County’s Anti-Soliciting Ordinance Decried As Interference With Business

Six of the principals and employees of the California New Business Bureau came before the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors this week to register their indignation at the passage of a new county ordinance that was given first and second readings at the board’s July 28 and August 11 meetings. They asked that the board reconsider its action and rescind the ordinance.
Ordinance 4282 prohibits soliciting at any county facilities. Though the language in the ordinance does not limit the prohibition to any single county building or department, Terry Thompson, the county’s director of real estate services, submitted a report that accompanied the item on the board agenda on July 28 which stated “There have been some issues at county facilities, including aggressive solicitation of county patrons at the Hall of Records. The adoption of this ordinance will add Chapter 30 to Division 1 of Title 4 of the San Bernardino County Code to prohibit solicitation to market or advertise products, services, or property by any person, association, body politic, group or other entity on county property. The chapter would apply whether in the unincorporated or incorporated area of the county.”
The California New Business Bureau, which has offices in Norwalk in Los Angeles County, Santa Ana in Orange County and San Bernardino in San Bernardino County, offers a full line of services to start-up and existing businesses with regard to filing for corporation or partnership status, permits, licenses, establishing trademarks, registering and other applications with regard to operating a business. A major line of service at the company’s San Bernardino location, which is located across the parking lot from the county’s Hall of Records, is assisting those applying for fictitious business names in the county recorder’s office.
The California New Business Bureau’s proximity to the Hall of Records and its practice of stationing its employees near the county facility and approaching those going into or coming out of the recorder’s office, which is located on the ground floor of Hall of Records, earlier this year prompted the county to post signs informing the public that California New Business Bureau employees are not employed by the county. In response, the California New Business Bureau issued its employees identifying insignia to prevent any confusion.
In July, the county came forth with Ordinance 4282, which adds elements to the county code prohibiting solicitation at county facilities.
On August 25, Steve Duque, one of the managing partners of the California New Business Bureau, offered his view that “San Bernardino County is singling out and targeting” his company “with Ordinance 4282, which prohibits us from soliciting in front of county buildings. We find it amazing that with so many problems plaguing San Bernardino County such as pot dispensaries, gangs and drug problems and murder rates that are at an all time high that the county has decided to go after and target us, a couple of solicitors passing out business cards in front of the county clerk’s offices. Our co-workers are not only parents and heads of their households, but are also God-fearing, taxpaying, law abiding citizens of San Bernardino County. What we do has been taking place in your county for years with lawyers and bail bondsmen soliciting business in front of your court buildings, police stations and county jails, yet when we went to go get a copy of the ordinance that was passed a couple of weeks ago, the clerk at the window told us the ordinance was made specifically for the county recorder building where we are at. Why? For a safety hazard? We stand in a public place specifically made for the public. We have every permit and license required by the city and county to operate our business lawfully, yet we are the problem. I think the goal should be keeping small businesses in San Bernardino County and not running them out. We represent 18 newspapers in three different counties, and are prepared to launch a media campaign with them and the TV news to plead our case to see what the public thinks of what is being done to us by our publicly elected officials. We don’t think – we know what is being done to us by passing this ordinance is unfair and unconstitutional and are prepared to make justice fulfilled.”
Emilio Mendoza, who manages the San Bernardino California New Business Bureau office, said, “We are business people. We provide the service of corporations and tax IDs and seller’s permits. We give the people the knowledge they need to be entrepreneurs in San Bernardino County. We ask that you would promote that.”
Eleazar Duque, another principal in the company, told the board, “We are a company that has provided jobs and for the last thirteen years we have been able to abide by the rules in Los Angeles and Orange County. If you have an ordinance and write rules, we can abide by them, obeying whatever the law is, but don’t single us out and write a law to put us out of business. We provide in this little office ten jobs. Ten families take a check home. They are proud to do that and I am proud to be part of them. We continue to provide jobs. We don’t take jobs away from anybody, although some people in the county feel as though we are taking away something. No. This is a win-win-win situation; a win for the county, a win for the workers of the county, a win for the customer and a win for us because we assist and make the work easier for the county workers, we make the work easier for our clients and in turn we take a check home, which is what we strive for. We work hard. We work ethically. We don’t take anybody’s money we don’t deserve and if there’s a complaint, we have a refund policy. We want to follow the rules.”
Constance Hatten, an employee, told the board of supervisors she had moved to San Bernardino from Los Angeles County and “I struggled to find a job in San Bernardino. I searched for a job for about a year-and-a-half when I finally found a job with the California New Business Bureau. That’s when the quality of my life did go up. I am able to provide an income for my family. I am pleading with you for… this ordinance to change because if it doesn’t, my job is on the line.”
Sirena Tolman, who has worked with the California New Business bureau for eight years, told the supervisors, “I want to show my kids what it’s like to have responsibility and do something with your life and to get an education and pursue a career that they want and need. With this ordinance being passed, I feel that San Bernardino County is making it hard for small businesses, for us to be able to provide for our families and take that time and to show them responsibility. I feel they are singling us out and not letting us pass out business cards. I don’t understand what harm that does – to pass out business cards and to promote our business and promote what we do. There’s people who do it all day long. I don’t understand why the county of San Bernardino is taking it so personal that we stand out and we hand out business cards.”
Manuel Torres explained to the board members that “I have a wife and three kids. For about three years I was struggling. I was in and out of houses, trying to feed my kids. I’ve been an employee for about two years now. I’ve been blessed to work for this company. It has brought a whole new life to me and my kids. I’ve been stable since I’ve been working here. I can’t ask for anything more. I’m a taxpayer and I’m also a resident of the county of San Bernardino. I just ask you guys to let us work like everybody else and pay our taxes. We provide a service to people who do not know what to do.”

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