closure, operate and function with a volunteer staff of family offering pick up, take-out and delivery of our food and beverages, we have also been the true entrepreneurs in trying to find a safe and socially responsible avenue to stay relevant and generate revenue while offering a great hospitality service to people who CHOOSE to visit our location. We were made aware by the Dept of Alcohol Beverage Control shortly after our first week on the drive in movie that we were operating within the new guidelines of take-out and delivery with alcoholic beverages with meals. The problem lied with Chief Parish of the Cotati Police Department. We notified the Dept. of ABC that we would discontinue to offer ANY alcoholic beverages at this event to avoid conflict with the ABC. We reached out for a meeting with Chief Parish and Lt. Doug Endy. The meeting with these two was granted by phone for the following Tuesday (2 Days before last weeks’ Top Gun drive in movie) Needless to say the meeting didn’t go well. We reaffirmed we would NOT offer, sell or furnish any alcohol to any customers. We had all socially spacing and distancing requirements met and we had followed all recommendations to be completely responsible. This all fell onto deaf ears. Chief Parish said “The health order is to be enforced by the Sheriff of Sonoma County and each city’s chief of police. As the Chief of police I deem you are in violation of the order” I replied “So while we concede to not offer, sell or furnish any alcohol, do more than is even required to be socially responsible and still try to survive with our business you and you alone deem us in violation” Chief Parish “YES!” Lt. Doug Endy chimed in and asked me “What’s your goal?’ I responded “To stay relevant, to expose new customers to the fact we have a full To Go menu to make a little money for mom and her needs” The response was ‘You know if we allow you to do this it’s not fair to the other business, it will be a shit show!” I then asked the chief, that because we are hustling, we’re creative, were doing it safe you can’t find a way where we can meet in the middle and provide this event with compromises we are willing to make. The response from Chief Parish was shocking to a business person but very enlightening to how we, the non-essential businesses are viewed. Chief Parish’s response… “I’m NOT your business advocate!” At this point our efforts to try and have even neutral support from the police department in our city was not going to happen. We as a family decided enough is enough and we are going to run the event with no alcohol sales even with the threat from the police they will close the event, cite and fine us. Being proactive business people we notified all people who had RSVP’d to attend that there was a possibility of the police closing the event. As you can read in the article attached the police did appear and gave us a NOTICE OF VIOLATION OF ORDER No. C19-03. (County Health Order) Now before many of you yell and scream an order is not a law, California Health and Safety Code Sec 120275 says failure to follow an order is a crime and punishable. As a side note, the Chief and Lieutenant, knowing we were going to run our event, did not stay and work that evening yet instead sent an officer from their department down to give us the violation order.
Days went by and we were waiting for the city to respond to the event and our safe operations of it. This occurred as a Cotati police officer came to the pub with code enforcement officer Robert Smith from the City of Cotati on Tuesday of this week. They gave me personally a $300 city citation which cited numerous violations. Then to find out they went to my moms house and gave her another $300 citation for the same offensives and a letter. My mom had some dialogue with code enforcement officer Smith and she said “We are just trying to survive in a responsible way.” Officer Smith’s response “Why don’t you just sell your business then!” So again another complete insight to us non-essential business owners. After reading the letter from code officer Smith, it cites numerous alcohol violations. This is a false and targeting accusation as we have documented evidence proving no alcohol was accessible during this event. But it allows the City Police to involve the Dept of ABC. As it happens the Dept of ABC and the police chiefs had a meeting on Monday and late Monday night an emergency order was proposed for law by the Dept of ABC. To just make sure us small hospitality business comply with no push back, the Dept of ABC provided an emergency order (Sec 147. Emergency decision procedures for administrative actions against alcohol licenses.) So in basic terms, the ABC is notified if we’re in violation of law (including the ordinance) they can take immediate action against your license (Suspension, Revocation, Fine).
So based on the fact our only asset left is our liquor license and we are being threatened to have action taken against our license, we will be cancelling all further drive in movies. We stand tall, we are innovative, we do everything to help others, and the city we conduct business and this is the posture taken from our city and its law enforcement. We’ve received more in fines than our Drive-In revenue. We are a responsible community based hospitality business and we have a city that has leaders that will tell you to “Sell your business” or “I’m not your business advocate” when we need just basic cooperation. No favors, no special treatment, just cooperation.
We have attached pictures of the fines, the letter from code enforcement as well as our official response to all parties involved. We emailed all of the officials yesterday, and as of this posting we have no response. If anyone would like to contact us please send us a personal message we will get back to you.