Legislative Update – February 4

We look good for being 150, don’t you think? Today is the Chamber’s 150th celebration, which means we have seen more than one pandemic, more than one recession, and quite a few twists and turns, but we’re still here thanks to our incredible members. We’re proud of the role we’ve played in San Diego’s growth, and we know there are much, much better days ahead for our friends and families. Thanks for celebrating with us today, San Diego!

February is Black History Month. The County Health and Human Services have launched an outreach campaign, Black Legacy Now, to reduce racial bias in the medical field and improve infant and maternal health outcomes for Black families. The maternal mortality rate for Black mothers is 3 times higher than white mothers, regardless of other factors. The campaign supports the Countywide Perinatal Equity Initiative, designed to address causes of persistent inequality and identify best practices.

It’s also American Heart Health Month. This week’s Get Fit challenge is to “Get Heart Healthy”, and we’ve partnered with Dr. Jennifer Tuteur, Deputy Public Health Officer for the County of San Diego, to learn some heart health tips. Listen in as Dr. Tuteur shares five key steps to improving the health of our most vital organ!

Business News

The second round of the California Relief Grant is open for applications until Sunday, February 8 at 6 pm. Contact your local Small Business Development Center if you have questions about applying!

Questions about how to apply for a PPP loan? Check out the Small Business Development Center’s on-demand webinars to help guide you through the application process.

Illumina has announced their partnership with Sequoia Capital China to launch the Sequoia Capital China Intelligent Healthcare Genomics Incubator. The incubator will help develop genomics startup companies in China beginning in the fall.

SeaWorld is reopening this Sunday with some modifications. Animal shows and outdoor exhibits will resume with social distancing, but roller coasters will remain closed. The USS Midway Museum reopened this week and the Maritime Museum of San Diego plans to open on February 13.

Bank of America is committing another $15 billion in affordable housing initiatives, on top of a successful program announced in 2019.

Questions about the business side of vaccine production? Here’s a great primer on some of those twitter-troll myths about vaccines, supply chains, and the private sector.

Congratulations to Chamber board member Erik Greupner, who was promoted to CEO of the Padres!

Jeff Bezos is stepping down as CEO of Amazon and taking an executive chair role. Will he run for office? Buy himself his own country? Who knows!

Without in-person classes, National University has come up with an innovative way to provide their nursing students with clinical experience. A grant from the Health Resources and Service Administration has allowed National University to launch a virtual reality pilot program to allow students to safely practice their technical skills.

Despite the pandemic, new business license applications have surged in California, up 22% from last year.

Legislative Update


Some positive news: the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that the US economy is improving faster than expected. In a report released on Monday, the CBO estimates that the unemployment rate will fall to 5.3% by the end of the year, among other positive economic indicators.

On Monday, Senate Republicans sent their slimmed-down $618 billion relief package offer to President Biden. On Wednesday, House Democrats voted to approve a budget bill that would require only a simple majority to pass Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief bill, aiming to pass the bill without Republican votes.

Senator Mitt Romney is expected to propose an expansion of child benefits today, up to $4,200 per year for children under age 6 and $3,000 per year for children age 6 to 17. An expanded child care benefit is currently developing as part of Biden’s coronavirus relief package, and the alignment could possibly provide an opportunity for bipartisan support.

US homeownership rates are up, and totally lopsided. For white Americans, it hit a nine-year high at 75%, but for black Americans, it dropped to 44%. Hispanic-American and Asian Pacific Islander rates also rose.


Alejandro Mayorkas was sworn in as the first Latino and immigrant to lead the Department of Homeland Security. In addition, the administration announced several new immigration reform initiatives on legal immigration, asylum, and family reunification, including:

  • A task force to reunite families that have been separated at the border.
  • Develop a strategy to address migration across the border and improve the asylum system. The strategy to address migration consists in 3 phases: addressing the root causes of migration in the countries themselves; partnering with foreign governments, NGOs, and others to increase opportunities for migrants to seek asylum closer to their home countries;  and ensuring Central American migrants and asylum seekers have access to legal avenues in the U.S.
  • Create the Task Force on New Americans to promote immigrant integration and inclusion.
  • Develop a plan to improve the naturalization process by reducing wait times and making the process more accessible and affordable.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and CHC Chairwoman Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) will be introducing the Biden-Harris immigration bill (the U.S. Citizenship Act) in Congress soon.

President Biden is bringing a different flavor to the US’ approach to the WTO. On the two big issues: reforming the body, and picking someone to lead it, his administration is re-engaging following tense exchanges and refusal of appointments from the prior administration.

The U.S. Commercial Service, in partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau, will host two half-day export compliance webinars on February 23 and 24. These webinars will cover the Census COVID-19 Data Hub, Schedule B guidance/Global Market Finder, Foreign Trade Regulations and regulatory changes, and export control updates from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Transportation Security Administration, and the Bureau for Industry Security. Event details and registration are available here.

Mexico is facing some bad economic news from 2020. The country lost a reported 840,000 jobs in 2020, following a strong start to the year.

Economic development corporations across the state of Baja will convene to form a coalition to promote Baja California as a global destination for business. The Tijuana, Ensenada, Tecate, and Mexicali EDCs will sign a collaboration agreement tomorrow at noon (watch live via Zoom with meeting ID: 835 6123 1576 or register here).

Tijuana Mayor Arturo Gonzalez announced he will be taking a leave from office due to family reasons. This will be the second time since October that he steps down from his role, having abruptly returned after less than a month the first time. Mayor Gonzalez has named the city’s Secretary of Education Karla Ruiz to serve as his replacement. Ruiz has yet to issue a statement on whether she would accept and become the first female mayor in the city’s history… again.


After last week’s press briefing, there were questions about moving to an age-based vaccination system. Governor Newsom had mentioned an age-based system after Phase 1B-Tier 1, but has not yet confirmed. As of now, the Phase/Tier system will be in place until further guidance from the state. We’ll be monitoring for updates.

The City of San Francisco is considering suing its own school district after negotiations for reopening have stalled. Mayor London Breed gave $15M of city funds to help prepare school sites, but the six unions representing educators and site staff have said that without increased vaccines and testing- it’s a no-go. A petition is currently circulating with a dozen demands before return to school can happen, and the threat of a strike is already in the air. This fight will likely be a major lesson (no pun intended) for districts and local governments across the state…. (If you’re reading this and are also one of those beleaguered parents wondering when this is all over, we salute you. High five! Cheers! Serenity Now)

And because what everyone really wants right now is more politics, the recall effort for Newsom is looking increasingly possible. If the 1.5 million signatures are gathered by March 17th, it’s game on. As of now, proponents say they are well on their way with 1.3 million (remember, they have to be valid sigs, so they’ll need to significantly overshoot the goal). There’s also the report that they’ve raised over $2.5m already.  More on this (generally) below.

It’s official: on Monday, former Mayor Kevin Faulconer officially announced his run for governor.  Also official: former Facebook exec Chamath Palihapitiya is not.

Speaking of, Californians have lots of opinions about the state of the state… and you can check them out in the recently released PPIC poll, “Californians & Their Government.” Highlights: One in three Californians say we are in a serious economic recession, about half of Californians approve of the job Newsom is doing (down from upwards of 60% in June 2020) and our top issues are COVID, jobs/economy, and housing/homelessness.


The City of San Diego has gotten the OK to give its own vaccines, and more importantly, receive its own shipments of doses. The City has already received an initial shipment of 1,200 doses of both Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

The City of San Diego’s budget headaches are going to definitely get worse before they get better. Mayor Gloria’s Mid-Year Budget Monitoring Report stating that general fund revenues are coming in at $86 million under budget (yes, on top of the budget deficit already projected for the next fiscal year). For now, it sounds like the plan is to wait until firmer details are released regarding federal money coming to local jurisdictions, but the road ahead will be bumpy.

In some good news, San Diego reported less than 1,000 new COVID-19 cases for the second day in a row. Our adjusted case rate is still a high 42.5 cases per 100,000 residents, keeping us in the Purple Tier.

The City of San Diego is soliciting public feedback for a new franchise agreement. We’re still months away from negotiating an agreement, and in the words of Councilmember Elo-Rivera “We are literally just listening to your input so we can create an invitation to bid that represents the needs, wants, desires, and hopes of the city of San Diego.” The invitation to bid process is set to begin in March, with a recommendation agreement presented in May.

In 2019, a battery storage demonstration project was the first of its kind to be connected to the state grid as a carbon-free energy source. The project, run by SDG&E and Sumitomo Electric, is being expanded to test its capacity to power a microgrid. Effective microgrids could help service areas that are susceptible to Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) during high fire risk conditions.

Several new vaccination sites have opened up around the County, including a superstation in San Marcos and La Mesa, and a smaller clinic in San Ysidro. On Monday, UC San Diego will open their vaccination superstation on campus. With new vaccination sites opening, it should be easy to get an appointment, right? Not exactly. Appointment websites crashing, appointment no-shows, and vaccine surpluses have been common issues in the initial stages of the vaccine rollout. And if you’re still confused about where vaccines are happening locally- check this article out.

On Sunday, the USS Gabrielle Giffords returned to Naval Base San Diego after a 17-month rotational deployment to the US 7th Fleet and US 4th fleet areas of operation.

Capital Opportunities & Resources:

  • NEW: Round 2 of the California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program opened this week. Qualifying businesses have until Monday 2/8 to apply. Interested applicants can review eligibility at com. Applicants who submitted their application and all documentation in the first round do not need to reapply; qualified applications will be automatically rolled over into the next funding round for consideration.
  • Apply for your first or second PPP Loan now! Learn more here.
  • City of Oceanside COVID-19 small business grant program: Small businesses able to demonstrate a loss in profit caused by the COVID crisis can qualify for a grant of $1,000 to $7,5000. Learn more and apply here.
  • The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) is accepting applications 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) 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.