Like cities all over the globe, the novel coronavirus pandemic has hit San Diego’s small business and lower-income communities hard. County supervisors are trying to find ways to help those businesses – including bars and restaurants – someday bounce back while also protecting lower-income households from losing their homes.
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a moratorium on evictions for residents and small businesses in uncincorporated parts of the county.
San Diego County supervisors Kristin Gaspar and Nathan Fletcher ask the Board to consider halting all foreclosures and foreclosure-related evictions due to the virus' toll on the economy, dozens of households in the county are struggling financially and some are unable to afford their homes.
What assistance is available to those impacted by COVID-19
"Many San Diego County residents work paycheck to paycheck and may be unable to pay rent or their commercial lease due to reduced income," the proposal stated.
The measure will give the county's chief administrative officer the authority to work with financial institutions to halt foreclosures and foreclosure-related evictions, and will allow the county Housing Authority to extend the deadline for recipients, including those who receive Section 8 support.
Tenants will have one week to inform their landlord about their economic situation.
Gaspar and Supervisor Jim Desmond held a news briefing Monday to talk about the support needed by local businesses as they look toward rebuilding after the coronavirus pandemic.
“Resilience, defined, is the ability to become strong, healthy and successful again after something bad happens,” said Gaspar at Monday’s meeting. “As we stand here today, we’re in the midst of that bad. Our health, businesses – indeed, our livelihood and way of life – are at risk because we face this unprecedented pandemic.”
The supervisors focused on ways to resuscitate businesses once the public health order is lifted and once dining rooms can reopen.
Gaspar and Desmond planned to ask the board Tuesday to defer all environmental health permitting fees for at least 6 months and ask all county departments to look at their regulations and “clear all possible barriers for businesses to reopen” as soon as possible.
“While we’re still in the midst of this coronavirus storm, we must plan for the best out of a bad experience,” Desmond said. “We need to plan for the road to recovery for the many restaurants and businesses that have been affected by the coronavirus.”
Jeff Rossman, president of the California Restaurant Association’s San Diego Chapter, said these businesses need all the support they can get.
“This happened so fast; we don't even know how many restaurants have closed,” Rossman said. “We’re estimating about 60% of all of our restaurants have closed, and you can imagine how many thousands and thousands of employees have been affected.”
Local restaurants that remain open are trying to stay afloat through pickup and delivery orders. Rossman said patrons can continue to support local eateries by ordering takeout or buying gift cards to use at a later time.
Online, the San Diego Restaurant Week website – which is typically reserved for content and info about the popular, bi-annual dining event – has morphed into a place where people can get updates on which restaurants are open for takeout. You can see those details here.
“Do your part – order Uber Eats, GrubHub, Postmates, Door Dash – whatever you can,” said Rossman. “This is a crazy, crazy time.”
San Diego City Councilman Chris Cate spoke about the city’s $4 million relief package coordinated with the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce to help small businesses recover after the pandemic.
He said the package is designed to protect both employees and employers “today, tomorrow and in the days to come.” Business owners can visit the city of San Diego’s website for updated information and resources, Cate said.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Board's meeting was physically closed to the public but it could be watched online, where viewers could make public comment.