LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Los Angeles will rescind fines recently issued and stop fining businesses for posting signs and banners during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Eric Garcetti said today.
“We need to support safely operating businesses, not cite them,'' Garcetti said during his COVID-19 update. “These were signs letting customers know that they were open for business, and so long as these businesses are in fact permitted to be open, there's nothing wrong.''
An investigation by NBC4 broadcast Tuesday revealed restaurants and small businesses were being fined hundreds of dollars by the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety for minor violations, such as putting up a banner without a permit.
Councilman David Ryu said Friday Los Angeles should stop fining businesses for putting up temporary signs or banners without a permit during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Small businesses like Crave Cafe are under immense stress because of this pandemic, and a $356 fine is the last thing they need,'' Ryu said. “We should be encouraging restaurants to operate safely and advertise their business, not slapping them with fines.
“These fees should be waived and enforcement of these bureaucratic rules should be suspended entirely. I am calling on the city departments to stop issuing these fines and make it easier to do business in Los Angeles.''
According to NBC4, above the entrance of Crave Cafe in Studio City, where the owner said business has been down 70% during the pandemic, a banner was hung last month that read “Open for take-out and delivery.''
However, owner Rana Shalhoud told the station she was fined $356 for not obtaining a permit for the banner. The fines can almost triple to $1,176 if they're not paid within the 30-day time frame.
Several neighboring businesses on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City also received $356 fines for hanging banners announcing they were still open, including the Chop Shop salad restaurant, Fantastic Sam's barbershop, Trader Joe's and the Hot Chicken and Waffle Bar, according to NBC4.
The Department of Building and Safety told NBC4's I-Team in an email that the banners “require permits,'' and because the businesses didn't have those permits, they were in violation of the Los Angeles Municipal Code and received the fines.
“While these inspectors were doing the job that we asked them to do, based on the way the rules were written, tonight I'm changing those rules, so that they can stay focused on helping businesses,'' Garcetti said.