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Del Mar Steps Up COVID-19 Enforcement In Pilot Program

A woman sits outside wearing a face-covering near the Del Mar city hall, Aug. 4, 2020.
Mike Damron
A woman sits outside wearing a face-covering near the Del Mar city hall, Aug. 4, 2020.

In Del Mar, a crackdown is coming for those violating COVID-19 rules. A new pilot program will have sheriff's deputies patrolling parts of the city to educate and cite those not in compliance with rules meant to slow the virus's spread.

"The governor has asked all of the agencies to be proactive and take the health order seriously, and so we are doing what our state has asked us to do," said Del Mar Mayor Ellie Haviland.

Del Mar Steps Up COVID-19 Enforcement In Pilot Program
Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman.

Haviland and council member Dwight Worden brought the enforcement proposal to the city council Tuesday. It passed 4-1.

The beaches and downtown Del Mar will be the main areas of focus. The city is spending $22,000 to hire deputies a couple of times a week for enforcement. The pilot program is currently set to run through November.

Del Mar Deputy Mayor Terry Gaasterland was the lone "no" vote.

"If Del Mar develops a reputation for, 'Hey you go to Del Mar you’ll get a ticket you have to pay that $1,000 fine,' — that could have negative consequences if we’re the only ones doing it," Gaasterland said.

Deputies Stepping Up COVID-19 Enforcement Part of Del Mar Pilot Program

Gaasterland worries taking an aggressive enforcement posture will keep people out of the city.

"A potential negative effect on our businesses," she said.

Others, like Haviland, believe it could have a positive effect

"I think our businesses will appreciate the support and the desire that our council has to keep the community safe," she said. "Because when people feel safe here, they’ll go out of their homes to the businesses, to the restaurants."

The idea is to focus enforcement on face coverings, but deputies can issue citations for any violations under state and county orders, which carry up to a $1,000 fine and or up to 90 days in jail.

The deputies will strive for voluntary compliance first, and officials said most people will put on a face covering when asked to.

Part of the pilot program's $22,000 price tag includes more signage on face coverings to be posted around the city.