Legislative Update – July 22

Hope you’ve been working on your social skills…. We’re excited to see you at this evening’s Summer Splash + Small Business Awards Mixer! Winners for the following categories will be announced: Outstanding Minority, Woman, Veteran, DBE-Owned Business, Customers First, Community Minded and Best Success Story.

Business News

Last Saturday, the Navy christened the USNS John Lewis in a ceremony to honor the late congressman a year after his death. In attendance were House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Mayor Todd Gloria, and various congressional delegates.

The Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) has launched a free wifi program on 10 buses in an effort to bridge the technology gap and increase public transit usage. If successful, the program will be expanded to further buses and perhaps even trollies.

The unemployment rate continues to stay around 7% in the wake of lingering worker shortages. The leisure and hospitality sectors still have it especially hard, with employment only 79% of pre-covid levels as the field struggles to retain workers.

The deadline for Top Workplaces has been extended to August 6. If you know of a San Diego company that’s great to work at, make sure they get recognized! Can I nominate my couch?

Congratulations! Member company BlueNalu recently made it to the semifinals of XPRIZE Feed the Next Billion, a competition that seeks to foster production of alternative meat products to feed ensuing generations. BlueNalu is growing lab-grown fish fillets from real fish cells.

Qualcomm has recently acquired the assets of Twenty Billion Neurons, a Microsoft AI startup which develops human-like avatars that people can see and interact with. Though a relatively small deal, this reflects a greater trend of Qualcomm expansion into the AI space, and is a nice opportunity to make you go, “huh?”.

Call to Action: The Trails, a Chamber endorsed housing project, is heading to the City of San Diego’s Planning Commission on August 5th at 9am and we need your advocacy! This project will revitalize a fallow golf course by providing 1,200 units of much needed for sale, for rent, and affordable housing, and will preserve over 110 acres of permanent open space. If you are willing to submit a letter of support, please CLICK HERE! If you are also willing to call in during public comment please email or simply log in to the zoom meeting the day of.

Legislative Updates


Check your bank account! The Expanded Child Tax Credit is being distributed this week. Depending on family income and the ages of any children, eligible families will now receive up to $300 monthly per child. Make ‘em earn their keep.

If a woodchuck could chuck wood prices, it kinda did. (That was a bad joke, we’re sorry). But truly, lumber costs are down 50% over the past few months- a good sign for home building (and you crazy HGTV-inspired remodelers, we see you!)

Speaking of homebuilding…. There was a special virtual event with the Housing & Urban Development Department and the Department of Commerce on the supply chain for homebuilding. A brief readout is available.

Yesterday, Senate Republicans opposed the procedural vote to begin debate on the infrastructure bill. Bipartisan negotiations will continue, and legislators plan to vote again next week. In a symbol of how much oomph this bill has behind it, the AFL-CIO and US Chamber of Commerce are teaming up to promote it.


Despite reports on CBP pulling back officers to land ports of entry in anticipation of restrictions being lifted, non-essential travel restrictions impacting our shared land ports of entry between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico were extended for an additional thirty days to August 21. The Chamber continues to urge the federal governments to end restrictions which continue to harm our region’s economy.

Did you know that Canada leads G20 countries in vaccination rates with about 80% of eligible Canadians vaccinated with their first dose, and more than 50% fully vaccinated? Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that Canada could allow fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents into the country by mid August. He also stated that Canada could potentially open to fully vaccinated travelers from all countries by early September if current vaccination trends continue.

A federal court ruling in Texas declared the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy as unlawful. President Biden issued a statement clarifying that this order does not impact current DACA recipients, but does relegate hundreds of thousands of young immigrants to an uncertain future. He added that the Department of Justice intends to appeal this decision and urged Congress to pass a permanent solution for Dreamers. Nearly 800,000 DACA recipients are part of the U.S. economy, 45,000 of which call San Diego home. Passing legislation that creates an earned pathway to citizenship for Dreamers could add as much as $1 trillion to the national GDP over the next decade.

Mexican Secretary of Economy, Tatiana Clouthier, will visit Washington D.C. this week to meet with U.S. authorities, organizations, and businesses to assess the USMCA, and increase North America’s global competitiveness.

President Biden met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and announced the U.S.-Germany Climate and Energy Partnership. Shared priorities between the two countries included the development of sustainable energy, sustainable energy technologies, and the sustainable development of emerging economies. In addition, a joint declaration reiterated their commitment to promoting international peace, security, and prosperity.

The EPA will host a public meeting on August 6 at 11:00a.m. to provide an update on the analysis of infrastructure projects to address transboundary pollution issues in our region. Stay tuned for information regarding how to join.


California recently approved the first state funded guaranteed income program in the country. Under the new plan, qualifying pregnant people and young adults who have recently exited foster care will be eligible for a monthly payment, with the exact amount to be left to local officials for determination (existing programs typically range from $500-$1000 monthly). Unlike more established social benefits programs, there will be no restrictions as to how this money can be spent.

Forty-one candidates have successfully registered for the upcoming recall election, with twenty-one Republicans and eight Democrats.  Notable, and also pretty familiar for many, among these candidates are former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, Caitlyn Jenner, and Youtuber Kevin Paffrath, but essentially no major Democratic party figures will be on the ballot. Recall ballots will start landing in mailboxes on August 16, and the election is set to take place on September 14.

In the wake of local mask mandates in response to the resurgence of COVID and the Delta variant, people are wondering whether Newsom will reimpose a statewide mask mandate. Especially with the upcoming recall, it seems more likely that Newsom will leave such policies up to the counties.

The Governor’s Office of Planning and Research announced the Challenge 2021 Grant Program, accepting proposals through September 13, 2021. The program welcomes community-based organizations and local and regional entities representing under-resourced communities to help build resilience against increasing climate threats.

Earlier this week, Governor Newsom announced that $12 billion within the California Comeback Plan will be put toward the state’s homelessness crisis over the next two years. The funds will be used to build 42,000 new units for the homeless and expand the Homekey program.

The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Editorial Board recently commented on the need for the state to address the unintended consequences created from California’s 2016 decision to legalize recreational cannabis. Cited were the issues caused by illegal cannabis shops undercutting legal businesses and the negative impacts which illegal growing operations are having on the environment.


Another record high? Again? San Diego’s median home price in June clocked in at $750,000, and buyers continue to pay well above asking prices. (Pro tip: there’s such a thing as @ZillowGoneWild on instagram. If you can’t afford a home, you can at least gawk at the absolutely insane choices some homeowners make. Thank us later).

Earlier this week, Mayor Todd Gloria unveiled the “Homes for All of Us” housing package. It includes Blueprint San Diego, a data-driven framework which will encourage development in areas where walking, biking, or transit can serve as a viable mode of transportation. Through faster community plan updates and increased opportunities for public input, the program will set San Diego on a path for sustainable growth and the housing supply desperately needed in our region.

The City of Chula Vista will hold a series of redistricting  workshops to allow the public to submit questions, suggestions, and relevant information for consideration. Take a look here for info on the upcoming workshops and other opportunities to get involved.

The City of San Diego released their 2021 Housing Inventory Report, and construction in 2020 yielded 6,482 units, a 24.2% increase from 2019 numbers. Bad news: new construction remains below Regional Housing Needs Allocation goals, except for the above moderate income category. Of the 6,482 units mentioned, just 3 were moderate income. Good news: affordable construction is greatly up from 2019!

The City’s Development Services Department officially launched new online permitting services on July 19! Walk-in services are also now available for cashiers and records review. Don’t forget to sign up for a future webinar to learn about these new permitting processes!

Mayor Gloria has appointed Hafsa Kaka (pronounced Kay-ka) as the director of the Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department. Kaka, who previously served as the homeless solutions officer for the City of Riverside, is set to start August 9th.

Making it rain: Over $220 million in state funding will be headed to San Diego! Regional project recipients include $50 million going toward the City of San Diego’s Pure Water Program which converts wastewater into drinkable water. Other projects include an energy storage project at San Vicente Reservoir, a rehabilitation of the Ocean Beach Pier, and addressing homelessness throughout San Diego. Kudos to our local state leadership, especially Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins for helping to make this happen!

A proposed sewer rate hike for San Diego single-family homes will be taken to a vote this September. Should it pass, rates would increase 17% next year and 31% over the next four years, marking the first increase in twelve years. The proposal would conversely reduce rates for businesses, condos, and apartments, who have been shown in two studies to be paying a disproportionately high rate compared to single-family homes.

If you missed last week’s county business sector telebriefing, the slides for Marie Burke Kenny’s presentation on Mitigating Employment Liability While Navigating COVID-19 in the Workplace are available here.

Best friends forever: “Balboa Park Forever” was announced early this week, representing the official merger of Friends of Balboa Park and the Balboa Park Conservancy

Upcoming Hearings

  • The City of San Diego Planning Commission will meet on July 22.
  • The City of San Diego Land Use & Housing Committee will meet on July 23.
  • SANDAG Board of Directors will meet on July 23.
  • The San Diego City Council will meet on July 27.

Capital Opportunities & Resources

  • 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.