April 21 – Weekly Update - SD Regional Chamber

April 21 – Weekly Update

If you have stopped reading the news these days, we’ve gotta say we don’t blame you. However, you also don’t really have to read the news thanks to this handy newsletter (you’re welcome?). And since you have free time because you don’t read the news and have decided a hiatus from Twitter is probably in the best interest of your mental health, you’ve got time to join us at tonight’s Circle of Influence reception hosted by the La Jolla Playhouse at your favorite, Stone Brewing.

Business News: 

It’s not too late to register for our Small Business Roundtable with Meta on April 25! We’ll hear from Diana Doukas, Meta’s US Policy Programs Manager, and learn digital strategies to grow small and medium sized businesses. This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

On Tuesday, City Council voted 8-1 to approve the sale of Tailgate Park to the Padres’ Development Team, which includes Tishman Speyer, for $35.1 million. The proposed redevelopment project known as East Village Quarter will provide 1800 housing units with a minimum of 270 affordable housing units, 50,000 square feet of commercial space, and a 1.3 acre public park.

Downtown Escondido is getting a makeover. The Grand Avenue Construction project is now underway which includes sidewalk widening for permanent outdoor dining, traffic improvements, and new lighting. In addition, Palomar Heights, led by Integral Communities, will redevelop the old Palomar Hospital into a mixed use development with over 500 homes. (Just sayin’… another Chamber supported project).

New name alert! The San Diego Port Tenants Association has announced a name change, and are now going by the Working Waterfront. You better werk!

UC San Diego Health has opened a clinic for patients with gastrointestinal and digestive diseases in Westfield UTC.

If you missed last week’s Business Roundtable Series webinar, check out the recording here.

Legislative Updates

Federal:

Masklash: a Florida judge threw down nationwide public health policy when she tossed the federal mask mandate based on her interpretation of “sanitation.” (We’ll leave it to the legal experts to twist themselves into knots on this one….) Anywho, CDC says you still should wear a mask. DOJ says they probably will appeal. But, the rule was set to expire in two weeks anyway, leaving the administration in what we’re guessing is a very inconvenient pickle. (Also, MTS locally still requiring masks, so keep it on ya).

The feds have unveiled the Center for Forecasting and Outbreaks Analytics within the CDC… which is kinda like a magic 8 ball to predict future pandemics. Shout out to Chamber member Kaiser Permanente who is a partner in the effort.

May could come with a rate hike, according to Chair Powell. Today he said at the next meeting they may raise interest rates by 0.5 percentage points. Y’all were warned.

Comment period: Department of Labor has issued a proposed rule that would allow for federal staff to backfill for state unemployment insurance processing when there are spikes like we saw early in the pandemic, when things were “chaotic” to phrase it very, very kindly. Thoughts? Comment here.

The House, Senate, and White House all support legislation increasing computer chip manufacturing and research, but are getting stuck in negotiations. Both houses have passed bills, but differ on including funding for supply chain programs, job training and financial assistance programs, tariff exclusions, and immigration provisions. As it gets more difficult and expensive to buy smartphones, cars, laptops, and medical devices, the pressure is on to come to a resolution before November.

Telehealth surged during the pandemic, and now faces some uncertainty. Emergency regulations that allowed telehealth providers to care for patients out of state are expiring, leaving patients with limited access to telehealth options. Some states have signed onto a medical licensure compact, but it still doesn’t allow for reciprocity (states recognizing other states’ medical licenses). Some industry groups are pushing for a voluntary national license system, and others are advocating for the federal government to play a role in supporting reciprocity.

International:

U.S. Federal authorities and regional stakeholders gathered at the Otay Port of Entry to inaugurate the completion of commercial improvements to the truck inspection portion of the POE, which expanded processing capacity. Separately, CBP on Friday released the Trade and Travel Report: Fiscal Year 2021, which quantifies the agency’s work in the prior fiscal year. CBP processed nearly 37 million entries valued at over $2.8 trillion during FY 2021.

President Biden announced a new program, “Uniting for Ukraine”, that enables Ukrainians seeking refuge to come directly from Europe to the United States. This new humanitarian parole program will complement the existing legal pathways available to Ukrainians providing a faster and a streamlined system.

After Mexico’s Supreme Court failed to reach the two-thirds majority needed to declare President Lopez Obrador’s electricity reform unconstitutional, the MORENA party was unable to reach the votes needed to pass the reform in Congress. The reform would’ve prioritized the Federal Commission of Electricity (CFE) over private renewables and was widely criticized by the business community.

The U.S. will host leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Washington, D.C. for a U.S-ASEAN special summit. This event will commemorate 45 years of U.S-ASEAN relations and build on Biden’s previous commitments to promote health security, gender equality, and address climate change.

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai met with Singapore’s Minister for Finance to discuss the bilateral trade relationship based on the U.S Singapore Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and a shared commitment to work with Indo-Pacific partners to establish a progressive framework that advances shared economic interests.

Reminder: the EPA and its Mexican counterpart (SEMARNAT) will host the first Border 2025 National Coordinators Meeting on May 13. This meeting will mark the official launch of the Border 2025 program between both countries and will conclude with an open session for the public to participate.

Save the date for our upcoming International Business Affairs Forum on May 25 from 10:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M. Click here to register.

State:

SB 1326, which would allow interstate cannabis sales, is heading to the Senate Appropriations Committee. If it passes, it won’t have a major impact until cannabis is legalized federally. Once the federal market opens, it could allow California cannabis businesses to have a competitive advantage. The only other state that currently allows interstate cannabis sales is Oregon.

A bill that would mandate COVID-19 vaccines for students has been pulled. This is the second vaccine mandate bill pulled this session, and may signal a tough road ahead for other vaccine related legislation. Governor Newsom’s student vaccination mandate still cannot go into effect until vaccines for children 5-11 receive FDA approval.

Last Friday, California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed a brief in defense of SB 10, which makes it easier for local governments to zone for smaller housing developments up to 10 units. The brief was filed in response to a lawsuit arguing against its constitutionality. Legal jargon translation: you can’t file a lawsuit against the hypothetical implementation of SB 10 in case it violates a hypothetical local ordinance or voters’ initiative. Attorney General Bonta stated they will continue to defend SB 10 in court.

Vroom Vroom, but shhhhhh! Gas powered cars, post 2035, are in limbo. CARB has issued rules that would end the sale of them in the state after 2035, putting everyone (well, who’s paying attention at least) on notice. Automakers signaled general support for the shift to EV’s, but pointed out rather quickly that the infrastructure is not prepared for that, at least not yet. Think: charging stations, the building of said cars, and supply chain problems just for starters. Then again, gas prices may be making the case for the administration these days.

The Middle-Mile Advisory Committee will meet on April 22nd from 10-1130am virtually, so that’s convenient for you! If you want to learn more about the Broadband Middle-Mile initiative, here’s your chance.

A report commissioned by the California Hospital Association has found that the pandemic has caused many financial strains on hospitals throughout the state. A couple of the findings include noting nearly $6 billion in financial losses and a 15% increase in hospital expenses.

Local:

Happy Sports Arena day! At time of writing, the City’s Land Use & Housing Committee was considering Item 5: Notice of Availability for Midway Site- Recommendation to Shortlist Development Teams to Focus on Due Diligence and Economic Analysis… and it’s too early to tell you how it ended.

Sigh, median San Diego County home prices hit $805k. Adios, grandkids. We’ll visit you in Nevada.

Last Friday, Mayor Todd Gloria released his proposed budget plan for fiscal year 2023. Titled, “Ready to Rebuild,” this year’s proposal focuses on improving the City’s infrastructure, implementing the short term rental regulations, adding Development Services Department staff, improving Parks & Rec services, climate action plan funding, and public safety funding.

Andrea O’Hara has been hired as the City’s first ever Executive Director for the Office of Child and Youth Success.

Circulate San Diego has released a policy report on the success of San Diego’s affordable homes bonus program and AB 2345 so far. Since 2016, AHBP has been used to create 6,841 homes, including 463 affordable homes.

Speaking of great programs, the City of San Diego’s Complete Communities  is showing results so far, nearly two years since its passage. Four projects have successfully used it, with another 10 currently waiting approval. In total, these projects could bring 864 homes to the region.

The County of San Diego has approved funding for five different affordable housing developments. Running from Carlsbad to National City and locations in between, the funds will help create over 250 units that will be restricted based on income.

SANDAG has teamed up with MTS, NCTD, and the County of San Diego to connect youth to school, jobs, entertainment, and more! Starting May 1, anyone 18-years-old and younger can ride transit for free in San Diego County through the SANDAG Youth Opportunity Pass pilot program. Youth can get unlimited rides on the bus, Trolley, COASTER, and SPRINTER through June 2023 with a Youth PRONTO account.

The City of San Diego’s Planning Commission voted to support Build Better SD – the citywide fee proposal to provide a more equitable funding approach for public spaces and facilities – with the recommendation for a July 1st, 2023 implementation date. During the hearing, staff presented an example that the proposed DIF for a 900 square foot multifamily unit is $18,849 in Build Better SD. Further, this example shows that 34 communities will see a $2,121 average increase per home, while 11 communities will see a $17,160 average decrease. All this to say, housing policies and costs are changing, and we still need your help (yes, you!) to ensure more housing gets built.

Upcoming City Public Input Opportunities Reminders:

  • The College Area Community Plan Update is currently in the land use and urban design concepts review phase and their public survey is open until May 1. To learn more about the CPU update, please click here.
  • The Cannabis Business Division and Office of Race and Equity will be hosting eight in-person listening sessions to receive input on the formation of an equity program beginning in late May. Learn more here.

Upcoming County Public Input Opportunities Reminders:

  • The Regional Decarbonization Framework Team will be hosting industry-specific meetings beginning April 7. To learn more about RDF and to sign up for the workshops, click here.
    • Buildings: Thursday, April 28, 2 to 4 p.m.
    • Jobs: Thursday, May 5, 2 to 4 p.m.

Upcoming Hearings

  • The SANDAG Board of Directors will meet on April 22.
  • The County of San Diego’s Planning Commission set for April 22 has been canceled.
  • The San Diego City Council will meet on April 25 and April 26.
  • The County Board of Supervisors will meet on April 26 and April 27.

Capital Opportunities & Resources

  • Applications are open for micro-enterprise home kitchen operations (MEHKOs) in the County of San Diego.
  • The California Dream Fund has micro grants up to $10k available for entrepreneurs and small business creation.
  • The County of San Diego has $2,500 grants for microbusinesses (five employees or less) operating within the County.
  • 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.
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