The owner of Ghost Golf has sued Gov. Newsom over Covid-19 lockdown restrictions that have keep his business mostly shuttered since March. Ghost Golf image
Written by Frank Lopez
A mini-golf business in Fresno is filing a lawsuit against Gov. Newsom.
Ghost Golf, an indoor mini-golf course with a haunted house theme at Blackstone and Barstow avenues, is suing to challenge the governor’s closure of certain businesses and industries.
The lawsuit, Ghost Golf et al. v. Gavin Newsom, filed in Fresno County Superior Court on Oct. 26, alleges the governor lacks the authority to close businesses, and that his actions have violated the California Constitution.
Under the governors’ color-coded tier system for reopening, family entertainment centers will be able to open with 25% capacity in the yellow tier.
The county is currently in the red tier, with many anticipating it may return to the more restrictive purple tier in coming weeks as cases rise.
“Governor Newsom has stated that he will continue to make changes to the Blueprint regime as he deems appropriate,” the lawsuit states. “This means that the Governor or CDPH [California Department of Public Health] might make further changes to govern how and when a County will be reclassified from one color-coding to the next. It also means that the Governor or CDPH might change the applicable restrictions for any given industry within any color-coded county at any time.”
Luke Wake, attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation in Sacramento, filed the lawsuit and is representing the mini-golf business.
“The legislature cannot, under the non-delegation doctrine, give away its law making powers,” Wake said. “It certainly cannot write a blank check to the governor to just make up rules. The legislature has to decide fundamental policy issues. Here, it’s the governor deciding all of these policy issues about what businesses should be required to be closed, under what conditions can they be open, and really micromanaging the economy.”
Wake said the lawsuit is not questioning the governor’s immediate response to the Covid-19 pandemic in March, but nearly seven months into it, it has turned into seven months of “one-man rule.”
At the end of June, with notice to Fresno County, Ghost Golf opened for four days, but then the state ordered them to shut down once again. There were a lot of changes made to accommodate safety protocols, which did cost money that the business hasn’t been able to recoup.
Owner Daryn Coleman started Ghost Golf in the Bay Area in 2010 and moved the business to Fresno in 2018.
Coleman said that Ghost Golf had been on an upward trajectory until the virus hit.
“It’s been devastating. We’ve had to completely shut down since March. I opened for four days in June before they shut me down again, which ended up costing me more money than I made,” Coleman said.
Coleman said it is frustrating to see the governor pick and choose certain industries to remain open, and have others close. If a bowling alley can operate, Coleman said his business should be able to open with the precautions he put in place, including making sure a party is about three holes ahead before he lets another party start their game.
Since it is a seasonal business, Ghost Golf has already missed summer customers, and is missing out on patrons that would visit for Halloween.
Coleman said the business is losing about $23,000 to $25,000 per month—and he still has to pay rent and take care of other business expenses.
“I want to be able to open safely and provide a safe environment,” Coleman said. “If wearing masks and social distancing is safe, and safe enough for restaurants and all these other indoor activities, it should be safe enough for what I do.”