Morning Report: Which Governments Are Ready - Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: Which Governments Are Ready

Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced the city’s plan to turn Golden Hall into a temporary homeless shelter with more than 240 beds in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

We’re in the midst of two simultaneous crises: a public health crisis, and an economic one. 

In a new analysis, VOSD’s Ashly McGlone reviewed several local governments’ and agencies’ budgets to determine which ones are better positioned to weather the financial storm ahead.

“Governments heavily reliant on tax revenues that ebb and flow with consumers are especially vulnerable this year to losses following mass shelter-at-home quarantine orders,” McGlone writes. “Stop the consumers and tourists, and you will see wild drops in cash flow.”

Some school districts, like Sweetwater Union High School District and San Diego Unified, for instance, were facing budget distress even before the pandemic hit.

Other entities, like San Diego County, are better insulated: “But in at least one way, the county’s finances are less exposed to trouble stemming from the virus shutdowns. That’s because the county’s general fund is less reliant on sales and hotel taxes, which totaled $38 million last year but made up just 1 percent of all $3.9 billion in general fund revenues reported, records show,” McGlone writes.

The airport authority, too, has a flush reserve. But others are in a more precarious spot, McGlone notes: “The city’s operating budget is more dependent on sales and hotel taxes – both are especially vulnerable to the economic tumult right now.” 

One economic impact that became clear Monday was the shuttering of San Diego Magazine. The publication laid off nearly its entire staff Monday, with the exception of two financial staffers who are helping wrap up operations. 

Jim Fitzpatrick, the magazine’s publisher, told VOSD’s Scott Lewis that he hopes to revive the magazine when the coronavirus crisis passes. (Disclosure: Erin Chambers Smith, the former chief content officer at San Diego Magazine, is a member of Voice of San Diego’s board of directors.)

Convention Center to Shelter Homeless

The city of San Diego is turning Golden Hall into a temporary homeless shelter with more than 240 beds in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The city of San Diego announced Monday that one of the economic engines it’s always touted, the San Diego Convention Center, will soon open its doors to homeless residents. Golden Hall will add 240 beds or more as well as officials work to protect vulnerable San Diegans from the spread of the coronavirus. 

  • More than 60 percent of restaurants in the county have shuttered, the California Restaurant Association said Monday, as it asked for donations to a new “Restaurant Cares” fund to help local restaurant industry employees.The South County Economic Development Council, meanwhile has 50 loans of $5,000 each available for struggling restaurants there. (Union-Tribune)
  • Businesses that lease space from the Port of San Diego — mostly waterfront restaurants and hotels — are asking the public agency to waive their rent for 90 days due to the economic effects of the pandemic. But the agency itself is already looking at a $30 million shortfall from its anticipated $214 million in revenue for the year even before it considers waiving any rent. (Union-Tribune)
  • Assemblyman Todd Gloria said that, normally, the state receives 2,000 unemployment claims per day. It is now getting 107,000 claims per day, he said during a conference call town hall the mayor put on with other local elected leaders.

So … What Can You Do Outdoors Now?

Mayor Kevin Faulconer also announced further measures to crack down on outdoor gatherings, including closures of public beaches and parks. A spokesman later confirmed that means no surfing. 

That’s what it’s come to: The mayor of San Diego just banned surfing.

We have yet to see how intensely this will be enforced. Police told Jesse Marx in that story they would give people some time to adjust.

Behind the New Border Restrictions

For a region that has long preached the importance of keeping the border as open and efficient as possible, the new travel restrictions put in place to stem the spread of the coronavirus are a tough pill to swallow.

“Our whole mission has been to promote cross-border activity, keep the border open at all costs because that is critical to our well-being, our lifeblood,” the Chamber of Commerce’s Paola Avila told VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan. “This is unprecedented, the situation that we’re in — none of us could have predicted the severity of it. We’re at a point now where we have to take drastic measures, like these restrictions, for the greater good.”

The latest Border Report breaks down the details of those restrictions: “Commercial goods arriving via rail and truck are exempt, as are “essential” personnel, lawful permanent residents and those with legal work permits. Essential travel includes people in need of medical care, or who are attending school or engaged in a trade, like truck drivers, according to a regulation notice set to be published Tuesday.”

In Other News

What other news??? Not a single issue in San Diego public affairs the economy or cultural life is not inflamed and adjusted by the coronavirus.

Scott Lewis has been doing an (almost) daily Instagram live video at 1:30 p.m. You can watch Monday’s on Facebook here.

The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby and edited by Scott Lewis. (I mean, let’s be honest, Sara writes perfectly and Scott probably screwed something up adding things here and there.)

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