News & Updates

2023 Visionary Awards Honorees


The Neil Morgan Memorial Award for Lifetime Achievement – Alan Ziter, Executive Director, NTC Foundation

The Ronald Kendrick Memorial Award for Regional Collaboration – USS Midway Museum

The Charles Nathanson Memorial Award for Cross-Border Region Building – Rady Children’s Hospital International Outreach Project

Innovation & Economic Opportunity Award – San Diego Wave FC

Community Spotlight Award Winner: Dr. Teresa Smith, Dreams for Change

Read more about the Visionary Awards honorees in the press release here.

County of San Diego Budget Discussions

San Diego County department heads recently revealed their spending plans for 2024, providing insight on proposed spending increases that will raise the county budget by 10 percent.

The office that will see the largest budget increase is the Health and Human Services Agency at 13%. This increase in funds will be used to boost mental health care and substance use treatment, fund an expansion of mobile crisis response teams, and dedicate money to preparing for the county’s participation in CARE Court. It would also add nearly 500 staff positions.

Many other offices will see budget increases as well, including Public Safety and the Land Use and Environment Group.

Learn more.

County Board of Supervisors Special Election Update in District 4

At their May 2 meeting, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to hold a special election to fill the District 4 seat, formerly held by Nathan Fletcher. 

The first round of voting will take place by August 15. If no candidate receives the majority of the vote, the seat will be up for the general election this November.

Learn more.


City of San Diego’s Reach Code and Building Electrification Update

The City’s Climate Action Plan calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in order to achieve net zero by 2035.

Because residential and commercial buildings are responsible for nearly 25% of California’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, building decarbonization has become a focus in the Plan.

To address emissions from new buildings, the city has implemented three measures – one of which is called a Reach Code. The Reach Code is designed to phase out the use of natural gas in new residential and commercial development. You can read a draft of the Reach Code here.

Learn more.


California Air Resources Board (CARB) Update on Advance Clean Fleets




The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has approved a groundbreaking regulation called “Advanced Clean Fleets,” which aims to transition medium and heavy-duty vehicles to zero-emission technology by 2045.

Subsequently, the Chamber sent a letter to Ambassador Esteban Moctezuma Barragán and President AMLO, along with business leaders from both sides of the border, outlining support and the need for strong binational efforts to ensure a successful transition that does not have an impact on our integrated supply chains, which are a vital part of the economy in our border region.

Read the Letters Here

The rule requires manufacturers to commit to zero-emission technology, includes an end to combustion truck sales in 2036, and provides regulatory certainty to the heavy-duty market. These regulations offer fleet owners flexibility and promise cost savings, as well as benefits for California communities.

Trucks account for only 6% of California’s vehicles but generate over 35% of transportation-related nitrogen oxide emissions and a quarter of on-road greenhouse gas emissions. The regulation is intended to improve air quality and mitigate climate change impacts in California communities.

Learn more

Title 42 Restrictions Lifted; New Immigration Policies Enforced

Title 42 expired Thursday, May 11. A holdover policy implemented by the Trump administration, Title 42 allowed U.S. officials to turn away migrants who came to the U.S.-Mexico border seeking asylum on the grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19.

As Title 42 restrictions are lifted, the Biden administration has put a series of new policies into place to prevent illegal crossings, including those of smuggling operations. As part of these new policies, those seeking asylum in the U.S. must schedule an appointment through the CBP One smartphone app – though many report bugs and errors. The Biden administration has also set a limit on the number of migrants allowed to seek asylum.

Learn more.

LEAD Graduate of the Year

Dr. Steven Jones 

Dr. Steven Jones is an author, speaker, global thought leader, and the C.E.O. of JONES, a firm that specializes in providing diversity, inclusion, and organizational change consulting services to large and small corporations, universities, colleges, and non-profits in achieving high-performance through leveraging diversity in their workforce, workplace, marketplace, and the communities they serve.  

Nationally known as one of “America’s Top Experts on Diversity” (Diversity, Inc. magazine), Dr. Jones has consulted with companies such as Connect, DexCom, Disney, Harvard University, Qualcomm, Toyota, SDG&E, SoCal Edison, SONY Music, Southwestern College, Jack-in-the-Box, University of San Diego, and Paramount, to name a few.  

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, a Master’s in Multicultural Counseling from the University of San Diego, along with a Master’s & Ph.D. in Industrial/ Organizational Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology.   

Dr. Jones has served as a National Diversity Advisor to Honda, MRC Capital, Billboard, ResMed, the NBA, and TikTok. In addition, he and the JONES-certified team of consultants have provided consulting and training services for organizations such as Fannie Mae, Francis Parker School, Jewish Family Services, Kinkaid School, Rady Children’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, San Diego Zoo, Seattle Aquarium, San Diego City College, Solar Turbines, and Verizon, 

He currently serves in a leadership capacity on several local Boards such as the San Diego Economic Development Corporation’s (EDC) Board, as well as, LEAD San Diego’s Board where he is a member of the Executive Committee. Dr. Jones also provides local leadership as a member of Reality Changers and the Academy of Our Lady of Peace Board of Directors. He is an Honorary Member of the Board of Governors for the University Club Atop Symphony Tower and has also served as the former President of the County of San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce for three years. 

Interesting fact: While studying business practices in Chang Mai, Thailand, he became the first person of African descent to be ordained as a Buddhist Monk at a 700-year-old monastery called Wat Umong. He has presented in Singapore, London, Barcelona, and Johannesburg. 

Leaders who seek to make real change that prepares their organizations to effectively step into the 21st Century and beyond seek out Dr. Jones. He brings over 35 years of experience helping leaders and institutions move beyond talk to action. 

MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Pleasant Surprises


Local California gifting specialists Christen and Vincent Kugener of Pleasant Surprises know how to add personal touches to any gift. Shop their selection of luxury champagne and wine gift boxes filled with artisan goodies like San Diego’s Le Caramel candies.

Add branded company gifts to ANY gift box or set. Pleasant Surprises works closely with Branded Gifts Plus to offer personalized company logos on t-shirts, water bottles, pens, notepads… you name it!

What makes Pleasant Surprises gifts so appealing?

  • Champagne and wine options
  • Branded and promotional gift inclusions from your company and/or Branded Gifts Plus
  • Trusted, reliable service for corporate volume orders
  • Custom gift boxes carefully curated with your own company brand and images
  • An expanded inventory of gourmet treats with local favorites like Le Caramel
  • Fresh, modern designs
  • Expedited shipping options
  • Dedicated customer gift service experts with over 60yrs combined experience in the industry
  • … and so much more!


Check out their social sites:

Instagram: @pleasant_surprises

Facebook: @PleasantSurprisesInc.

TikTok: @pleasant_surprises_usa




Owners: Christen and Vincent Kugener

1181 Pioneer Way

El Cajon, CA 92020


P: 858.909.0066

May 4 – Weekly Update

We are all very proud that San Diego is home to the largest concentration of military assets in the world and the largest federal military workforce in the country. In fact, President Biden visited the Point Loma Naval Base in March to detail plans of a security partnership known as AUKUS. Want to know more about this? Join us on May 25th at 10:00 AM  for a conversation with experts on this partnership and the economic impact this alliance between the U.S., U.K., and Australia will have in our region as well as efforts to strengthen our workforce to address the defense cluster’s needs. Speakers include Melissa Pina, International Business Development Director at Northrop Grumman; Wil Dyer, UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering Corporate Affiliate Program Director, and more!


Business Updates:

Congratulations to Randy’s Donuts on their grand opening of their first of ten locations in San Diego!

Have you nominated a Small Business for the Chamber’s Annual Small Business Awards? You should. Self nominations encouraged!


Legislative Updates


The CDC’s Color-coded County COVID maps are going to be a thing of the past (say that five times fast!). The agency announced last Friday that it will no longer track the spread of COVID on a community level in the US. COVID hospitalization data will continue to be used to inform the public and policymakers on the disease’s spread, similar to how flu data is currently utilized.

The Biden Administration has recommended over $22 million in funding for ‘Climate Ready Coast’  natural infrastructure projects in Southern California.

This week the FDA approved the first ever RSV vaccine. The vaccine is approved for individuals over the age of 60 and helps protect against the effects of RSV, an acronym for respiratory syncytial virus. Other RSV vaccines are currently in development, including vaccines specifically for pregnant mothers that would help protect newborn children from the virus. The vaccine development effort has taken on special urgency after a surge in RSV cases among children in 2022.

President Biden has expressed his approval of JP Morgan Chase’s takeover of First Republic Bank. The President spoke about the transaction at the White House on Monday, seeking to reassure investors and the public about the stability of the US banking system. He also used the speech as an opportunity to take House Republicans to task for their debt ceiling bill.

The President will need to get his veto pen ready again. The Senate passed legislation that reverses the Administration’s removal of certain tariffs on solar materials imported from Southeast Asia. Many Senators were concerned that the removal of these tariffs would hurt domestic solar manufacturing, while the Administration believes more supplies are needed from international producers in order to meet current demand.



Every year, the California Latino Legislative Caucus shines a spotlight on some of the most accomplished and inspiring figures in fields such as technology, media, literature, health & science, advocacy, business, education and more with the Latino Spirit Award. Notable recipients of the 2023 Latino Spirit Awards include Chief Justice Patricia Guerrero and Chamber friend David Perez Tejada Padilla, Director of Binational Affairs for the State of Baja California. Kudos to the award winners!

The State Department and the Department of Homeland Security are preparing for the return to Title 8  enforcement to reduce irregular migration and ensure safe, orderly, and efficient processing of migrants seeking asylum. The Department of Defense has been instructed to send an additional 1,500 officers to help manage an expected increase in the number of migrants traveling to the U.S.-Mexico border upon the end of Title 42. The Chamber will lead a meeting with stakeholders and authorities from both sides of the border next Monday to determine strategies and actions to ensure the integrity of land ports of entry and maintain operations as usual.

Baja Governor Marina del Pilar met with Imperial Beach Mayor Paloma Aguirre to discuss the current state of sewage infrastructure in the border region. They were joined by other state authorities and will continue collaborating to mitigate transboundary pollution impacting the Tijuana River Valley and our binational community.

SDSU hosted its first Transborder Graduation Ceremony at the UABC campus in Tijuana thanks to the close ties between the two institutions. Families and friends of nearly 70 graduates joined them without having to commute across the border. UABC emphasized that the institution will be open to those interested in continuing their professional studies.



The California Air Resources Board (or CARB) is once again instating first in the nation electric vehicle regulations. This time CARB is requiring all medium and heavy-duty trucks to be zero-emission by 2045. The rule begins in 2024, starting with municipal trucks at the end of their life-cycles, and expands gradually in its strictness. The regulations are divisive given the lack of current infrastructure for electric truck charging, grid resiliency, the cost of acquiring these vehicles (and limited availability), and impact to cross-border supply chains. Chamber staff will meet with Mexico’s Ambassador to the U.S. Esteban Moctezuma and local stakeholders next week to discuss efforts south of the border to address Baja’s trucking industry’s ability to comply with regulations and avoid impact to US-MX trade.

The State could soon require cities and counties to provide enough beds for all unhoused individuals in their jurisdictions. Under SB 7, housing for those experiencing homelessness would have to be included in city and county regional housing needs allocations. Current state law does not explicitly require planning for this kind of shelter or permanent housing. The bill passed in the Senate Committee on Governance and Finance and is now awaiting consideration in the Senate Appropriations Committee.

It’s not just Huntington Beach that is finding itself in hot water with the State Attorney General’s office. On Tuesday the City of Elk Grove was sued by the State for blocking the construction of an affordable housing development. The Sacramento suburb says that the development was blocked because of a conflict with zoning regulations, but the State is not accepting that reasoning.

The California Legislature and Governor Newsom are at odds over what to do with revenue collected from the State’s individual mandate. The individual mandate requires all Californians to have health insurance or pay a penalty. The Legislature believes that the Governor promised the penalty revenue would go directly towards lowering Covered California premiums, but the Governor’s office wants to divert some of the money into the State’s general fund instead. This will likely be a key point of contention as the State budget process unfolds in the coming weeks.



The City of San Diego’s Development Services Department will be mostly closed this Friday, May 5th. Walk-in services will not be available and the department’s phone lines will be off. Online services will remain available during the closure, and full normal services will resume on May 8th.

The City of San Diego’s Short Term Rental Ordinance went into effect on May 1st. STRO (Short-Term Residential Occupancy) licenses are now needed for all short-term rental properties. More information is available on the STRO website and some frequently asked questions about the ordinance can be found here.

State Route 56, one of the main thoroughfares connecting Carmel Valley, Del Mar, and Rancho Penasquitos, will be widened with the addition of two carpool lanes.

MTS received over $60 million in State funding for trolley infrastructure upgrades and electric buses. The funding comes from the California State Transportation Agency, which awards funding for transit infrastructure projects across the state. A sizable portion of the money will go towards electrifying buses serving the Kearny Mesa area and building bus charging stations.

It’s another San Diego Special, folks! The County Board of Supervisors has officially voted to hold a special election for the District 4 Supervisor seat which is anticipated to be vacated on May 15th. The special election will be held on Tuesday, August 15th. If no candidate receives 50% of the votes, a second election will take place in November.

If City, State, and Federal budgets weren’t enough to whet your appetite, do not worry! The County of San Diego released its $8.11 billion proposed budget today. The “Invested in Community” budget is 10% larger than last year’s County budget and includes new and expanded social services programs. Two community meetings for budget feedback will take place, see the section below for registration link.

SANDAG’s Bike Anywhere Day is on May 18th #BikeAnywhereSD. Take the pledge!


Upcoming Public Input Opportunities

  • SANDAG has released its Draft Central Mobility Hub and Connections Plan. The draft report looks at various solutions for connecting San Diego International Airport and the surrounding communities to the larger transit network. SANDAG is currently soliciting feedback on the draft report with a survey that is open until June 5th.
  • 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 alongside 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 Stormwater Department is moving forward with the yearly stormwater maintenance priority process, and they need San Diegans’ input on which stormwater infrastructure should receive priority for upcoming maintenance. A public survey is now open and will close May 12.
  • The County of San Diego will hold two public meetings about its 2023-2024 budget proposal. The meetings are on May 16th and May 18th. Visit this webpage to register and learn more about the budgetary process.


Upcoming Hearings

  • The San Diego City Council is in Budget Review Committee this week, each day between May 3rd-May 9th to review the Mayor’s proposed 2024 budget. The next regular City Council meeting is May 10th.
  • The County of San Diego’s Board of Supervisors next regularly scheduled meetings are on May 23rd and 24th.


Capital Opportunities & Resources

  • The State Department of Housing and Community Development announced a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for Round 3 of Project Homekey. Project Homekey applications will expand housing opportunities, often non-traditional ones, for individuals experiencing homelessness. The applications will be accepted on a rolling basis between 4/28 and 7/28, or until all funding is exhausted.
  • The County of San Diego Housing and Community Development Services has an open Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the acquisition, construction, and/or rehabilitation of multi-family affordable housing. Funding includes financing from the County of San Diego Innovative Housing Trust Fund. The NOFA will close 06/05/2023.
  • City Council Community Projects, Programs, and Services funds are awarded to nonprofit organizations and public agencies for one-time community, social, environmental, cultural, and recreational needs. Nonprofits can apply for the funding from May 1 to May 30.
  • 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:

Public Policy Committee:

Our next meeting will be on May 9 at 8:00am via zoom.

Health Committee:

Our next meeting will be on May 10 at 8:00am via zoom.

Transportation & Land Development Committee:

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.

Sustainability & Industry Committee:

Our next meeting will be on June 1, 8:00am via zoom.

Education & Workforce Roundtable:

Our next meeting will be on June 21 at 8:00am via zoom.