The San Diego County Board of Supervisors will discuss a proposal at its meeting Tuesday to provide financial relief to the events industry -- planners, venues and vendors -- as event restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic loosen.
Board of Supervisors' Chair Nathan Fletcher has worked with the San Diego Event Coalition to develop the policy he will propose Tuesday that will waive Fiscal Year 2021-2022 permit fees for the event industry if it passes.
"The event industry was dealt a tremendous economic blow by the pandemic," Fletcher said. "Unlike other sectors who were able to operate at limited capacity and bring in some revenue, they could not because of the protections around large gatherings."
According to the San Diego Association of Governments, the meeting and special events industry brought 2.7 million visitors and $3.5 billion in spending to San Diego in 2019.
"As the restrictions on events are relaxed, the event industry deserves some financial help," Fletcher continued. "I am introducing a policy to waive county fees as venues, producers and vendors build back their businesses and help put them in a better position to bring back the festivals, live shows and family friendly events so many San Diegans and visitors love."
If passed by the board, the policy will waive permit fees for Fiscal Year 2021-2022 from the Department of Environmental Health and Quality, Department of Parks and Recreation, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department and the San Diego County Fire Authority.
Should the five-member board pass the policy as written, the county's chief administration officer will return with a resolution within 30 days that includes the fee waiver as part of the board's regularly scheduled COVID-19 update.
"Events are about people -- the human connections they create, the non profit programs they support, the community awareness and traffic they generate, and most urgently, the individual people behind the scenes that rely on events to make a living," said Laurel McFarlane, president of the San Diego Event Coalition. "It has often felt as if the industry, and its people, have been forgotten."
McFarlane said Fletcher has been working with the SDEC since last year.
"He has been listening and advocating for our industry since the San Diego Event Coalition was formed in June 2020," she said. "Even taking the time to text some of our members with encouraging messages to remind us he is fighting for a pathway back for our industry."
The SDEC membership produces some of San Diego's largest annual events, including Chula Vista Harborfest, San Diego Pride, So Cal Taco Fest, Art Walk, San Diego County Fair, San Diego Diner En Blanc, Gator By the Bay, La Mesa Oktoberfest and others.
If the policy passes, Fletcher's office estimates the expected revenue impact to San Diego County to be $1,137,000 in DEHQ, $400,000 in DPR, $118,280 in the Sheriff's Department and $6,000 in San Diego County Fire Authority.
Pending guidance from the Treasury Department, the funding source will be American Rescue Plan Act funds.