Approximately 50 people gathered in front of Temecula City Hall on Saturday, May 23 for a rally called “Open Temecula” that originated on Facebook.
Organized by Tena Caracciolo, owner of Insurance All Stars Agency, Realtor Lloyd Mize, and Robert Dean Lamb of New Found Strength Fitness & Nutrition, the rally called for residents to put pressure on local elected officials in hopes of the Temecula city council proclaiming the city as a “business sanctuary city.”
The rally, which was held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., featured local business owners who expressed their frustration with being shut down due to mandates handed down by state and county officials designed to halt the spread of the coronavirus, which to date has killed more than 97,000 people in the United States.
There have been no reported deaths in the city of Temecula and 132 confirmed cases of the virus in city residents as of Saturday night.
On Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom granted the County of Riverside the ability to move into a so-called Phase 2.5, an accelerated reopening mandate that allowed dine-in at restaurants and shopping inside of retail stores. The reopenings were allowed given the establishments met a detailed set of guidelines.
By Friday night, many of the restaurants in Old Town Temecula had reopened to dine-in customers. On Saturday morning, several retailers had their doors open with people shopping inside.
“We are looking for business owners to rise up with us,” Mize told the crowd. “If you’re wanting to take an active role, it’s time to take action.
“We need to put pressure on our local city so that they will put pressure on our county and the county will tell the state what the people want. Because we’re the government.”
Mize said that the group wants the city council to vote for the city of Temecula as a “business sanctuary city.”
“We want our businesses open and it’s our God-given constitutional right to stand up and do it,” Mize said in regard to speaking with local city officials over the course of the past week. “The thumbs up that I’m getting, under the table, behind the scenes, off record, the thumbs up from the local government is ‘rise up and do this, open up businesses.’”
Mize then handed the mic to Caracciolo.
“My battle cry is, open up Temecula now,” she said. “With the utmost respect for health and safety, of course. I want my city council to vote yes on making Temecula a sanctuary city for business.”
Andy Doty, owner of the Old Town Blues Club, reflected on the day orders came down closing all bars and nightclubs and the weeks that followed.
He said people have abided by the restrictions and flattened the curve and done their duty, now it’s time to open up the city.
“That’s why we’re here today because we have rights, and our rights were taken advantage of, that’s how I see it,” Doty said.
“The fight’s not over and this announcement yesterday didn’t happen by accident. It was because people were fighting and making their voices heard. There are still many businesses that aren’t able to open. Bars and nightclubs like my own, there are salons, there are gyms, churches, large congregation churches, etc. So we can not just give up, we gotta keep fighting and let them know that it’s time, it’s time to open Temecula.”
Jeff Pack can be reached by email at email@example.com.