August 11 – Weekly Update

Hot off the press! The CDC has released updated COVID-19 guidance in light of the wider availability of tools to reduce COVID-19 severity. The update includes:

  • If exposed to COVID: Regardless of vaccination status, instead of quarantining, recommending wearing a high-quality mask for 10 days and getting tested on day 5 instead.
  • If you have COVID: Regardless of vaccination status, recommending isolating from others, staying home for at least 5 days and ending isolation after day 5 if your symptoms improve. Avoiding being around high-risk individuals and wearing a high-quality mask through day 10.
    • Moderate or severe COVID: Isolate through day 10.
  • No longer recommending physical distancing, no longer recommending routine testing of asymptomatic people in most community settings, and promoting the importance of staying up to date with vaccinations.

TBD on whether California and San Diego County will take the same, or a different approach.

 

Business Updates

Chamber Member NASSCO will be given $1.4 billion from the federal government to build three Naval ships here in San Diego.

SeaWorld San Diego has been given the green light from the Coastal Commission on their newest rollercoaster – a family friendly ride that will not pierce the 30-foot height limit. It could open as early as 2023.

RICK Engineering has acquired Cypress Civil Development, a civil engineering and survey firm based out of Arizona.

 

Legislative Updates

Federal: 

Inflation dropped to 8.5% in July. Down from 9.1 in June. Energy costs dropped while the cost of food remained high….

On Sunday, the Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act with a vote of 51-50…Putting us out of our will-he-won’t-he misery in tracking Manchin. In the end, Sinema and Manchin voted yes. The House has yet to vote, though we expect a vote next week.  Included in the current proposal is Representative Scott Peters’ (CA-52) alternative drug pricing provisions plan.

Curious about voter sentiment? Leaked polling from a Republican-affiliated organization shows that the least popular provisions of the bill for voters in swing states were tax rebates for electric cars, more IRS agents, and raising taxes. Surprisingly, the car thing beat out the IRS piece. Go figure.

The July Jobs Report shows an increase in jobs and decrease in unemployment, but we’ll keep monitoring the news for you.

On Tuesday, Joe Biden signed the CHIPS and Science Act providing $52.7 billion in subsidies for US semiconductor production and research. According to the White House, the bill’s passage will allow for greater investment and also noted that companies such as Qualcomm agreed to buy an additional $4.2 billion in semiconductor chips.

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg is proposing some new changes to the way airlines are run. Some of the proposed rules strengthen airline passenger protection and require airlines to give vouchers which do not expire. Also included amongst the new proposed rules is barring airlines to charge family members more to sit next to accompanying children during flights. Summer capacity has been trimmed down 16%.

TikTok: more than just stupid dance videos. The Chief Administrative Officer for the House of Representatives sent a memo telling staffers to stop downloading the app (because it’s ruining their brains) due to “security and privacy concerns.” It’s actually a little terrifying.

This one’s a tear jerker… President Biden signed legislation drastically expanding veteran healthcare to include respiratory illness presumed to be caused by toxic smoke from burn pits and hypertension caused by Agent Orange – used in the Vietnam War.

 

International:

You spin my head right ‘round, right ‘round…faster than ever, in fact. Earth’s rotation has been slowing down over time, but in the past few years, it somewhat inexplicably sped up. This has the potential to affect clocks, and therefore could interrupt business operations… though you shouldn’t notice anything yet.

Join us next Tuesday, August 16 at 10:00am for a conversation on innovative advancements in clean energy and regional strategies to aid businesses to a low-carbon transition. Speakers from the California Air Resources Board and the North American Development Bank will focus on fleet programs that will impact commercial operations and efforts to promote EV manufacturing and infrastructure. You can join us by clicking here (Meeting ID: 820 7560 8861, Passcode: 208493).

Water shortages in the Colorado River have left some residents in Ensenada without service for months, resulting in local protests. The city’s water supply comes from Mexicali through aqueducts but deteriorating infrastructure is causing major leaks impacting both the community and industry. With drought alerts nationwide, President Lopez Obrador announced plans to stop beer production in the north of the country. This includes federal support for companies to move or begin production in the south where water supply is not an issue.

In local news, President Lopez Obrador will visit Baja next week to meet with state authorities and receive updates on regional projects including the Otay Mesa East port of entry.

Need a bit of hope in our environment? The Ocean Cleanup reached an exciting milestone in the Pacific Ocean. Since the 2021 deployment of an experimental plastic removal system, the nonprofit removed over 100,000kg of plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP). This allows them to move on to a new and expanded system expected to increase capture capacity 10 times.

​​The Chamber will join Caltrans and SANDAG to celebrate the opening of a key highway connector in Otay Mesa that will significantly improve cross-border traffic. The $28.9M project connects to key highways, which in turn connects to the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa ports of entry.

The U.S. suspended the Remain-in-Mexico border policy that required migrants to stay in Mexico while an appointment was made for their asylum hearing. The Department of Homeland Security stated that they will continue to process migrants who are already enrolled in the program and allow them to continue their asylum cases while in the U.S.

After Congress overwhelmingly agreed to ratify the agreement to welcome Sweden and Finland into NATO, President Biden signed NATO membership protocols, advancing the process for full membership of both countries into the military alliance.

 

State:

Honey, you got a big storm comin’. In the wake of severe drought, Governor Newsom says California needs to invest billions in water recycling,  desalination efforts, and water storage; according to his proposal released Thursday afternoon. We’re watching to see how this may affect local water agencies.

Because it’s still funny: San Bernardino County will consider seceding from California due to concerns over not receiving fair shares of state and federal funding (and other reasons).  The measure will be on the November 8 ballot.

Vroom, vroom. CARB is moving ahead with its proposal to transition to zero emission vehicles by 2030. Yes, 2030, which is basically tomorrow. Public comments are currently being accepted. Thoughts? Want the Chamber to weigh in on how this will impact your business? Contact Lauren Cazares.

Workers Comp is coming to visit! They announced this week that the division will be returning to in-person walk-throughs in September.

We know you missed CalOSHA updates. The language for the permanent COVID regulations for worksites has dropped. It wouldn’t go into effect until December, and lots of it is the same, but here’s the key changes:

  • Definition of “close contacts” (i.e. who you’re responsible to test and all that) is expanded to anyone near a positive case for 15 cumulative minutes over a 24 hour period.
  • A little more time to provide notification of positive cases at the workplace
  • Requirement to keep records for three years
  • Elimination of exclusion pay (although this could change pending decisions and pressure in Sacramento).

Questions? Talk to Stefanie.

The state HCD announced this week that their Housing Accountability Unit will review San Francisco’s housing policies amid rising concerns that the City is not creating enough housing and has the longest timelines and processes to build more homes.

Patricia Guerrero was nominated by Governor Newsom to be the state’s new Chief Justice and is likely to be confirmed by the Commision on Judicial Appointments. A Coronado resident and Imperial County native, she served as an associate justice on the 4th District Court of Appeal in San Diego from 2017-2022, and was a judge on the Superior Court from 2013-2017. If confirmed, she will not only steer the state’s high court, but also oversee the state’s $5.2 billion court system.

Governor Newsom has tapped his one-time rival and former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as his new infrastructure czar and advisor. Villaraigosa currently serves as a partner for the international consulting firm Actum, and will be paid through an arrangement with the non-profit group California Forward.

Happy Suspense Day! By the time you read this, we may or may not know which bills make it out of Appropriations Committees so stay tuned for next week’s update on what makes it to the Assembly and Senate floors.

 

Local:

Loving this glow up! Convoy has gotten new freeway signs indicating its distinction as an Asian Cultural District. The six signs will help promote new visitors and customers to shop at Convoy businesses, nearly 1500 of which are Asian owned.

Weed go well together: Santee has taken initial steps to legalize cannabis and National City is in the final stages of permitting businesses and a potential consumption lounge.

What’s not lit –  San Diegans need to make over $166K to afford a house in San Diego County. Visual Capitalist, a digital news company, ranked San Diego the third most expensive city when it comes to purchasing a home.

In the Zone: Oceanside’s proposed rezoning plan would allow up to 400 new homes to be constructed. There are currently two plots that may be developed, one in Tierra Norte and the other on North River Farms. If the current proposals are implemented, Oceanside could add potentially 1,000 new homes.

In more planning news, Mira Mesa is in the process of drafting a new Community Plan Update. Within the city’s new growth blueprint, the future of Mira Mesa is looking to take a massive detour away from strip malls and suburban office parks, and is moving instead to pedestrian-friendly infrastructure and planning. Urban villages, walking bridges over heavily trafficked streets and aerial skyways are only but a few of the highlights found.

The City of San Diego’s new Office of Child and Youth Success is creating the first youth master plan. The plan includes crafting new programs focused on careers, reenergizing the city’s Youth Commission and creating more access to childcare. Director O’Hara also plans on expanding the office with two more employees.

San Diego Airport served 2 million passengers last month, a 30% increase over June 2019. But we’re still not back to normal and everyone still hates flying: complaints to the U.S. Department of Transportation rose 237% in May.

SANDAG’s draft 2023 Regional Transportation Improvement Program (RTIP) has been extended for public review to August 27, with a public hearing set for September 9. The five-year program is composed of proposed transportation projects in the region that would include funding from the federal, state, and TransNet.

In monkeypox news, the County Board of Supervisors voted to ratify a local public health state of emergency for monkeypox, and has scheduled a town hall meeting for tonight at 6:00pm for the public to attend. Wastewater researchers at UC San Diego have added monkeypox to their surveillance efforts which currently includes COVID-19 levels. One more thing, students are expected to return to classrooms across San Diego County in the coming weeks; while there are no reported cases of monkeypox among children locally, they are at an increased risk for severe cases if contracted.

San Diego County has unveiled a new safe parking lot on Magnolia Avenue near El Cajon. This new safe parking lot allows people experiencing homelessness to park their car safely for the night.

Health is wealth! Did you know that the County of San Diego has a Healthy Workplace Accelerator Program to help businesses create a wellness plan for their employees? Click here to schedule a 1 on 1 with the Live Well at Work Team or email Spencer Stein.

 

Upcoming City of San Diego Public Input Opportunities

  • The City of San Diego will be kicking off its economic development strategy planning. Contact Lauren Cazares for additional information or to be engaged in the Working Group that will kick-off on August 23rd!
  • The City’s Cannabis Business Division of the Development Services Department will be holding public meetings to discuss potential municipal code changes related to cannabis – starting today. Check out the proposed changes and meeting information here.

Upcoming Hearings

  • The County Board of Supervisors will meet on August 16 and August 17.
  • The City of San Diego’s Planning Commission will meet on August 18.
  • The San Diego City Council will be in legislative recess from August 3 to September 6. The next regularly scheduled meeting of the City Council will be on September 12.
  • SANDAG and MTS meetings will resume in September.

 

Capital Opportunities & Resources

  • Deadline Approaching! Applications are open again for the California Competes Tax Credit Program. If you are a company hoping to expand or add jobs in California take a look at this program. Any business can apply and in the past many life science companies and quite a few from San Diego have successfully applied. There’s $85 million in tax credits & $120 million in grants available and  the deadline to submit applications is Monday, 8/15, at 11:59 p.m. PST. Apply now.
  • GO-Biz, along with the office of the Small Business Advocate, have created resources to help businesses seeking to grow, and those interested in the trucking industry. Check out the California Truck Guide and the Business Quick Start Guide for more information.
  • Caltrans is hosting its 18th annual Procurement and Resource Fair on Wednesday, August 31! Caltrans purchasers and partners will have a list of goods and contracts they’re looking to procure, upcoming opportunities for small businesses, and more. To learn more and register click here.
  • Applications for micro-enterprise home kitchen operations (MEHKOs) in the County of San Diego can be found here.
  • The California Dream Fund has micro grants up to $10k available for entrepreneurs and small business creation.
  • The California Rebuilding Fund is offering small businesses with fewer than 50 full-time equivalent employees loans up to $100,000. Learn more and apply here.
  • Businesses can reach out to their nearest Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which has developed the Small Business Survival Resources Guide. SBDC can help with applying for COVID-19 relief, guiding you through available resources, and assisting with cash flow concerns, supply-chain interruptions, workforce capacity, insurance coverage, and more–all at no cost!

 

Future Chamber Meetings (Virtual) & Committee Actions

Transportation & Land Development Committee:

Our next meeting will be on August 16, 8:00am-9:30am via zoom.

International Business Affairs Forum:

Our next forum will be August 16 from 10:00-11:00am via zoom.

Economic Development Strategy Working Group: 

Beginning on August 23 at 9:00am via Zoom.

Sustainability & Industry Committee:

Our next meeting will be on September 1, 8:00am-9:00am via zoom.

Defense, Veterans, & Military Committee:
Our next meeting will be on September 7, 8:00am-9:00am via zoom.

Public Policy Committee:

Our next meeting will be on September 13, 8:00am-9:30am via zoom.

Health Committee:

Our next meeting will be on September 14, 8:00am-9:00am via zoom.

Cannabis Forum:

Our next forum will be on November 16, 8:00am-9:30am via zoom.