August 27, 2020
Some good news: the county is off the state monitoring list. Some bad news: you’ve probably noticed the scorching heat wave that has California in its grip, causing wildfires throughout the state. We want to send our thoughts to the families impacted by the especially brutal fires in this unprecedented time.
In the broader energy debate, the rolling blackouts brought up big policy questions about how to bolster the grid to ensure better reliability as the state has been working toward ambitious goals to increase its use of renewable energy (wind/solar) and decrease its use of natural gas. And while the necessity of doing so is generally agreed upon to be necessary as we address climate change, here’s the current challenge: energy produced by wind and solar often isn’t enough to meet high demands for energy when it’s 100+ degrees and everyone is working from home. So, as we’re finding with most everything during this pandemic, it’s smart- necessary, even- to have a backup plan.
Remember how we said Congress was heading home and it would be a while before they returned to talk stimulus? We were wrong… The House is now returning for one day, on Saturday, to vote on $25B to bolster the U.S. Postal Service. Recent changes to operations of the postal service have created newsworthy, significant impacts nationwide. As a result, Democrats have drafted legislation, and hope to ease concerns that have arisen about the important role of the mail in the upcoming general election. Following the announcement of a congressional vote, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy issued a statement saying that all proposed changes (and cause for concern in the legislature) would be postponed until after the election.
And while they’re back, Democrats are urging House leadership to take up votes on coronavirus aid. A letter led by San Diego’s own Congressman Scott Peters, calls for consideration of the Worker Relief and Security Act, which would extend the $600 enhanced unemployment benefits and institute automatic public health and economic stabilizers for unemployment insurance programs without need for further congressional action. The letter garnered support from 114 cosigners.
The Federal Housing Finance Authority (FHFA) has released guidance, including requiring tenants be notified of options, and new tools to help renters navigate the latest rules around evictions and rent relief.
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency issued an alert regarding a phishing scam by a malicious cyber actor. The scam spoofs the Small Business Administration’s COVID-19 loan relief webpage via a link sent in the phishing email. More details can be found here.
As the nation still lacks a national testing strategy, a bipartisan coalition of governors are teaming up to aid the testing gap by purchasing millions of rapid COVID-19 tests. This comes on the heels of the CDC Director’s warning of a “worst fall” flu and coronavirus season if Americans don’t follow social distancing and facial covering guidance.
A few more dollars may arrive in your bank account shortly, as the IRS will issue interest payments to 14 million taxpayers for 2019 taxes that were filed by July 15.
The temporary restrictions on non-essential travel across shared ports of entry between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico have been extended for an additional thirty days to September 21. While we anticipate the restrictions will continue beyond that date, the Chamber has been advocating for an end to these travel restrictions which continue to harm our economy. We believe greater enforcement of social distancing and mask compliance would be effective in limiting the spread of the virus. We are also working to expand operating hours at the Tecate Port of Entry and reduce border wait times across all ports of entry.
In Tijuana, a private sector led initiative has been launched to support the city and state’s ability to test and track COVID-19 cases. The effort also helps to identify vulnerable neighborhoods and areas across the region which will help their strategy to combat the virus. This initiative comprises a system of 17 laboratories with the ability to conduct up to 500 COVID-19 tests onsite and at a discounted rate and in some cases businesses are covering the cost for their employees. Results are available within 24 hours and submitted into a database which maps positive results. For more information, please contact Francisco@wellwavescenter.com.
All eyes were on whether or not Lyft and Uber would stop operations on Friday, pending the results of their appeal to a California court. Today, it was announced they would halt service. Then, hours later, it was announced the businesses were granted a stay from the courts and would not be stopping service But! This break only lasts until August 25, unless both companies agree to specific requirements including a new timeline. Whiplash aside, this is the most visible fight in the gig-worker/contractor debate. The rideshare companies have put an initiative on the ballot in November (Proposition 22) in hopes of preserving the industry’s general operation without making drivers employees, but would also give benefits and income-certainty. Needless to say, all bets about the future of rideshare and the gig-economy are off until the voters weigh in in November.
On Tuesday, San Diego was removed from the state’s monitoring list. However, restrictions in place remain so, as the county’s numbers must stay below the state-directed threshold for a 14-day period before restrictions (on businesses, elementary schools) are loosened.
If you like numbers, check out the Department of Finance’s August update. If you don’t like numbers, here’s the bottom line: personal income tax, and sales and use tax receipts are both coming in above the predictions, which is a definite positive sign for the state’s economy.
Governor Newsom signed an executive order early in the week exempting power plants from local air quality control measures in the hopes that they would generate additional energy to stave off the possibility of rolling blackouts. On Tuesday, he declared a state of emergency due to the wildfires and heatwave.
Today is the final day of appropriations week. This is an important hurdle for bills with a financial impact (which is almost all of them).
Tuesday, Mayor Faulconer issued an executive order allowing places of worship and gyms to operate in city parks. The executive order goes into effect Monday, August 24. Permits will be issued on a first come first serve basis for each park and permit fees will be waived for 60 days.
Following SDSU taking control of the Mission Valley stadium site last week, a formal groundbreaking was held on Monday that included Chamber CEO Jerry Sanders. The city sold the site as a result of the passage of Chamber-supported Measure G in 2018. When completed, the site will host a 35,000 seat stadium, park and recreation space, over 1 million square feet of office/research space, housing and a hotel.
With the conclusion of the Mission Valley/SDSU story this week, attention now shifts to the next largest parcel of city-owned land overdue for redevelopment. The City of San Diego owns 88 acres of land in the Midway District, 48 of which are currently being contested by two developer teams. Voice of San Diego ran a story Wednesday calling out the fact that little has been said about the very real vulnerability to flooding in the area from rising sea levels highlighted in a recent study by the city’s planning department.
SANDAG published a report on Wednesday that provides a glimmer of optimism for San Diego County’s workforce. The county’s estimated unemployment rate has fallen to 14.2%, just about 11 points lower than the region’s peak measured in May. This latest finding is consistent with the general declining trend in unemployment apart from a 2-point jump in early July attributed to the closure of indoor businesses.
Next Tuesday, the county will hold final deliberations and adoption of the $6.4 billion budget proposal for fiscal year 2020-21. The budget proposal and public comment portal can be found here. The budget highlights are here.
The San Diego County Air Pollution Control District, in partnership with the California Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Project has launched a new incentive for companies to take advantage of. Beginning in October, eligible businesses, multifamily properties, local governments and K-12 school districts across the county can receive funds to put towards the purchase and installation of electric vehicle chargers. Facilities set in disadvantaged and low-income communities are also eligible for additional savings. On Thursday, August 27 from 10am-12pm, there is a webinar explaining the perquisites for qualification. Register here.
Capital Opportunities & Resources:
- NEW The County of San Diego’s Childcare Provider Grant Program will begin accepting applications Monday, August 24. Applications are due by Friday, September 4 at 5:00pm PST. 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.
- San Diego County Small Business Stimulus Grant – Businesses must have fewer than 100 employees, be headquartered in San Diego County, have 1-year operating history, and have experienced financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic to be eligible. Apply here.
- Applications are due on the following dates:
- Districts 3 & 4 – October 16
- Districts 1, 2, and 5 deadlines have passed
- Calling All Californians: #ShopSafeShopLocal – A new state-wide website with resources for small business owners and entrepreneurs, including a digital medial toolkit, quick links to industry guidance, direct access to PPE, and free business consulting through the Small Business Development Center network.
- The San Diego and Imperial SBDC has developed a webinar on PPP Loan Forgiveness. Watch it on-demand here.
- Businesses can also 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 City of Escondido has partnered with the San Diego North Economic Development Council to administer the Small Business Grant Program to Escondido small businesses. Learn more here.
- The State Treasurer’s Office has published this list of Federal, State, Local, Private, and Non-profit resources available to small businesses.
- Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce Relief Fund – Black-owned businesses can apply for funding and technical assistance here. Email questions and concerns to email@example.com
- Applications are due on the following dates:
International Business Affairs:
Tijuana River Valley Update
Representatives Juan Vargas, Susan Davis, Scott Peters, Mike Levin and Raul Ruiz introduced the Border Water Quality Restoration and Protection Act of 2020, a House companion bill to Senator Dianne Feinstein’s legislation introduced in July. Both bills designate the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as the lead agency to coordinate all federal, state, local, and Mexican agencies to plan and construct infrastructure projects to mitigate pollution across the U.S.-México border and help improve the water quality of the Tijuana River and New River.
East Otay Mesa Port of Entry (Otay II)
The Mexican federal government, through the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (SCT) has issued a bid for the administration and supervision of the construction and operation of the Otay Mesa East Port of Entry (Otay II) on the Mexican side of the border. SCT is hosting a meeting today to address questions and a second meeting on August 28th for the presentation of proposals by interested parties. For more information regarding the process and requirement, please click here.
Sustainability & Industry:
The Legislative Analyst’s Office has a new report reminding us that California continues to be subject to all the other challenges that existed before COVID-19 jolted us from our regularly scheduled programming. Specifically, climate change and the threat of sea-level rise (SLR). Estimates suggest that the magnitude of SLR in California could rise to at least half of one foot in 2030 and as much as seven feet by 2100. Read the full report here.