Documented by Ntsa Iab Vang
What happened: In response to the discovery of an illegal bio-lab in the city, the Reedley City Council placed a temporary moratorium on the establishment of new warehouses or laboratories operating with Biosafety Levels 2 through 4.
At its Tuesday meeting, the council unanimously approved an urgency ordinance that will temporarily ban the establishment of any new uses within the city while staff looks into land use restrictions and licensure requirements as it pertains to the storage, production, warehousing and manufacture of products and materials that include Biosafety Levels.
Biosafety Levels are used to identify the protective measures needed in a laboratory setting to protect workers, the environment and the public.
In December 2022, the city’s code enforcement department discovered the illegal lab when an officer responding to a complaint about a business operating without a permit, found unpermitted storage of laboratory mice, biological agents, chemicals and medical equipment.
“While this business was clearly illicit and operating outside the bounds of current municipal, state and federal laws, it has highlighted a need for the city to look into zoning regulations for legally operating businesses that may house infectious substances,” sad the staff report on the item.
The staff report notes licensed labs, hospitals and/or medical clinics regulated by state and federal law are exempt from this moratorium.