Legislative Update – January 28

January 28 – Weekly Update

The Regional Stay at Home Order has been lifted, surprising those of us who never thought we’d be excited to return to the dreaded purple tier. Businesses can start safe reopening with restrictions, most of which are related to operating outdoors only. Read the full list from the county here.

The good news keeps coming: the gorillas in the San Diego Zoo that tested positive for COVID-19 are well on their way to a full recovery. And even better- you can go celebrate that recovery since the zoo and Safari Park are opening back up!

Dog lovers, rejoice! Our four-legged friends Champ and Major made headlines this week because dogs are back in the White House.

Yesterday, the California State Assembly unanimously approved Dr. Shirley Weber’s nomination for California Secretary of State.

“I tell people how ironic it is, that a girl whose father could not vote, whose grandparents never had a chance to vote, is now responsible for 40 million Californians and their right to vote.”

Business News

With amusement parks closed for in-person operation, Sea World has come up with an innovative way to attract visitors. Every weekend through February 15, Sea World is hosting a drive-through parade called the Sesame Street Parade of Lights. Sesame Street characters will make an appearance on parade floats as visitors drive through light tunnels, and have a chance to purchase some car-delivered snacks and souvenir packages.

A beachfront mansion beat out Alicia Keys’ house as the biggest home sale in La Jolla history, selling for $24.7 million. If you frequent La Jolla Shores, it’s the one with the oceanfront hot tub.

Last Friday, Mayor Todd Gloria announced an emergency action to limit delivery fees on restaurants to not exceed 15% of an online order cost. Cities like Los Angeles and New York have already taken similar measures to help alleviate the burden on local restaurants.

Beginning February 1, the San Diego Fire Department will work on educating local business owners on proper temporary outdoor structure installation. Businesses that received a Temporary Outdoor Business Operation Permit from the City of San Diego should review the changes made to the program. If you have a deck, large tent, or heater, you may need to modify your permit (scroll down to the section labeled “How to modify a permit”). Specific questions for your businesses’ outdoor operations can be directed to Liz Studebaker from the city’s Economic Development Department at estudebaker@sandiego.gov.

Intesa Communications announced the launch of their “Seas the Day” suite of affordable PR packages for small businesses and nonprofits in San Diego County.

MTS announced a new partnership with Lyft to better connect riders to a broad range of affordable and reliable transportation options. Lyft app users will now be able to see transit lines and upcoming departures for nearby MTS buses and Trolleys.

UC San Diego researchers are developing a smart mask with a test strip to detect exposure to COVID-19. They plan to use the test strips as a “surveillance approach” to allow high-risk facilities like group homes, prisons, and homeless shelters to identify new cases earlier.

The masses are flexing on traditional Wall Street brokers. Reddit and their meme-crazed masses banded together to pull off a “short-squeeze” on GameStop and other shares. If you’re one of those gamblers making a little extra, feel free to send some our way, and avoid the SEC investigation (Chamber sponsorships are a great investment too!)

Girl Scout Cookie season is here! You can preorder cookies here, send a package to military troops overseas, or host a Girl Scout cookie pitch during your next virtual meeting.

Deloitte has released its 2021 Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Transparency Report.

US banks are taking a page from the NFL playbook by adopting the Rooney Rule. Developed as a way to commit to diversity in coaching, banks like JP Morgan, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup are following suit in their hiring processes.

And speaking of the NFL, they announced that Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet in US history, will recite an original poem at the Super Bowl.

Walmart is gearing up to take part in vaccine distribution. They could help play a big role in the national vaccination effort, with 90% of the nation’s population living within 10 miles of a Walmart.

Legislative Update


The article of impeachment was delivered to the Senate on Monday. The majority of Republican senators argued against the constitutionality of holding an impeachment trial for a former president, making a conviction unlikely.

Last Friday, retired General Lloyd Austin won Senate confirmation (with only 2 nays) to become the first Black Secretary of Defense. He got right to work, releasing a statement identifying the climate crisis as a national security issue.

This Tuesday, President Biden directed his attorney general to stop the renewal of Justice Department contracts with privately owned prisons. The move builds off of the Obama administration’s goals to phase out private prisons, which was reversed under the Trump administration. The directive came with a string of other executive orders, including a mandate for HUD to examine housing policies that impact people of color and an order for federal governments to consult Native American and Alaska Native tribes for policy development.

The Department of Defense is using 3-D printing to make N-95 masks. While PPE supply is a more manageable question now than at the beginning of the pandemic, this is an important partnership that will be illuminating for future crisis response.

On Tuesday, the Justice Department rescinded Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy, which prosecuted undocumented immigrants for illegal entry. Since children can’t be held in a criminal facility with their parents, this policy resulted in thousands of family separations at the border. President Biden has also stopped new enrollments in the “remain in Mexico” program, which made asylum seekers wait in Mexico until their US court hearing.

President Biden continues to work that EO pen. Among yesterday’s orders were a number focused on the climate including creating a National Climate Task Force and kicking off the development of a national emissions reductions target. On the healthcare front, Biden is looking to reopen enrollment for health care coverage (traditionally happens only at the end of the year and/or at a change in life circumstances), from February 15- May 15. To look at the full list of EO’s, you can visit here. 


Bye bye border wall that Mexico did not pay for. One week into a new administration, the Biden-Harris team suspended construction of the border wall and has taken actions on immigration which include a comprehensive immigration reform bill that was introduced to Congress on day one.

The U.S. Citizenship Act would:

  • Provide pathways to citizenship and strengthen labor protections: Dreamers, TPS holders, and qualifying agricultural workers would be able to apply for a green card immediately and can apply for citizenship after 3 years. All other undocumented immigrants who pass background checks and pay taxes would have an 8-year path to citizenship and receive authorization to work in the meantime.
  • Clear employment-based visa backlogs, recapture unused visas, reduce lengthy wait times, and eliminate per-country visa caps. These actions help retain STEM advanced degree holders from U.S. universities, facilitate access to green cards for workers in lower-wage industries, and provide H-1B visa dependents with work authorization while also preventing children of H-1B holders from aging out of the system.
  • Reform border security by providing additional resources, state-of-the-art technology, infrastructure improvements. It also creates a Border Community Stakeholder Advisory Committee.
  • Addresses the root causes of migration, while improving immigration courts and increasing protections for asylum seekers.
  • Provides funding for immigrant integration services.

Presidents Lopez Obrador and Biden connected over the phone last Friday and discussed immigration and a coordinated COVID-19 response, among other issues. Both leaders reiterated their commitment to bilateral cooperation and agreed to work closely to stem the flow of irregular migration to the U.S. and Mexico while promoting development in Central America.

In Baja, the State Government and private sector have announced plans to independently acquire and distribute COVID-19 vaccines to help mitigate the spread of the virus and ensure public health across the state. Mexico’s manufacturing industry has budgeted $45 million USD to help immunize 750,000 workers at no cost to them.

Travel to the United States will require proof of a negative COVID test, as of January 26. A fact sheet can be found here.


On Monday, Governor Newsom announced the Regional Stay at Home Order has been lifted. This will allow outdoor operations for businesses to reopen, but local officials can decide to enforce stricter guidance. Statewide COVID-19 trends have improved in all regions except Southern California, which remains at 0% ICU capacity. With the Stay at Home Order lifted, we go back to the tiered system in which San Diego (and the majority of the state) is in the most restrictive Purple Tier.

Effective Monday, outdoor capacity was able to reopen for: restaurants, gyms, places of worship, museums, zoos and aquariums, outdoor recreation, and breweries serving food. Certain youth sports with minimal contact were allowed to resume with precautions as well. Indoor operations can reopen for barbershops, tattoo shops, hair and nail salons. Retail can resume indoors at 25% capacity, and grocery stores at 50%.

California residents can get notified via text or email when it’s their turn to receive the vaccine starting in February. The pilot program, called My Turn, is already being piloted in Los Angeles and San Diego. Check it out here. Additionally, Blue Shield was awarded a contract to lead the state’s vaccine network and the distribution of vaccines to pharmacies and local govs.

And more on vaccines: teachers are telling Newsom “no way” on any return to school plans that don’t involve vaccines and a dramatically lower case rate.

The stunning mismanagement of the Employment Development Department got itself a follow up audit. With a subtitle like “EDD’s Poor Planning and Ineffective Management Left it Unprepared to Assist Californians Unemployed by Covid-19 Shutdowns” you can kind of guess how it goes. But if you’ve got the time, we’ve got the link.

What’s the cost of working from home? Sense, a company that sells electricity monitoring devices, published a study showing increases in household energy expenditure by $176 compared to this time last year.

Speaking of jobs, California lost 52,000 of them in December 2020. Not surprisingly, restaurants and tourism continue to bear the brunt.

A proposed law would require California corporations reporting over $1 billion in gross revenue to publicly disclose their carbon emissions and commit to emission reduction. SB 260, authored by Sen. Weiner (D-San Francisco), would give companies until 2025 to set carbon emission reduction targets and use a third-party auditor to evaluate their direct, secondary, and indirect emissions.

Not sure about you, but we have serious election fatigue and it doesn’t look like it’s gonna go away. Newsom has a new challenger – former Facebook Exec Chamath Palihapitiya.

Silicon Valley strikes again, this time a new start-up has death management in its sites. For those of you who maybe haven’t taken a deep dive into the regulations on dying, and care for corpses, it’s heavily regulated and fascinatingly political (we swear). Read more here.


San Diego County has opened a vaccination clinic in National City and partnered with Sharp Healthcare to open a second vaccination superstation in Chula Vista.  The county is currently vaccinating all of Phase 1A,  Phase 1B Tier 1, and people over the age of 65. Phase 1B-TIer 1 includes essential workers in education and childcare, emergency services,  and food and agriculture. 1B- Tier 2 includes essential workers in transportation and logistics, critical manufacturing, and industrial, commercial, residential, and sheltering facilities/services. State definitions of essential critical infrastructure workers can be found here.

When your sector is eligible to receive vaccinations, the county requires documentation as proof of employment (like a healthcare worker ID badge). The county’s business sector team is gathering industry-specific recommendations for identification requirements for sectors soon to be vaccinated. Email COVID-Business@sdcounty.gov if you have any suggestions.

On Wednesday, the County Board of Supervisors took the first step in repealing a 2017 ban on new marijuana businesses in unincorporated areas. The measure would direct staff to draft cannabis industry regulations and develop a final ordinance in six months. The goal of the measure would be to limit illicit marijuana sales and capture revenues generated from the quickly growing cannabis industry. Supervisor Vargas and Chair Fletcher have also discussed initiating a cannabis equity program to address marginalized communities harmed by the war on drugs. The Board of Supervisors also voted to expand the COVID-19 rental assistance program. The program will now grant up to six months of expenses to approved applicants and prioritize single-parent households.

SANDAG is kicking off a regional digital divide task force.

The San Diego City Council voted to extend both the commercial and residential eviction moratoriums. Qualifying businesses are protected from evictions through June 30th or 60 days after the city’s declaration of emergency is lifted. The residential policy does the same, but will only go into effect in the unlikely case that a similar state-wide measure, SB 91, fails to receive the Governor’s signature before the current policy lapses on January 31.

Six San Diego Councilmembers have requested the study of a public bank. The idea was discussed last year but was pushed aside due to the COVID crisis. A public bank would operate like a traditional bank, and generate revenue from interest on loans. Supporters hope to make financing and loan services easier for small businesses, housing developments, and capital to neighborhood banks.

City Council also voted to extend Operation Shelter to Home, the homeless shelter in the San Diego Convention Center, through March. The shelter has served 3,760 people since it opened last April.

The push for street vendor regulations is back.. In 2019, the state passed the Sidewalk Safe Vending Act, which allowed cities to regulate street vendors based on health and safety issues. Kevin Faulconer’s previous attempt to regulate street vendors was criticized as harmful to immigrant-owned and low-income small businesses and was dropped in late 2019. Mayor Gloria plans to work with stakeholders to develop new regulations that address public safety and health while maintaining economic opportunities for vendor owners. The initial goal is to have an active policy by mid-2021.

San Diego Registrar of Voters Michael Vu was recently named the Assistant Chief Administrative Officer for the County of San Diego.

The extent of the financial toll of COVID will likely not be fully realized until we are well past the pandemic. A recent study found that 69,000 people in San Diego are behind on their water bills, some owing more than $1000 without the ability to repay.

Council President Jen Campbell has published her 2021 Draft City Council Work Plan. It will be before Council for review before returning a second time for a vote.

Check out next week’s agenda for the City Council Meeting on February 2.

Capital Opportunities & Resources:

  • Apply for your first or second PPP Loan now! Learn more here.
  • The California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program application deadline has been extended until January 13. Apply here. The San Diego and Imperial Small Business Development Center has webinars available for more information on how to apply.
  • 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) 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.