Coronado’s City Council performed double duty last week, with their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, May 5, 2020, followed closely by a Special Meeting called for May 8, 2020. How to best address business and economic issues presented by the continuing COVID-19 health crisis played prominent roles in both sessions.

The May 5 session lasted 34 minutes and included the passage of 11 items on the Consent Calendar, with two of them being notable. First, the 200-word limit for local candidate statements will continue at that level for the 2020 Presidential Election. Second, the Council approved the cancellation of the popular Free Summer Shuttle through the City for 2020, along with the 1,000 bus passes proposed for purchase to benefit residents of the Coronado Cays.

The balance of the meeting took the form of a series of updates from City Manager Blair King to the City Council. King began with a discussion of the City’s Lifeline Business Loan Program, which was approved by the Council April 21, and the applications were made available through the Coronado Chamber of Commerce April 24. City Attorney Johanna Canlas provided loan contracts and promises to pay. King acknowledged the assistance of Assistant to the City Manager Dominique Albrecht and Director of Business Services Jim Krueger for creating the loan program. During the session, King received City Council approval to move the opening date for loan applications for Tier II Businesses up one week to Monday, May 18, 2020. 

Later in the meeting, City Councilmember Mike Donovan said, “I would say the City hit a grand slam with the business loans. To get loan applications in and money out in a week is awesome.”

As of May 5, a total of 68 loans had been approved, with 64 payments issued totaling $985,000. Tuesday morning, May 12, Albrecht provided the following Loan update via text, “A total of 78 loan applications have been received, with 70 eligible for Tier I and the remaining applications to be considered for evaluation in later Tiers. A total of 69 loans were approved, with one still in process, awaiting additional information from the applicant. A total of $1,010,000 in funded loans have been made to date.”

Other updates from King included:

The Coronado Municipal Golf Course has been opened, with tee time reservations required beforehand. Each golfer will be met by a greeter, have their temperature taken, and if healthy, the golfer can park his car and proceed to the Pro Shop to pay with a credit card only.

Silver Strand State Beach was opened May 5, but the parking lots adjacent to the beach will remain closed and no parking is allowed on both sides of Coronado Cays Boulevard.

Despite the City’s request to open its tennis courts, they remained closed at this point.

As the meeting concluded, King noted that a City Council Budget meeting originally set for May 12, 2020, had been cancelled. He said, “We’ve had a difficult time putting the budget together. We will present it at the Council meeting of May 19 and I hope to have it out to the council by the end of next (this) week. There is good and bad news. The revenues are very, very impacted for 2021. The good news is we have a contingency fund and the past actions of the Council have provided us with a variety of relief valves. There will be no changes to the level of service and there will be no deferred maintenance. We have a variety of levers to use to make sure we have a sound financial plan moving forward.”

The sole subject of the agenda for the one hour and four-minute City Council Special Meeting held May 8 was, “Discussion and action regarding the State of California and County of San Diego Phase II Reopening Guidelines.”

One of the first orders of business was for the council to reaffirm new directives from the State of California and the County of San Diego regarding the priority order for Coronado’s businesses to re-open effective May 8, as long as a form entitled ‘Reopen San Diego’ had been completed by the business and posted for the public.

The following types of businesses were confirmed as being eligible to re-open: bookstores, jewelry stores, toy stores, clothing and accessory stores, shoe stores, home and furnishing stores, sporting goods stores, antique stores, music stores, picture frame stores, stationery or paper stores, office supply stores, candy stores-with pre-packaged goods, cigar or smoke shops with no congregating or trails allowed, beer, wine, and liquor stores, specialty food stores, vehicle rental firms including golf carts, fine art stores, novelty shops, and retail stores inside the Hotel Del Coronado if curb pick-up can be provided.

Business which can open later in Stage 2 include: destination retail including shopping malls and swap meets; personal services limited to car washes, pet grooming, tanning facilities, and landscape gardening; office-based businesses; and schools and childcare facilities.

Businesses not included in either Stage 1 or Stage 2, which are considered higher-risk workplaces include: personal services such as nail salons, tattoo parlors, gyms and fitness centers; hospitality services such as bars and lounges; entertainment venues with limited capacities such as libraries, theaters, gaming facilities and pro sports without live audiences; indoor museums, kids museums, gallery spaces; community centers including public pools, but excluding water parks, playgrounds and picnic areas; limited capacity religious services and cultural ceremonies; nightclubs; concert venues; live audience sports; and festivals.

A motion was made to accept the Retail List as delineated above and it passed unanimously. The motion to define the concept of ‘Curbside Retail’ was made by Councilmember Marvin Heinze and read, “Curbside retail is defined as the delivery of goods to the customer outside of the interior retail space or a temporary foyer or vestibule just inside the front door.” After a short period of discussion that motion passed 5-0. A third motion to discontinue designated curbside pickup spaces for restaurants passed 5-0. The Council decided to push consideration of the concept of reestablishing parking meter enforcement to their meeting of May 19, 2020, by a vote of 5-0.

Shortly after the parking enforcement question was settled, Mayor Richard Bailey said, “I continue to be personally frustrated and disheartened with the way the state has been responding to the opening of our economy, as many of the businesses in our community should be able to reopen now with proper cautions in place. And part of this frustration is based on the fact that as of March 18, the Governor of California stated publicly they were projecting 25.5 million cases in California alone over the span of about eight weeks. The total cases came in 25.4 million lower than that. I would like to see the Council draft a letter to County of San Diego Health Department and the State of California Health Department requesting that all jobs and all small businesses be deemed essential and allowed to operate with the same or similar health precautions in place currently that allow big businesses to operate. I know we share a similar objective of ensuring the public health and we want to make sure that our community and small businesses are being taken care of. So, I would like to make that as a motion that we direct staff to draft the letter and request that all small businesses and all jobs within these small businesses be deemed essential. And send that letter to the county and state health departments as a sign we are standing up for our small business community.”

The immediate reaction of the Council appeared to be they were collectively taken aback by Bailey’s motion and technically the motion died for the lack of a second, which Bailey acknowledged. However, the Council discussed the concept of the motion anyway.

Councilmember Whitney Benzian spoke first and said, “I’m not quite there for Tier II businesses yet. Maybe we should revisit this in two weeks. I am not quite ready to do that yet, although I see the unfairness of it. I’m a little too gun-shy at this moment.” He later added, “Until the hotels and restaurants are open, we’re in a tough spot.” Councilmember Bill Sandke expressed the thought that he did not want correspondence to the County Board of Health to include a discussion of medical issues. Heinze said, “We flattened the curve and the standard for proper safety should be the same for big business and small business. I’m not sure a letter of complaint is something I am up for at this time.”

Subsequently Donovan made a motion asking the City Staff to draft a letter and bring it to the next Council meeting, with the concept of comparing small businesses to large businesses and the inequity between the guidelines being applied to each. And the fact that Coronado is all small business, basically limited to retail. The motion passed 5-0.

The next meeting of the Coronado City Council will be held Tuesday, May 19 at 4 p.m. Due to the impact of the COVID-19 virus and by State of California health rules, Coronado City Council meetings are temporarily closed to the public. Spectrum TV’s Community Channel 19 and AT&T Channel 99 both carry the Council meetings live. The meetings can also be streamed live through the City’s website at Coronado.ca.us.

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