The Morning Report
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A report that was quietly published on the city of San Diego’s website on Christmas Eve paints a grim picture of sea-level rise over the coming decades. At best there’ll probably be flooding. At worst the ocean could swallow up to 90 percent of San Diego’s beaches.
But the report is missing something significant. It says nothing about costs.
MacKenzie Elmer writes that although the city does have an estimate of what taxpayers will owe if officials do nothing to prevent sea-level rise, they’re declining to share it.
Of course, the cost of climate change is hard to calculate, because it’ll touch almost every aspect of human, animal and plant life. But we know from another report that the impact alone to state lands — which represent only a “small subset” of the property in San Diego — would be $335 million.
Plan to Help Businesses Will Ending Up Hurting Business Groups
The novel coronavirus has brought the economy to its knees. Confronted with the prospect of empty storefronts citywide, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is looking for ways to keep businesses and workers alive until the economy restarts.
He’s offering a series of relief measures. But as Andrew Keatts reports, one of those measures could have the unintended consequence of taking down the nonprofit groups that are themselves dedicated to supporting small businesses.
Faulconer’s relief package includes a provision allowing businesses to delay paying their licensing fees, which fund so-called business improvement districts. Those districts promote commercial districts and provide services like trash cans and graffiti removal.
The potential loss of months of that fee money, combined with the collapse of other revenue streams, could force those districts to shutter.
“It definitely feels like a sinking ship,” said Angela Landsberg, who runs North Park Main Street.
At the same time, the city needs to find $109 million in immediate budget cuts and officials don’t have many easy avenues to relieve pressure on businesses hit by a global phenomenon. Facing those imperfect choices, Keatts writes, the mayor’s office has been forced to weigh its priorities, and hope.
Over in the health care world … The $3.2 billion nonprofit Scripps Health system is responding to the coronavirus pandemic without the experience of its chief medical officer and two top executives who left their jobs in recent weeks and months.
The exact reason and circumstances surrounding each of the departures is unclear, and a Scripps’ spokeswoman declined to share details with Ashly McGlone.
Oh, How Far We’ve Come on Pot
After deeming cannabis workers essential to society, California has been giving special permission to dispensaries so that customers can order online and pick up supplies from a nearby curb. At some locations in San Diego, one never needs to leave the car.
It was good news for dispensary owners, who are experiencing, like many other businesspeople in the region, an extreme amount of uncertainty and volatility. But this remains, Jesse Marx writes, a crucial moment for San Diego’s budding marijuana industry because the coronavirus could easily undo the efforts made by law enforcement to keep the black market down.
San Diego has been more successful than other cities and agencies in limiting the number of illegal operators by targeting property owners rather than the most visible employees.
Seriously, All Politics Is Coronavirus Politics Now
- The debate over AB 5 is as fierce as ever. Sara Libby writes in the Sacramento Report that both sides are pointing to the coronavirus to make the case for or against the new law that limits when employers can classify workers as independent contractors. McGlone also writes that superintendents in San Diego and beyond are asking the state for a lot more money as costs to shift all students to online learning pile up.
- San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott has asked an appellate court to stop Instacart, a grocery delivery service, from misclassifying its workers during the coronavirus. She argues that the company’s tens of thousands of employees in California as well as the general public will suffer irreparable harm if they’re not allowed employment benefits during the pandemic.
- Property tax bills are coming due, and the San Diego County treasurer tax collector said he would consider waivers on a case-by-case basis. Several elected officials have asked the governor to intervene and push back the deadline, which could put a harder squeeze on public agencies.
- Plans to put a one-cent sales tax increase on Escondido’s November ballot are up in the air. (Union-Tribune)
- U-T columnist Michael Smolens writes that county supervisors have taken heat (particularly from Democrats) in recent years for building up large fiscal reserves, but now the county is in a better position than many local governments.
Experts Mystified by Why Kids Are Less Vulnerable Right Now
Rady Children’s Hospital is preparing itself for a high number of coronavirus patients, but it’s not expecting to treat very many children. That’s because the kids are much less vulnerable to COVID-19 than adults for reasons that are still unclear.
Two local babies just turned up positive but don’t have symptoms.
VOSD contributor Randy Dotinga did a Q&A with the hospital’s pediatric infectious disease specialist, Mark Sawyer, who offered some theories. He also offered advice on how parents can protect their young.
In Other (Coronavirus) News
- Our latest podcast comes to you from coronavirusland. Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts talked about the confusion and mixed messages bouncing around the internet and from local government.
- For their Insight podcast, our friends at NBC San Diego talked to local health care workers who are on the frontlines of COVID-19.
- The county’s public health rules for classrooms, gatherings and businesses have been extended indefinitely. (NBC San Diego)
- Commercial operations across the region are cutting payrolls, negotiating with lenders and landlords, and slashing expenses. Thirty percent of restaurants could close. SeaWorld furloughed 90 percent of its workers. (Union-Tribune, Associated Press)
- A vodka distillery has quickly converted into a hand sanitizer company with the help of the FDA after its main customers, bars and restaurants, scaled back. (NBC San Diego)
- The coronavirus presents a growing threat inside county jails. A nurse was infected and sources tell the U-T that inmates may also be.
Correction: An earlier version of this post mischaracterized the city attorney’s emergency petition in its case against Instacart. It’s asking an appellate court to lift a stay of an order requiring the company to stop misclassifying its workers as contractors.
The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.