March 30, 2023
Yay sports! Do the thing! Win the Points! And Happy Opening Day!
This Saturday the San Diego State University men’s basketball team plays in their first ever Final Four! A huge congrats to Chamber member SDSU and Go Aztecs! The Wave also set some records for being bada$$ women, with over 30,000 fans (most of you were there, we know) in the stands for their home opener.
We’ll see you at Petco.
San Diego got California’s first-ever high speed charger for trucking fleets. Chamber members SDG&E and TruckNet celebrated the deployment on Monday with Chair Nora Vargas. (see International section for more details)
In some (hopefully) positive economic news, First Citizens Bank acquired most of the now collapsed Silicon Valley Bank. First Citizens is taking over all of SVB’s deposits, loans, and physical branches. The deal makes First Citizens the 25th largest bank in the US.
Also in banking news, there’s a set of rules proposed for mid-size banks, scooping up the class of banks with $100M-$250M in assets. Led by the administration, possible ideas include more robust and less predictable stress tests and higher liquidity standards.
Nomination frustration for the Administration (see what we did there?). Despite having a Democratic Senate majority, several of President Biden’s nominees for key positions have had to withdraw from consideration or have had their nominations torpedoed by individual senators. This includes Biden’s pick for FAA administrator and an FCC nominee.
The U.S. Department of State has announced an increase in the visa fee for applicants seeking to enter the country. The increase will take effect on April 2, 2023. According to the announcement made by the US State Department, the fee for business/tourist visas and student visas will increase from $160 to $185.
Congressional Republicans may still be months away from releasing their budget proposal, which could arrive as late as September. GOP legislators are instead focused on ongoing debt-ceiling negotiations with the White House. Both the debt-ceiling and budget negotiations are expected to be protracted battles, with the GOP prioritizing spending cuts while the Biden administration hopes to strike a deal to raise the debt ceiling.
Are you a dog or cat person? It’s safe to say that deceased drug lord Pablo Escobar was a “hippo person” after he brought a small number of the African beasts to Colombia in the late 1980s. After his death in 1993, the so-called “cocaine hippos” were left to roam freely and reproduce to now about 150 animals. The Colombian government issued a statement this week announcing good progress on the transfer of 70 hippos to overseas sanctuaries.
Big shout out to SDG&E for collaborating with local and state officials to open direct current fast chargers for electric medium and heavy-duty vehicles just north of the Otay Mesa Port of Entry. These are the first chargers in California specifically designed to cater to our region’s cross-border trucking community, which plays a vital role in our integrated supply chains. The Chamber continues to work closely with local, state, local officials to ensure a seamless EV charging transition along the US-Mexico border.
Our northern neighbor, Canada, had a population increase in 2022 of over one million, a record breaking number in its history. This is mostly due to a surge in international migration and temporary residents, securing Canada’s position as the fastest growing G7 country with a population growth rate of 2.7 per cent. Canada had previously announced efforts to facilitate work visas to help fill vacancies across sectors nationwide.
The Chamber held a series of field trips to the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa Ports of Entry along with our partners at the Smart Border Coalition and representatives from the City of Tijuana and the State of Baja to review all aspects of the crossing-experience and bring forward integral solutions for an efficient and secure border. More on these efforts soon so stay tuned.
The U.S. government is set to begin auctioning off rights to drill for oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico. The auction is the first to be held since the Biden administration took office, and marks a departure from the administration’s efforts to shift away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy. However, the administration has said that oil and gas development in the Gulf of Mexico will continue as long as it is done responsibly. The auction will be conducted by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), which oversees the leasing of federal waters for oil and gas development.
Governor Gavin Newsom has signed legislation implementing strong oversight and accountability on the oil and gas industry in California. The law, which goes into effect June 26, puts forth an independent watchdog to identify price gouging by oil companies and authorizes the California Energy Commission to create a penalty to hold the industry accountable.
Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel wants you to know that he does enjoy Skittles. Gabriel and fellow member Buffy Wicks recently introduced a bill that would ban five chemicals from foods sold in California. One of these chemicals, titanium dioxide, is apparently present in Skittles. Somehow the national media got hyper fixated on a Skittles ban and ran with that story, causing Gabriel to clarify that he does in fact “taste the rainbow”.
California is lifting its July 2021 request for voluntary 15% water conservation. Local water agencies will not have to implement the drought contingency plans they drew up during the last couple of years. However, the State is urging continued cautious water use as part of a larger vigilant attitude toward drought.
Governor Newsom is facing a flood of criticism for his decision to cut $40 million in funding for floodplain restoration efforts in the San Joaquin Valley. Local activists and elected officials argue that the funding is sorely needed in order to restore vegetation that helps combat flooding in cities especially prone to it.
The Governor’s office announced that its latest round of funding for Project Homekey is now available. Municipalities can apply for grants in order to purchase and rehabilitate a broad range of housing options, including hotels, motels, and multifamily apartment complexes.
A deal has been reached for fire insurance. It will require a certain group of insurers (known as the FAIR Plan) to boost coverage caps for those they insure… which is generally people who can’t find insurance otherwise due to fire hazards.
City of San Diego Development Services Department Update:
- DSD will be closed tomorrow (Friday, March 31) in observance of César Chávez Day. During the closure customers can still use online services to make payments. Server maintenance will be conducted that same day at noon on the online permitting portal. All services will resume Monday, April 3.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has loaned $170 million for environmental upgrades at the Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant. The funds secured with the help of Rep. Mike Levin are to reduce financing costs for local water ratepayers, improve efficiency and environmental practices of the plant.
San Diego County’s labor force has now grown to pre-pandemic levels. There are 1.6 million workers, which is about 10,000 more than in early 2020. The unemployment rate for the County is unchanged from last month at 3.7 percent, which is good news even in a tight labor market.
One of the most in-demand jobs in the state of California is nursing, with a new study finding just under 60,000 vacancies across the state, and San Diego hospitals are feeling this need. UCSD Health reported just over 200 nursing positions available, a growing demand with a growing patient population.
According to the S&P Case-Shiller Indices,San Diego home prices are down 1.4 percent annually, according to their latest report released earlier this week. This is the first time San Diego has posted a negative number since June 2012. In the 20-city housing report, San Diego had the third largest decline in home prices.
The City of San Diego is working towards installing electric vehicle chargers in more than 400 city parking lots including libraries, beaches, parks, and recreation centers. This is another step forward in reaching goals for the city’s climate action plan.
The La Mesa Juneteenth Foundation is seeking vendors of all varieties for their second annual Juneteenth Celebration on June 18th. Attendance is expected to exceed 3,000.
Upcoming Public Input Opportunities
- The City of San Diego is hosting a public meeting about options for the Ocean Beach Pier, which has reached the end of its service life. The meeting will take place on April 1 from 12-4 at Liberty Station Conference Center.
- The County of San Diego seeks feedback on developing a roadmap to how new land use policies will guide new housing development. Not to be confused with the City, the County encourages the public to provide input on their Housing Blueprint. Take the survey by April 7.
- The City of San Diego seeks feedback on Blueprint SD, a proposal that involves taking a look at the City’s General Plan land use strategy and finding ways to encourage sustainable growth, more homes and jobs. Industry feedback is highly encouraged. Take the Blueprint SD survey today and be on the lookout for additional opportunities for input through their website.
- Equity Forward will be an inclusive public engagement guide for the City of San Diego. The goal is to create, “more equitable opportunities and investments in San Diego.” You can make your voice heard by filling out the Equity Forward interest form today.
- The County of San Diego’s Board of Supervisors will meet on April 4 and April 5.
- The City of San Diego’s Planning Commission will meet on April 6.
- The San Diego City Council will be on legislative recess from March 23- April 7. They will next meet on April 10.
Capital Opportunities & Resources
- San Diego County’s Small Business Stimulus Grant funds are still available for local small businesses and nonprofits impacted by the pandemic. County Districts 1, 2, and 3 are still accepting applications. Learn more here.
- Small business owners may currently receive $2,000 per employee that participates in the paid family leave program. Small business owners can 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:
Sustainability & Industry Committee:
Our next meeting will be on April 6, 8:00am via zoom.
Transportation & Land Development Committee:
We are dark in April. Our next meeting will be on May 16 at 8:00am via zoom.
Cannabis Working Group Forum:
Our next meeting will be on May 17 at 9:00am.
Education & Workforce Roundtable:
Our next meeting will be on June 21 at 8:00am via zoom.