Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Carlsbad has led a variety of efforts that collaborate with other jurisdictions, gain compliance with the public health orders and provide economic relief to businesses impacted by COVID-19.
To build upon those efforts, the City Council on Tuesday approved additional direction on a comprehensive approach to increasing compliance with the COVID-19 health orders and supporting local businesses impacted by the pandemic.
Although the discussion focused on ways to recognize businesses doing the right thing and enhance collaboration as a means to gain increased compliance, the City Council also approved elevating enforcement against businesses that received city approval to activate outdoor space, as this approval did not allow use of the outdoor space to willfully violate the law, including the health orders. Within the next week, the city will inform businesses that have received special permits and encroachment agreements to expand their operations outdoors and onto city-owned property like streets and sidewalks, that if they violate the terms of the permits and agreements by violating the health orders, their outdoor activation approvals will be either suspended or canceled and fines assessed. The city will also contact landlords of businesses out of compliance, as well as big box stores and other retailers to ensure they are aware of and are following the health orders.
Businesses doing the right thing will be supported through a series of new initiatives, including eligibility for an expanded city loan program and potential marketing campaigns. The City Council also directed staff to work with businesses to develop microgrant and rent-relief program options for the City Council’s consideration at a future meeting.
The final piece of the new comprehensive approach focuses on enhanced collaboration and coordination with government agencies, business organizations and other groups involved in the COVID-19 response. This includes using the city’s intergovernmental affairs team to engage the governor, legislature, legislative representatives, county representatives or local agencies to support City Council priorities in addressing the pandemic. The city will also engage with local, state and national organizations of which the city is a member to support City Council priorities in addressing a comprehensive approach to compliance with the health orders.
Finally, the City Council acknowledged the existing collaboration with the business community, other jurisdictions and volunteer groups and directed staff to continue to enhance those efforts.
Specific changes to the city’s COVID-19 low and no interest loan programs will address feedback from the business community, based on the length of the pandemic and increased need for financial support.
Businesses with a valid City of Carlsbad business license that have been operating at least six months may now be eligible for the loan program. Previously the cutoff date for having a city business license was April 1, 2020.
Businesses may now receive both types of city loans, a small business microloan and a small business recovery loan.
The maximum amount of the small business recovery loan has been increased from $25,000 to $50,000.
Businesses with gross receipts or revenues up to $5 million may now be eligible for the small business recovery loans. Previously the limit was $3 million. This change will allow around 150 additional businesses to become eligible, if they also meet other criteria.
All businesses receiving city loans must be in full compliance with the health orders.
Economic revitalization program
On April 21, 2020, the City of Carlsbad became the first city in the region to establish a comprehensive economic revitalization initiative, dedicating $5 million toward measures to help local businesses get through the pandemic. This includes:
Rent relief for city-owned properties
Shop local campaigns
Free mediation service for renters and landlords
E-gift card promotion and matching funds
Expedited permit processing and fee waivers for businesses that want to expand onto the sidewalk or street
Low and no interest loan programs
Free webinars and one-on-one support for businesses
A web portal with the latest information on other loans and assistance, safe reopening information and other business resources
Collaboration with the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce and Carlsbad Village Association on regular joint communication to all Carlsbad businesses
To date, the city has issued 75 no-cost permits to businesses wanting to expand operations outdoors on private property, such as parking lots. 15 businesses have received permits or encroachment agreements to operate on city property like sidewalks and the street. Due to the pandemic, the city waived the fees normally charged for those types of permits and encroachment agreements.
More information about these programs is available on the city’s website.