City Council members were sporting a variety of colorful masks as they came together for this week’s City Council meeting. The most critical items discussed were ways to help local small businesses with three unanimously approved motions. In the first motion, the council approved three recommendations that will be in place for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency. The first was to suspend all parking enforcement in the commercial area, the second was to establish curbside restaurant pick-up locations, and the third was to suspend business registration fees for 2021. The second motion was made by Mayor Bailey who said, “This is a scary and challenging time and we want to help local businesses help themselves by connecting them with resources.” He proposed hiring a business consultant that could host a webinar and guide small businesses through the process of getting federal money. There was discussion on how best to administer this with thoughts on coordinating with the Chamber of Commerce and MainStreet. Ultimately, the decision was made to let City Manager Blair King and the city spearhead this effort. The third motion was to approve a Coronado Business Lifeline Loan Program with King and staff coming back to the next council meeting with a fleshed-out plan to consider. Initial details were put in place, as King outlined a cap of $2 million from reserves, to which the Council agreed, recommending up to $20,000 per business. The council had a lengthy discussion on how businesses would be eligible for the program and proposed requiring businesses to have applied for federal funds, with loans awarded on a tiered system, considering sales tax generation. Proposed terms of the signature business loans were as follows: No interest on loans repaid within one year; two percent interest if paid within two years and three percent if paid over a longer time frame. Councilmember Benzian was adamant that “time is of the essence. We’re all in this together to get our vibrant retail businesses going again,” and the council concurred.
“There is no good news,” reported Jim Krueger, Director of Administrative Services, who went on to say that a $7.8 million shortfall in General Fund revenues is anticipated from this COVID-19 crisis. He said that funds can be absorbed by the Emergency Response Reserve that currently has a balance of approximately $26.5 million, leaving it with $18.7 million. He highlighted six major items that make up the majority of city revenues. He does not project a measurable decline in property taxes and pointed out that the accelerated supplemental taxes will remain flat for the remainder of the year with little increase next year. Sales taxes are not expected to produce any more revenue this year and the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) is projected to be down $10 million from the estimated actual numbers, a 37 percent decrease. Investment earnings are a small category, but are projected to be down 18.8 percent with Treasury Bills paying below one percent.
King pointed out that the city was documenting all costs associated with the COVID-19 crisis, like additional wastewater worker time, to pursue all resources, but he didn’t seem optimistic that the city would receive much money from state and federal funds. He said that CALPERS investments have lost $65 billion or 16 percent of their $440 billion portfolio in the past month. “They will be looking for strategies to recoup funds, especially since it has been underfunded since 2008,” he said.
Beach, Park, and Public Facilities Closures were the last item discussed, with King pointing out that the following parking lots changes in compliance with state and county directives: parking lot at D Avenue and First Street is closed, both sides of Mullinex Drive are now permit parking for hospital staff, no parking in lot near Yacht Club on Strand Way. No parking on Ocean Boulevard, the Strand Way and Boat Launch parking lot, Bayshore Bikeway parking lot, Grand Caribe Causeway Roundabout, Coronado Cays Blvd. and Coronado Cays Park. He said that they haven’t made the area around Spreckels parking and other parking lots off limits at this time. One member of the public spoke in favor of reopening the beach and the City Clerk Jennifer Ekblad said that 13 comments had been received, with eight in favor of keeping the beach open, four opposed and one with no position.
The council unanimously approved overturning the recommendation of the Historic Resource Commission (HRC) to historically designate the property at 1113 Adella Avenue. Associate Planner Tricia Olsen gave a presentation highlighting that the city consultant and staff also didn’t feel that the property met Criterion A and B for having been a Red Cross center during the Korean War. The appellant Janice Howard and her lawyer, former Councilmember Carrie Downey, gave a presentation to show that the building didn’t rise to the level of historical significance needed to deem it designated.
King briefly presented the adoption of a revised fee schedule with a two percent increase which impacts new construction. This is annually indexed, and the city is eligible to receive an estimated $612,000 in TransNet sales tax revenue in FY 2020/21.
Items to note on the Consent Calendar:
- The Community Grants Program approval was placed on the Consent Calendar with one comment by Coronado Historical Association (CHA) Board President Dave Landon recommending adjusting rubric inconsistencies. The funding FY 20-21 is set at 1.65% of general fund revenue. Due to economic impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, the city is expecting a significant reduction in general fund revenue for FY 20-21, resulting in estimated grant funding availability of approximately $788,000 instead of the $1 million allocated last year.
- Waiving lease agreement for Feast & Fareway, Bluewater Grill and the Coronado Flower Lady.
- Authorize purchase of a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) system for the library.
- Adopt the FY 2020-21 Road Maintenance and Rehabilitation Proposed projects.
- Reassignment of the agreement for professional services with California Yacht Marina for management and operation of the Glorietta Bay Marina to Safe Harbor Marinas.
- Authorize City to seek Disaster Financial Assistance.