Legislative Update – December 9

As if 2021 hasn’t already thrown enough at us, NASA announced that a “potentially hazardous” asteroid will break into Earth’s orbit this weekend. Please, let us listen to the Mariah Carey Christmas album and get to the new year in peace.

Business News

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Let’s get ready to munch! Jack in the Box is buying Del Taco, for $455.3 million, and we are suddenly very hungry.

It’s a big month for football. Petco Park will have its first football game – UCLA v North Carolina State in the Holiday Bowl. Our own San Diego State University will be going to the Frisco Bowl on December 21 (how many different Bowls are there?), and last but not least, the SDSU West stadium has been officially named Snapdragon Stadium, after Qualcomm bought the naming rights in a 15 year, $3 million per year agreement.

The Port of San Diego’s 50th Annual San Diego Bay Parade of Lights returns on Sunday, December 12 and Sunday, December 19. The 2-hour parade begins at 5:30pm on Shelter Islandand ends at the Ferry Landing on Coronado. Learn more about the event and where you can watch it here.

Legislative Updates


Were you sitting around recently wondering to yourself, “self, whatever happened with sequestration?” Well…. There are billions of dollars in Medicare cuts that are automatic as of January 1, 2021 which is adding a real big wrinkle into the federal negotiations around the minor issues of funding the government and what to do about the NDAA.

This week, the House passed legislation to expedite the process to vote to increase the federal debt ceiling. The bill would temporarily allow the Senate to increase the debt ceiling with a simple majority and restrict floor debate to 10 hours. The fast-track measure is couched in an unrelated bill that’s already passed through both Chambers – so it can be passed with only one cloture vote. The Senate will vote on the measure later today.

If passed, the measure would delay impending cuts to Medicare (see above) and other social programs, and avoid government shutdown on December 15. The House and Senate would then need to vote again to actually increase the debt limit.

The US will not be sending any diplomats to the 2022 Olympic games in Beijing, as they announced a “diplomatic boycott.” And while they cite the country’s human rights abuses as reason, you know there’s a bunch of diplomats that are so bummed they are missing out on this trip. However, the US is not the only country with heartburn about China being the host, so much so that New Zealand has said “hard pass” and months ago, the EU Parliament passed a nonbinding resolution calling for a boycott. China is handling the burns well (not), and wasted zero minutes saying they would take “resolute countermeasures” to our boycott. It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to, cry if I want to… Advertisers, your move.

The Presidential Commission on the Review of the Supreme Court is a long title, but it’s also finally public. Toplines: It’s 294 pages. At least one person on the commission is from San Diego (Michael Ramsey of USD Law). It’s the result of an EO from April 2021, basically due to the controversy following Amy Coney Barrett’s appointment. No, there is no formal recommendation on the oh-so-controversial proposal to expand the court. Biden has already not committed to a timeline or any action. Even members of the group are annoyed by the sort of “now what” dynamic that this may present. TBD, generally.

Listen, we’re not saying it’s a metaphor for anything, but the drama of getting this year’s gingerbread replica of the Capitol out to display is… well…. Reminiscent of things. However, the story of the food operations in the House amidst a wacky year is pretty heartwarming.

The Conference Board is reporting that 2022 salary increases will be the highest since 2008, 3.9%. They attribute that bump primarily to the higher pay for new hires. Over a third of employers also pointed to inflation as a contributing factor.

Chris Magnus was confirmed on a 50-47 vote in the Senate to lead Customs & Border Patrol on Tuesday. Hailing from Arizona where he is the Police Chief of Tucson, Arizona, he will undoubtedly be a high priority for “BFF” status for San Diego leadership.

The FDA has authorized expansion of COVID booster shot eligibility to 16 and 17 year olds. Boost your babies, people!


Canada and Mexico have urged House leaders to remove language that would increase the tax credit for purchases of electric vehicles.  The provision is said to run afoul of USMCA’s auto sector and regional content rules, and the bill is expected to face senate opposition.

Out of this world! Secretary of Foreign Affairs of México, Marcelo Ebrard, announced that Mexico has joined the NASA Artemis Program. This space exploration program symbolizes the close relationship between the U.S. and Mexico and is governed by the common principles of gender equality, sustainability and progress for all.

The North American Development Bank held a public meeting last week where they announced financing for four new projects that represent a total investment of $151.7 million that will benefit approximately 3.4 million border residents. A broader range of projects to be funded in the future were also mentioned, including projects in our binational region.

Working to reimplement the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, DHS announced key changes to MPP to address humanitarian concerns raised by the Government of Mexico and shared by the U.S. Government. A few months after issuing a memorandum explaining his decision to terminate the program due to its endemic flaws, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas visited Arizona, California and Washington to meet with his DHS colleagues to hear directly from them about the DHS mission.

In one of his stops, Secretary Mayorkas visited San Diego to celebrate the end of border restrictions with Mayor Todd Gloria. Mayorkas highlighted the economic benefits that cross-border travel brings to the border region and reiterated the requirements for nonessential travelers crossing via land ports of entry such as proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

This week, Mexico began the application of COVID-19 boosters after receiving 585 thousand Pfizer doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

This is not a drill. The Ever Given, the massive ship that got stuck in the Suez Canal (and while devastating was also more than  a little funny), is making a triumphant return! It’s expected to enter the canal on December 12th and we are considering having shirts made. Go, Ever Given, go!

Do you have time to worry about more things? OK! Add China’s water supply to your list. Here’s a thorough rundown about how China’s water shortage is actually a major threat to the US’ ongoing supply chain headaches.


A vocal progressive activist leader has put the legislature on notice: either you all pass a living wage bill, or I’ll take it to the voters. So much for easing into the election year.

The California Department of Cannabis Control announced they will waive license fees for qualified equity applicants. The proposed emergency regulations define equity applicants as those affected by cannabis related convictions or arrests, or those living in a household under 60% AMI.

While it’s rude to brag about money, California’s got more of it than it anticipated. The surplus is $31 billion for FY 2022 – and has kicked off some debates about the Gann Limit, what it is and how that might play out. Basically, the Gann Limit passed in 1979, and it says if the state has too much money, some of it has to go back to the voters. That might look like the Golden State Stimulus Fund, which had checks going out this year (yeah, that was a Gann Limit move, y’all), or maybe could take on a different look. TBD.


As omicron becomes more present in the US, San Diego’s health care providers are prepared to tackle the new variant that has become more contagious than delta.

The proposed San Diego Grand Central Station might be placed downtown. The transit hub was generally intended to be in Old Town as part of the NAVWAR redevelopment plan, but SANDAG is keeping their options open. Alternative locations for the concept include the current Port of San Diego headquarters and downtown around the Civic Center.

The temporary injunction on San Diego Unified School District’s vaccine mandate lifted over the weekend- adding another layer to the vaccine debate. This means that all students will be required to receive their second dose of the vaccine by December 20. While medical exemptions are permitted, the district does not allow for religious or personal belief exemptions.

Money, money, money: SANDAG announced last week they are asking staff to find alternative transportation funding for their Regional Transportation Plan. This comes just before we expect the board to vote against a road usage charge to fund the region’s transportation goals.

New data indicates that 2021 is on pace to be one of San Diego County’s best homebuilding years in decades, but the region is still lagging behind where it needs to be.

​​City officials confirm that five total bids to redevelop the Sports Arena site have been accepted, with negotiations between the city and each bidder to take place over the next 90 days. This news comes on the heels of a judge’s tentative ruling that invalidates the 2020 Measure E ballot measure that lifted the ancient and archaic moratorium on building above 30 feet in the Midway District, home to the Sports Arena site.

City of San Diego Development Services Department Updates: This week, DSD began offering free appointments for New Project Set Up – Building Permit Rapid Review, which was formerly done over-the-counter. To learn more about this new service, click here. Further, DSD anticipates that the online process for discretionary permits will go live December 20.

Lastly, Deputy Director of the Cannabis Business Division PJ Fitzgerald, will be retiring after 31 years of service, and DSD Assistant Deputy Director Tim Daly will be retiring after 25 years tomorrow, December 10. The Chamber congratulates them both for their accomplishments over the years, and thanks them for taking all of our calls!

UC San Diego’s Scripps Institute of Oceanography recently launched a one of a kind simulator to study the interaction between ocean and atmosphere, and its impact on climate change. The 36,000 gallon tank is capable of modeling ocean and air conditions, which will help scientists determine the role of cloud formation in accelerating or slowing climate change. The facility will also be used for a variety of projects ranging from wave powered robots to the effects of sewage in the Tijuana River Valley.

Here’s what happened at this week’s San Diego City Council and Committee hearings:

  • Congratulations to District 9 Councilmember Sean Elo-Rivera for being appointed Council President!
  • The San Diego City Council unanimously approved the Barrio Logan Community Plan Update.
  • Proposed amendments to cannabis outlet regulations in the City of San Diego were heard at Planning Commission this morning. The item will be continued at the February 3 Planning Commission meeting.

Here’s what happened at this week’s Board of Supervisor hearings:

  • The Board got an update on options for a Community Benefit Agreement policy, which will come back in 180 days or less. Generally speaking, we can expect a mandatory CBA policy on “significant” projects.
  • Approved the new McClellan-Palomar Airport Master Plan Update, a new 20-year plan that was recently revised (again) to make the airport safer and quieter.

Upcoming City Public Input Opportunities Reminders:

Upcoming County Public Input Opportunities Reminders:

  • The Planning Commission will hear an update on vehicle miles traveled (VMT) on December 10. The Chamber continues to monitor how changes to the current policy and potential mitigation options could affect future development in the County. If you have any questions, please contact Angeli Calinog.
  • The draft roadmap for the County’s new Office of Environmental and Climate Justice is available for public review and comments can be submitted by December 13. The office will focus on reducing health hazards in the region.

Upcoming Hearings


Capital Opportunities & Resources

  • The California Competes Grant guidelines for FY 2021-22 have now been posted. The application period will start on January 3, 2022 with $120 million available. More information can be found here in the coming weeks. Applications must be submitted by January 24.
  • The CARES Act Revolving Loan Fund provides assistance for eligible expenses to businesses in the City of San Diego and City of Chula VIsta impacted by the pandemic.
  • 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.
  • The County’s Small Business Stimulus Grant Program is accepting additional applications. Eligible businesses must have fewer than 100 full-time employees and are following sectors (restaurant, gym fitness center, yoga studio, movie theater, museum, zoo, or aquarium) that were impacted by moving from the Red to Purple Tier OR part of the event industry. Learn more and apply here.
  • City of San Diego Temporary Outdoor Business Operations Permit – Businesses (restaurants, retail stores, gyms, hair salons, nail salons) can now expand into the public right-of-way, parking lots, and public spaces. Information on how to apply for a Temporary Outdoor Business Operations Permit can be found here.
  • Businesses can reach out to their nearest Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which has developed the Small Business Survival Resources Guide to help business owners navigate through the chaos COVID-19 is having on our communities. SBDC can help with applying for 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.
  • The State Treasurer’s Office has published this list of Federal, State, Local, Private, and Non-profit resources available to small businesses.