News & Updates

Sponsored Content: SANDAG Recognizes 138 Local Employers for Promoting Green Commute Choices

Employers all over San Diego County are embracing methods to reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions. The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) celebrated their hard work with a virtual event last week. One-hundred-thirty-eight employers countywide were recognized with Diamond Awards for their outstanding efforts to encourage employees to use

environmentally sustainable transportation choices.

The Diamond Awards are administered by the SANDAG iCommute program, which provides a variety of services to commuters and employers to help reduce traffic congestion, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and improve mobility.

Diamond Award recipients promote alternatives to driving alone, including carpool, vanpool, bike, walk, transit, telework, and compressed workweek schedules. Some organizations also provide incentives, subsidies, or pre-tax deductions to support their employees’ participation in eligible programs.

This year, many local employers turned to iCommute for assistance with implementing telework programs. iCommute held a series of telework webinars to support regional employers and is developing a new Telework Assistance Pilot Program to start this fall.

A record-breaking twenty-nine local companies were presented with a plaque for a Platinum Diamond Award, the highest award level. A full recording of the event is available on the SANDAG YouTube channel. A full list of Diamond Awards recipients is posted on the iCommute website.

Employers throughout San Diego County are invited to take advantage of complimentary iCommute employer services to be eligible for Diamond Awards. To learn more about the program, visit

Next month, many of these employers will encourage their employees to pledge to clean the air and leave their car at home in celebration of California Clean Air Day on Wednesday, October 7.  Employers who take the pledge for Clean Air Day get a toolkit of promotional materials from iCommute and earn a Diamond Awards point. More information about Clean Air Day can be found at

Member Spotlight: Where You Want To Be & Out of the Ordinary

Marc & Darlynne Menkin in front of Hotel Del Coronado

Marc & Darlynne Menkin run Where You Want To Be and Out of the Ordinary, two San Diego based companies that create unique corporate Team building activities and tours to secret spots. When mass gatherings were cancelled due to COVID-19, the Menkins had to re-think their business model and pivot in order to stay relevant.  As a result, they developed several new Virtual Team building programs such as the Neighborhood News Team Challenge, Family Feud, Jeopardy and Creative Icebreakers.

They’re also offering Virtual Media & Video Coaching Services. Darlynne was a TV News Anchor/Reporter for more than 20 years and realized there was a real need when industry colleagues started to ask her for advice on how to look and feel more confident on Zoom calls. Now that “face to face” meetings are currently on hold, more companies are turning to Virtual Meetings/Conferences, which Darlynne says is a lot like producing a live television newscast!

Marc & Darlynne Menkin hosting an event

For those who prefer an “in person” event, the Menkins are offering some fun, OUTDOOR Small Group activities.  The programs are designed to get people outside, out into the fresh air where it’s safe.  Physical Distancing and other Safety guidelines have been implemented. Below are the activities being offered:


Easy Going Hikes/Wellness Walks –  Discover secret San Diego spots while getting exercise and practicing Physical Distancing!

Secret Spots Super Challenge  –  A fun Urban Challenge Scavenger Hunt through Balboa Park!



UABC & Mexican Consulate Open COVID-19 Testing Sites

In Tijuana, Baja’s State University (UABC) has opened an on-campus COVID-19 testing site on their ca. Free tests are available for medical workers and students from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. Appointments are necessary and may be scheduled by phone at (664) 979-7577.

A testing site has opened on the patio of the Mexican Consulate General in San Diego. The site operates each Monday from 8:30am to 3:30pm and offers free tests for all interested individuals. No appointments are necessary.

A private sector-led initiative was launched last month comprised of 17 laboratories in Tijuana with the ability to conduct up to 500 COVID-19 tests onsite at a discounted rate. In some cases, businesses are covering the cost for their employees. Results are available within 24 hours and submitted into a database which maps positive results. The effort also helps identify vulnerable neighborhoods and areas across the region, which will help their strategy to combat the virus. For more information, please contact

For a list of testing sites in San Diego, visit the County of San Diego COVID-19 website.

Tijuana River Valley Update

Representatives Juan Vargas, Susan Davis, Scott Peters, Mike Levin, and Raul Ruiz introduced the Border Water Quality Restoration and Protection Act of 2020, a House companion bill to Senator Dianne Feinstein’s legislation introduced in July. Both bills designate the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as the lead agency to coordinate all federal, state, local, and Mexican agencies’ cross-boundary pollution mitigation efforts, helping   improve the water quality of the Tijuana River and New River. Addressing transboundary pollution impacting the Tijuana River Valley in our region is one of our top priorities at the Chamber. The Chamber Board of Directors voted today to support the Senate and House bills.

In addition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced two near-term projects to help mitigate water pollution impacting our region. The agency will enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) to divert additional water for treatment at the IBWC International Treatment Plant. The EPA is also partnering with the City of San Diego to rapidly develop and implement a permanent solution to better control sediment and trash at the border. This project will help reduce flooding risk for the community. Funding for projects will be provided by the EPA’s Border Water Infrastructure Program.

The Mexican section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (CILA, in Spanish) has allocated a bid to a local contractor for the administration and quality control of the rehabilitation of Pump Station CILA in the city of Tijuana. The project includes supervision and quality control of the acquisition and installation of pumps, pipes, and electric equipment, and the construction of pre-treatment grids and new water intake from the channel. In Baja, the Secretariat of Water Management, Sanitation, and Protection (SEPROA) reported that more than 289,000 cubic meters of sediment and solid waste have been removed from the Tijuana River channel. These upgrades are estimated to reduce the volume of northbound transboundary flows during the dry season by 70% and have already resulted in fewer transboundary flows reported in September.

Progress on Otay Mesa East Port of Entry

In line with our efforts to facilitate trade and access to our ports of entry, the Chamber has been a vocal advocate of the Otay Mesa East Land Port of Entry project. A coalition of binational stakeholders from the private and public sector, including the Chamber, urged the Mexican Federal Government to advance the project. In the last few weeks, Mexico has made important progress on the project. The Mexican Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (SCT) has appointed  Transparencia Integral, S.C. as right of way negotiator for the Otay Mesa East Land Port of Entry. Additionally, a bid was granted to Cal y Mayor to lead the coordination of all government agencies involved in Mexico and supervise the construction and operation of the port of entry.

The Otay Mesa East Land Port of Entry will contribute to significant economic growth and stimulate cross-border trade by providing secure, reliable, and predictable crossings with a goal of waits no longer than 20 minutes. The port’s design and construction are expected to begin in 2022, to be completed and in operation in 2024/2025.

Growing Concerns about Cross-Border Restrictions

The temporary restrictions on non-essential travel across shared ports of entry between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico have been extended to October 21. The Chamber recently met with U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Christopher Landau and shared concerns about the impact border restrictions and fluctuating border wait times have on our cross-border economy. The impact extends beyond economic as increased border waits pose a risk to public health through increased air pollution and now during the pandemic, creates a scenario of increased risk of exposure. If businesses can operate safely with strict health protocols, the border should as well. An effective way to mitigate the spread of this disease across our border is to implement a coordinated binational effort around social distancing and mask wearing.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has reopened Trusted Traveler Program enrollment centers at the Otay Mesa and Calexico East Ports of Entry. Interviews for conditionally approved Global Entry, SENTRI, and FAST applicants are available by appointment only and must be scheduled online. For more information including enrollment center hours of operation, visit CBP’s website.

To help facilitate border crossings for our workforce, the Chamber is working with CBP to organize mobile enrollment events at work sites. Applications submitted at these events will be reviewed within a month and granted expedited interviews. If you are interested in offering this at your company, please contact the Chamber.

Governor Newsom Endorses Controversial Proposition 15

Proposition 15, the measure commonly referred to as “split-roll,” recently received the Governor’s endorsement. While opposed by many major business organizations across the state (including the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce), the Governor’s late endorsement highlights the high-stakes battle taking place as the state is increasingly desperate to identify new revenue sources as it struggle with its budget. Polling shows that Prop 15 has an uphill climb with voters, and Chamber President and CEO Jerry Sanders recently published this op-ed warning of the undue financial stress Prop 15 would put on California’s small businesses.

Unemployment Rate Dips to Lowest Since April

In tentatively good news, the state’s unemployment rate was 11.6%, the lowest it’s been since April at the height of pandemic-related closures. According to the same monthly report, San Diego claimed 9.9% unemployment. While these numbers demonstrate some economic resilience in the state and especially recently, many are quick to warn that these positive trends in lower unemployment may not be here to stay. Factors including state-directed closures and restrictions on business will immediately impact hiring, as well the fate of federal stimulus packages which look less likely for our most in-need industries including tourism.

New Sick Leave and Recall/Retention Legislation

Last week had significant policy impacts for large employers, as Governor Newsom signed a bill providing additional sick leave benefits and a second bill offering worker protections awaits his signature, and the City passed its own ordinance. More specifically:

AB 1867, a budget trailer bill, was signed that provides supplemental paid sick leave for businesses with over 500 employees nationwide. This bill is designed to mirror the benefits given to workers as provided in the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which applied to companies with less than 500 employees (however did provide certain credits to ease the burden of employer compliance with the law, which the state bill expressly does not).

  • The bill requires 80 hours of supplemental paid sick leave to be provided to employees working full time (which is defined by an employee working an average of at least 40 hours per week in the two weeks prior to paid sick leave being received). Part-time employees would also be eligible for the benefit based on a variable determined by the amount of hours they worked in the previous two weeks.
  • Paid sick leave is available for:
    • Employees subject to a federal/state/local quarantine order
    • Employees advised by a doctor to self-quarantine or isolate
    • Employees prohibited from working because of transmission concerns.
  • Supplemental paid sick leave is capped at $511 per day, and $5,110 total per employee.
  • If employers have provided a supplemental benefit equal to or greater than that outlined in AB 1867 before the implementation of the act, the employer is not required to then add another 80 hours of leave.
  • AB 1867 was passed under urgency, meaning it will go into effect no less than 10 days after signing (latest would be 9/19/2020). The Department of Labor must issue guidance for compliance and enforcement before going into effect.
    • The bill does not say whether medical documentation is necessary, or allowable, for the employer. It’s likely DOL guidance will determine that.


AB 3216 (Kalra) is pending the Governor’s signature, and would not go into effect until January 1, 2021. This bill outlines worker recall after lay-offs, and retention requirements. It is the statewide version of local ordinances passed in many large cities, including the City of San Diego (outlined below).

  • The bill applies to hotels, private clubs, event centers, airport hospitality services, airport service providers, and building service providers.
  • Outlines that rehiring after COVID-related lay-offs must be done by order of seniority.
    • Employers can make simultaneous offers, but employees are allowed five days to respond to the offer.
    • Employers must make offers for any job which the laid-off employee is qualified for, not necessarily the job they were laid off from.
  • For worker retention, the bill outlines that if a covered employer (outline above) goes out of business, the successor employer must keep the staff on for a minimum of 90 days and must consider making permanent offers. This would be enforced by allowing employees to file complaints with the Department of Labor.


Councilmember Chris Ward offered his own local policy proposals reflecting the two above, in the instance that one or both bills may be vetoed by the Governor. AB 1867 was an urgency bill, so there will be no additional effort on a local supplemental paid sick leave policy. However, AB 3216 has a later effective date, making the Councilmember’s Emergency Recall and Retention Ordinance a sort of “bridge” policy that will go into effect in the time between now and January 2021. The local policy:

  • Will require hotels with 200+ rooms or commercial properties with 25+ security/janitorial staff to prioritize the rehiring of laid-off staff based on the amount of time they have worked for the employer.
  • Laid-off employees that have been offered to be rehired will have three days to decide if they want to accept the position.
  • This ordinance will go into effect immediately and will sunset in 6 months or on December 31, 2020, when the state law (AB 3216) is expected to go into effect.

Member Spotlight: College Apps Abroad

Is your child thinking about applying for college or grad school overseas? College Apps Abroad is an educational consultancy that specializes in helping students do just that in places like the UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada and more.

Nowadays, more and more students are applying abroad for a number of reasons. Students can benefit from a high-quality education at a fraction of the cost compared with U.S. colleges, shorter degree durations, more focused majors, enrolling in professional programs like Law, Medicine and Veterinary Medicine straight out of high school and developing their cultural competency,

independence and global networks.

More than 200 universities worldwide also accept U.S. federal financial aid and 529 plans, and there are a number of scholarships specifically for international students.

College Apps Abroad provides customized, personalized support with:

  • Understanding admissions requirements overseas
  • Building a list of best fit programs and institutions
  • Submitting applications
  • Guidance on essays and personal statements
  • Financial aid and scholarships
  • Housing
  • Student visas
  • And much more!

Sara Cavalieri, Founder of College Apps Abroad

Sara Cavalieri, the Founder, has more than 10 years of experience working in international recruitment and admissions for some of the world’s top 100 universities, including The University of Edinburgh in the UK and the University of New South Wales in Australia. She also completed her Master of Education in Australia and lived abroad for nine years before moving to San Diego.

On September 29 at 5 p.m, College Apps Abroad is also hosting a free webinar on How to Apply for College Abroad in the Midst of a Pandemic, featuring representatives from three of the top universities in the world: Kings College London, Macquarie University in Australia and the University of Auckland. Register your place here.


For more information and for a free, 30-minute virtual consultation, contact Sara at:


Phone: 619-919-4656