Obviously, there are a lot of things you can’t do. But hey, you’re still in San Diego. Just look at what you “can” do.
Spend more time with your family. Take a hike. Rent a bike. Go to a dog park, rent a boat, paddleboard, take a walking tour, picnic on the beach, read a good book, cook, garden, clean up or fix up your home, indulge in a hobby. Above all, sit tight. Don’t panic. Enjoy life.
Beyond that, do something for the good of your community: volunteer. Food banks and nonprofits, who rely on volunteers, need your help. Mama’s Kitchen, one of the numerous examples, has an emergency request out for volunteers.
The silver lining in all this may be that the reaction to the virus is bringing people — and businesses — together in new and unexpected ways during an hour of need. This, ultimately, may lead to positive consequences for the future of local communities.
The business improvement districts of both La Jolla, La Jolla Village Merchants Association, and Pacific Beach, Discover PB, are pooling resources to get out this message: hold tight, band together, shop local and we’ll all get through this together.
“LJVMA is working with media to develop a campaign to support our retailers, restaurants and other businesses,” said Jodi Rudick, the group’s executive director. “Work together. Talk to your neighbors about cross-marketing. If you do deliver, lead with this message on all your media platforms. If not, now is the time to investigate some type of delivery service — Uber Eats, Postmates, Grub Hub and Door Dash.”
“We understand that these are uncertain times for all of us but particularly our small-business community,” said Sara Berns of Discover PB, the beach community’s business improvement district. “First and foremost, please continue to stay informed by credible sources like the County of San Diego and CDC. We are urging people to spend their money strategically as our small businesses brace for a difficult month. Please continue to patronize your local businesses as appropriate while prioritizing the health of yourself and those around you.”
Added Berns, “If you have the means please consider purchasing a gift card to pay forward from your favorite small business or a donation to the local food bank, who will be stressed for resources providing for those who cannot purchase food in advance.”
Berns offered these suggestions for supporting local small-business: Buy a gift card by phone or online to use at a later date; connect alternatively, check social media for businesses offering pick-up, delivery or virtual options; shop online with your favorite small businesses, many of which offer online retail; and postpone appointments rather than canceling them. If businesses know they can count on you at a later date, it helps them budget and plan for the future.
Also on a positive note, people have begun posting on social media Facebook and Next Door pages for OB, PB, and La Jolla, saying they are willing to help out people who can’t go to the store (because they are at-risk, or seniors or both). Or even to contribute money via Venmo to help out people.
SMALL BUSINESS RELIEF FUND
Mayor Kevin Faulconer on March 18 announced a $4 million relief fund for small businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis. Small businesses may apply for zero-interest microloans to help them weather the crisis, he said.
The details of how businesses can access the funds and how much are forthcoming, Faulconer said.
The mayor also said the $4 million is the seed money and he expects it to grow as banks and community partners work with the city to provide relief for local businesses.
According to the city, 98% of San Diego businesses have fewer than 100 employees
STATE OF EMERGENCY
Meanwhile the coronavirus outbreak, and the reaction to it, continues to escalate. On March 17, San Diego City Council ratified Faulconer’s state of emergency declaration and passed a comprehensive package of legislation to help lessen the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on San Diego’s most at-risk residents.
The centerpiece of the legislative package is a proposal to place a temporary moratorium on residential evictions due to non-payment of rent because of financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Each of these items will come back to Council for a vote on final implementation:
- A temporary moratorium on residential evictions due to non-payment of rent resulting from a loss of wages caused by the outbreak of COVID-19;
- A temporary moratorium on evictions and mortgage foreclosures for property owned by the San Diego Housing Authority due to non-payment of rent or mortgages resulting from a loss of wages caused by the outbreak;
- A resolution requesting the San Diego Superior Court to suspend all pending residential eviction cases during the pendency of state of emergency related to the outbreak of COVID-19;
- A resolution requesting the San Diego County Sheriff suspend service of unlawful detainer actions and enforcement of evictions;
- A resolution calling on the Department of Homeland Security to suspend immigration enforcement operations in sensitive locations including hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare facilities;
- A request that San Diego Gas & Electric and any other utility provider to evaluate potential relief from late fees and utility shutoffs;
- Temporary relief funding for workers who were laid off or furloughed because of the outbreak of COVID-19 to help those workers pay rent and/or utility bills;
- A temporary moratorium on evictions for small businesses under commercial leases, who cannot pay rent;
- Evaluation of options to work with banks and lenders to halt mortgage payments or foreclosures for individuals and landlords;
- Prioritization of requests for emergency funding and support from the state and federal governments; Enforcement of the Earned Sick Leave and Minimum Wage Ordinance;
- A delay on collection and enforcement of the City’s Business Tax Certificate fees;
- Suspension of enforcement of the Vehicle Habitation Ordinance; and a request that the mayor, working with the hotel association, labor partners, and homeless service providers, open hotel rooms that include providing services to unsheltered individuals and families.
The mandatory requirement for pick-up or delivery only for local restaurants is carrying over to other retail businesses. In La Jolla, Warwick’s Bookstore is just one example.
“Warwick's has put together a 30-day plan to continue to provide the best service during these challenging times,” said bookstore owner Nancy Warwick. “For those trying to minimize time spent in public places, we are offering expanding services including free local delivery in the Village, Shores and Bird Rock areas with a minimum $20 purchase on weekdays. Orders must be received by 10 a.m. for same-day delivery.”
Added Warwick, “Call or email your order to [email protected] and we will bring your purchase out to your car for pick-up. We offer free ground shipping when you purchase books online and now for phone orders. For in-store events, we do our best to get pre-signed books.”
In other coronavirus-related news:
• The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering designated states and territories low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
• San Diego Unified School District schools closed March 16 indefinitely to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
• Discover PB and Ocean Beach have presently discontinued operating their farmers markets.
• The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) and County of San Diego have partnered to place handwashing stations at all 53 Trolley stations, plus the UTC Transit Center amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
• San Diego Gas & Electric announced it will temporarily suspend service disconnections until further notice. The company is urging customers who are struggling to pay their utility bills due to financial hardships stemming from the coronavirus to call its Customer Contact Center at 1-800-411-7343 to make payment arrangements.
• Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52) noted the recently passed bipartisan Families First Coronavirus Response Act includes: free coronavirus testing for everyone, paid emergency leave, tax credit eligibility for small businesses, enhanced unemployment insurance, strengthened food security initiatives and increased federal funds for Medicaid.
• Rock Church in Liberty Station and other faith institutions city and countywide are switching from in-person to online religious services. Rock Church Senior Pastor Miles McPherson recently did a video message detailing how the online stream will go for their four service times at 8 a.m., 10 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m. broadcast on Facebook, YouTube, Roku, and Apple TV and at online.
• San Diego Food Bank, Catholic Charities and St. Brigid Church, agreed, for now, to proceed with monthly commodities food distribution for poor and low-income families.
• Pacific Beach/Taylor Branch Library has closed until Monday, April 6. Staff will no longer be answering phone calls. Book drops have been locked so hang on to your library materials until the April 6 re-opening. Dates for picking up current holds have been extended to April 20. Go to San diego.gov/public-library for updates.
• Skrewball Whiskey marketed by OB entrepreneur Steven Yeng and his wife Brittany has launched a SKREW COVID-19 campaign donating and encouraging others to donate to USBG’s new Bartender Emergency Assistance program. The immediate goal is to raise $500,000. Skrewball is also making 5,000 care packages for service- industry workers. To donate or for more information contact [email protected]