Citizens complain to City Council about masks, more

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local
City Council members on Wednesday, May 12, heard from two citizens who wanted to know what the City of Lebanon was going to do to show support of its citizens regarding COVID during the public comment period May 12.
Lindsay Pearson said she wanted to know what the City of Lebanon was going to do to protect and show support for its citizens, noting local businesses that are struggling and the cancellation of the Strawberry Festival.
“At what point are we going to end this cycle? COVID isn’t going to go away,” Pearson said. “We need to learn how to control it and how to live with it.”
And that’s not by wearing masks or limiting restaurant capacity while corporate box stores can stay open, she said.
Pearson noted she understands there are “unlawful, unconstitutional” mandates the city is following, but questions what Lebanon will do to protect its citizens from OSHA.
“If we don’t fight against the governor – especially now that she’s backed down, she’s feeling the heat – if we don’t try to do anything, we’re going into another year,” she said.
Another individual, who identified herself only as Katie, agreed.
“I feel like even though you say you support (us) and there’s only so much you can do, you can back the citizens, and you can also write Kate Brown. I’d just like you guys to step up and speak for us and do what you guys, hopefully, think is right,” Katie said.
Councilor Wayne Rieskamp responded to Pearson by pointing out the city has no power to tell restaurants to stay open, and also noted that the big box stores are deemed “essential,” and they are supporting the community by staying open.
Councilor Jason Bolen said restaurants were not forced to close, but rather to limit or eliminate indoor dining, and that the option for takeout was available.
“The city has limited authority to do anything about state mandates. Restaurants are still free to do as they wish,” he said. “If they wish to stay open and rebuke the mandates, they’re free to do that. Choices come with consequences and risks.”
Bolen said he agrees with Pearson on some points, but she should take any issue she has with the governor to the state.
Tre Kennedy, the city’s attorney, said the city has to follow state and federal law.
“To the extent that we can supplement that or they’ve given us the discretion to create our own laws, then we do that. But it can’t conflict with state law. Given the state of emergency and the wide and broad powers given to the governor during a state of emergency,” those are enforceable, Kennedy said.
Since COVID forced the City Council to hold its meetings via Zoom over the past year, public comments have only been accepted via email. This month’s council meeting was the first time citizens were able to be present in the Zoom meeting.
“It was an effort to allow the citizen comments to be made verbally and in person, face-to-face, so to speak,” Bolen said. “This was an effort to be transparent and have a little bit more outreach.”
Present in the Zoom meeting were councilors Bolen, Rieskamp, Wayne Dykstra, Gamael Nassar, and Michelle Steinhebel.
In other business, the council:
♦ Held a public hearing for and adopted ordinance 2021-01 amending various chapters of the Lebanon Development code in compliance with HB 2001.
♦ approved Resolution 2021-07 and an intergovernmental agreement between City of Lebanon and Linn County in order to install traffic signals and road improvements at the intersection of Airport and Stoltz Hill roads. Stoltz Hill Road is under the jurisdiction of Linn County, while Airport Road and the north leg of Stoltz Hill – which is being developed as part of the Applegate Landing development – are under City of Lebanon jurisdiction.
The IGA provides a split cost between both jurisdictions for the improvements on Stoltz Hill, as well as 25 percent of the cost for the traffic signal from Linn County. Upon completion, the City will have jurisdiction of a portion of Stoltz Hill from Airport to approximately 140 south along Stoltz Hill.
♦ Amended the Lebanon Municipal Code by clarifying the definition of city parks. The current definition has resulted in uncertainty in enforcement of park exclusions. The amendment includes one sentence defining park boundaries as inclusive of all sidewalks, vanity strips, curbs and adjacent streets to include city right of ways.