Legislative Update - January 2022
By Craig Benedetto & Marshall Anderson, Legislative Advocates
SUPREME COURT NIXES BUSINESS VACCINE MANDATE
President Biden’s mandate that large businesses (100 or more employees) require vaccinations of all employees or commit them to weekly testing took a huge hit when the Supreme Court ruled that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) overstepped its authority. While OSHA does not have the power to regulate public health more broadly, individual states and employers can still determine where vaccinates should be required of employees. While the Supreme Court blocked the mandate more broadly, the court will allow a more limited mandate requiring vaccinations among health care workers at facilities that are federally funded. You can learn more HERE and HERE.
CALIFORNIA EXTENDS INDOOR MASK MANDATE TO FEBRUARY 15, 2022
In response to the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus, the California Department of Public Health EXTENDED the mandatory indoor mask mandate that has been in effect since December 15th. Officials are anticipating that the surge in cases may peak and subside but noted that the mandate could be extended again if rates do not drop. Indoor venues like grocery stores, restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters, and churches are still subject to the extended mandate. Additionally, any event with 1,000 or more attendees must require proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test taken 24 hours before the event. To learn more, click HERE.
CALIFORNIA UPDATES COVID QUARANTINE GUIDANCE
Following the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updates to quarantine and isolation guidance at the end of last year (click HERE for the updated CDC guidance), the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has updated the state guidance, which would also apply to California workplaces. In summary, the new guidance shortens the quarantine period from 10 days to 5 days. There are multiple variations depending on exposure, vaccination status and testing, so please click HERE for the CDPH guidance and HERE for the CAL/OSHA release on how these changes impact the workplace.
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MAKES FREE AT HOME TESTS AVAILABLE
Following the announcement by President Biden, and as a result of the shortages of tests and testing sites amidst the surge in Omicron, the federal government opened the portal to order at home tests. Each residence is allowed up to FOUR free at home tests. The shipping time is usually 7-12 days from the placement of the order. For more information or to order, please click HERE.
MAYOR GLORIA GIVES ANNUAL STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS OUTLINING HIS PRIORITIES FOR 2022
In his second year as Mayor, Todd Gloria struck a cautiously optimistic tone on January 12th when outlining his priorities for 2022 during the annual State of the City address. A year after declaring the state of the city as ‘fragile’, Mayor Gloria said San Diego still has unresolved challenges, particularly in relation to the city’s infrastructure backlog, homelessness, public safety, and housing. These four priorities consumed the hour-long speech. “I see cracked and bucking sidewalks outside my front door, I ride over rutted and potholed streets…I see people camping on our sidewalks, many who are obviously sick and cannot take care of themselves.”
On infrastructure, the Mayor said he will update the City’s street preservation ordinance, a change that could impact development, requiring reimbursements to the city for anyone that wishes to conduct undergrounding work in city streets. The Mayor also unveiled plans to create a new infrastructure funding program that would streamline funding availability and reprioritize sidewalk repair, targeting communities that have been historically neglected. There was no reference to a rumored tax initiative dedicated to infrastructure repair, signaling that 2022 may not be the year for a costly ballot measure.
On public safety, the Mayor admitted that crime is up. “Lawlessness will not rule the day in our city,” the Mayor said; though, he did not give specifics around how illegal guns and gang violence would be curbed. A big announcement was made on the issue of homelessness where the Mayor emphasized a need to update the state’s conservatorship laws, making it easier to get those with extreme substance abuse and mental illness off the street. In working with the County and the City Attorney, the Mayor will push for more psychiatric care facilities and the ability to take those who are a danger to self and others off the street involuntarily.
The Mayor rounded out his speech highlighting his “Bridge to Home” program that would allocate $53 million to bring more affordable housing units online. The full speech text can be found HERE and a recording of the speech can be viewed HERE.
WATER WASTERS TO FACE FINES IN RESPONSE TO WORSENING DROUGHT
The State of California’s Water Resources Control Board adopted new regulations that prohibit overwatering yards, washing cars without shutoff nozzles, hosing down sidewalks or watering grass within 48 hours after rainfall. The new regulations also prohibit using potable water to irrigate grass on public street medians, landscaped areas between street and sidewalk or using potable water for street cleaning or construction purposes. The regulations apply statewide with no exemptions for golf courses or other recreational facilities. The Board also adopted fines for non-compliance of up to $500 per incident. The regulations will be in effect for one year. Local water agencies are expected to enforce the regulations. For more information, click HERE.
CITY OF SAN DIEGO CONSIDERING PLANNING GROUP REFORM
Community planning groups (CPGs) that provide input on land use decisions and projects within their respective community planning areas are set to see a major shakeup if reforms outlined by Councilmember Joe LaCava receive approval. Under the proposal, CPGs would be made independent advisory bodies, requiring financial disclosures from group members and brown act compliance. CPGs would be encouraged to designate seats for renters, stakeholders, and business owners, and would remain advisory, meaning they could not single handedly kill a project or code change. The effort would require amendments to the municipal code, Council Policy 600-24, and a vote of the people to amend the City Charter. To read the FAQ, click HERE. The draft Municipal Code and Council Policy amendments can be found HERE and HERE, respectively.
GOVERNOR NEWSOME UNVEILS FY22-23 STATE BUDGET
Marking another budget surplus year ($45.7 billion), Governor Newson announced proposals to combat COVID-19 and address climate change, homelessness, high costs of living, and crime. Of the $286.4 billion spending plan, $22.5 billion would be allocated to climate change initiatives, including wildfire mitigation, coastal and ocean protections, clean hydrogen development, offshore wind projects, drought relief, and the purchase of zero-emission vehicles and charging station deployment. Under the proposal, Newsom noted the state’s commitment to ending the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2035. He also announced plans for $2 billion to convert buildings to clean energy and $1 billion in new tax credits for companies pursuing renewable energy and other climate solutions. $2.7 billion would be used to boost COVID-19 testing, vaccination efforts, and bolster health care staffing throughout the state. $2 billion would be allocated to homeless shelters and mental health services with an emphasis on encampment cleanups. In line with the mayor’s tone on conservatorship, the Governor hinted that an overhaul of the state’s conservatorship laws would be forthcoming, forcing those reluctant to accept services into treatment. The budget is expected to change after both legislative houses have a chance to deliberate. The full proposed budget can be found HERE. The Governor recently visited San Diego to tout his efforts around homelessness, which you can read about HERE.
CALIFORNIA TO CONSIDER UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE
In early January, the Assembly Health Committee took the first steps in advancing the CalCare proposal, which would eliminate the private health insurance market, replacing it with a government-run plan. The bill, AB 1400, and accompanying funding mechanism, ACA 11, have a long way to go before becoming law and face scrutiny from those in opposition who say it raise taxes by $163 billion and result in doctors and nurses being paid less; this on the heels of statewide healthcare labor shortages. The tax, which would require a vote of the people, would impose a new excise tax, payroll tax, and personal income tax. You can learn more HERE. The full text of both bills can be found linked above.
CITY OF SAN DIEGO SEEKS INPUT ON LAND DEVELOPMENT CODE UPDATE
The City of San Diego has opened an online portal for suggested code revisions, additions, and deletions to the Land Development Code. The update, performed annually, contains regulations for the development and use of property including zoning, subdivisions, and other related land use activities. Amendments to the code can also help streamline the permitting process, one of BOMA San Diego’s top government affairs priority. BOMA members are encouraged to offer input via the online portal, found HERE, by March 31, 2022. BOMA’s legislative advocates will also work to consolidate your input in the weeks ahead. If you have ideas or would like to talk through any challenges you face under the current code, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
CALIFORNIA LAWS TAKE EFFECT IN THE NEW YEAR
836 bills made it to the Governor’s desk last year, of which only 66 were vetoed. Here are a selection of laws that might apply to business and commercial real estate:
• Health insurance companies are required to offer free testing to subscribers and must guarantee access to tests and vaccinations, even if someone is outside of the provider’s network.
• All voters will receive a ballot in the mail for statewide elections.
• Restaurants may continue selling to-go cocktails with food orders (woo-hoo!).
• Restaurants may continue serving alcohol at outdoor dining setups.
• As it relates to remote working, all mandated federal and state workplace notices must be delivered to employees as an email attachment, in addition to being posted physically.
• California’s minimum wage rises to $15/hour. Businesses with 25 or fewer workers have a year to comply and must raise wages to $14/hour.
• Senate Bill 826, passed in 2018, requires corporations to add more women to their boards of executives, meaning that companies with six directors need at least three to be women.
• Non-disclosure provisions in settlements involving workplace discrimination, harassment, or retaliation under the Fair Employment and Housing Act are now prohibited.
• Warehouse employers must disclose all worker quota rules and allow for rest periods. Garment manufacturers must pay workers hourly vs. by number of items made.
• An exemption that precludes janitorial employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement from bringing a representative action under PAGA takes effect.
• Personnel records retention is required for four years (up from two).
• The Labor Commissioner can now create and implement a lien on real property to recover amount due wage-and-hour violations.
• Unemployment officials must give notice prior to rejecting an application for jobless benefits (has until September to take effect).
• Passed in 2016, Senate Bill 1383 now takes effect, requiring local municipalities to provide organics recycling collection. Residents and businesses will be required to sort their organic waste from the rest. Large food generators must have a process in place to donate all unsold food. The City of San Diego is expected to roll out a municipal code amendment later this year with a fee increase to pay for the additional hauling measures.
• Take-out restaurants can only provide single-use utensils and condiment packages upon request.
REMINDER – BOMA NEEDS YOUR INPUT ON CARBON REDUCTION STRATEGIES
In an effort to be more proactive in the carbon reduction conversation, BOMA International is drafting a “Reducing the Build Environment’s Carbon Footprint” framework. The framework aims to identify what solutions for carbon emission reduction might make strategic business sense for our members and asks that you provide any solutions that promote clean energy while avoiding costly and ineffective mandates. Please provide any input that you may have, HERE.
REMINDER – CITY OF SAN DIEGO DEVELOPMENT SERVICES DEPARTMENT FEES TO INCREASE 6.1%
All Development Services Department (DSD) user fees will increase by 6.1% beginning January 1, 2022. The City is requiring the increase to help DSD meet service level goals, improve customer service quality, and ensure the department remains cost recoverable. Any projects submitted by Saturday, December 31, will not be subject to the new fee. The City’s public notice can be found HERE.