Business Focus

Gilroy Chamber Business Focus-July 2021

Gilroy Chamber Business Focus-July 2021

July 26, 2021

Gilroy Chamber Continues to See Legislative Victories

The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce along with CalChamber and other business organizations continue to oppose bills that are harmful to our local economy and have a negative impact on our businesses. Below are several bills that we have been able to defeat. 

  • AB 71 would have imposed an unnecessary $2.4B tax increase on businesses to create a new homelessness fund, despite the state budget surplus. 
  • SB 213 targeted healthcare employers with astronomical workers compensation costs unnecessarily. 
  • AB 95AB 995AB 1119, and AB 1192 each would have placed onerous mandates on employers, from expanding leave to reporting wage and hour data. 

Click on the link to see the list of CalChamber Job Killers that have been stopped this year.

Volunteer at the Gilroy Rodeo

The Gilroy Rodeo is looking for volunteers for various positions Friday-Sunday August 13-15.

Make a difference in your community…and have fun doing it! We don’t have to tell you why it’s good to volunteer. It’s widely known that lending a helping hand makes you feels good. At Gilroy Rodeo, we do things a little differently. Each volunteer is part of the GR family and helps ensure we can continue on for many years to come. With no paid employees, volunteers put together the entire rodeo. From picking up trash to helping coordinate the arena events, we can’t do it without you!

Benefits of Volunteering

Whatever your interest or skills, there is undoubtedly a place for you to volunteer with one of the committees. As a volunteer, besides the personal satisfaction of being part of the Gilroy Rodeo, there are also other benefits available to you.

  • Free gate admission and parking with volunteer credentials

  • Volunteers that working longer than 4.5 consecutive hours in 1 shift will receive 1 food ticket and 2 non-alcoholic beverage tickets

Sign up to volunteer here: gilroyrodeo.com

Have a group interested in volunteering? Email volunteers@gilroyrodeo.com.

Allowing Local Elected Officials to Have a Say?

Cal Matters Commentary by Christopher S. Elmendorf, Professor of law at the UC Davis School of Law

California’s bizarre and dysfunctional housing politics have hit a new low. An unassuming bill that would allow (not require) cities to rezone transit-accessible parcels for small housing projects without the expensive studies usually mandated by the California Environmental Quality Act is being portrayed as an unconstitutional assault on democracy itself. 

Numerous other CEQA exemptions already exist for pro-environment activities. Senate Bill 10 makes a worthy addition to the list: moderately dense urban housing, which is desperately needed to reduce California’s carbon footprint and attenuate demand for new development in exurban greenfields and wildfire-prone areas.  

The provision of Senate Bill 10 called out as “anti-democratic” would allow a city council — if two-thirds of its members agree — to rezone urban, transit-accessible parcels for up to 10 units of housing, notwithstanding any restrictions on development previously approved by the city’s voters. Critics say this is of a piece with Republican gambits to undermine democracy in red states. Huh? 

In most states, laws enacted by the voters may be amended or repealed by the legislature, much like other laws. This is sensible. Voters sometimes make mistakes. Conditions change. Laws need updating. A local policy that made sense when housing was more affordable and wildfires were isolated and rare may be obsolescent today. That SB 10 recognizes as much and allows duly elected representatives to make the update hardly makes it undemocratic.

California is not like most states, however. Voter-adopted laws in California usually may be amended or repealed only by the voters themselves. But this principle yields when the law in question was adopted by a city’s electorate and the body revising the law is the Legislature.  

The California Constitution empowers the Legislature to address matters of statewide concern, preempting local ordinances if necessary. This is true whether the local law was enacted by a city council or directly by the voters. In fact, our constitution prohibits localities from passing laws that unreasonably limit the regional supply of housing. The state has a constitutional duty to protect “the interests of nonresidents who are not represented in the city legislative body and cannot vote on a city initiative.” 

Thus, the Legislature has taken over the regulation of accessory dwelling units, required cities to zone for their fair share of regionally needed housing, curtailed cities’ authority to dispose of surplus lands, and forced cities to permit a range of housing projects on a nondiscretionary basis

SB 10 is much less draconian. It establishes a state policy favoring development of moderate-density housing, while bending over backward to accommodate local preferences and conditions. It applies the new state policy only to those transit-rich and infill parcels that a local government elects to rezone. It is appropriate for the bill to assign this “opt in” decision to city councils because members (unlike their voters) swear an oath to uphold the state constitution.

Indeed, SB 10 enhances the democratic pedigree of land-use regulation in California.

For decades, NIMBY interests were able to exploit direct democracy by putting restrictive land use measures on the ballot in low-turnout, off-cycle elections. Political scientists have shown that homeowners and other special interests dominated these elections, especially when zoning was on the ballot. Although the Legislature recently mandated that low-turnout cities start holding their elections on the same day as national elections (when turnout is much higher), this did nothing to unwind the ballot measures adopted in unrepresentative municipal elections prior to 2018.   

There is nothing undemocratic about overriding a voter-enacted measure (many of dubious democratic pedigree) when two-thirds of the city council and the Legislature agree that the measure has become outdated. 

To meaningfully address the intertwined problems of climate change, wildfire risk and housing affordability, land-use policies in California must change. For critics to attack SB 10 — the lightest of light-touch reforms — as an assault on democracy is to engage in phantasmagorical politics. We can do better, California.

Urban Transit or High Speed Rail?

Article by Marissa Garcia, CalMatters

High-speed rail was supposed to connect California’s urban hubs: Los Angeles and San Francisco. Now, it’s struggling to muster enough political support to connect the tiny towns of Madera and Shafter.

Thirteen years since California voters approved $10 billion to build a bullet train, Democrats who run the state government are divided over spending the money to finish building the first section of track — a 119-mile stretch in the Central Valley. 

Though Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed pouring $4.2 billion into completing the segment, lawmakers balked and left the funds out of the June budget. Now, the governor and fellow Democrats who control the Legislature are negotiating how much to chug along by laying track in the farm belt — or whether to spend more on transportation projects in more heavily populated regions.

“Typically what you’d see with projects like this is they’d start where the people are at and then radiate outwards. So, we would have started building high-speed rail in the San Francisco Bay Area, down in LA, and then eventually connect it,” said Ethan Elkind, director of the climate program at the UC Berkeley School of Law.

“We did this really backwards, and now we’re starting to really see the political price of that decision.”

The Newsom administration, however, praises high-speed rail as a job creator in the economically-struggling Central Valley. And then there’s the federal government: If California wavers on funding high-speed rail now, it could make it harder to compete for federal funds with other states. The last time Newsom publicly questioned the project, the Trump administration yanked $1 billion — funding that was only recently restored by President Biden.  

“We are going to bat at the federal level for the funding necessary to build this first-in-the-nation high-speed rail system, and we urge the State Legislature to maintain its commitment at the state level,” U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla wrote in a letter to legislative leaders this week.

But the Legislature isn’t so fast to green-light more money. Key lawmakers, especially in the Assembly, say they don’t see the benefit for their Southern California constituents. And even if the bullet train eventually reaches Los Angeles and San Francisco, some legislators are skeptical that car-centric Californians will become train riders without more exposure to public transit in their daily lives. 

“How (do) we turn California car culture into a California culture of transit of all sorts?” said Assembly Transportation Committee chairperson Laura Friedman, a Glendale Democrat. “That is the big question — and how does high-speed rail interact with that?”

Until then, she is reluctant to pump more money into a train through the sparsely populated Central Valley. With a quarter of California’s population living in Los Angeles County, Friedman would like to see money spent on improving Union Station in Los Angeles, the Metrolink commuter rail and transit between the San Fernando Valley and LA’s Westside.

She said she doesn’t see why California needs to immediately devote $4 billion more to high-speed rail when “they’re spending a billion and a half a year.” 

The Newsom administration says high-speed rail construction is at a critical point. Money is needed now to complete the final piece of the Central Valley portion, according to Brian Annis, chief financial official at the California High-Speed Rail Authority. And, he said, the state is on the cusp of choosing a contractor to lay the bullet train’s track. That’ll cost money, too. 

“The project has taken longer than originally thought. The scope has increased, which has added some costs,” Annis said. “But again, we’re hitting some major milestones here where we’re almost fully completed with our design.”

Without this funding, the Newsom administration argues, fewer workers will be needed and layoffs could start as soon as next summer.

More than 75% of those workers hail from the Central Valley — about 1,100 head to construction sites daily for jobs that come with health care and hard-to-find stability.  For one Central Valley carpenter, working near home for more than three months at a time had been uncommon.

“He’s home all the time now because this job has some length to it,” said Chuck Riojas, the executive director of the Building Trades Council for several Central Valley counties.

But the Newsom administration is having a hard time convincing the Legislature that the investment now is worth it.

“I support the concept of a high-speed rail in California, but I think our current approach is not working,” Democratic Assemblymember Luz Rivas, who represents the San Fernando Valley, said at a hearing in June. “There are other approaches that have been presented that could increase rail ridership, and I hope that those will be part of the 

A poll funded by the Assembly Democrats found that Californians are evenly split between killing high-speed rail or continuing it, but that support for the project is far higher among Democrats, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Friedman argues that better local service will boost support for trains, eventually restoring voters’ favor for high-speed rail. “We need to create a state of train riders in order to have the political will to finish this project,” she said.

Newsom also wants to fund local transit — his May revision proposed $1 billion toward improving regional and local rail services. The debate is over how much. 

“It’s not really an issue of high-speed rail or local transit. What the governor is proposing is to advance both,” said Annis at the rail 

But Friedman is dubious whether $1 billion is sufficient, saying it would “be helpful. But… tracks are expensive. Trains are expensive.”

Some urban Democrats have been vocal about accepting the governor’s proposal as is. Sen. Scott Wiener from San Francisco tweeted in June that he supports Newsom’s funding plan because “high speed rail is a critical part of California’s transportation & climate future.”  

Most Senate Democrats support moving ahead with funding high-speed rail, Senate leader Toni Atkins said. But she, too, wants to see more money for local transit projects in her region.

The San Diego Democrat said she’ll advocate for funding to move train tracks along the coast in Del Mar, where bluffs are eroding as much as six inches a year.  

“We’re within 21 inches of the bluffs, so we are underway to move that line. That is the second busiest line in the country,” Atkins said. 

With legislators having left Sacramento for a month-long summer break, decisions on rail and transportation funding likely won’t be settled until after they return in mid-August. Then negotiations kick into high gear before the legislative session ends on Sept. 10. 

Elkind, the UC Berkeley climate lawyer, sees politics at play in the stand-off over high-speed rail:

“Given that it doesn’t seem like there’s much hope of the project coming anywhere close to the major population centers anytime soon, you’re seeing these legislators trying to essentially get leverage to salvage… money for their districts.” 

CalMatters reporter Laurel Rosenhall contributed to this story.

For the record: This story has been updated to delete a reference to a 2030 deadline for completing a segment of high-speed rail from Madera to Shafter. That deadline pertains to a longer stretch, 171 miles from Merced to Bakersfield.

July 19, 2021

Atoria's Family Bakery Expanding

Gilroy’s Atoria’s Family Bakery – Products and Business Needs Expanding

The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development work to assist local businesses in their effort to expand their operations through several means. The Chamber’s excellent working relationship with City staff allows the Chamber to help local businesses through the various stages of planning, permitting and construction phases. 

Mark Turner, President/CEO of the Chamber, and Candace Van Sambeek, the Chamber’s Economic Development Coordinator, recently toured Atoria’s Family Bakery located on Leavesley Avenue. This family owned and operated businesses has been making their products since 2005.

As a child growing up in the Assyrian villages near Mesopotamia, Atoria used to watch her mother and grandmother bake flatbread using their family recipe and a rustic hearth oven. 

Unable to find similar bread in America, Atoria started making her own and it was not long before a dream took shape: to bake and share her family recipe for the authentic bread of her youth with people in her new home country. And Atoria’s Family Bakery was born. Atoria and her children worked hard to make this dream a reality, and thirty years later, it is the next generation—Atoria’s grandchildren—who are working to bring her recipes to a broader audience. This is still the bread of Atoria’s home and her youth, the bread of family and of celebrations and of happy memories.

Atoria’s Family Bakery’s success is generating new opportunities for them. Not only are they looking to grow into new markets, but they are also looking to grow into new facilities to sustain the demand for their products. Like key ingredients in their recipes, the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development are key ingredients in the efforts of local businesses who are looking to expand their operations, develop their workforce, and navigate their way through the planning process.  

From left to right, Lilea Eschoo, Candace Van Sambeek(Economic Development Coordinator-Gilroy Chamber) Rick Eschoo, Mark Turner(President/CEO)-Gilroy Chamber)
Gilroy Chamber Opposes SB 410

The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce along with the California Chamber of Commerce and other business organizations respectfully OPPOSE SB 410 (Leyva), as amended June 30, 2021 because it would deny policymakers, the regulated community, and the public critical economic data on the effects of regulations related to workplace safety by providing a one-agency only exception to the best economic analysis California’s government has: the Standardized Regulatory Impact Assessment. 

The Standardized Regulatory Impact Analysis (or “SRIA”) process was created by this legislature in 2011 in SB 617 (Calderon). SB 617 was passed by vast majorities in both houses1 with the goal of ensuring that new regulations of a sufficiently large size (economic impact exceeding $50 million) should be thoroughly analyzed and that the Department of Finance (DOF) should review that estimated economic impact to confirm the methodology used in these estimates were suitable. Notably, SRIA analysis is triggered by the vast minority of regulations. According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, of approximately 600 regulations passed annually, 10 or so trigger SRIA analysis in a given year. As a result of the SRIA process, improved economic analysis of the most major regulations has been available to members of the public and policy makers over the past decade.

Functionally, SB 410 would exempt just one agency (Cal/OSHA) from the SRIA requirements that would continue to be applied to all other state agencies. There is no logical justification for this specific exclusion; Cal/OSHA’s regulations are no different in that respect than the California Air Resources Board, or the Department of Transportation, or any other agency. Notably, the SRIA process requires consideration of the creation or elimination of jobs within the state and the creation of new or existing businesses in the state, as well as the benefits of the regulation to the health and welfare or California residents, worker safety, and the state’s environment. In short – SRIA analysis requires a broad, thorough economic analysis, considering both the benefits and costs of a regulation, and considering alternative measures. SB 410 would deny California’s policy makers and the public this important data for one of the most critical agencies in the state, Cal/OSHA.

Masks Back On

Counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma, and the City of Berkeley Recommend Masking Indoors for Everyone as a Precaution Against Increased Circulation of COVID-19

Santa Clara County’s reported new cases are averaging 76 per day and the daily case rate is now 3.9 per 100,000 and rising.

With cases of COVID-19 rising locally and increased circulation of the highly transmissible Delta variant, the Counties of Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Sonoma, and the City of Berkeley recommend that everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks indoors in public places to ensure easy verification that all unvaccinated people are masked in those settings and as an extra precautionary measure for all.  

In June, the Delta variants comprised 43 percent of all specimens sequenced in California. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted that Delta variants are now responsible for 58 percent of new infections across the country

Fully vaccinated people are well-protected from infections and serious illness due to known COVID-19 variants including Delta variants, and vaccinating as many people as possible, as soon as possible, continues to be our best defense against severe COVID-19 infection, and the harm it can do to our region. Vaccines are safe, effective, free, and widely available to everyone 12 and older.

Out of an abundance of caution, people are recommended to wear masks indoors in settings like grocery or retail stores, theaters, and family entertainment centers, even if they are fully vaccinated as an added layer of protection for unvaccinated residents. Businesses are urged to adopt universal masking requirements for customers entering indoor areas of their businesses to provide better protection to their employees and customers. Workplaces must comply with Cal/OSHA requirements and fully vaccinated employees are encouraged to wear masks indoors if their employer has not confirmed the vaccination status of those around them.  

“The Delta variant is spreading quickly, and everyone should take action to protect themselves and others against this potentially deadly virus,” said Alameda County Health Officer Dr. Nicholas Moss. For masks to work properly, they need to completely cover your nose and mouth and fit snugly against the sides of your face and around your nose.  

Bay Area Health Officers will revisit this recommendation in the coming weeks as they continue to monitor transmission rates, hospitalizations, deaths, and increasing vaccination rates throughout the region. Data can be monitored here: https://covid19.sccgov.org/dashboards

“After vaccination, masking is the next most powerful tool we have to protect ourselves and each other during this latest wave of infections,” said Dr. Moss. “Wearing masks, especially indoors and in crowded outdoor settings, will help us contain this more transmissible variant.” 

People are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. People with only one vaccine dose of Pfizer or Moderna not fully protected. Completion of the vaccine series is necessary to provide full protection. 

Visit www.sccfreevax.org to learn where you can find a vaccination site near you. If you missed your second dose, please find a vaccination clinic near you.

Business Resiliency 101: Protecting Your Small Business from Cyber-Attacks

Article Provided by Venturize and Small Business Majority

Cyber attacks are a growing threat for small businesses, and a recent U.S. Small Business Administration survey estimates that an astonishing 88% of small business owners are concerned about being vulnerable to cyber attacks. Many entrepreneurs don’t have the capability to afford IT professionals or don’t know where to start, but it’s important to learn about common threats, understand where your business might be vulnerable, and take concrete steps to improve your cybersecurity.

Below you will find some tips and best practices to protect your small business from cyber attacks.

Be smart about passwords 

To improve your cybersecurity, use strong passwords that are unique to your various accounts. While it might be challenging to remember them, being diligent about your passwords will pay off in the long run.

The National Cybersecurity Society has developed a short guide to creating secure passwords for small businesses.

Stay alert 

Whether you or your employees are entering data into your systems, sharing information with other partners or just ringing up a sale, it’s critical to be aware of possible phishing attacks. Phishing is a type of cyber attack that uses email or is a malicious website that can infect your computer with viruses to collect your sensitive information.

Phishing emails appear as though they’ve been sent from a legitimate organization or known individual, and these emails often entice users to click on a link or open an attachment containing malicious code. Check out this cheat sheet to keep yourself and your employees aware of possible phishing attacks.

Use antivirus software 

Equip your business’ computers and systems with antivirus and antispyware software. You can find an array of programs readily available that fit your small business needs, so make sure to choose a vendor that will configure automatic updates to correct security problems and improve functionality.

Protect your payment processors 

Work with your financial institution or payment processor to ensure you have a complex payment system. To help you identify the best system for your business and how to protect it, check out this guide to data security essentials for small merchants.

Set up multi-factor authentication 

Whenever appropriate and available, set up multi-factor authentication for your accounts. This process requires small business owners and their employees to provide additional information to add a second layer of security to log in and access sensitive information. Some companies automatically give you the option to set up multi-factor authentication to log into their accounts, so check with your financial institution and other vendors to see if they offer this feature.

Evaluate your business’ cybersecurity preparedness 

We encourage you to take the NCSS online survey to assess your business’ vulnerability to cyber attacks and how you may improve your cybersecurity.

For additional how-to guides and frequently asked questions about how to protect your small business from cyber-attacks, visit the National Cybersecurity Society.

Congratulations Chef Carlos!

The Silicon Valley Business Journal has announced this year’s members of the 40 Under 40 class, and Chef Carlos Pineda is one of them! These young leaders represent the future of leadership in Silicon Valley.

SVBJ reporters and editors labored over more than 100 nominations to select these 40 leaders who are under the age of 40. Each of these professionals has demonstrated outstanding professional achievement while also becoming leaders in their communities.

Please join Carlos and the Class of 2021 virtually on August 5 from 4:00 – 5:30 pm.

Join the conversation before, during and after the event #40U40SVBiz.

July 12, 2021

Buy Your Office Products Here and Support the Chamber Role in the Community

The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce has become an affiliate partner with Staples. Now, members can purchase supplies and office products such as pens, pencils, paper, computers, copiers, laptops, toner cartridges and much more! You can expect to find brand names such as 3M, Packard/HP, Lexmark, Logitech, Georgia, Avery, etc. You pay the same low prices you have always paid while benefiting the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce.

Save on Staples brand products(links to affiliate site)

Round 3 of the City of Gilroy's Grant Program is now open!

In the face of COVID-19, City leaders know that many local small businesses are struggling. A strong business community fosters strong employees and strong communities. In an effort to help support our local small businesses and our community, the City of Gilroy has established a grant program to support small businesses in these trying times, in coordination with the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce. Businesses operating within the city limits of Gilroy may qualify for a one-time business relief grant using federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding.

Grants are based on the number of full-time equivalent employees as of March 17, 2020 (when the Santa Clara County Health Officer issued the initial Shelter-In-Place order):

Maximum Grant Award: $5,000 for businesses with 2-10 employees $10,000 for businesses with 11-25 employees

Allowed Use of Funds: Used for working capital (rent, payroll, utilities, inventory, etc.)

Application Period: Monday, July 12 at 8:00 am through Monday, August 16 at 5:00 pm

GRANT APPLICATIONS are available on the City’s webpage.

COMPLETED APPLICATIONS will be accepted via email or mail, starting July 12, 2021. The application period will close on August 16 at 5:00 p.m. No applications will be accepted after 5:00 p.m. on August 16, 2021.

Online: Grant applications can be e-mailed directly to chamber@gilroy.org.

By Mail: You can mail your application to the following address: 

Gilroy Chamber of Commerce

Small Business Grant Application 

7471 Monterey Street 

Gilroy, CA 95020

If you are having difficulties with delivering the application, please call the Gilroy Chamber at 408-842-6437 where accommodations can be arranged. 

Let the Work Begin

President/CEO Mark Turner and Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren.

Gilroy Chamber President/CEO Mark Turner, along with a crowd of dignitaries, gathered at Anderson Dam for a groundbreaking ceremony commemorating the start of the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project which begins with the construction of the Anderson Dam Tunnel Project. The list of elected officials included Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren; Congressman Ro Khanna; Valley Water Board Members, including John Varela (District 1); Morgan Hill Mayor Rich Constantine, Morgan Hill City Council members, and many others. 

Elected officials make the beginning of the construction phase of the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project

The outlet tunnel, which is approximately 1,700 feet long, is anticipated to take nearly 3 years to complete. Valley Water officials don’t expect to begin the rebuilding of the dam until after the tunnel is completed sometime in 2024. Rebuilding the dam is expected to last about 7 years. 

If all goes well, the completion date for the Anderson Dam project is 2031 and is expected to cost at least $576 million.

Nearly 1800 New Housing Units for Gilroy

By:STAFF REPORT

The City of Gilroy should plan for 1,773 new housing units between 2023-2031, according to draft allocations by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG).

That is nearly 700 more units than the previous eight-year cycle allocated to Gilroy.

California state law requires all cities to plan for housing units in eight-year cycles, known as the Housing Element and Regional Housing Needs Allocation.

The California Department of Housing and Community Development determines the number of new homes an area needs to build by income level, and ABAG, which Gilroy falls under, determines how that number is allocated by city.

Cities must minimize governmental constraints and streamline the process so developers can build the housing, according to the requirements.

Under the draft allocations, Gilroy should build 669 very low income units, up from 236 in the previous cycle, according to Senior Planner Cindy McCormick. It also is expected to double its low income units from the last cycle to 385, while moderate income units get a slight dip to 200.

According to the most recent data by the California Department of Housing and Community Development, Gilroy has only completed 27 percent of its goal of 236 very low income housing units by 2023, but well exceeded its goal of 160 low income units, permitting 487 since 2015.

The Gilroy City Council on June 21 decided not to appeal its allocation. ABAG is expected to adopt the allocations later this year.

County of Santa Clara Adjusts COVID Death Numbers

Shift Reduces Total Number of Deaths Attributed to the Pandemic by Approximately 22 Percent

Santa Clara County, CA – As a part of continuous efforts to better understand the health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the community, County of Santa Clara officials announced today that the County’s Public Health Department has conducted a review of all COVID-19 associated deaths reported among county residents who died both inside and outside the county since the onset of the pandemic and has refined the definition for COVID-related deaths. This shift reduces the total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic by approximately 22 percent. The refined definition includes only deaths in which COVID-19 is listed as part of the cause of death on the death certificate, incorporating information provided by health experts including medical providers and the County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s office. The County’s data dashboards will be updated over the next several days to reflect these refined criteria for COVID-19 deaths.

“Throughout the pandemic, we have focused on bringing the best information to the public as soon as we have it,” said Dr. Sarah Rudman, Assistant Public Health Officer for the County of Santa Clara. “As we see more vaccinations and fewer cases and deaths, we have had the opportunity to more deeply analyze the deaths that came in during the height of the pandemic. This refined approach to reporting death data will help us look back to better understand what happened in our county and look forward to better protect the health of our community in the future. At the same time, our hearts go out to all families and loved ones of those we have lost during the pandemic, regardless of whether their deaths were ultimately attributed to COVID-19.”

Both the prior and updated definitions for COVID-19 deaths used by the County fit within the parameters established by the State of California Department of Public Health. The prior definition included anyone who had COVID-19 who died, while the updated definition focuses on the cause of the death and aligns better with the determinations made by the Medical Examiner-Coroner in cases of overlapping jurisdiction. The updated definition aligns with the approach that many other counties are taking statewide. Even with the updated criteria and corresponding reduction in deaths, COVID-19 remains the third leading cause of death for County residents in 2020. The Public Health Department will continue to review the data to learn more about the impacts of COVID-19, particularly on those communities hardest hit by the pandemic.

No - I Meant Yes - Wait - What?

Under SCA 1, Yes is No and No is Yes

Opinion by Jon Coupal, President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Regrettably, Californians are accustomed to strange bills being introduced in the California Legislature. The designation of an official state dinosaur comes immediately to mind.

But others are not just strange, they are purposefully designed to fool the public. For example, Senate Constitutional Amendment No. 1, dealing with the peoples’ right to referendum, seeks to reverse the meaning of yes and no. Here’s the background:

As voters may recall, Senator Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys was the author of a 2018 bill (Senate Bill 10) that sought to abolish cash bail in California. Like most states, California utilizes a cash bail system to allow release of detained criminal suspects before their trials. Defendants pay a cash bond to be released from jail pending trial with the promise to return to court for trial and hearings. The cash bond is repaid to suspects after their criminal trials are completed, no matter the outcome. SB 10 would have replaced the state’s cash bail system with risk assessments to determine whether a detained suspect should be granted pretrial release and under what conditions. But bail bond companies, along with groups representing victims and law enforcement, qualified a referendum of Senate Bill 10. In a referendum, voters act on a proposal exactly like their elected representatives. A yes vote approves the legislation and a no vote rejects it. Because SB 10 was highly unpopular with Californians due to their concern with the state’s increase in crime, it was not surprising that voters rejected it.

Not content to heed the will of the voters and their desire to retain the existing cash bail system, Sen. Hertzberg now seeks to alter the very way referendum votes are counted. His SCA 1 would count “yes” votes as rejecting the law and “no” votes as approving the law. This is an obvious attempt to confuse voters.

The proposal is also contrary to well-established case law. Courts have described the voters’ referendum power as being “the same as the Legislature’s approval of a bill. The power is to determine whether a legislative act should become law.

It is notable that the legislature’s own analysis of SCA 1 reveals what a radical departure it is from the norm: “According to a report by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), in 23 states, legislative acts may be repealed by a popular referendum, also called a ‘veto referendum.’ According to NCSL research of those states’ laws or practices, in the majority of states, including California, a ‘yes’ vote indicates that the voter approves of the law passed by the Legislature and wants it to remain in effect.”

It is true that a handful of states, including Alaska and Wyoming, depart from the norm with systems similar to what SCA 1 would require. But even here, the consequence of the vote is clearly spelled out. Again, the committee analysis notes that, “in Alaska the ballot label describes the law that is the subject of the referendum, then provides voters with the following prompt: ‘A yes vote rejects the law. A no vote approves the law. Should this law be rejected?’ Immediately after the prompt, a voter may mark either ‘yes’ or ‘no.’”

One final consideration on this issue is bound to make voters’ heads spin. As a proposed constitutional amendment, SCA 1 would have to go on the ballot. So voters would have to understand that voting “yes” on the proposal would flip the current practice on referendum votes to mean that a “yes” vote means “no” and a “no” vote means yes. On the other hand, voting “no” would retain the current system where a “no” vote means “no” and a “yes” vote means “yes.”

Welcome to the Alice in Wonderland world of the California Legislature.

To Pay or Not to Pay

Employers Not Required to Provide Holiday Pay for Federal Holidays

By Matthew Roberts, CalChamber

Now that Juneteenth (June 19) has become a federal holiday, are we required to provide holiday pay to our employees for that day?

When President Joe Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act on June 17, 2021, creating the Juneteenth National Independence Day to be celebrated on June 19 every year, it created the 11th federal holiday and the first since the creation of the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday in 1983.

Juneteenth marks the day when federal troops entered the state of Texas in 1865 and read the Emancipation Proclamation, effectively marking the end of slavery in the United States.

Because it has been decades since the creation of a new federal holiday, many employers in California are confused about their obligations to their employees regarding Juneteenth.

For employers, the most important thing to know about Juneteenth and any other federal holiday is that the laws creating the holidays provide holiday pay only to federal government employees.

Employer Discretion

Whether a California employer chooses to provide its employees with a paid or unpaid holiday for Juneteenth or any other holiday is entirely at the employer’s discretion.

When creating a holiday policy, employers have discretion as to which holidays to celebrate, whether the holiday will be paid or unpaid, and which class of employees are entitled to the holiday.

But once employers establish the holiday policy, the policy has been interpreted as a contract to do so, so employers should consistently apply the policy as designed.

The first step for employers is to determine before the start of the new year which holidays will be observed and whether the holidays will be paid or unpaid. Employers may decide when to observe holidays depending on the operational needs of the business and whether the holiday falls on a nonbusiness day.

For example, Independence Day — a commonly observed holiday — falls on a Sunday in 2021. Businesses that are not open on Sundays may instead choose to observe another day, such as the following Monday.

Conditions for Holiday Pay

Next, an employer should designate which employees are eligible to receive holiday pay and whether there are any conditions the employee must meet before earning the holiday pay.

For example, an employer could create a policy that only full-time designated employees earn holiday pay, or only employees who work the days before and after the holiday or are otherwise on paid leave such as paid sick leave or vacation, or employees must have been employed for at least 90 days. Whatever eligibility requirements the employer establishes, the employer should make sure they are well defined in the policy.

Nonexempt Employees

The next step for employers is to determine how to handle situations where a nonexempt employee works on one of the observed paid holidays. Because the holiday pay is interpreted as a contract to provide the day, employers must decide how to provide holiday pay to that employee. Some examples include:

  • Pay the employee for all hours worked, plus eight hours of holiday pay.
  • Pay the employee for all hours worked, plus provide a paid day off another time instead of holiday pay.
  • Pay for all hours worked at a premium rate (for example, time-and-a-half), plus eight hours of holiday pay. Also note that premium pay for working a holiday is not required, but an employer may choose to do so to incentivize employees to work the day.

Exempt Employees

Lastly, employers need to be aware of how holiday closures affect exempt employees. In general, if an exempt employee performs any work in a workweek, they are paid their full salary for the workweek.

If the employer closes the business on a holiday, but does not provide holiday pay, employers will still need to pay the exempt employees’ salary if they were otherwise ready, willing and able to work.

July 5, 2021

Have Your Voice Heard in Valley Water’s Redistricting Process!

Valley Water recently kicked off the process to adjust its electoral boundaries and invites you to participate. This process occurs every ten years after the decennial census. The process, commonly called redistricting, is done to ensure a fair representation of each district and determine if population shifts require an adjustment to electoral district boundaries. Ultimately, this process affects how effectively your community is represented on Valley Water’s Board of Directors.

2021 Redistricting Advisory Committee

The Valley Water Board has appointed a seven-member Redistricting Advisory Committee (RAC) to represent the communities–including yours–in each of the seven electoral districts, in the redistricting process. The RAC will hold public meetings, collect community input, conduct mapping sessions, and utilize your input to recommend any changes in district boundaries to the Valley Water Board of Directors.

Get Involved

Here are the ways you can get involved:

1. Provide your input on any proposed changes in your neighborhood/community during the community outreach meetings. You can address the RAC directly at any of the upcoming community meetings that will be held from late September 2021 to early November 2021. You can find the schedule of RAC meetings at www.valleywater.org/redistricting.

2. Provide written comments and questions to the Committee. Engage with the RAC through our two-way “Be Heard” page dedicated to redistricting at beheard.valleywater.org. You can also submit comments and/or questions to Ms. Glenna Brambill, the RAC’s Clerk Liaison at GBrambill@valleywater.org.

3. Submit your input by utilizing our electronic map tool. Valley Water’s interactive mapping tool will allow you to create your own map that adheres to federal and state guidelines. The August meeting of the RAC will provide information on how to submit and create your own map. After the session, the information will be posted at www.valleywater.org/redistricting.

For more information on Valley Water’s redistricting process, including the schedule of Redistricting Advisory Committee meetings, please visit the redistricting website at www.valleywater.org/redistricting. Please join us and make your voice heard!

Tony Estremera Chair, Board of Directors

Jeff Garcia’s Home Town Football Camp

Presented by Christopher Ranch 

Jeff Garcia, a name anyone from Gilroy, CA knows well, is excited to be coming home on July 8th and July 9th to hold his first football camp in over eleven years for ages 5 to 17 at the beautiful Kirigin Cellars.  As a 4 time NFL Pro Bowl Quarterback, Garcia is one of only eleven quarterbacks in NFL history who have achieved two consecutive thirty-touchdown passing seasons (2000 and 2001) at least one time in his career, he’s one of only 6 quarterbacks with 4+ Pro Bowl Appearances over the 2000’s decade, and, was the only one not drafted by the NFL or selected on a popularity vote. The others were Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Donovan McNabb, Tom Brady and Drew Brees.  Today, Jeff still holds the San Francisco 49ers single season passing record of 4,278 yards in 2000 ahead of Steve Young and Joe Montana.   

For camp registration visit:   www.jeffgarciafootball.com

The camp will be held at Kirigin Cellars (11550 Watsonville Road, Gilroy, CA 95020)

Thursday, July 8th 

(Age 5 – 7 from 9:00 AM – 11:30 AM; Age 8 – 11 from 12:30 PM -3:00 PM)

Friday, July 9th 

(Age 12 – 17 from 9:00 AM – 11:30 AM)  

A Changing Business Landscape: Resources for Your Small Business

In the last year, the business landscape has dramatically shifted for small businesses, prompting them to rethink their business strategy and adapt in order to survive the pandemic. From constant changes in masking orders, workplace capacity and reopening guidelines, small business owners need guidance on how to operate and thrive while the economic recovery is underway.

Below you will find some key business advocates and organizations that may be able to advise you and provide critical resources to help you navigate this new landscape, as you plan to rebuild and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Start Small Think Big 

Start Small Think Big focuses on providing support to under-resourced entrepreneurs and communities. This includes supporting entrepreneurs who identify with at least one of the following criteria: Person of color, women, LGBTQ+, physical or mental disability, veteran, immigrant, or low to moderate income (does not exceed 500% Federal Poverty Guidelines).

Learn more

SCORE 

SCORE is dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals. SCORE provides a wide range of services to established and budding business owners alike, including: Mentoring, webinars and courses on demand, a library of online resources, and local events.

Learn more

Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) 

SBDCs’ mission is to represent the interests of small business owners by promoting, informing, supporting and continuously improving America’s nationwide network of SBDCs. SBDCs help new entrepreneurs realize the dream of business ownership, and assist existing businesses to remain competitive in an ever-changing global economy.

Learn more

Pacific Community Ventures 

Pacific Community Ventures is a national nonprofit CDFI that leverages technology to provide small business owners with high-quality mentoring, at no cost. Their BusinessAdvising.org platform connects small business owners with pro bono business advisors who help them meet their challenge and seize new opportunities. They put volunteerism to work for local communities by managing a national network of seasoned entrepreneurs, skilled professionals, and senior leaders from major banks, consulting firms, and bigger companies who want to use their hard-earned business know-how to help business owners seize new opportunities, and create more opportunity in our communities.

Learn more

VetBiz 

VetBiz, previously the Veterans Business Resource Center, is dedicated to helping men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces achieve the American dream of owning and successfully operating their own businesses.

Learn more

National ACE’s Small Business Recovery Resource Center 

The Asian/Pacific Islander American Chamber of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (National ACE) is a premier national nonprofit organization that works to increase business opportunities for minority entrepreneurs and businesses. The mission of this program is to help AAPI and minority business enterprises survive this pandemic and implement strategies that help them adapt to a changing economy.

Learn more

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Gavin Newsom Extends California Eviction Ban

Article by Hannah Wile, The Sacramento Bee

Three days before it was set to expire, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday extended an eviction moratorium until the end of September and boosted funding for a rent relief program, despite opposition from landlords and realtors who argued the protections have created more problems than they’ve solved.

Newsom first signed the eviction moratorium into law in August. He then extended the provisions in January and announced a rent relief program that used $2.6 billion in federal funds to help landlords and tenants pay down debts.

“California is coming roaring back from the pandemic, but the economic impacts of COVID-19 continue to disproportionately impact so many low-income Californians, tenants and small landlords alike,” Newsom said when a deal with lawmakers was announced last week.

The newest law Newsom signed, Assembly Bill 832, promises to bump funding to $5.2 billion to cover 100% of outstanding rent debts and streamline the application and approval process for doling out the funds.

Previously, tenants who paid at least 25% of their rent starting in September 2020 could qualify for relief to cover another 80% of their arrears. Their landlords had to agree not to evict them, and they needed to prove pandemic-related hardship while meeting certain salary qualifications. If landlords didn’t want to participate, tenants could still receive some aid to cover up to 25% of their remaining rent.

Groups representing landlords and realtors said it was unfair to extend the moratorium when owners weren’t at fault for the delays.

“It is frustrating that the state of California and numerous local governments have not quickly disbursed funds to those in need, especially to mom-and-pop rental housing providers who have not seen any rent payments yet must still pay the mortgage, insurance, taxes, maintenance and other expenses,” Tom Bannon, chief executive officer of the California Apartment Association, said in a Friday press release.

In a statement, the California Rental Housing Association also said the plan would create “more confusion and uncertainty for owners and renters.”

Specifically, the group said the new law creates “additional and unnecessary hurdles” in the application process that could “overwhelm the agencies” overseeing the programs. The association also argued that the extension lets tenants “abuse” their responsibility to pay landlords any assistance they receive.

Still, the measure passed the Legislature with bipartisan support. AB 832 passed the Assembly on a 58-9 initial vote, and the Senate approved it with a 34-0 vote. Several Republicans in both houses voted in favor of the law.

Pending Bill Opens Door to CalPERS Corruption

Commentary by Dan Walters, CalMatters

Assembly Bill 386 sailed through the Assembly Judiciary Committee last week on a unanimous vote with virtually no discussion about its provisions.

The measure also received express treatment a few days earlier from the Assembly committee that deals with public employee matters.

Given its cavalier handling, one might think that AB 386, carried by Assemblyman Jim Cooper, an Elk Grove Democrat, is just another minor change in law. In fact, however, it would allow the financially shaky California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) to semi-secretly lend out untold billions of dollars by exempting details from the state’s Public Records Act.

Potentially it opens the door to insider dealing and corruption in an agency that’s already experienced too many scandals, including a huge one that sent CalPERS’ top administrator to prison for accepting bribes.

CalPERS, which is sponsoring the bill with support from some unions and local governments, claims that the exemption is no big deal since the money it lends through “alternative investment vehicles” such as venture capital funds and hedge funds is already partially exempted from disclosure.

However, there is a big difference. Using outside entities to invest means they have skin in the game. Direct lending by CalPERS means that its board members, administrators and other insiders would be making lending decisions on their own without outside scrutiny.

CalPERS’ rationale is that using alternative investment partners is costly because of their fees, and that direct lending could potentially result in higher earnings. However, it says, disclosing loan details would discourage many would-be borrowers from seeking CalPERS loans, thus limiting potential gains.

Underlying that rationale is that CalPERS’ $440 billion in assets are, by its own calculations, only about 71% of what’s needed to make pension payments that state and local governments have promised their workers. It has ratcheted up mandatory “contributions” from its client agencies to close the gap, but it’s also been chronically unable to meet its self-proclaimed investment earnings goal of 7% a year.

During the fiscal year that ended last June 30, CalPERS saw a net return of 4.7%, blaming the shortfall on the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What started out as a health crisis turned into an economic crisis and severely affected investors everywhere, including CalPERS,” Yu (Ben) Meng, CalPERS chief investment officer, said at the time.

One sub-par year would not be cause for alarm, but CalPERS officials have repeatedly said that meeting the 7% goal over time would be impossible without getting more aggressive in its investments.

Meng was brought aboard to juice up investment strategy but shortly after reporting disappointing 2019-20 results was forced to resign because he failed to reveal his personal investments in a New York financial firm, Blackstone Group, with whom he had placed $1 billion in CalPERS funds.

The Meng situation illustrates the perils should AB 386 become law and CalPERS officials be allowed to loan money to corporations and individuals without having to disclose all-important details.

The potential pitfalls were pointed out in an extensive analysis of the bill by the Judiciary Committee staff. It mentioned the Meng case as well as the scandal that sent chief executive Fred Buenrostro to prison for taking bribes from Alfred Villalobos, a former CalPERS board member who became a “placement agent” for hedge funds. Villalobos committed suicide rather than face prosecution in the scandal.

One might think that members of the two Assembly committees that rubber-stamped AB 386 would have at least discussed those scandals and the potential downside. But they couldn’t be bothered to do their jobs.

Gilroy Chamber Business Focus-June 2021

June 28, 2021The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to Governor Newsom in support of AB 271 requesting his signature on the bill. This important legislation will ensure the timely, safe, and expert construction of the Anderson Dam Seismic Retrofit Project by...

Gilroy Chamber Business Focus – May 2021

May 24, 2021By:Mark Turner In California’s fight against homelessness, the Governor just announced a $12 billion plan to end homelessness in five years. Combine that with Santa Clara County’s 5-Year Plan to End Homelessness and one might think we are making progress....

Gilroy Chamber Business Focus – April 2021

April 26, 2021The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce is planning a history and advocacy trip to Washington DC, October 11-16, 2021. This 6-day/5-night trip will include tours of Arlington National Cemetery; Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington; Historic Old Town...

California Harassment Prevention Training
California Harassment Prevention Training
California Harassment Prevention Training

"Joining the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce is one of the best business decisions I have made."

Anita Bedoya, Owner, Lapels Dry Cleaning

"While facing some delays opening our taphouse the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce intervened. Their creative approach to problem solving saved the day. The Chamber’s connections made a difference for us."

Ryan and Larissa Dickerson, Owners of Bitter Taphouse

"The Chamber has done a great job keeping me informed."

James Gargiulo, Spectrum Small Business Advisor

"We have been able to rely on the Chamber whenever we needed to be connected to people, resources and information."

Jaime Rosso, CEO, Rosso’s Furniture

"We have been actively involved in the Chamber for 20 years. We continue to stay involved because of the critical information they provide."

Bruce & Audrey Haller, Cafe 152 Bread Co.

"As a Gilroy Chamber of Commerce member, I’ve met more people, been able to give back to the community and be involved in decisions that affect our local economy."

Maria Cid, Farmers Insurance