Business and Labor

AGC-EAST COUNTY HEADQUARTERS AND APPRENTICESHIP TRAINING FACILITY IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION IN LAKESIDE

 

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photos by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson)

Sept. 24, 2020 (Lakeside) The AGC East County Headquarters and Apprenticeship Training Facility (AGC) is under construction and slated to open this year. The facility will serve as the headquarters and training center for carpentry, cement masonry, drywall finisher, drywall lather, heavy equipment operator, painter, laborer, and more trades.

For those trying to retrain or hone skills because of COVID-19 economic losses, job seekers may consider enrolling.

Additionally, the state-of-art 43,600 sq. ft facility will provide construction services to the 1,100 plus AGC member firms in the County. 

Training services include continuing construction education, safety services, government affairs, labor relations, business development, and many more.


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PARKWAY PLAZA SELLS AFTER OWNER DEFAULTS ON BONDS: FUTURE OF REGIONAL SHOPPING MALL IS IN LIMBO

By Miriam Raftery

September 15, 2020 (El Cajon) – Starwood Capital Group has lost ownership of Parkway Plaza Regional Shopping Mall in El Cajon and six other U.S. malls, after defaulting on Israeli-held bonds.  A ratings downgrade on the debt earlier this year triggered a clause allowing bondholders to take control of the properties. 

Six parties bid on the portfolio back in May, including Starwood.  The winning bidder, a partnership between Pacific Retail Capital Partners and Golden East Investors, have indicated they “plan to replace department store tenants or repurpose the malls into apartments or offices,” the Wall Street Journal reports, according to The Real Deal.

But El Cajon Councilman Gary Kendrick says getting rid of East County’s largest and only indoor regional shopping mall “would be unacceptable.”  He anticipates the mall’s new owners will face opposition to any such proposal from the City Council.


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TO FIX UP BUSINESS FACADES OR MOVE OUTDOORS IN UNINCORPORATED AREAS, COUNTY HAS A NEW GRANT PROGRAM

East County News Service
 
September 8, 2020 (San Diego) – County Supervisors have established the Business Revitalization and Assistance Grant Program. It will provide business owners in the unincorporated area up to $8,000 to help improve the front exteriors of their buildings or add outdoor workspace. You can apply from October 1 through October 15.

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GOVERNOR SIGNS BILL TO EXEMPT MANY INDEPENDENT WORKERS FROM AB 5

Update September 5, 2020 : Governor Gavin Newsom has signed this bill into law. It takes effect immediately as an emergency measure.
 
By Miriam Raftery
 
September 3, 2020 (Sacramento) – A bill to exempt many occupations from AB 5, California’s controversial new employment law, and allow those exempted to work as independent contractors instead of employees, has passed the Legislature overwhelmingly. Governor Gavin Newsom is expected to sign the measure, AB 2257, into law. If signed, it would take effect immediately as an urgency measure. View full text of AB 2257.
 
The trouble began in 2018 when the state Supreme Court’s decision in the Dynamex case imposed a strict new test of employment status in California’s burgeoning gig economy.  AB 5, authored by Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), sought to codify the court ruling but went farther, requiring that a broad range of freelancers and independent contractors be treated as employees eligible for benefits ranging from unemployment to medical care.
 
AB 5 triggered a backlash of criticism from many freelancers whose income and flexibility were severely impacted, including musicians, writers, translators and many others walloped first by AB 5, and then by the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown.

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LA MESA VILLAGE ASSOCIATION TO IMPLEMENT DECORATIVE FLAGPOLE BANNERS IN DOWNTOWN LA MESA VILLAGE

Source: La Mesa Village Association
 
September 2, 2020 (La Mesa) – The La Mesa Village Association (LMVA) has announced that they are coordinating the installation of lamp post banners along La Mesa Blvd. between Acacia and 4th Street in the heart of downtown La Mesa to further promote the City of La Mesa, local downtown businesses and events as well as bring additional beautification to the Village.

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CONSTRUCTION TO START SOON ON NEW RESIDENTIAL AND RETAIL IN DOWNTOWN EL CAJON

By Miriam Raftery
 
August 31, 2020 (El Cajon) – Construction is set to begin in September on a new housing and retail building at 101 Main Street on the corner of Main and Magnolia in downtown El Cajon.  

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BACK TO BUSINESS: SALONS, SHOPPING MALLS, THEATERS, GYMS, RESTAURANTS, CHURCHES AND MORE CAN REOPEN MONDAY, WITH SOME LIMITATIONS

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo:  Roz Oserin, owner of Prete-a-Porter Salon and Spa, says cutting hair outdoors has been "an adventure" but she looks forward to resuming indoor services starting Monday.

August 29, 2020 (San Diego) –  Yesterday, the state announced new rules to allow many businesses and houses of worship to reopen in counties including San Diego, with streamlined new criteria.

Starting Monday, August 31, the new state tiered system allows the following businesses in our region to reopen, with the following requirements:


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EL CAJON AWARDS NEARLY $2.5 MILLION TO HELP SMALL BUSINESSSES IMPACTED BY PANDEMIC

East County News Service
 
Photo: Hacienda Casa Blana restaurant is among the grant recipients. The restaurant moved outdoors after several weeks of closure, then had canopies stolen. 
 
August 27, 2020 (El Cajon) -- The City of El Cajon announced Tuesday that it has awarded nearly $2.5 million in grants to 134 small businesses in the city. The Business Grant Program—which was made possible through Federal CARES funds released by the County and State—was open to both non-essential and essential businesses (as defined by the State of California), as well as restaurants. 
 
Small business owners were eligible for various award amounts with maximums ranging from $10,000 for restaurants, $15,000 for essential businesses, and up to $30,000 for non-essential businesses, which were forced to fully close when the stay-at-home orders took effect in March. 
 
“The impact of this grant will provide an economic stimulus to support local small businesses which have suffered the greatest due to the pandemic,” said City Manager Graham Mitchell. 
 
A business grant committee made up of business and community leaders in the City assisted in selecting the recipients, which were all required to meet minimum qualifications set forth by the City Council. 

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FEMA ANNOUNCES LOST WAGES GRANT FOR CALIFORNIANS IMPACTED BY COVID-19 – AT HALF THE RATE AS EARLIER UNEMPLOYMENT RELIEF

By Miriam Raftery

August 21, 2020 (Washington D.C.) – Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Pete Gaynor has approved California for a FEMA grant under the Lost Wages Assistance program. FEMA’s grant funding will allow California to provide an extra $300 per week -- on top of its regular unemployment benefit -- to those unemployed due to COVID-19.  

 

But that’s only half the amount that workers were receiving before federal supplemental unemployment benefits expired July 31. 


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LA MESA APPROVES CARES AID FOR RENTERS AND BUSINESSES, HELP FOR HOMELESS AND A REPORT ON CIVIL UNREST RESPONSE

By Briana Gomez

File photo:  Mike and Linda McWilliams have laid off two-thirds of the staff at their San Pasqual Winery tasting room in the La Mesa Village, according to testimony to the City Council on August 11.

August 20, 2020 (La Mesa) - The La Mesa City Council met on August 11 via teleconference,  on hour after a trying virtual town hall the previous Thursday where notification of  Police Chief Walt Vasquez’s resignation was announced publicly.  The Council approved CARES Act funding to help local renters and businesses. Other highlights included approval to hire a consultant to prepare a report on the May 30-31 protest and riot, as well as moving forward on action to help the homeless.


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AMAZON ANNOUNCES PLANS FOR 200 NEW JOBS IN SAN DIEGO TECH EXPANSION

By Chris Jennewein, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo: Entrance to Amazon’s San Diego tech hub in University City. Courtesy Amazon

August 19, 2020 (San Diego) -- Amazon announced Tuesday it will create 200 new jobs in San Diego as part of a plan to expand technology hubs in six major cities.


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CALIFORNIA EXPECTED TO REMOVE SAN DIEGO COUNTY FROM COVID WATCH LIST TODAY

  • Aug. 17: 89.8
  • Aug. 16: 91.8
  • Aug. 15: 94.7

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DEFAULTED BILLS MAILED TO OVER 28K PROPERTY TAXPAYERS, BUT PENALTIES MAY BE WAIVED FOR THOSE IMPACTED BY COVID-19

Source: San Diego County Treasurer-Tax Collector

August 17, 2020 (San Diego) -- San Diego County Treasurer-Tax Collector Dan McAllister announced on Aug. 11 that his office is offering penalty relief for small business owners and homeowners who are among those receiving more than 28,000 defaulted bills. 

“We know many of the late bills are due to COVID-19, and we want our taxpayers to know there could be relief,” said McAllister. “They may qualify to have their penalties waived if they file for a COVID-19 cancellation request. Our customers must provide documentation as evidence to show how the pandemic impacted their ability to pay their second installment by April 10.”


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MOST JULIAN BUSINESSES ARE OPEN FOR VISITORS, BUT JULIAN CARRIAGE COMPANY FALLS VICTIM TO PANDEMIC

 

Story and photos by Miriam Raftery

August 13, 2020 (Julian) – Tourists are returning to Julian, the historic gold-mining town nestled in the mountains of San Diego's East County.  According to Robin Boland at the Julian Chamber of Commerce, nearly all businesses that are allowed to be open under state and county health mandates are now open, including shops, outdoor and takeout restaurants, breweries and wineries serving food. Though a few have limited hours, Boland assures, “There is still plenty to do and plenty of places to eat.”

One long-time town fixture, however, has fallen victim to the pandemic. Julian Carriage Company posted on Facebook July 31, "I'm sorry to hhave to inform you that due to COVID-19 and other extenuating circumstances we are no longer in business. Brett and I will sure miss everyone that came to Julian and rode our carriage. Life has taken us on another journey now and we are no longer in Julian. We love all of you!!!!!!! Thank you for an amazing 7 years!!!!!!! I will never forget this chapter of our lives."


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LA MESA COUNCIL WEIGHS CARE ACT RELIEF FOR BUSINESSES AND RENTERS, PLUS POSSIBLE SALE OF PARKING LOT NEAR RESTAURANTS

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Some businesses have been hard hit by both the pandemic shutdowns and business disruptions from looting, fires and vandalism

August 10, 2020 (La Mesa) -- On Tuesday, August 11, the La Mesa City Council will consider topics of major public interest at a 5 p.m. closed session followed by a 6 p.m. public meeting. 

At the closed session, for which the public can email comments by 4 p.m., includes potential sale of a public parking lot with meters behind the burned Randall Lamb building and behind many restaurants and businesses on La Mesa Blvd.  

Also on the closed session, council will hear details of housing planned for the former police station site being leased for development, including affordable housing units.  

At 6 p.m., Council will consider how to spend CARES Act relief funds due to the pandemic.  Staff has proposed renter relief as well as grants for small businesses and city costs. The Council majority previously voted against aid to businesses, so Councilman Kristine Alessio is urging the public to speak out if they want to see help provided for struggling small businesses in La Mesa, as other East County cities have already provided.

Below are details.


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VIRTUAL COUNTY BUDGET HEARINGS BEGIN MONDAY

The recommended budget plan is part of a two-year operational plan that will help determine how the County spends its resources.

Following Monday’s budget hearing, an evening hearing will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 12. Budget deliberations and formal adoption of the first year of the budget plan are scheduled for 2 p.m. on Aug. 25.


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FEDERAL LOANS AVAILABLE TO HELP SMALL BUSINESSES AFFECTED BY CIVIL UNREST

By Miriam Raftery
 
July 31, 2020 (San Diego) -- Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to help small businesses across San Diego County that were affected by civil unrest which began May 26, 2020, if they do not have the financial ability to offset the adverse impact without hardship.

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BUSINESSES MUST DISCLOSE COVID-19 OUTBREAKS TO WORKERS, BUT NO LONGER HAVE TO TEST MOST RETURNING EMPLOYEES

By Miriam Raftery

July 31, 2020 (San Diego) – Employers across San Diego County must now disclose to all employees if an outbreak of COVID 19, defined as three or more cases within 14 days, occurs at the workplace. The mandate was issued by Dr. Wilma Wooten, the County’s public health officer, NBC 7 reports.


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION WORKS TO GUT PAYDAY-LENDING SAFEGUARD

By Suzanne Potter, California News Service

July 24, 2020 (Washington D.C.) --  The Trump administration released a proposal this week that would make it easier for banks and payday lenders to charge sky high interest rates - despite California laws against predatory lending.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency wants to overturn the "true lender" doctrine and allow payday lenders to evade state interest-rate caps by listing a bank as the lender.

Lauren Saunders, associate director of the National Consumer Law Center, says this will bring back rent-a-bank schemes and allow companies such as OppLoans and Loan Mart to charge 100% or even 200% in interest.

"It's outrageous at this time of economic crisis that the Trump administration, in action after action, is siding with predatory lenders charging outrageous interest rates that just push people into debt and make it harder and harder for them to feed their family," says Saunders.


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SIGNS OF THE TIMES: TWO DOWNTOWN EL CAJON BUSINESSES CLOSE

By Robert Gehr

Photography: Robert Gehr

July 23, 2020 (El Cajon) -- On my walk this morning, I noticed two businesses in downtown El Cajon closed and nearly emptied of furnishings.  Both Rock a Betties Beauty Salon and Thrill Seekers have closed these locations, with rent signs in the windows.

Thrill Seekers, a retail establishment at 164 East Main Street, still has a website. A second location at 1421 Woodside Ave. Suite C, Santee remains open for customers. The owner of Thrill Seekers told ECM's editor that relocating to Santee was not related to the pandemic and that his business is "doing just fine."

State and county mandated closures due to the COVID-19 epidemic may have played a role in the permanent loss of Rock A Betties Beauty Salon at 158 E. Main St. El Cajon, a long-time fixture in the community. The shop has has taken its website down and the phone is disconnected.


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CALIFORNIA TO HOLD DELAYED BAR EXAM ONLINE, LOWER SCORE FOR PASSAGE, AND ISSUE PROVISIONAL LICENSURE PROGRAM

By Miriam Raftery

July 23, 2020 (San Diego) – Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, for the first time, the California Bar Association will be conducting the California Bar Exam online. The test required for licensing attorneys will be postponed from September 9-10 until October 5-6. The deadline to register is tomorrow, July 24.


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HOTEL INDUSTRY REQUIRES MASKS ACROSS U.S., RELEASES TOP 5 TRAVEL SAFETY REQUIREMENTS

Face coverings, physical distancing to be standardized at hotels nationwide

 

Source: American Hotel & Lodging Association

 

Photo:  CC-ND via Bing

 

July 20, 2020 (Washington D.C.) -- The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) today released the “Safe Stay Guest Checklist” for guests on how to travel safely, also creating a standardized safety experience nationwide. This checklist is part of AHLA’s Safe Stay guidelines --an industry-wide, enhanced set of health and safety protocols designed to provide a safe and clean environment for all hotel guests and employees. 


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

AFTER ECM INQUIRY, COUNTY REVISES FLAWED RELIEF PLAN FOR RESTAURANTS, SMALL BUSINESSES AND NONPROFITS DUE TO COVID-19

By Miriam Raftery

Update July 13, 2020: The County has changed these rules as a direct result of East County Magazine's investigation, after our editor made inquiries to Supervisor Dianne Jacob's staff and alerted La Mesa Chamber of Commerce President Mary England, who immediately made calls as well.

A business license is no longer required of businesses in unincorporated areas. Proof of employees is no longer required for all-volunteer nonprofits.

July 10, 2020 (San Diego)-- Local small businesses, restaurants and nonprofits suffering financial losses due to COVID-19 can now apply for a grant from the County of San Diego. Supervisors approved the new Small Business Stimulus Program  on July 7, which will be funded with $17 million in federal CARES Act funding. 

However, East County Magazine has alerted Supervisor Dianne Jacob that documents required in the application will preclude most businesses in the unincorporated areas of the county from applying, as well as nonprofits that are volunteer run.

The applicaton requires that a business license be attached. However, the county no longer issues business licenses to businesses in the unincorporated areas, so only businesses with a license in an incorporated city can apply. A spokesperson for Supervisor Dianne Jacob has told ECM that in response to our inquiry, the County is considering eliminating that requirement, but as of last night, the application still required a business license.

The application also requries multiple documents to prove employment and payroll deductions, which nonprofits that rely only on volunteers do not have. Yet these nonprofits have lost significant revenues due to being unable to host fundraising events and donations down due to the pandemic, limiting their ability to fund needed programs and services. The application also requires complex monthly accounting documentation that some small nonprofits may lack.

Businesses and nonprofits able to qualify are urged to apply early.  Applications will be accepted through October 16, provided funds are still available. See below for details.


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

POWAY MAYOR VAUS PROPOSES PLAN TO LET FITNESS ACTIVITIES AND WORSHIP SERVICES USE PARKS DURING COVID-SHUTDOWN

 

Update July 15, 2020: The Poway City Council today unanimously approved this plan.

By Miriam Raftery

July 14, 2020 (Poway) –  Poway Mayor Steve Vaus has proposed a “Sharing Outdoor Spaces” plan to “allow local fitness biz & houses of worship to use areas in our parks until indoor restrictions lifted.” Vaus announced the plan on Twitter, which the Poway City Council will vote on tomorrow during an 11:15 a.m. meeting. View agenda.

The action comes after the state on Monday issued a order required all houses of worship, gyms, yoga, dance and other fitness organizations to cease all indoor activities until further notice in order to mitigate the further spread of COVID-19.

“Similar to how we recently assisted Poway restaurants by providing picnic tables, I propose we help houses of worship and fitness-oriented businesses (yoga, Pilates, dance class, gyms, etc.) by providing space for their activities in our parks,” the Mayor’s proposal states, noting that the state has not banned such activities from taking place outdoors. Outdoor activities are considered less risky by health officials since the virus dissipates more quickly in sunshine and since people are not breathing recirculated air.


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Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

EL CAJON STARTS SMALL BUSINESS GRANT PROGRAM, ALLOWS BUSINESSES SUCH AS BARBERS, SALONS AND RETAILERS TO MOVE OUTDOORS

City also weighs possibility of allowing city parks, such as Prescott Promenade (photo) downtown, to be used for outdoor faith services and business operations

By Kendra Sitton

July 14, 2020 (El Cajon) -- El Cajon City Council today unanimously approved a plan to allocate almost $2.5 million for a Business Grant Program benefitting primarily nonessential businesses forced to close during the pandemic.

The city also took action to help many businesses and activities move outdoors, after the state shut down many indoor operations due to a spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.


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LEMON AID: LEMON GROVE APPROVES CARES ACT FUNDING TO HELP SMALL BUSINESSES AND RECOUP COVID-19 COSTS TO CITY

Council also votes to place cannabis tax on ballot

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

July 14, 2020 (Lemon Grove) – By a unanimous vote, Lemon Grove’s City Council on July 7 approved a staff proposal for allocation of federal CARES Act funding. The city will receive $480,774 through the county and another $334,243 through the state. The lion’s share will be spent to help small businesses. A substantial portion will also offset city costs related to COVID-19, while a small sliver of the funds will be spent on homeless services.

 


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GOVERNOR ORDERS SHUTDOWNS OF MANY INDOOR BUSINESSES, CHURCHES AND MORE AS AVAILABIITY OF ICU BEDS DROPS

 

Indoor worship services, protests, gyms, malls, personal care services and non-essential offices must close

 

By Miriam Raftery

July 13, 2020 (Sacramento) – With only 36 percent of the ICU beds in the state available as COVID-19 cases surge statewide, Governor Gavin Newsom today announced broad new shutdowns. 

Counties that have been on the state’s monitoring list for three consecutive days, including San Diego and all Southern California counties, must shut down the following industries and activities (unless they can be modified to operate outside or by pick-up):

  • Fitness centers
  • Worship services
  • Protests
  • Offices for non-essential sectors
  • Personal care services, like nail salons, body waxing and tattoo parlors
  • Hair salons and barbershops
  • Malls

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LA MESA AUTHORIZES RESTAURANTS TO SET UP OUTDOOR DINING AREAS

By Miriam Raftery

File photo, taken prior to the pandemic: Curbside, one of La Mesa's newest eateries, was designed for only limited outside seating. The new executive order could enable restaurants such as Curbside to expand onto sidewalks or streets, with permission of the City Manager and adherance to other laws.

July 9, 2020 (La Mesa)  -- The La Mesa City Manager today issued an executive order under emergency powers granted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order temporarily allows use of public and private outdoor areas by eating establishments for dining, after county health officials banned indoor dining for three weeks starting July 6 due to a growing number of coronavirus cases including some tied to restaurants and bars.

Restaurants must obtain written authorization from the Director of Community Development and comply with all social distancing and other COVID-19 related health orders, as well as all other laws. This includes city and county emergency orders, state laws such as Alcoholic Beverage Control rules, and federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Per the executive order, there is no City fee charged or permit required for businesses that receive authorization to use public and private outdoor areas for dining.  Businesses interested in obtaining written authorization for temporary use of public and private outdoor areas should contact Allyson Kinnard, Senior Planner at akinnard@cityoflamesa.us.


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INDOOR DINING AND THESE OTHER BUSINESSES MUST SHUT DOWN FOR THREE WEEKS STARTING TONIGHT

 

Congressional candidate calls for new round of relief for businesses ordered to shut down again

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Dr. Wilma Wooten briefing (screenshot from video)

July 6, 2020 (San Diego) – Starting at midnight, all indoor service must stop in restaurants and wineries. Outdoor dining and activities can continue, as well as curbside pickup services.

Indoor family entertainment venues such as movie theaters and bowling alleys also must shut down, though outdoor facilities such as zoos can remain open.  The order is in effect for the next three weeks.

County health officials ordered the closures today in response to being placed on the state’s watchlist due to exceeding three COVID-19 pandemic trigger levels for positive cases in the past two weeks, the number of active community outbreaks, and a backlog in tracing new cases.


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COUNTY TO BE PLACED ON WATCHLIST DUE TO RISING COVID CASES; IMPACTED BUSINESSES SHOULD PREPARE FOR SHUTDOWNS

 

Photo: County employee Esma Al Sabag is doing contact tracing in English and Arabic.

 By Jose A. Alvarez, County Communications Office

July 2, 2020 (San Diego) -- A record number of COVID-19 cases were reported today, and the state has notified the County it will be placed on its Monitoring List July 3, which is expected to result in the County closing or placing new restrictions on additional businesses next week.


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