Morning Report: San Diego's New Economic Reality

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Morning Report: San Diego's New Economic Reality

The site of the UCSD Extension location in downtown San Diego / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has introduced some awkward budget realities. The county and school district, for example, will reap the benefits of the state’s unexpected budget windfall while the city of San Diego is forced to make big cuts. 

When it comes to San Diego’s local economy, as VOSD contributor Ramin Skibba lays out in a new story, San Diego’s tech sector is surging and poised to remake the downtown landscape while the engines that have previously fueled San Diego’s economy – hospitality and tourism – remain crippled by the pandemic.

“Combined with the Horton Plaza project and UC San Diego Extension, a transformation of downtown from a center of offices and condos and hotels to a hub for the tech and biotech industry is underway,” Skibba writes.

Meanwhile, major events like Comic-Con are still waiting to see whether they’ll be allowed to convene in person later in 2021. 

A spokesman for Comic-Con “pointed out that if this year’s convention moves online again, organizers will not have as many resources to put together next year’s event.”

The Old Coronavirus Rules Are the New Rules, or Something

Gov. Gavin Newsom surprised just about everyone Monday with his announcement that the regional shutdown orders that had impacted businesses and other operations up and down the state are being lifted, and the state will return to the color-coded, county-by-county restrictions. 

That means San Diego is back in the Purple Tier, which eases some restrictions, like the ban on outdoor dining, but keeps many others in place. (You can also get haircuts again. Enjoy)

Newsom said at a press conference that projections showing ICU capacity increasing in the next several weeks led to the move.

Gloria Order Caps Food Delivery App Fees

Outdoor dining is back on the table, but if you’re still relying on delivery for your dining needs, some news: Mayor Todd Gloria signed an executive order Monday capping third-party delivery companies’ fees at 15 percent of an online order’s purchase price. Three members of the City Council last week wrote to Gloria urging the move.

La Mesa is considering a similar cap this week; Los Angeles and San Francisco have already implemented caps.

As we reported late last week, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez recently introduced a bill that would cap fees charged by third-party apps “at 15 percent of the menu-listed price of an online order, not including taxes, gratuities and any other fees or costs that may make up the total amount charged to the customer.”

Gloria’s order goes into effect beginning today.

Farms Want Your Table Scraps

If you’re a city resident trying to lessen your environmental footprint, filling up your recycling bin is a pretty easy place to start. But taking the leap into composing requires quite a bit more effort and money. And then there’s the flip side of the equation, as MacKenzie Elmer notes in this week’s Environment Report: “Farmers want city table scraps to make better compost and crops but it’s really tough to get them.”

Making it easier for farms to get their hands on table scraps would make room in local landfills, among other benefits. But local regulations don’t make it very easy: “Businesses like restaurants can send their food scraps to the Miramar Greenery composting facility at the landfill, but they have to get a permit and comply with a bunch of other rules.” Making commercial collection of food waste easier could help the county reach its climate goals, which is something it could be mindful of as it writes its new Climate Action Plan, Elmer writes.

In Other News

  • The San Diego Zoo said its gorilla pack is on its way to a “full recovery” after at least one tested positive for the coronavirus. 
  • An SDPD review found two officers abused their authority when they confronted a cafe worker who said “Black lives matter” when handing one of them their order. The department declined to ID the officers or say whether they’ve been disciplined. (Union-Tribune)
  • The Association of African American Educators of San Diego County is urging the San Diego Unified school board to conduct a national search to replace Superintendent Cindy Marten, who’s nominated for a post in the Biden administration. Scott Lewis and Sara Libby discussed concerns over the closed-door process that led to Marten’s hiring in 2013 on the most recent episode of the Voice of San Diego Podcast.

The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby, and edited by Scott Lewis.

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