Legislative Update – October 21 - SD Regional Chamber

Legislative Update – October 21

‘Bout time! We’d like to congratulate Wonder Woman for her induction into the Comic-Con Museum Character Hall of Fame. After 80 years of kickin’ bad-guy butt, she joins other beloved characters Batman and Pac-man. And now that we’re thinking about it, we need to know more about how Pac-man managed his way in there.

Registration for this year’s Legislative Lounge is now open! Save the date for November 16, where we will recognize award winners in categories such as “Bridge Builder”, “Rising Star’ and “Staffer Who Really Gets $#!t Done.”

Business News

Next Monday at 11 am, we are partnering with the Small Business Majority, the California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Chino Valley Chamber, CIELO and the CalAsian Chamber to learn about the California Rebuilding Fund. The webinar will provide an overview of the California Rebuilding Fund, eligibility requirements, how businesses can apply, and additional grant opportunities. Learn more and register here.

!!! New Meeting Alert: The Chamber is bringing back the Chamber Summit! We’ll be convening a regional business stakeholder group to stay up to date on federal, state and local regulations, capital opportunities for local businesses, and much much more. If you are part of a Chamber, business association, BID or EDC, we would love for you to join. Email sbales@sdchamber.org for details.

Also in Chamber news: We’re reopening our Public Affairs internship program. If you know of any students or recent graduates that would love to work with our Public Policy department, please direct them to https://sdchamber.org/about/careers/.

We generally refer to adults born and raised and still living in San Diego as unicorns, but we’re going to need to come up with some other name based on the ever-increasing number of locally based companies valued at over $1 billion. Flock Freight, the Encinitas based trucking logistics firm, recently netted another $215 million in venture capital, landing it on the list of local startup unicorns.

The San Diego Tourism Authority has launched their new diversity initiative for businesses owned by people of color, LGBTQ+, women and veterans. The SDTA Accelerator Program will provide ten businesses a range of services valued over $10,000 including financial coaching, legal support, free advertisements, membership in SDTA and more. Interested business owners can learn more and apply here. Applications will be accepted through November 5.

The Central San Diego Black Chamber was recently awarded $500,000 from the San Diego Foundation for their new Urban Business Resource Center. The center will promote Black entrepreneurs’ access to resources, business assistance, capital and more.

Illumina will soon be illumina-ted with 100 percent clean, renewable energy from San Diego Community Power. On Monday, SDCP announced that Illumina will be opting up to their Power100 service tier, which would provide all of their San Diego based facilities with 100% renewable, carbon free electricity. The company is working towards a goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Healing Wave Aquatics, a nonprofit that will provide aquatic PTSD therapy, broke ground to start construction on their new facility in Bay Ho. The nonprofit specializes in a heated water immersion therapy that averages a 25 percent reduction in symptoms of PTSD after eight weeks of treatment. The facility will provide therapy at no cost to veterans and military servicemembers and will be open to the general public for a fee.

Legislative Updates


Federal:
 

Federal OSHA has sent to the White House their proposed emergency temporary standard (ETS) around Biden’s vaccine mandates for employers. TBD on what’s in it, but here’s a good primer to get yourself prepared.

For the (what feels like) 17th week in a row, here’s your reconciliation update: Some people like it, some people still don’t, nobody can agree on how much it should cost and most Americans still don’t really know what’s even going on. That sounds silly but it’s mostly right. The price tag remains, generally, at $3.5 trillion, but the latest reports indicate that affordable housing, childcare, and elderly supports are likely the first to head to the chopping block. It’s also reported a deal may be announced in the next few days. (Groundhog day, anyone?)

A specific point of the proposed package, which would give the IRS some extra muscle, is looking likely to be pared down. The idea was to claw back $7 trillion in unpaid taxes by monitoring deposits and withdrawals of $600 or more in banking institutions and apps (what up, venmo). But after some angry “mind your own business” comments to lawmakers, the proposal has been narrowed. Updated fact sheet here.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell passed away this week due to COVID-19 complications. Although he was fully vaccinated, multiple myeloma and Parkinson’s disease contributed to the complications. After serving two combat tours in Vietnam, Powell was the first Black national security advisor under the Reagan administration, youngest and first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George HW Bush, and the first Black Secretary of State under the Bush administration. He was 84 years old.

The hot new trend of 2021: Mixing and matching your vaccines. The FDA is set to approve a little bit of this (Pfizer) and a little bit of that (Moderna) and a pinch of those (Johnson) as people move forward with boosters and vaccines going forward.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has established a commission to relaunch their search for the Veterans Health Administration Under Secretary position. This position, which was temporarily held by Dr. Richard Stone, will oversee their massive electronic health records modernization project.

International:

The Chamber held a virtual meeting with CBP yesterday to discuss efforts to increase efficiencies at cargo inspections, fill vacancies at regional ports of entry, and discuss challenges as a result of the pandemic and increased border delays.  We will follow up with DHS and CBP to confirm what documentation will be deemed acceptable proof of vaccination; if children under 12, who are not eligible for vaccination, will be allowed to cross when traveling with vaccinated guardians; whether the U.S. government will accept vaccines other than Pfizer, Moderna, or J&J; and advocate for sufficient staff at ports of entry to meet increased demand when restrictions are lifted on November 8.

The U.S. and Mexican governments continue to collaborate to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This week, Mexico received 3.4M doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine following conversations between President Biden, VP Harris, and President Lopez Obrador.

The U.S. is getting closer to a deal with the EU on steel and aluminum tariffs. The Biden administration proposed a tariff rate quota system that would allow for larger quantities of steel imports as a potential solution and is discussing ongoing efforts to address global overcapacity in this sector.

Need to freshen up on your international business etiquette skills? Join us on November 18 for our IBA Forum on the role of cultural awareness and protocol play when navigating the international business landscape. Speakers will share best practices on business etiquette across cultures focusing on some of San Diego’s top trade partners: Mexico, Canada, Japan, China, and the United Kingdom.

The Mexican Consulate shared an invitation to join the state of Chiapas at their “4th Annual Business Meeting”. The event will take place on November 10 in Tuxtla Gutiérrez with a virtual option for buyers who wish to participate in bilateral meetings with bidding companies from Chiapas. Click here for more information.

The EPA will host a public meeting on Monday, November 8 at 1:00p.m. to provide an update on the analysis of infrastructure projects to address transboundary pollution issues impacting the Tijuana River Valley in our region. Access to the meeting is available here.

State:

Oh, $#!*, OSHA! Some news from Cal/OSHA: in 2022, SB 606 goes into effect, which allows the agency to enforce two types of penalties, and exact penalties on businesses found to be out of compliance. The two types of penalties are egregious, and enterprise. Enterprise meaning that if the employer’s written plan is out of compliance, it is assumed to be the case throughout all of the worksites, and applicable to all employees. It also prohibits the agency from issuing a notice instead of a citation when it is a repeat offense (10+) or is found to be “willful” or “serious.” Egregious violations are also further defined. For more info, check here.

Speaking of our friends at Cal/OSHA, they have released the language for the second adoption of the emergency temporary standards (ETS). The ETS readoption, which we expect will occur at the meeting in December, will enact the revised regulations through April, at which point a more permanent standard will be adopted (and likely utilize the vehicle of IIPP’s, which you should definitely know about). The second adoption includes the usual: exclusion pay, testing, and mask provisions. But some are already pointing out that there is little flexibility as we anticipate learning more about immunity in the time between adoption and April. Unclear how or if the board will account for more information and the ability to make changes accordingly.

Free drinks! Sort of. Per legislation signed by Governor Newsom long ago in the pandemic, ABC is able to waive certain license and renewal fees. If you have a license from ABC, you can check here for eligibility. If you’re eligible (congrats!) here’s the process to apply.

California’s Climate Adaptation Strategy is getting some updates. Not unlike our own local Climate Action Plan, this document outlines how the state will address and mitigate challenges from climate change. Bad news: It’s 70 pages long. Good news: They start the many-pages-long document with a nifty look at the goals, the metrics for success, and the time frames. Very user friendly.

Governor Gavin Newsom, Mayor Todd Gloria, and Caltrans officials have launched a collaborative outreach program to aid residents living near dangerous conditions along state highways with shelter and social services resources.

Local:

The City of San Diego’s draft plan for mitigating the inevitable impacts of climate change, known as Climate Resilient SD, is now live. The plan goes before the Planning Commission on November 4 and then the Environment Committee on November 18 ahead of a full City Council hearing set for some time in December. The public can leave comments and submit feedback via a specialized interactive website found here. Interested members are encouraged to contact Dike Anyiwo at danyiwo@sdchamber.org with any additional questions, comments, or concerns.

The County’s HHSA has begun their weekly flu case reporting and are encouraging San Diegans to get their flu shot. Check out their website on flu vaccine locations in the region.

Over the weekend, the New York Times ran a great longform feature on the San Diego County Water Authority’s efforts to augment resilience and reliability in our region’s water supply. The piece touches on the wide range of strategies our region has deployed over the last decades and couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time because just this Tuesday, Governor Newsom declared a statewide drought emergency. This certainly isn’t good news, but the fact remains that the San Diego region is positioned to weather this drought better than it would have been, had it not been for the efforts of our local leaders.

A new comprehensive evaluation of San Diego’s park system found that the majority of the city’s 235 parks are in good condition, with 60 in fair or poor condition. The report found that the city would need $213 million in repairs to bring all parks into good condition. This recommendation comes after the city approved a new funding formula that distributes park funding to lower income areas, replacing neighborhood fees that favored wealthier neighborhoods.

Spaces as Places, the City of San Diego’s proposal to transition temporary spaces including outdoor dining parklets, will be heard at the City Council Hearing on Tuesday, October 26. The proposal received approval from the Land Use & Housing Committee last month.

A proposal to reform non-residential parking in transit priority areas and neighborhood commercial uses is moving forward to the San Diego City Council on November 16. Further information on the proposal, which recommends zero minimum parking requirements, can be found here.

Council President Dr. Jen Campbell is bringing a street vending ordinance to council on December 14. The new ordinance comes forward after stakeholder and community engagement with residents and vendors.

San Diego County’s median home price increased to $740,000 in September. After a few months of increased housing inventory, reduced competition and declining prices, inventory has decreased and prices are back up. *Sighs in millennial renter*

San Diego Military Advisory Council released their 2021 Military Economic Impact Report, conducted by UC San Diego’s Rady School of Management. The report found that military spending across the county grew by 5.4% in 2021 despite the negative economic impacts of the pandemic. Defense related spending in the region now accounts for 25% of the local economy and provides around 350,000 jobs.

Public meetings on Chula Vista’s Redistricting are on the horizon! All meetings will be held in City Council Chambers and will be live-streamed here.  Providing our input is easy, click here for ideas on how to engage.

FRED is coming to Chula Vista! This week, Chula Vista City Council unanimously approved plans to launch a new transit option for seniors. The program that runs the Free Ride Everywhere Downtown (FRED) program will run a community shuttle program for adults 55 and older. The shuttle program will use five electric sedans and one electric van to bring seniors anywhere they need in northwest Chula Vista.

Santee City Council is considering authorizing recreational cannabis within city limits. Three public workshops have been held so far to consider a ballot measure, and plans to hold an additional workshop in the coming months. If the measure moves forward, the maximum number of cannabis outlets could be three due to sensitive use zoning.

Members of the Escondido City Council will begin re-examining a proposal to put a sales tax measure for the City of Escondido on the November 2022 ballot in order to potentially stabilize the City’s finances. The current sales tax is 7.75%.

This week’s Board of Supervisors’ recap includes:

  • Wednesday’s Land Use hearing saw the board unanimously accept a progress report by staff regarding ongoing efforts to update the County’s Climate Action Plan, including a revised project schedule and additional information related to the smart growth alternatives for inclusion in the Supplemental EIR.
  • Unanimous approval of a regional vote center aimed to support increased voter turnout. The centers will be open for four days including Election Day, with some open up to 10 days prior to elections.  Additionally, the centers will offer same day voter registrations, replacement ballots and language assistance.

Upcoming County Public Input Opportunities Reminders:

  • The North County Multiple Species Conservation Plan (North County MSCP) stakeholder working group will be meeting on October 25 from 1:00-3:00pm to discuss progress on the development of this  joint Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan (Click here for direct link to the zoom meeting). The public/interested members are invited to attend and can RSVP for public comment here.
  • The Office of Equity and Racial Justice will hold community engagement sessions for their budget equity tool and equity impact fund on October 26 and October 28.

Upcoming City Public Input Opportunities Reminders:

  • The online engagement survey for the University City Community Plan Update is open until October 31. The plan has different housing and job options for five focus areas in the community to weigh in on.
  • The Homes For All Of Us implementation proposal and feedback survey is open for the public to weigh in on.
  • The Planning Department is seeking an official CPG recommendation for the Barrio Logan Community Plan Update on October 20 and Planning Commission recommendation on October 28. The public can review the proposal here.

Upcoming Hearings

  • The SANDAG Board of Directors will meet on October 22.
  • The San Diego City Council will meet on October 25 and October 26.
  • The San Diego City Planning Commission will meet on October 28.
  • The San Diego County Planning Commission will meet on October 29.

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.
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