Friday, July 3, 2020

Business Lifeline Loans, COVID-19 Testing, TOT Discussed at Council Meeting

Good news for local businesses as the City Council hammered out details for a Business Lifeline Loan Program at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Residents and business owners took to their computers to email 159 public comments prior to the meeting, with 119 of them expressing positive support of this program. Mayor Bailey said, “We want this to serve as a bridge loan while the federal government finalizes funding.” Based on previous council direction, City Manager Blair King outlined staff recommendations for the Local Business Lifeline Loan Program:

  1. Reserve $2 million from the General Fund to provide business lifeline loans of up to $15,000 per business.
  2. Authorize CalPrivate Bank to provide loan servicing and other related services. The monthly fee is $50, with the city putting $350,000 in an account from which the interest can be used to help cover costs of loan processing fees.
  3. There are 124 Tier 1 businesses who have one month to apply for the loan, after which, Tier II businesses can apply, if funds are remaining.
  4. Loans will be given at zero percent interest, for a maximum of 60 months, with no loan to collateral percentage, and consideration of forgiveness determined at a later time.
  5. Businesses must show they have applied for Federal or State COVID-19 related business assistance.
  6. Businesses must provide a quarterly sales tax return from the past year.
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The Tier 1 businesses include: small, locally owned businesses which generate tax revenue for the city, such as non-formula eating and drinking establishments, non-formula retail sales, non-corporate hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts, movie and performance theaters. Tier II includes: small, locally owned businesses which generate tax revenue for the city which are permitted on the second floor of the Orange Avenue Corridor Specific Plan, such as professional offices, real estate offices, personal services, musicians, repair services (appliance, electric, plumbing, etc.), light assembly (appliances, bicycles, computers, etc.), light industrial uses, internet providers and arcades, Coronado-based handyman and trade services, photocopying/mailbox services, newspaper and publishing, non-formula gyms, dance halls, martial arts studios, etc.

All councilmembers were extremely supportive of helping the businesses as fast as possible to help sustain a vibrant downtown for the future and praised CalPrivate Bank for agreeing to help. Councilmember Sandke said “Fundamentally what the council action says loud and clear is that our city supports its small business community. There is a need for local assistance, given the pace of the federal and state efforts. These are unprecedented times and our community deserves every level of assistance we as a city can provide.” King said that next steps of getting the word out will be through the Chamber of Commerce, CalPrivate Bank, and The Coronado Times and the Eagle & Journal.

The council unanimously approved the development and implementation of a community program for COVID-19 serology testing. Discussions are in the works to partner on a cost neutral program with an accredited provider, most likely Sharp Coronado. King said that they had looked at similar programs in other areas, and although it probably wouldn’t change restrictive orders, “it would make people feel more comfortable.” Residents or insurance would be responsible for the testing costs, which typically run $70-$80. The Mayor said that it was important to note that they offer an FDA approved serology testing program rather than just an FDA cleared test. He also said that while this program would have no cost to the city, they would offer city facilities for testing, like the Community Center, if needed.

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Councilmember Benzian said, “This would provide our residents with an extra level of comfort and get us started before the country-wide program.” Councilmember Sandke stressed that we need to coordinate efforts with the county. Councilmember Heinze advised that the council receive results of testing data. Councilmember Donovan said, “It takes months for antibodies to build up, so testing isn’t always accurate, but this provides a way for residents to get testing in town.”

Discover Coronado Executive Director Todd Little gave an update on the Coronado Tourism Improvement District (CTID) based on tourism downturns during the pandemic. He recommended renewing the CTID and setting a public hearing date of May 19 for the four hotels involved. He pointed out that two of the participating hotels, Hotel del Coronado and Loews Coronado Bay Resort, are closed at the moment, and the current economics are grim. On a positive note, he said that The Del has been able to move up their Masterplan construction timeline with no guests on the premises, so that could help for the future.

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He showed that in 2019, there were 427,501 overall hotel room nights, with 172,421 of those coming from groups. To give a historical perspective, he said there was a total of 77,215 meeting attendees who spent an average of $314 per day, with an overall $92 million spent by visitors. The current FY20 budget is $950,000, with a FY21 budget originally submitted for $1.2 million, but now reforecasted to $620,000, which will be voted on by the Discover Coronado Board this week.

Discover Coronado plans to pivot their marketing efforts, directing their attention to domestic, regional, and local leisure travelers. As areas are able to open back up, Little feels that people will be looking for walking and outdoor friendly places where they feel safe. “Staycations will be big as we come out of this, and we will be competing with areas like Las Vegas and Los Angeles, but we will put our laser focus on highlighting Coronado as a small, safe destination.” They are still working on trying to reschedule groups, hopefully for the fall, but more realistically for 2021.

They are also working with the Chamber of Commerce and sponsored the new Coronado Visitors website which debuts next month. They will also continue to work with the San Diego Tourism Authority to bring qualified leads through their campaigns.

Councilmember Heinze asked that Little return with an update in a couple of months for the council to review. The council unanimously voted, with Councilmember Sandke recused, to approve this CTID Report.

Director of Community Development, Rich Grunow, gave a presentation on the new 2019 California Housing Legislative Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) regulations and specifically the ones that affect Coronado. Councilmember Benzian recused himself for this issue. Grunow said that there were 30 new bills passed in 2019, aimed to increase housing production and affordability, but most do not significantly affect Coronado. The key bills are:

SB330 – Housing Crisis Act of 2019 is intended to streamline the permitting process and ensure no net loss in zoning capacity. Coronado will have to update applications and apply streamlining provisions.

AB 1763 – Density Bonuses for Affordable Housing says 100 percent affordable housing projects get an 80 percent density bonus plus four development incentives. Coronado will have to amend the city’s density bonus ordinance.

AB 101 – Housing and Homelessness Budget and Regulations may require a zone ordinance amendment to allow by right “low barrier navigation center” in non-residential zones.

SB234 – Keeping Kids Closer to Home Act requires a zone ordinance amendment for family day care centers with 14 or more children.

SB 166 – “No Net Loss” Law requires cities to assign number of units and affordability to each housing elements opportunity site.

Bills specifically pertaining to Accessory Dwelling Units (ADU) include:

AB 68/AB 881/SB 13 – These are all designed to increase ADU development. They prohibit owner-occupancy requirements, reduce permit processing timelines, and require HCD approval of ADU ordinances.

AB 587 – Allows sale of ADUs to affordable housing organizations.

AB 670 – Prevents Homeowners Associations (HOA) from prohibiting ADUs.

AB 671 – Requires cities to include plan to incentivize affordable ADU development.

Grunow pointed out that the key changes for Coronado are that property owners may have two ADUs; garages may be converted to an ADU without replacement parking; Cities may not prevent construction of ADUs through lot coverage or floor area ration (FAR); and multi-family properties may convert non-habitable spaces, like garages and storage rooms, into ADUs with the number not exceeding 25 percent of total number of units; cities must allow ADUs up to 850 square feet for studios and one bedroom units, and 1000 square feet for more than one bedroom; maximum height increased from 14 feet to 16 feet; and cities may not require correction of existing non-conformities, such as inadequate off-street parking. With the new rule exemptions for ADU FAR in new development, there would be a 20 to 30 percent increase in building intensity.

With regards to the parking issues, City Attorney Johanna Canlas weighed in saying that on the provision of parking, the California Coastal Act supersedes the new laws. The council approved the first motion to direct staff to come up with next steps to develop an ADU ordinance amendment, based on the new regulations, which will then go to the Planning Commission and then return to the Council for approval, with everyone agreeing that maintaining parking is key in Coronado. They also approved a second motion that directed staff to look at how the FAR applies to ADUs under the new guidelines.

Clarifying the City Council meeting minutes was also discussed by King. He said that “Coronado has a tradition of semi-verbatim minutes and is not required to read all public comments.” Canlas weighed in saying “Action minutes are the most legally preferred.”  Public comments are available to be viewed online. The Council unanimously approved a motion asking staff to bring back a best practice report for review after the crisis.

During Agency Reports, Councilmember Sandke stated that the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System Board felt that now was not a good time to move forward with elevating the 2020 tax matrix by half a percent. The mayor pointed out that all the coastal mayors from Imperial Beach to Oceanside have been in conversation about reopening public spaces and beaches. “We are committed to acting together,” he commented. They are looking to county mandates to make decisions on how to best protect the public in the safest manner. There will be a more detailed report at the next meeting.

Consent Calendar items of note:

The Council authorized $224,755 to replace the carpet in the library which was last replaced in 2004. This project is being considered for completion during the library’s closure.

A resolution was adopted approving the 2020 Coronado apartment vacancy factor of one percent based on a recent survey with 1,236 apartments responding.

 

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Jennifer Velez
Jennifer fell in love with Coronado as a teenager while visiting a college friend. She vowed that someday she would make it her home, and that dream has recently become a reality. Fast forward through completing college with a BA in Journalism, Public Relations and Communications, she then went on to work with a variety of clients. She also taught Journalism and coordinated fundraising for her children’s school, and was a staff writer for San Diego Family Magazine and contributed to other parenting publications. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: manager@coronadotimes.com
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