April 13, 2023
We’re all systems go for our 15th annual delegation trip to Washington, DC. In years past, we’ve had government shutdowns, impeachment announcements, and of course a nice beverage or two. Hopefully you’ve figured out how to style your hair with some additional humidity. We promise not to say anything if you haven’t.
Countdown to Chamber Mission to Washington, D.C. is on… 3…2…..
San Diego’s downtown waterfront could be getting a new museum thanks to a proposal by the Maritime Museum of San Diego. The new museum would be located on an extended pier off of the Embarcadero, near the current Star of India site. The Port of San Diego approved an initial environmental review on Tuesday so more news on the project is expected in coming months.
That’s the Energy, baby! President Biden announced a $1 Billion investment in Energy on Monday of last week, as a part of his Investing in America plan. This investment will go toward inventing low-to-zero carbon engines and upgrading ZEV production and shipping facilities.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved California’s plan to mandate a growing number of zero-emission heavy-duty trucks in an effort to reduce pollution. The state aims to have 50% of heavy-duty trucks sold in California be electric by 2035, and by 2045, all medium- and heavy-duty vehicles should be zero-emission where feasible. Governor Newsom signed an executive order in 2020 outlining these plans. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) had requested Clean Air Act waivers to set these emission standards.
We are likely in for a contentious water fight between California and neighboring states, especially Arizona and Nevada, after the Department of the Interior released a draft environmental impact statement about how to allocate Colorado River water. The draft statement contains three options for water allocation and a final decision on an option is expected in August. Colorado River water is crucial for Southern California agriculture, especially in the Imperial Valley.
The US Department of Commerce submitted a formal request for comment on accountability regulations for artificial intelligence platforms including ChatGPT. Potential regulation could include a pre-certification process for new AI programs prior to public release. Government oversight has generally been welcomed by the tech industry as evidenced by tech leaders’ call for a six-month moratorium on development of powerful AI.
The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) are looking into creating a new currency to reduce their reliance on U.S. dollars for international trade transactions. Totally unrelated, the president of Kenya also told peeps to get rid of USDs and embrace bitcoins. Sense a disturbance in the force here? Don’t worry, USDs are unlikely to be challenged in the short term.
In other bitcoin news, Elon Musk temporarily changed Twitter’s logo to Dogecoin’s Shiba Inu dog and added almost $4B to its market value in a single day.
President Lopez Obrador visited Tijuana last week and met with Baja Governor Marina del Pilar to discuss the state’s water supply and alternative sources to the Colorado River. He also indefinitely suspended federal toll fees at the initial booth of the Tijuana-Ensenada highway to alleviate traffic congestion due to a sinkhole nearby and to stimulate tourism.
Japan announced the purchase of Russian oil at a higher rate than agreed upon with the US and other allies, all of which imposed sanctions against Russia following the “annexation” of Crimea. The claim is that this move is an effort to avoid depending on Middle Eastern oil too much, but this could result in a strain on Japan’s international relationships.
The happiest country in the world is offering free trips to travelers who want to learn how to be happy! Through a “Masterclass of Happiness,” Finland looks to share their secrets to a high quality of life and promote tourism. Btw- they also just joined NATO.
Start your Earth Day 2023 celebrations by attending or logging in to “Engage America 2023: The U.S. – Mexico Cross Border Sewage Crisis”. Register here and learn more about the Tijuana River sewage crisis and how our binational region tackles environmental issues.
Join us on our next IBA Forum on May 25th for a conversation about US joint efforts in nuclear propulsion technology through the AUKUS Partnership. Speakers will also share insight on the positive economic impact this alliance can bring to our region and local efforts to strengthen the defense industry’s workforce.
The San Diego Foundation announced $750,000 in grant funding through their Binational Resilience Initiative to support projects spanning from Oceanside to Ensenada. Interested parties may request between $25,000 and $50,000 annually for collaborative projects, with a maximum funding cap of $100,000. For more details please visit www.sdfoundation.org/BRI.
Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis is the acting Governor while Governor Newsom is away on personal travel. Although the role of Lieutenant Governor is often more ceremonial than executive, Kounalakis has found herself at the center of the action a few times already. Last month she signed legislation safeguarding COVID laboratory testing and last week she submitted a request for federal aid in response to the cancellation of California’s salmon season.
Speaking of the Governor, he announced plans to allocate money collected under the Mental Health Services Act to fund behavioral health housing, specifically for individuals experiencing both homelessness and mental health issues. It appears the Governor will divert 30% of tax revenue generated by the Act to fund this type of housing. While the proposal is backed by some legislators, it has raised concerns about some other behavioral health programs and initiatives that will lose funding because of this reallocation.
The California Legislature is back this week from their spring recess! Many Assembly and Senate committees are busy in the next couple of weeks with bill hearings. If you are interested in a specific bill or need something to lull you into a deep and peaceful sleep, feel free to watch along here!
A few State bills have been introduced as solutions to prevent hospital closures similar to the Madera Community Hospital closure earlier this year. These include a bill offering emergency loans for hospitals, the reimposition of a managed care organization (MCO) provider tax, and preventing the State’s attorney general from requiring certain conditions for hospital mergers and acquisitions. Legislators hope these bills can provide relief and potential safety valves for hospitals in financial distress. Of course, these are still in the early stages of the legislative process. Stay runed…
San Diegans whose water bills have been paused due to unusual meter readings may need to take a seat. Due to staffing shortages in the Public Utilities Department, bill delays have become more common… and the longer the delay, the more bills start adding up. Some San Diegans are reporting bills upward of $2,500. If you’re experiencing issues with your billing, contact the PUD customer service line.
How much federal funding does it take to change a lightbulb? Well, the City of San Diego received $3.5 million in funding to repair 6,000 broken streetlights. The grant will be used to replace 1960s-era circuit infrastructure and purchase replacement wiring for lights in Logan Heights, Pacific Beach, and Point Loma. The funding comes as a result of coordination between the City and members of San Diego’s congressional delegation.
The County is now offering free graffiti removal to property owners in the unincorporated areas of the County. Under the previous policy owners were responsible for abatement costs, but now the County pays a contractor to remove any graffiti present. Graffiti can be reported on the County’s Tell Us Now app, or by emailing CodeCompliance@sdcounty.ca.gov.
San Diego City Councilmember Stephen Whitburn intends to propose an ordinance banning sidewalk encampments, today at the Land Use and Housing Committee. This ordinance would ban encampments across the city on all public property, Whitburn says that in some areas the ban could be applied 24/7. It’s at committee like, as we speak.
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 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 City of San Diego’s Planning Department is taking public comment from now until April 30th on its annual update to the Land Development Code. Annual changes to the Code include corrections to land use needs, regulatory reforms, and changes to comply with new local and State laws. More information, including a section for comment submission, can be found here.
- The San Diego City Council is in legislative recess next week. It will meet next on April 24th and April 25th.
- The County of San Diego’s Board of Supervisors next regularly scheduled meeting is on May 2nd.
- The City of San Diego’s Planning Commission will meet on April 20.
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 May 4, 8:00am via zoom.
We are dark in April. Our next meeting will be on May 10 at 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.