March 10 – Weekly Update - SD Regional Chamber

March 10 – Weekly Update

Congratulations to all you baseball fans, today a tentative deal was announced between the players and the MLB. Go Padres!

We had our IBA Forum today where guest speakers from Arizona-Sonora, Sha’ar HaNegev, Israel, and the Port of Algeciras in Spain provided an overview on their significant efforts to facilitate trade, improve border infrastructure, and binational diplomacy of their respective border region. We will be posting it on our website soon in case you missed it.

Chamber Trivia of the Week:

Congratulations to our winner of last week’s trivia, Matthew Boomhower! The answer was Hotel Del 🙂

On to this week’s question!

In today’s IBA Forum, one of the featured speakers discussed their region’s plan to develop an industrial park on their border to support cross border workforce employment opportunities and international investment. What border region is this?

This week’s winner will be announced on Twitter @SDChamber!

Business News: 

The San Diego Workforce Partnership was awarded $400,000 for pilot programs helping San Diego residents pursue careers in behavioral healthcare, with a focus on increasing opportunities for women, people of color and English language learners.

Legislative Updates

Federal: 

If you’re coming on our DC trip, you’re wearing a mask on the flight. TSA announced the mask requirement will stick until April 18th.

The House voted to ban Russian oil in a whopping 414-17 vote. On Tuesday, the President signed an EO with the same direction. Fact sheet here.

Gimme that money! A $1.5 trillion government funding package passed the House on Wednesday night. The spending bill will keep the federal government funded through fall 2022, and increase funding for defense ($782 billion) and nondefense agencies ($730 billion). Lawmakers are rushing to get the bill through the Senate before the federal funding deadline on Friday, and are ready to pass a short term spending bill to extend funding through Tuesday. (There’s also quite a bit of $$ for San Diego including $400k for La Media Rd,; rail corridor stabilization; and telehealth equipment for UCSD…among others. So make sure to thank our delegation for bringing that money home).

Also of note on that omnibus bill- there will be no additional COVID-19 relief funds included after Republicans moved to oppose the relief because it would add to the national debt. It’s possible COVID relief funds will be revisited in May.

The word “inflation” being used every five seconds kind of makes us miss “pivot.” But, alas, inflation rose 7.9% over the past year leaving everyone nervously watching the Fed, which meets next week.

The Biden Administration has released its new public charge rule– an effort to undo some of the changes enacted under the previous administration. The proposed rule out of DHS is open for public comment through April 25th. The public charge rule is used to evaluate an immigration request by estimating if that individual will need to rely on public aid- and the previous administration threw up a significant barrier by counting every point of engagement with public systems against the applicant. In the proposed rule, we return to the public charge rule that was the case long ago, where the government can’t consider non-cash assistance when determining an immigration request.

President Biden is turning his attention to crypto– with orders for a wide ranging study and guidance on crypto and its role in the nation’s economy.

On Wednesday, Pfizer announced they began Phase II and III testing of a COVID-19 antiviral treatment for children six years and older. Last year, the FDA authorized Paxlovid, a COVID-19 antiviral medication, for children over 12 with COVID-19 and at risk for severe disease. Next, Pfizer will look towards FDA approval for children under six years old.

International:

More than a dozen mayors from across Canada urged the Canadian government to drop all testing requirements for vaccinated travelers in the U.S.-Canada border. This follows a recent mandate stating vaccinated travelers can now take a negative rapid test taken within 24 hours before entering Canada, with exception of at-home tests. In remarks on the House floor last week, Congressman Brain Higgins said “it’s time to remove the remaining disjointed restrictions at the U.S. and Canadian borders”.

China’s Congress kicked off its annual gathering in Beijing on Saturday, with a speech from Premier Li Keqiang outlining key economic targets for the year. These legislative meetings, which run for about a week and draw around 3,000 delegates, are the biggest political event before a twice-a-decade party leadership reshuffle slated for the second half of the year. Click here to read what was said by congress.

A growing number of Russians and Ukrainians are traveling to the U.S. and Mexico to seek asylum. Migrants have been allowed to remain in Mexico while they pursue asylum claims, and their presence has been notable at border-area shelters. Meanwhile, a Russian billionaire made his way to Ensenada on a luxurious yacht to escape the conflict. This entrepreneur flexed his money by surprising everyone with his “ice-breaking” vessel.

The EPA announced in November a list of projects to address transboundary pollution in our region, which is now undergoing an analysis phase to fulfill NEPA requirements. To expedite this process, the EPA is moving projects requiring less complex environmental analysis to the design and construction stages (potentially in early 2023). The agency is also holding productive meetings with Mexico to implement a comprehensive solution to transboundary flows that includes agreement on projects and cost-sharing for construction and operations and maintenance. For details, please visit their website.

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) updated its report on Mexico-United States relations. The report characterizes the bilateral relationship as cordial and underlines the issues on which tensions have arisen recently: trade and tariffs, border security, and arrests in the United States of former officers on drug charges.

The Indo-American Chamber of Commerce will host a B2B virtual trade event on March 15-16 to help business leaders uncover strategies and business-enhancing solutions, boost their online visibility, increase sales and streamline its operations. Interested in taking up a virtual booth or exploring the event? Register here.

March 8 brought an opportunity for people and communities around the world to reflect on efforts to ensure human rights for women, and to commemorate their cultural, political, and socio economic achievements. In that spirit, here’s a study outlining the benefits of gender diversity, equity and inclusion. Findings show that companies with female leaders significantly outperform those without their participation.

Our partners at the San Diego Diplomacy Council will host a fundraiser event on April 2nd at Stone Brewing Liberty Station to support their youth and business leader programs, and community outreach initiatives. Tickets are available here for you to enjoy a great local band, delicious food, a cash bar, networking with 300 internationally-minded San Diegans, and other surprises.

State:

In Tuesday’s State of the State address, Governor Newsom highlighted housing and homelessness as a key issue, and addressed climate change, rising gas prices, and the state’s economy. He also tried to coin “the California way” but TBD on whether or not it sticks.

The Department of Cannabis Control released a set of proposed regulations last Friday. These regulatory changes from the department could mean reforms could go into effect faster than similar legislation introduced this cycle. What’s in it? Increases to the maximum value of cannabis products carried by delivery drivers from $5k to $10k, allowing drivers to carry products that have not yet been ordered, cannabis curbside pickup, and more. Next: 45 days of public comment before reforms move to the Office of Administrative Law for approval.

Together with the Florida, Massachusetts, Tennessee and other states attorney generals, California’s attorney general Rob Bonta is launching an investigation on the emotional and mental effects of TikTok on kids (outside of weird dance routines). It is also their aim to explore how much knowledge the headquarters in California has over these effects.

California has released its statewide housing plan, which can be reviewed here. Here’s hoping that this plan creates things people can actually live in. But, some familiar goals popped out: keep people in their homes; create more homes; and address homelessness (we’re paraphrasing).

On February 28, Governor Newsom signed an executive order to update the Cal/OSHA ETS to align with the CDPH Face Covering Guidance. This aligns all requirements for the general public and employees in the state (yay!). This EO also extended the current Cal/OSHA ETS through the end of the year. The possibility of a permanent standard still exists, but we’ve got a ways to go before we’ll know what that would look like.

As we all know, masks are no longer required for unvaccinated individuals as of March 1, but strongly recommended for all individuals in most indoor settings. On March 4, CDPH updated guidance for mega events. Unvaccinated individuals are no longer required to wear masks in mega events, but are still strongly recommended. Vaccine verification and testing are still required for indoor mega events (1,000+ people indoors).

CDPH also updated quarantine and isolation requirements on March 4. Check out isolation requirements here, and quarantine requirements here. Asymptomatic employees (not in a healthcare setting) do not have to be excluded from work if they test negative 3-5 days after exposure, wear a mask for 10 days, and do not develop symptoms.

Local:

From this week’s County business sector briefing: Watch out for updated CDPH K-12 masking guidance on Friday.

San Diego County leaders and MTS have identified nine underutilized properties near public transit for affordable housing, totaling 13 acres.

Mayor Todd Gloria announced that there are 7 housing plans listed under the new program called “Bridge to Home”to help those who cannot afford market rate housing and even homeless people. Around $32 million in loan funding has become available for affordable housing developers and will create 662 homes.

Happy 100th, MCRD. MCRD celebrated its centennial last weekend with a ribbon cutting ceremony and performances from the Marine Corps Battle Color Detachment. MCRD has trained over 1.5 million Marines, including the first platoon of female recruits in 2021.

San Diego gas prices have reached $5.33 per gallon, which is highly influenced by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  Traders and shippers are avoiding Russian oil transactions, limiting supply and surging prices. Maybe it’s time to get that e-bike you’ve had your eye on…

After a year-long process, Lamont Jackson is the superintendent of San Diego Unified School District. Jackson was a student at SDUSD before earning advanced degrees at SDSU and USD, and served as a teacher, principal, human resources officer, area superintendent, interim superintendent, and finally superintendent.

On Tuesday, Mayor Gloria signaled support for AB 43, which allows local jurisdictions to reduce speed limits on some streets in the city. The Los Angeles City Council has already used AB 43 to pass an ordinance lowering speed limits by 5 mph on 177 miles of city streets.

On Wednesday the California Coastal Commission signed off on Councilmember Campbell’s short term vacation rental ordinance, with the caveat that the regulations be reviewed after seven years to measure the impact of the intended outcome. This action paves the way for the city to roll out its permitting and licensing structure aimed at capping STRs to go into effect as early as this fall.

San Diego City Council hearings recap:

  • In this week’s EDIR committee meeting, members approved a Disposition & Development Agreement with the Padres for Tailgate Park.
  • Also, EDIR Chair Campillo announced that he will be pursuing a policy change to support working parents in the city’s workforce by updating the lack of paid family leave for new parents.

Upcoming City Public Input Opportunities Reminders:

  • This evening, the Planning Department is collecting community feedback on Build Better SD, a planning initiative to enable the faster delivery of public spaces and buildings equitably across San Diego.
  • The Planning Department is taking online suggestions for amendments to the Land Development Code (LDC). Submit your suggestions by March 31!

Development Services Department Updates:

Upcoming County Public Input Opportunities Reminders:

  • The Regional Decarbonization Framework Team will be hosting a community meeting on March 24 to provide project status and answer questions from the public.

Upcoming Hearings

  • The SANDAG Board of Directors will meet on March 11.
  • The San Diego City Council will meet on March 14 and March 15.
  • The San Diego County Board of Supervisors will meet on March 15 and March 16.

Capital Opportunities & Resources

  • Applications are now 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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