March 17 – Weekly Update - SD Regional Chamber

March 17 – Weekly Update

We are one week away from our Mission to Washington DC trip! We’re excited to see you all at our pre-trip orientation next Wednesday, where we’ll cover the agenda, meeting objectives and housekeeping items for the trip. If this is your first trip- our best advice is to wear comfortable shoes. If you’ve been before, you know to prepare for some of the best networking all year, and it begins in the airport. Social skills, go!

Chamber Trivia of the Week:

Congratulations to our winner of last week’s trivia, Monica Montano with Scripps Health!

On to this week’s question! For our DC  trip veterans…. What San Diego Congressmember moonlights as a Capitol Tour Guide? Points if you’ve been on one of their trademark tours!

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

Business News: 

The San Diego Wildlife Alliance opened its newest exhibit last week, the Wildlife Explorers Basecamp. The 3.2 acre habitat is geared towards educational entertainment and direct interaction with animals and their environment.

Congratulations to Kaiser Permanente on becoming the Official Health Partner and first jersey sponsor of the Wave FC!

Those of you tracking the Sports Arena redevelopment process (um, everyone?) should mark your calendars for April 21, when the City of San Diego’s Land Use & Housing Committee is due to review and rank the top bids put forward by a host of folks interested in re-imagining the Midway District.

Legislative Updates

Federal: 

Last week, President Biden signed an executive order banning the import of Russian oil, natural gas, and coal into the United States. Last week, the House passed a separate bill banning Russian oil imports, and called for Russia’s World Trade Organization status to be reviewed.

The $1.5 trillion omnibus spending package passed the Senate on Thursday, and was signed into law on Tuesday. The FY2022 bill saw a 6 percent increase from FY2021 spending, and includes $782 billion for defense and $730 billion for non defense programs. See the spending breakdown here. What didn’t make it in? Additional funds for COVID relief and medical interventions.

The Omicron subvariant BA.2 is making up a higher proportion of new COVID-19 cases in Europe, and is the dominant COVID-19 variant in the US. However, some epidemiologists don’t anticipate a large spike. Although BA.2 is more transmissible than Omicron BA.1, vaccines are still effective at reducing hospitalization rates, and previous Omicron infection provides strong protection against BA.2.

That being said, Pfizer folks may need to get boosted, again. Pfizer is seeking FDA authorization for a fourth vaccine dose for those 65 and older. A study from the Israeli Ministry of Health of over 1 million adults found that infection and severe illness rates were significantly lower for those who received their second Pfizer booster shot, compared to those that only had one booster.

National COVID-19 wastewater detection strategies are hitting a speed bump. In December 2021, the CDC paid $6 million to LuminUltra, a diagnostic testing company, to help states without the capacity to implement their own COVID-19 wastewater detection programs. The problem: The large private lab had a hard time building relationships with local operators. To get states on board with a national wastewater detection system, the CDC is working to provide additional incentives for local wastewater facilities to participate. This is a good time to shout out local brainiacs, like UCSD who have been early leaders on leveraging wastewater detecting.

The EPA has also just released its “Clean Air in Buildings” challenge, and here’s what you need to know: 1) not a mandate, but a “challenge” which we think is mostly just a PR move but still a useful set of guidelines, and 2) is COVID related. The goal here is to clean the air so that airborne problems like COVID are wiped out in indoor spaces like schools and businesses.

COVID-19 leadership at the White House is going through transition, much like the variants (we have to try to smile somewhere in here, guys). Jeff Zients, the COVID-19 Response Coordinator has stepped down to be replaced by Dr. Ashish Jha, who is also a very good follow on Twitter if you’re looking for a recommendation.

All eyes on the Fed as they made good on most expectations and bumped the interest rate twenty-five basis points.  Additionally, Biden’s nominee for Fed Supervision removed herself from the running after Sen. Manchin sided with Republicans in opposing her nomination.

The FTC and CFPB want in on that crypto fun, and are studying how they can move in on enforcement programming.

International:

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas met with President Lopez Obrador and Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard this month. The discussion focused on joint efforts to address migration and the bilateral commitment to advance the construction of the Otay II land port of entry in our region.

The U.S. Trade Representative released its 2022 Trade Agenda and 2021 Annual Report which highlights President Biden’s focus on a worker-centered trade policy and USTR’s efforts toward sustainable environmental practices in trade policy, improving the enforcement of trade agreements, and strengthening global supply chains, among other priorities.

The U.S.-Colombia Business Council, in partnership with ProColombia,  hosted an event to launch a Colombia – U.S. Investment Roadmap. This comprehensive report outlines investment opportunities in specific sectors and regions of Colombia. A summary of the event is available on their website.

The Chamber hosted its first IBA Forum of the year last week 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. Click here to check out the recording  in case you missed it!

A legal case against Russia at the International Civil Aviation Organization by the Australian and Dutch Governments has been launched. They are holding them accountable for their involvement in the drowning of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 killing 298 people on board. The timing for this is not related to Ukraine´s invasion by Russia according to the Dutch government, but it has certainly increased tension with Russia overall.

State:

Governor Newsom is proposing a gas rebate to offset fuel costs for Californians. Following a move to “cut the gas tax” by Republicans earlier this week, Democrats joined a press conference earlier today to echo support for the rebate.

Governor Newsom signed SB 118 into law, overriding the Supreme Court ruling that would limit student enrollment and housing increases at UC Berkeley. SB 118 amends CEQA to not consider UC Berkeley’s  student enrollment or plans to increase enrollment as a project that triggers CEQA review.

With the federal government slow to regulate cryptocurrency policies, some industry groups are looking to influence regulations at the state level. The California Legislature will hear two bills related to cryptoSB 1275 and AB 2689, which would allow government agencies to accept virtual currency as payment.

The State’s Legislative Analyst Office (LAO) has reported that single payer health care would cost between $494 billion to $552 billion annually for the state.

Local:

Supply continues to remain low as the median home price in San Diego is now $775,000  (15.2% increase from last year) and the median price of an existing single-family home in San Diego is now $888,000.

Biotech and tech surges in San Diego are driving competition for office space in Sorrento Valley. Although office vacancy rates average 11 percent throughout the region, Sorrento office vacancy is at 7.5 percent.  As rents increase, small life science businesses are struggling to compete for space in the area, and may be pushed out of the biotech cluster.

This past week Mayor Todd Gloria announced several appointments and reappointments to the City of San Diego’s Historical Resources Board (HRB). Big congratulations go to Bruce Amras, Kristi Byers, Dr. Li-Ronng Lilly Cheng, Carla Farley and Michael Taylor for their appointments and Tim Hutter and David McCullough for their re-appointments. As you may well know, HRB is an important entity, charged with establishing historical districts and reviewing development projects as they pertain to said historical resources.

Wednesday’s Rules Committee was about as layered as a well-tended compost pile, particularly when it came to the discussion about whether to advance an effort to amend the Peoples’ Ordinance, which it eventually voted 4-1 to move forward and direct staff to begin preparing draft ballot language.

Congratulations are due for Jeff Davis, who on Tuesday was confirmed as interim CEO and executive director of the San Diego Housing Commission, following the resignation of long-time head Rick Gentry.

Big news! This week our local Congressional delegation, along with other lawmakers, secured $107 million to be used for local community projects and another $127million for military and veteran specific projects from the $1.5 trillion appropriations bill.

 

City of San Diego Development Services Department Updates:

  • DSD now offers virtual appointments for projects that are signed off by all reviewers. Learn how to make an appointment here.

Upcoming City Public Input Opportunities Reminders:

San Diego County Board of Supervisors hearings recap:

  • On Wednesday, the Board of Supervisors received an update on the draft Regional Decarbonization Framework. Supervisors will consider approval for the framework in August, after public outreach and receiving community input.

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 San Diego City Council and Council Committees will be in legislative recess from March 21 – March 31.
  • The San Diego City Planning Commission will meet on March 24.

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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