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Morgan Hill
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June 14, 2021

Opinion: Draconian fines destroy business

Dear Mayor Rich Constantine and Morgan Hill City Councilmembers:

Thank you for your service to the people of Morgan Hill in building and sustaining a viable, safe and inviting community.

As an admirer and former City of Morgan Hill official, I am writing to you to express my dismay at the actions of the Santa Clara County Health Department in imposing large fines on the Running Shop and Hops.

Over many years, the City of Morgan Hill and its previous Redevelopment Agency invested millions of public dollars in the development and improvement to its core business area to ensure that it would be a viable and an important part of that city. The key to its success, in addition to the investment of public dollars, is the investment by the private sector in and around the core to increase employment, the tax base, and provide an inviting venue for citizen participation.

The advent of Covid-19 is not the fault of city government, county government or the business community in Morgan Hill. Ensuring the safe operation of businesses to protect employees and the public is vital and local government officials need to be working collaboratively with health officials to identify safe ways in which businesses can open and operate.

Levying fines totaling $10,000 to one business (as reported in the media) in an incredibly challenging state and local economy is absurd, anti-business and an arrogant approach to encouraging corrective behavior.

If the business in question goes out of business, Santa Clara County will have succeeded in preventing Covid-19 violations there, but Morgan Hill will have one less private sector employer to serve the people of the city and those who visit. City officials must ensure a safe community and be advocates for businesses who have invested there and the people who live here.

I respectfully urge the city council and city management to have a straightforward conversation with Santa Clara County health officials to see if they will rethink their draconian fine for this business and adopt a more proactive and educational approach to achieve important and necessary health compliance by the business community.

David Jinkens

Morgan Hill, former city manager

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