December 10 – Weekly Update
Ninety-year-old Margaret Keenan is the honorary “Chamber Grandma of the Year”. Which is a thing we invented this week because all of our collective hopes of getting out of our houses one day and never using the word “pivot” again rest almost entirely on her well-being. Grannie Marge, as she will now lovingly be referred to, was the first person to get the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday. And because she’s the loveliest lady, the t-shirt she chose for her big jab-day raises money for holiday presents for hospital patients and has now gone viral. It’s so great that we don’t care if this paragraph is uncharacteristically long. Go Grannie Marge! We love you! Come visit San Diego post-COVID! (Related note: we obviously have no idea how to get in touch with her, but if you do please shoot her this email).
In other happy news, which is much more fun than what we’ve been sending generally, San Diego officially welcomed Todd Gloria and his Council colleagues during a swearing-in ceremony earlier today. To the new elected officials, the returning, and their staff, we send our warmest and sincerest wishes for a productive, healthy, and generally enjoyable time in office. Their work is critical to our shared success and we applaud them.
Anyway, between color-coded tiers, a new regional stay at home order, and that very loud cell phone alert, there’s a lot going on. Check out the Union-Tribune’s user’s guide to the regional stay at home order.
Did you adopt a furry friend over the pandemic? You may have helped San Diego-based Petco go public. The pandemic has caused an estimated 4% increase in the number of households with pets, a stat that motivated Petco to register with the SEC last week.
Getting right into the giving holiday spirit, Cox Charities provided $10,000 grants to 10 local nonprofits last Friday.
NASSCO received a potential $128 million contract to modernize and repair the USS Comstock.
Speaking of shipbuilders, the White House is releasing its plan to expand its fleet today, but there’s a preview in the WSJ.
Port of San Diego selected Chamber member EDF Renewables North America, headquartered in San Diego, to build a microgrid installation at the Tenth Avenue Maritime Terminal, a project approved by the Board of Port Commissioners on November 10.
SANDAG and NCTD were awarded a $106 million grant to fund several regional transportation projects, including the stabilization of the Del Mar Bluffs.
Because there’s no such thing as too much pressure, federal government funding runs out tomorrow. NBD. On Wednesday, Congress voted to approve a stopgap measure to continue funding for an additional week while stimulus negotiations are still underway. Negotiations are stalling over partisan divide regarding COVID-related liability protection for corporations, and funding for state and local governments.
Tuesday, the House passed the NDAA with a 335-78 vote, despite President Trump’s veto threat. The Senate is expected to vote in the next few days. The bill included authorizations secured by Congressman Levin for $152.5 million in funding for projects at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.
President-elect Joe Biden announced several cabinet appointments this week, including retired Army General Lloyd Austin as his Defense Secretary, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as Secretary of Health and Human Services (more on him below), Ohio Representative Marcia Fudge as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack as Agriculture Secretary.
The FDA will hold “science court” today to present the data for the Pfizer vaccine. The FDA briefing was published prior to the meeting with a positive review. After the committee of independent scientists makes a decision, the FDA is expected to adopt their decision and get the vaccine out within “days to a week” and begin administering the vaccine to health care workers and residents of nursing homes.
On Friday, the House passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. The measure would legalize marijuana federally and expunge marijuana convictions for nonviolent criminals. Although not expected to be considered in the Senate, the bill is a first push towards the federal decriminalization of marijuana.
On Wednesday, the DOD announced their COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. Read more here.
The housing sector was reported to be the single best performing sector in 2020. If you like graphs a lot or deep-thinking about housing supply, this is a great article.
The Mexican Federal Government signed an agreement with Pfizer and AstraZeneca to produce and distribute 34.4 million and 77.4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, respectively. While federal authorities continue to hold conversations with other pharmaceuticals including CanSinoBIO to secure additional doses, the Secretariat of Health shared an overview of their distribution plan comprising 5 phases:
- Phase 1 (December 2020-February 2021): Healthcare workers at the front line and/or attending to COVID-19 patients.
- Phase 2 (February-April 2021): Remaining healthcare workers and individuals over 60 years old.
- Phase 3 (April-June 2021): Individuals between ages 50-59.
- Phase 4 (May-June 2021): Individuals between ages 40-49.
- Phase 5 (June 2021-March 2022): Remaining population.
In Baja, the State Government implemented increased restrictions and precautionary measures in light of the rising number of new COVID-19 cases across the state. Changes include:
- Suspension of a list of non-essential activities considered to be high-risk including gyms, bars, nightclubs, public pools, recreational centers, and places of worship.
- Restaurants, museums, and theaters may operate at up to a 30% capacity.
- Hotels and retailers may operate at up to a 25% capacity with no access to common areas.
- Supermarkets may operate at up to a 50% capacity, providing access to only one person per family (with exception of minors accompanied by an adult).
- Hair salons may operate at up to a 15% capacity and by appointment only.
- Sports events may take place with no audience present.
- Mass events and large gatherings remain prohibited until further notice.
- In anticipation of the holiday season, state and municipal authorities launched media campaigns to reinforce recommended precautions and ask residents to avoid family gatherings of multiple households.
In addition, the private sector has also launched awareness campaigns to remind the business community to comply with health protocols and implement best practices to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Mexico’s Confederation of the National Chambers of Commerce (CONCANACO) issued posters and graphics (available here) for businesses, which show the proper use of face coverings and other precautionary measures.
INDEX Zona Costa, working closely with Baja’s Secretariat of Sustainable Economy and Tourism, has scheduled a partial suspension of operations for the manufacturing industry from December 23 to January 4, 2021 in an effort to reduce mobility across the state and reduce the risk of exposure. Nearly 200 manufacturers employing 70,000 employees have joined this initiative to reduce activities and partially freeze the sector for at least 11 days in hopes of reducing the number of new COVID-19 cases. Smaller businesses are encouraged to follow the lead by suspending operations for as many days as possible during this period.
Last Friday, a federal court ordered the full restoration of the DACA program. The Department of Homeland Security will now be accepting first-time applications for the program and will issue employment authorizations to DACA recipients which are once again valid for two years instead of the one-year period previously imposed by the administration.
The Chamber has issued letters in support of the DACA program. Nearly 800,000 DACA recipients, also known as Dreamers, are a vital part of the U.S. economy and about a third of them are essential workers helping communities through this pandemic. We urge Congress to take up legislation to make this program permanent and prevent future uncertainty for our communities and economy.
The Mexican Consulate in San Diego, in partnership with UC San Diego, will host an informational webinar covering the recent changes in regulations and implications of the DACA program. The webinar will take place this Monday, December 14th at 10:00am.
Health Canada has also given the official approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
CA Notify, a COVID-19 app developed and tested at UC San Diego and UC San Francisco, will be available for all Californians this Thursday. The voluntary app will give notifications in case of a COVID-19 exposure. If a COVID-19 case is confirmed, a health official can provide a smartphone code, which would allow the system to notify anyone the infected person has been in contact with for the past two weeks. Learn more here.
OSHA’s emergency regulations for employers have gone into effect. A corresponding fact sheet has also been made available.
Big shout out to Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez, who went for her second round with the Governor to get clarification that playgrounds can remain open. Parents, rejoice.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has been selected to serve as the Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Biden administration. The appointment places more pressure on Gavin Newsom, who now must make two appointments, to fill both Kamala Harris’ Senate seat and a new AG.
In other personnel news, the Governor’s Chief of Staff, Ann O’Leary is departing Team Gavin and her spot will be filled by a longtime political consultant, Jim DeBoo. No word yet on his feelings about French Laundry (it’s a joke, calm down).
The plot on outdoor dining thickens: a judge has overturned the ban on outdoor dining in LA County, calling the decision by Supervisors “arbitrary.” This won’t change the ban currently as the region is under statewide guidance now, but adds another element for policy/legal watchers as ongoing litigation continues to create “bumpers” for policymakers and executive branches weighing COVID-related regulations and restrictions.
California’s economic comeback will be slower than the country’s, says UCLA economists. Related: our recovery is lopsided and many lower-earning Californians are facing an incredibly tough season ahead financially.
This Monday, new state assembly members began the first meeting of the new legislative session and wasted absolutely no time demonstrating that they intend to author a high volume of bills with proposals ranging from election day being declared a holiday, to police use of force, to homeless solutions, to addressing EDD’s many operational challenges. This would be a good time to recommend that you join a Chamber policy committee if you really like to talk about policy.
Another chance to help your fellow San Diegans: if you’ve recovered from COVID, you can donate plasma to the Red Cross here. Last week we also let you know you could donate plasma to the Blood Bank.
A vaccine is coming to San Diego! San Diego County will receive 28,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in mid-December, with plans to roll out widespread vaccination in March or April. Vaccine distribution will be administered according to the five phases set by the CDC.
On Tuesday, City Council approved the $450,000 proposed budget for San Diego’s redistricting panel. The panel will use 2020 US Census data to reflect demographic changes and ensure a more equal population distribution between council districts.
Last week, the Planning Commission recommended for approval a reduction in the number of short term vacation rentals in San Diego. The proposal capped the total number of homes available for full-time short term rentals at 1% of the City’s housing stock (except in Mission Beach), and 30% of the total housing units within the Mission Beach Community Plan Area.
This Tuesday, the County Board of Supervisors passed a motion to expand small business grant eligibility to all small businesses affected by the Regional Stay at Home order.
Mayor Todd Gloria has announced plans to keep the Convention Center open as a temporary homeless shelter.
Capital Opportunities & Resources:
- The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) is now applications today for a small business hiring credit against California state income taxes or sales and use taxes. The credit (authorized by SB 1447) is available to certain California qualified small business employers that receive a tentative credit reservation. Learn more here.
- 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) was 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.