With strict adherence to social distancing, temperature checks, and masks, City Councilmembers and staff welcomed a limited number of people back into the council chambers at the Oct. 20 meeting. “It’s great to see some familiar faces back here with us,” said Mayor Bailey.
He was referring primarily to Coronado local Floyd Ross and retiring San Diego County Supervisor Greg Cox, along with an entourage of their supporters. Both Ross and Cox were there to receive Proclamations for their many decades of service to the people of Coronado. Bailey read a long list of “Where As’s” for both gentlemen and recognized that their work had spanned the years of many of Coronado’s past mayors and councilmembers. Floyd has been a tireless volunteer in Coronado since the 1970s and Cox has represented Coronado on the County Board of Supervisors for 25 years.
Following the accolades, Coronado Fourth of July Committee Secretary Robert Kracht spoke via telephone during the agenda item for Oral Communication. He explained that as a result of a decrease in funding from both the Coronado Community Grant program and the Port of San Diego, the committee is potentially facing a 31 percent budget deficit. In order to avoid cutting back the scope of the event, they will need to look at fundraising options. He asked the Council for approval to fundraise. City Manager Blair King recommended that the Council reserve permission until a later time when there is further information; to ensure the event does not become too commercial. Bailey confirmed that the Council could still approve fundraising options in time for the committee to take action.
Two items before the Council that will likely affect most citizens are the significant changes to parking enforcement in the City’s business district and the Special Events permitting process.
Prior to voting unanimously in support of an ordinance related to parking penalties and enforcement, the Council discussed the coming changes. Per direction given in July 2020, parking meters will be removed and License Plate Reader (LPR) technology will be used to monitor parking beginning in 2021. LPR technology will be mounted on six police vehicles and will electronically mark the location of each parked car. Parking will be free for two hours and fines will increase to $57.50. King reiterated that the ultimate goal of “time limited, no fee parking” is not to create revenue, but to ensure vehicle turnover for business activity.
Councilmembers stressed the importance of publicizing the coming changes prior to the January start date. King agreed, stating that thermoplastic curb markings and additional poles and signage are scheduled for installation in December and that there will be a public outreach campaign.
The City’s Special Event permitting process has also been updated to reflect a more local focus, alignment with fees across the county, changes in submission deadlines, and blackout dates.
Following up on the City’s Lifeline Business Loan Program, councilmembers discussed the possibility of loan forbearance; allowing an additional six months for a total of one year to make payments, or debt forgiveness; by creating a grant program.
Last April, in response to local businesses struggling under COVID19 restrictions, City Council voted unanimously to set aside $2 million to provide “lifeline” loans in the amount of $20,000 or less to local non-franchise businesses. A total of $1.685 million has been disbursed to date. As the loans come due, and COVID19 restrictions persist, the Council discussed possible modifications to the program.
Councilmember Sandke pointed out that the negative budget impact on the City from the pandemic was “not as dire as expected” and perhaps changing the loan program into a grant program was worth consideration. King clarified that many businesses have either started or completed their loan payments. Councilmember Heinze had a different view, “We need to think very hard about making a gift of public money to individual businesses.” He reminded his colleagues that the loan program was originally intended as “a bridge to other aid programs from the federal and state governments.”
Eventually they voted unanimously to provide repayment forbearance up to one year to borrowers. King acknowledged the diligent work of the Assistant to the City Manager, Dominique Albrecht, and requested that loan-holders inform his office through Albrecht of their intent to delay payments.
In other business…
The Council voted unanimously to uphold the Street Tree Committee’s denial of a resident’s request to keep two canary island palms planted in the public parkway fronting 401 First Street. The palms are not on the approved list of trees.
The Port of San Diego has released a revised Draft Port Master Plan Update (PMPU). According to King, the two items in the 487 page plan related to Coronado are; a portion of Grand Caribe currently designated as commercial recreation will be redesignated to recreation open space, and there will be no net increase in hotel rooms on Port property in Coronado.
Feedback on the draft will be accepted at the Port of San Diego through November 17, 2020.
Council reappointed one incumbent; Kevin Crikelair, and three new members; Samantha Bey, Cara O’Callaghan, and David Reis each to a three-year term on the City’s Street Tree Committee.