Gilroy Chamber Business Focus August 2022

August 29, 2022

Mark Turner Stepping Down as Gilroy Chamber President

In August of 2021, Mark Turner, President/CEO of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce, announced his candidacy for Mayor of Morgan Hill. As a result, Mark has recently announced his retirement from the Chamber of Commerce effective December 31, 2022. While the election is not until November 8, Mark feels it’s important to allow the Board to begin a search for a replacement and not cause any undue delays in that search, bringing Mark’s 9-year tenure to a close.

Over the last 9 years the Chamber has become a strong business advocacy organization taking positions on local, regional, and state issues. Over the last two years, Mr. Turner has also been the Chair of Silicon Valley Chamber Coalition, which includes 18 other chambers of commerce in and around Silicon Valley.

During Mr. Turner’s tenure, the Gilroy Chamber also became known for other events such as the Garlic City Car Show, the Annual Legislative Summit, and the Annual Mayor’s State of the City Address.

After the City of Gilroy ended the funding to the Gilroy Economic Development Corporation (GEDC) in 2019, Mr. Turner successfully presented a plan to the Chamber and GEDC Boards to have the Chamber assume the responsibility of economic development working with the city and other agencies

In early 2020, just as the pandemic hit, Mr. Turner worked closely with Jane Howard, the Executive Director of Visit Gilroy, and co-founded the Gilroy Economic Development Partnership (GEDP). The GEDP was expanded to include a total of eight economic development partners. They identified three initiatives to help in the economic recovery and sustainability of the community. One initiative was to bring a Sharks Ice facility to Gilroy, second was to create a mountain bike adventure park adjacent to Gilroy Gardens, and third was the development of Gourmet Alley in downtown. They also worked with the City Council to pass a resolution declaring Gilroy as a Recreation Destination.

Carlos Pineda, Chair of the Chamber Board, said, “Mark has played a significant role in many aspects of community development and business advocacy over the last 9 years. His dedication, commitment and enthusiasm are not easily matched.” One of Mr. Turner’s most important roles may be the part he played after the Garlic Festival incident in 2019, helping to bring the community together after being tapped to lead three different community vigils.

In 2020, Mr. Turner was awarded the Chamber Executive of the Year by the Western Association of Chamber Executive’s which is the largest state or regional association of chamber executives in the United States.

Looking back at his time at the Chamber, Mr. Turner commented, “I have enjoyed every minute of my time at the Chamber and serving this community. I’ve been honored to get to know and work alongside so many wonderful people. While my heart is calling me home to Morgan Hill, where I have lived for 30 years, I will always be grateful for my time here.”

The Chamber Board of Directors will begin the search for Mr. Turner’s replacement. Those interested in the position may download the job description and additional information from the Chamber’s website at gilroy.org.

Nominate Someone for Woman of the Year

The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors invites the community to nominate individuals and businesses for the 2023 Spice of Life awards. Applications are available online at gilroy.org and at the Gilroy Chamber office with the deadline to submit Friday, September 30, 2022.

Categories include:

  • 2023 Man and Woman of the Year – designed to acknowledge those persons who have a history of unselfish service to the community, contributing to Gilroy’s welfare and betterment.
  • 2023 Small and Large Business of the Year – designed to recognize an outstanding Gilroy Chamber of Commerce business which has demonstrated an extraordinary level of excellence and success in areas such as management skills, innovation, personal commitment, community involvement and support, and a contribution to the entrepreneurial spirit. Separate categories are presented based on business size with small businesses being 25 full or part-time employees or less and large businesses with 26 and above full or part-time employees.
  • 2023 Gilroy Educator of the Year – designed to recognize an outstanding individual who has made a significant contribution within the educational community of Gilroy.
  • 2023 Firman B. Voorhies Volunteer of the Year – designed to recognize an outstanding Gilroy Chamber of Commerce volunteer.
  • 2023 Non-Profit of the Year – designed to recognize an outstanding non-profit organization in Gilroy.
  • 2023 Young Professional of the Year – designed to recognize the accomplishments of a highly motivated young professional who works or lives in South County. Nominees for this award must be between the ages of 21-40 years old.
  • 2023 Susan Valenta Youth Leadership Award – designed to honor a high school senior who has gone “above and beyond” in the area of volunteerism. Their volunteer contribution will have exceeded that which was required of them either by way of exceeding 80 volunteer hours or through a project that leaves a lasting impact on their community or school.
California Drought: Why More Than 530,000 Acres of Farmlands are Now Left Barren

Article by Yoohyun Jung – San Francisco Chronicle

The years-long drought and dwindling water supply are estimated to have left more than 531,000 acres of California farmlands unplanted without harvest this year — a 36% increase since August of last year.

The new estimates on acres farmed from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reflect the struggles of some California farmers to procure water to irrigate their crops as major government water projects supplying their water remain thirsty as drought continues for a third year.

“It’s true that things are not great now,” Aaron Smith, professor of agricultural economics at UC Davis, said. The crops that are likely most affected by water shortages are water-intensive field crops, such as rice and cotton, which have been declining in the state.

The USDA reports three different categories of unplanted land: fallow, idle and prevented. Prevented acres specifically represent land that cannot be planted because of natural disasters, such as drought. The number of prevented acres in California more than doubled from 2021 to 2022. These estimates, which are based on reports by farmers, are likely not representative of the whole picture.

“When we look at the drought’s impact on agriculture, it’s not only the producers, the farmers that are impacted,” said Navdeep Dhillon, farm program chief for the USDA Farm Service Agency’s California office. That means the increase in unplanted farmland across the state spells trouble not only for the farmers themselves, but for the processing and distribution centers, harvesters, drivers and others.

Decline in crop production is to be expected as the state continues to cope with water shortages and regulations to protect dwindling supply, Smith of UC Davis said. But the agricultural economist added that he expected this year’s estimates to be even larger, considering the severity of the state’s drought and water supply conditions.

Most of the state remains in severe or worse drought with no immediate relief in sight, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor data and drought outlooks. Currently, about 17% of the state — mostly in the Central Valley — is in “exceptional” drought, which indicates heightened fire and water shortage risks.

“That’s going to mean less water available for agriculture in certain parts of the state, most likely,” Smith said. “We will see some reductions in land use and certainly, I would expect less alfalfa, rice, cotton and wheat, which have been declining anyway.”

California is Leaking Vital High-Income Taxpayers

Commentary by Dan Walters, CalMatters

After 170 years of population growth — occasionally explosive growth — California is now experiencing population loss for the first time.

As foreign immigration and birth rates declined, they no longer offset net losses in state-to-state migration. Since 2010, 7.5 million people have left California while 5.9 million people have come from other states.

That gives rise to a question: Who is leaving California and why?

“Most people who move across state lines do so for housing, job, or family reasons,” Hans Johnson, a demographer for the Public Policy Institute of California, wrote earlier this year. Johnson also notes that those who leave California tend to be poorer and less educated than those who migrate to the state, which is not surprising given that housing and jobs dominate motivations.

There is, however, a less obvious subset of those who leave California — high-income families seeking relief from the state’s notoriously high taxes.

The San Francisco Chronicle shed some light on that phenomenon when one of its reporters dove into Internal Revenue Service data that revealed favorite destinations of high-income former San Franciscans.

The newspaper found that 39,000 San Franciscans who had filed federal tax returns for 2018 had moved out of the city before filing 2019 returns. Collectively, they took $10.6 billion in income with them while people who moved to the city during that period reported just $3.8 billion in income.

“The county that saw the wealthiest movers from San Francisco on average was Teton County, Wyoming, home to Jackson Hole and its famed ski resorts,” the Chronicle reported. “The data showed that 40 different families, comprising 63 people total, filed their 2019 taxes in San Francisco and then filed their 2020 taxes in Teton County, accounting for a total of $37 million in income moving from San Francisco to Teton. That is an average of $586,000 per person, according to the IRS data.”

Two other ski resort-heavy counties made the top 10 destinations of San Francisco’s wealthiest movers. Washoe County, Nevada, which includes Lake Tahoe’s Incline Village, was No. 2 while Summit County, Utah, site of the Park City ski resort, was No. 6. Palm Beach, Florida, was No. 3.

While the Chronicle article cited the popularity of resorts as a destination for wealthy expatriates, the more glaring fact is that their favored new homes are often in states that levy little or no personal income taxes. No-tax states include Wyoming, Nevada, Washington, Texas and Florida. Utah has a flat 4.85% rate.

California’s top income tax rate, 13.3% on taxable incomes over $1 million, is by far the nation’s highest and when added to the top federal rate of 37% pushes the overall bite to more than 50%. Moreover, a tax overhaul during the Donald Trump presidency basically ended the ability to deduct state income taxes on federal returns.

If anything, California’s taxes on the wealthy are likely to increase. Proposition 30, a measure on the November ballot, would boost the top marginal rate to over 15%, raising money for programs to battle climate change, and another tax hike is headed for the 2024 ballot.

The wealthy are quite capable of protecting themselves, including moving to another state. However, they are vitally important to California’s schools, health care and myriad other public services. Income taxes account for three-quarters of California’s general fund revenues and the top 1% of California taxpayers generate nearly half of those taxes.

That’s just 150,000 taxpayers in a state of 40 million, so even a trickle of departures has a potentially huge impact on the budget.

August 22, 2022

Monthly Spotlight with Mayor Marie Blankley

Hello Gilroy! We are well underway with the first of our five year “new and improved” street maintenance plan. This new and improved plan is the direct result of your City Council’s unanimous vote in March of 2021 to increase street maintenance funding by $2 million per year for the first two of a five-year plan. If you haven’t yet stumbled across construction maintenance around town, you need to get out more! All kidding aside, Fiscal Year 2022 pavement maintenance is happening now and includes 149 segments on 138 streets and 67 curb ramps. All work should be completed by the end of the year.

Please join me and Public Works Director Daryl Jordan at the next Conversation and Coffee with the Mayor on Saturday, September 10th at 9:30am in Council Chambers, 7351 Rosanna Street, to celebrate these repairs and the ones to come.

Mayor Marie Blankley, CPA

City Street Maintenance for Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023

Together with the approximate $1.9 million we receive annually for street maintenance through SB-1 and Measure B (state and county measures), we begin our new and improved 5-year plan with $3.9 million for each of the first two years that aims, at a minimum, to keep our streets from further decline. Unfortunately, prior to Council action in 2021, the pavement condition of our streets had been declining since 2017, with most of Gilroy’s roads having received minimal to no treatment for multiple years. Although the additional $2 million isn’t enough to better our pavement condition score (a score reflective of the overall condition of our streets citywide and evaluated using the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s (MTC) Pavement Management Technical Assistance Program), it does put an end to the neglect and decline of pavement conditions, and provides a start to moving up.

As you might guess, the worse the current condition of a street, the greater the cost to fix. What you might not guess, however, is that the cost to fix a street in great disrepair is exponentially more costly to fix and would risk putting hundreds of other streets into the same state of disrepair if we consume the necessary dollars to fix a street that is already past the point of no return. Such is the case with Luchessa east of Monterey Road, for example. To address this, our Public Works department uses a combination of a “Worst-First” approach and a “Street Saver” approach to determine where to dedicate the funds that we’ve allocated for pavement maintenance. Under this combination of approaches, two-thirds to three-quarters of the annual paving budget is dedicated to rehabilitating streets not yet past the point of no return, meaning streets we can save, and the remaining annual funds are dedicated to what we call a failed street. Depending on which failed street is selected, pooling of money from one or more funding cycles may be necessary to reconstruct the designated street.

To see a list of the streets being worked on now in this Year 1 cycle (Fiscal Year 2022), click here.

For streets scheduled for maintenance in Year 2 (Fiscal Year 2023), click here.

With the financial skill and commitment of our City Administrator and staff, and the support I hope to have from the City Council in the next 2-year budget cycle, we can fund another 2 years and continue this overdue momentum into Fiscal Years 2024 and 2025. Hurray for our streets!

See you on September 10th.

Gilroy Housing Element Study Session

Please join the Gilroy City Council and Planning Commission for a joint study session to discuss Gilroy’s Housing Element. The City is seeking input from our residents, workforce, and other local stakeholders about plans to address Gilroy’s housing challenges and find solutions. The study session will take place on August 29, 2022 at 6:00 PM in Council Chambers.

The City is currently in the process of updating our Housing Element which outlines Gilroy’s plan to meet the housing needs of everyone in our community. This study session will provide an opportunity to review community survey responses, proposed housing programs to address the identified needs of the community, and a list of properties that are currently vacant or underutilized that may provide an opportunity for housing redevelopment.

What: HOUSING ELEMENT STUDY SESSION

When: Monday, August 29, 2022 at 6:00 pm 

Where: Gilroy City Council Chambers located at 7351 Rosanna Street

For more information, please visit the Housing Element Plan Update on the City’s website or contact Cindy McCormick at cindy.mccormick@cityofgilroy.org.

To request Spanish language interpretation services for this meeting, please contact the City Clerk a minimum of 72 hours prior to the meeting at 408-846-0204 or e-mail the City Clerk’s Office at cityclerk@cityofgilroy.org.

California’s Fast Food Bill Could Link Chains to Wage Theft and Workplace Violations

By Jeanne Kuang – CalMatters

California lawmakers this month are considering a fast food bill that would significantly shift the relationship between restaurant workers and the corporate chains whose products they sell. If Assembly Bill 257 passes, California would be the first state to assign labor liability to fast food corporations and not just their individual franchise owners. The bill’s provisions would let workers and the state name fast food chains as a responsible party when workers claim minimum wage violations or unpaid overtime at a franchise location. The bill’s language also would allow a franchisee to sue a restaurant chain if their franchise contracts contain strict terms that leave them no choice but to violate labor law.  It’s part of a larger bill pushed by unions to more strictly regulate fast food businesses. AB 257 also includes a measure to create a state-run, fast food sector council to set wage and labor standards across the industry.

Last week the bill survived the “suspense file” process, where controversial bills often are quietly killed. After clearing the Senate Appropriations Committee, the bill awaits a vote on the floor. Gov. Gavin Newsom has not stated a position on the bill, but his Department of Finance opposes it, saying it would create “ongoing costs” and worsen delays in the state’s labor enforcement system. If it becomes law, proponents said it could deter wage theft and other abuses in the low-wage industry.

“How you hold the companies at the top of the food chain, who are really setting the terms and conditions of employment, responsible for the lower levels — California has been way ahead on that,” said Janice Fine, professor of labor studies and employment relations at Rutgers University. “What’s happened in California is a real effort to try to figure out the fissured economy.”

California’s Fast Food Bill

The fast food bill is one of the most contentious measures the Legislature is considering during its final weeks in session. The California Chamber of Commerce and the state restaurant association have lobbied hard against it, arguing the bill would upend the franchise business model and ultimately raise costs for franchise owners and consumers. On Wednesday, a group of franchisees flooded the Capitol to oppose the bill. The Service Employees International Union and its Fight for $15 campaign led a series of strikes this summer to rally for the bill’s passage, including an overnight rally at the Capitol this week. Currently, most workers who allege wage theft, say, at a McDonald’s, Burger King, or a Jack in the Box can only name the owner of their specific franchise location as responsible for paying them back — even as they work under the banner of a multibillion-dollar fast food company.

In other industries, California already has done some of what AB 257 proposes to do for fast food. In some cases, the state has expanded responsibility for employment conditions beyond the subcontractor or supplier level to the larger companies they do business with, even though they don’t directly employ the workers. For instance, in 2014 the Legislature made businesses that use contract workers liable for wage theft committed by those workers’ agencies. Lawmakers later did the same for contractors in the janitorial, gardening, construction and nursing home industries. Last year the Legislature passed a measure putting major fashion brands on the hook for wage theft by garment manufacturers in their supply chains.

Wage Theft in Fast Food

Fast food is the latest industry attracting this type of regulation, and it is one of the largest and most visible. Restaurants such as fast-food joints, take-out businesses and cafes employed more than 700,000 workers across the state, according to June federal data. Proponents of the bill estimate 80% of the workers are Black, Latino or Asian and two-thirds are women. SEIU and Fight for $15 say the industry is rife with labor violations. The union released a survey of 400 workers this year in which 85% said they were victims of wage theft.

Business groups said the bill targets fast food unnecessarily. The Employment Policies Institute, a national think tank with restaurant ties, published a report this month showing the percentage of wage claims filed against this segment of business is lower than its share of the California workforce. If approved, the proposed legislation could mark a turning point in American labor law. Typically under the franchise model, fast food corporations strike agreements with franchisees that dictate a variety of standards for selling food under their brand — but leave wages, hours and labor conditions up to the franchisee. The model has provided inroads to business ownership for many minority entrepreneurs, supporters point out. But critics say companies like McDonald’s and Domino’s have been allowed to profit while distancing themselves from any responsibility for how restaurant employees are treated.

Joint Employers?

The question of franchisors’ relationship to workers remains unsettled at the federal level. Across three presidential administrations, the National Labor Relations Board has gone back and forth on whether to automatically consider franchisors and franchisees “joint employers.” The courts, including the California Supreme Court, have generally rejected that idea under current laws.

“These franchise models have been an avenue and way for companies to avoid responsibility for being employers,” said Emily Andrews, director of education, labor and worker justice at the Center for Law and Social Policy, a national, left-leaning anti-poverty organization.

Studies have found franchisors can exert a significant amount of pressure and control over franchise business owners. In a paper published last year, law professors at the University of Miami and Cornell University examined 44 franchise contracts from 2016 and found that more than three-quarters gave the chain exclusive power to terminate contracts, putting a franchisee “in a position of economic dependence.”

“Franchisees can respond to intensive franchisor monitoring and tight profit margins by unlawfully chiseling wages as the only cost variable that the franchisor does not directly monitor,” the law professors wrote. The International Franchise Association disagrees, arguing the business model is defined by franchise owners’ independence in labor decisions. The fast food bill, they said, would reduce those owners to middle managers, and larger companies would pull back opportunities in California if they’re required to monitor labor law compliance.

“You’d be holding an entity responsible or assigning liability for things they don’t have control over,” said Jeff Hanscom, spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based association which includes franchisors and franchisees. “You’re taking a franchise and turning it into the corporate entity.”

The Cheesecake Factory Case

That argument holds some sway with lawmakers in the state Senate.

During a June hearing for the fast food bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee, some Democratic lawmakers questioned if an automatic expansion of liability is necessary. Sen. Bob Wieckowski, a Fremont Democrat, pointed out that under current law a judge can already find a franchisor liable for a labor violation if it’s proven on a case-by-case basis. Representatives for some franchisors, including McDonald’s, Jack in the Box and Burger King, did not respond to requests for comment on California’s fast food bill.

To worker advocates, extending liability is key to enforcing wage and labor laws. Yardenna Aaron is executive director of the Maintenance Cooperation Trust Fund, a janitorial worker center that pushed for joint liability in that industry in 2015. Prior to that law’s passage, Aaron said, contractors often closed up shop or declared bankruptcy when faced with allegations of wage theft, only to reopen under another name or business entity later. The new law has enabled the state’s labor commissioner to issue citations against larger and more prominent companies in cases of alleged wage theft. In a highly publicized 2018 case, the California Labor Commissioner named the Cheesecake Factory jointly responsible with a janitorial services firm, saying they owed nearly $4 million to 559 janitorial workers who cleaned eight of the chain’s Southern California restaurants. It was one of the state’s largest cases of wage theft.

The state has brought similar cases against electric car manufacturer Tesla for its contractors allegedly underpaying janitors at its San Jose factories, and e-commerce giant Amazon for a contractor allegedly failing to pay overtime to its delivery drivers.

The Power of the Purse

Labor experts said it’s too soon to tell if joint liability has made it easier for the state to recover unpaid wages. State investigations of wage theft take months. And when the state cites employers, seeking unpaid wages and penalties, employers usually appeal, setting off administrative hearing processes that can take years. The Cheesecake Factory case is still awaiting a hearing, four years later. Advocates expect a resolution this year, Aaron said. The Maintenance Cooperation Trust Fund represented the workers interviewed in that case; its director at the time, Lilia Garcia-Brower, is now the California State Labor Commissioner.

Officials in the labor commissioner’s office in 2020 pointed to the growing complexity of liability laws for the long delays in processing the tens of thousands of individual wage claims workers file each year. Still, legislative staffers predicted joint liability would “almost certainly” improve labor compliance in fast food by forcing the larger businesses to monitor the behavior of franchisees. Aaron said that has been evident in the janitorial industry since the 2015 law change. The worker center meets with client companies that hire janitorial contractors to educate them about labor laws.

“We find, generally, clients want to avoid the liability that contractors would bring in terms of wage theft cases,” Aaron said. “The power of the purse is real.”

Layoffs Involve Some Strict Rules with a Bit of Employer Discretion

By Dana Leisinger – CalChamber

Due to a number of reasons, we are going to have to lay off a few employees. I have heard that there are certain rules to layoffs. What are those rules?

First, both California and federal law require advance notice of mass layoffs. These rules are strict, but again — this is in the event of a “mass” layoff, not the question posed above.

Second, if the company is unionized, the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) apply, so any rules regulating layoffs in the CBA must be followed.

Next, some employees may have employment contracts that offer protections. Some employees have written employment agreements that guarantee continued employment for a certain period. If there is such a clause, it must be honored.

No Discrimination

Additionally, employers must not discriminate in layoffs. Even though employment in California is “at will,” meaning employees can quit or be fired for any reason as long as it’s not an illegal reason, employers must take care not to discriminate when choosing which employees will be subject to a layoff.

If all employees chosen are in a particular protected category, the employer should rethink their reasons for the layoff.

Nevertheless, employers have a certain amount of discretion in deciding whom to lay off. A common misconception is that there is a requirement of “last hired is first fired.” Certainly, employers can follow that policy, but this is not the law.

Layoffs can be a time for parting with poor performers, employees with chronic absenteeism that is not protected, employees with poor attitude, or simply individuals who aren’t working out.

No Promises

Whatever reason an employer uses to lay off staff, it is important not to make promises of re-employment down the road. Even if the employer does want to rehire an individual, things can change, and most companies don’t want to be boxed in to rehiring someone.

Last, laying off employees can be tricky, and employers may find it beneficial to consult an employment law professional before making the layoff decisions.

Grants Available Through DoorDash

Do you own a business that sells packaged treats, baked goods, frozen food, or non-alcoholic beverages? You may qualify for the opportunity to receive a $5000 grant and other resources. Take 7 minutes to apply here.

Eligibility

  • Business is registered and actively operating in the state of California
  • Business owner resides in the state of California
  • Generated less than $1M in revenue in fiscal year 2021
  • Have been in business for 2 years or more
  • Sell sealed, packaged, and labeled food or beverage products in the eligible product categories (categories may change for each cohort)

Learn more here.

August 15, 2022

Proud Members of the Gilroy Chamber

The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce appreciates the support of our members. Investment dollars are dedicated to vital programs such as economic development, business marketing, leadership programs and more. We applaud each of you for helping make Gilroy a better place to live and work.

30 Years & over

Community Solutions

Gilroy Dental Associates

Greco & Filice, CPAs

Quality Inn & Suites

Saint Mary Parish

20 Years & over

Gina Lopez – State Farm Insurance

Mama Mia’s Ristorante Italiano

10 Years & over

Congregation Emeth

Datamate Bookkeeping & Tax, Inc.

Fitness for Adults in Transition Energize

Guild Mortgage

South County Line X

South Valley Symphony

South Valley Windows

The Ford Store Morgan Hill

5 YEARS & over

Anthem Blue Cross

Gilroy Automotive Repair

Chamber Board Seeks Nominations for the 2023 Spice of Life Awards

The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors invites the community to nominate individuals and businesses for the 2023 Spice of Life awards. Applications are available online at gilroy.org and at the Gilroy Chamber office with the deadline to submit Friday, September 30, 2022.

Categories include:

  • 2023 Man and Woman of the Year – designed to acknowledge those persons who have a history of unselfish service to the community, contributing to Gilroy’s welfare and betterment.
  • 2023 Small and Large Business of the Year – designed to recognize an outstanding Gilroy Chamber of Commerce business which has demonstrated an extraordinary level of excellence and success in areas such as management skills, innovation, personal commitment, community involvement and support, and a contribution to the entrepreneurial spirit. Separate categories are presented based on business size with small businesses being 25 full or part-time employees or less and large businesses with 26 and above full or part-time employees.
  • 2023 Gilroy Educator of the Year – designed to recognize an outstanding individual who has made a significant contribution within the educational community of Gilroy.
  • 2023 Firman B. Voorhies Volunteer of the Year – designed to recognize an outstanding Gilroy Chamber of Commerce volunteer.
  • 2023 Non-Profit of the Year – designed to recognize an outstanding non-profit organization in Gilroy.
  • 2023 Young Professional of the Year – designed to recognize the accomplishments of a highly motivated young professional who works or lives in South County. Nominees for this award must be between the ages of 21-40 years old.
  • 2023 Susan Valenta Youth Leadership Award – designed to honor a high school senior who has gone “above and beyond” in the area of volunteerism. Their volunteer contribution will have exceeded that which was required of them either by way of exceeding 80 volunteer hours or through a project that leaves a lasting impact on their community or school.
Road Work Underway Throughout Gilroy

The Citywide Pavement Maintenance Project is underway with plans to improve 149 segments on 138 streets and 67 curb ramps, according to City of Gilroy officials. Work will start with curb ramp improvements, followed by pavement improvements and striping. This work is anticipated to be completed by the end of the year.

Over the next two weeks, crews will be working on curb ramp improvements on the following streets:

  • Rancho Hills Drive at Ridgeway Drive
  • El Caminito at Longmeadow Drive, Valbusa Drive and Lerma Way
  • Mantelli Drive at Zinnia Street and Hirasaki Avenue
  • Wren Avenue at Gary Street
  • El Cerrito Way at Chiesa Drive and Las Animas Court

For information, visit ca-gilroy.civicplus.com/859/City-Infrastructure-Projects.

Garlic Festival Opens Grant Application Period

Article by the Gilroy Dispatch

The Gilroy Garlic Festival Association is inviting local nonprofit organizations to apply for grants. Grant funds range from $500 to $5,000 per application per year. Candidates for the grants should be based in Gilroy and the surrounding area. Organizations involved in promoting Gilroy as a visitor destination or promoting the business community would normally be supporting the GGFA as part of their mission and therefore not normally considered for this award. Each nonprofit organization will sign a contract guaranteeing completion of requirements, and then must complete and show proof for a list of marketing tasks targeting each organization’s constituency of supporters.

These would consist of:

  • Prominent presence of the GGFA on the organization’s website as a sponsor
  • Minimum social media posts of at least once every 8 weeks over a specified period of time
  • Minimum number of dedicated eblasts to the organization’s database

“In staying true to the Mission Statement of the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association, the Board of Directors are proud to give funds to the local nonprofits that have helped with the success of the festival for the last 40-plus years,” said 2022 Festival President Jeff Speno. “The GGFA has given millions of dollars over the years and this year we will be donating $40,000 through grants and volunteer organization payouts. With the inability to host a large event in 2022, the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association has pivoted to donating funds through a grant process in addition to the volunteer work payouts.”

To request an application, email clove@gilroygarlicfestival.com. Applications are due by 9 pm on Sept. 30 and must be emailed to clove@gilroygarlicfestival.com.

Register for CERT Training

What is CERT?
The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is a nationwide training program that trains
individuals to prepare, organize, and work together as a team to provide much-needed community
support during and after a disaster.

Required Training and Commitment
The 20-hour all-hazards training program is offered at no cost and will include several LIVE online
learning and in-person skills training sessions. Sessions cover local hazards, essential disaster
preparedness information, and basic response skills, including fire safety, light search and rescue,
team organization, communications, damage assessment, disaster psychology, and disaster
medical operations.

Participants must attend all online and in-person sessions to receive a course completion certificate.
Upon completion, you may elect to apply with the City of Gilroy’s Office of Emergency Services
Volunteer Program to become an active CERT team member.

For detailed course information and  to register click the links below:
August 30 – September 24 
October 11 – November 5

Contact Andrew Young for additional information.
Emergency Services and Volunteer Coordinator
Email: Andrew.Young@cityofgilroy.org
Telephone: (408) 846-0211

CDC Drops Quarantine, Distancing Recommendations For COVID

By Mike Stobbe and Collin Binkley, AP

NEW YORK (AP) — The nation’s top public health agency relaxed its COVID-19 guidelines Thursday, dropping the recommendation that Americans quarantine themselves if they come into close contact with an infected person. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said people no longer need to stay at least 6 feet away from others. The changes, which come more than 2 1/2 years after the start of the pandemic, are driven by a recognition that an estimated 95% of Americans 16 and older have acquired some level of immunity, either from being vaccinated or infected, agency officials said.

“The current conditions of this pandemic are very different from those of the last two years,” said the CDC’s Greta Massetti, an author of the guidelines.

Many places around the country long ago abandoned social distancing and other once-common precautions, but some of the changes could be particularly important for schools, which resume classes this month in many parts of the country. Perhaps the biggest education-related change is the end of the recommendation that schools do routine daily testing, although that practice can be reinstated in certain situations during a surge in infections, officials said. The CDC also dropped a “test-to-stay” recommendation, which said students exposed to COVID-19 could regularly test — instead of quarantining at home — to keep attending school. With no quarantine recommendation anymore, the testing option disappeared too. Masks continue to be recommended only in areas where community transmission is deemed high, or if a person is considered at high risk of severe illness.

School districts across the U.S. have scaled back their COVID-19 precautions in recent weeks even before the latest guidance was issued. Some have promised a return to pre-pandemic schooling. Masks will be optional in most districts when classes resume this fall, and some of the nation’s largest districts have dialed back or eliminated COVID-19 testing requirements. Public schools in Los Angeles are ending weekly COVID-19 tests, instead making at-home tests available to families, the district announced last week. Schools in North Carolina’s Wake County also dropped weekly testing. Some others have moved away from test-to-stay programs that became unmanageable during surges of the omicron variant last school year.

The American Federation of Teachers, one of the nation’s largest teachers unions, said it welcomes the guidance.

“Every educator and every parent starts every school year with great hope, and this year even more so,” President Randi Weingarten said. “After two years of uncertainty and disruption, we need as normal a year as possible so we can focus like a laser on what kids need.”

The new recommendations prioritize keeping children in school as much as possible, said Joseph Allen, director of Harvard University’s healthy building program. Previous isolation policies forced millions of students to stay home from school, he said, even though the virus poses a relatively low risk to young people.

“Entire classrooms of kids had to miss school if they were deemed a close contact,” he said. “The closed schools and learning disruption have been devastating.”

Others say the CDC is going too far in relaxing its guidelines. Allowing students to return to school five days after infection, without proof of a negative COVID-19 test, could lead to outbreaks in schools, said Anne Sosin, a public health researcher at Dartmouth College. That could force entire schools to close temporarily if teachers get sick in large numbers, a dilemma that some schools faced last year.

“All of us want a stable school year, but wishful thinking is not the strategy for getting there,” she said. “If we want a return to normal in our schools, we have to invest in the conditions for that, not just drop everything haphazardly like we’re seeing across the country.”

The average numbers of reported COVID-19 cases and deaths have been relatively flat this summer, at around 100,000 cases a day and 300 to 400 deaths. The CDC previously said that if people who are not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations come into close contact with a person who tests positive, they should stay home for at least five days. Now the agency says quarantining at home is not necessary, but it urges those people to wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and get tested after five. The agency continues to say that people who test positive should isolate from others for at least five days, regardless of whether they were vaccinated. CDC officials advise that people can end isolation if they are fever-free for 24 hours without the use of medication and they are without symptoms or the symptoms are improving.

Also on Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration updated its recommendations for how many times people exposed to COVID-19 should test. Previously, the FDA had advised taking two rapid antigen tests over two or three days to rule out infection. Now the agency recommends three tests. FDA officials said the change was based on new studies that suggest the old protocol can miss too many infections and result in people spreading the coronavirus, especially if they don’t develop symptoms.

 

 

Water Conveyance Project: Public Review Process Opens

By Brenda Bass, CalChamber

The public review process has begun on the latest proposal to modernize the state’s water distribution system with a project to convey water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The Delta is central to the aging water distribution system that provides water for more than two-thirds of Californians. The current system was built more than 60 years ago to deliver water from the Sierra Nevada through the Delta to homes, farms and businesses throughout the state. The existing Delta infrastructure is vulnerable due to the ongoing degradation of natural habitats, the threat of catastrophe if Delta levees collapse from an earthquake and increasing water salinity from rising sea levels.

Modernized System

Options covered in the draft environmental impact report (EIR) for the Delta Conveyance Project include Governor Gavin Newsom’s proposal for a single pipeline water conveyance project. According to the state Department of Water Resources (DWR), if the project had been operational during the big storms in October and December 2021, DWR could have captured and moved about 236,000 acre-feet of water — enough for about 2.5 million people or nearly 850,000 households for a year — into the San Luis Reservoir.

“If approved after completion of the environmental review process, the project will also help California manage through periods of severe drought like the one the state is experiencing now,” DWR said in a news release.

New Delta water transmission infrastructure was one of four essential projects the California Chamber of Commerce and a coalition of Water Conveyance said the state should develop to ensure ongoing, reliable new water sources to serve urban and agricultural uses.

Project Benefits

Supporters say the single pipeline conveyance system will:

  • Protect water security for two-thirds of the state. Without action, water supplies through the state’s main distribution infrastructure will become increasingly unreliable.
  • Improve the reliability and security of the state’s water system by modernizing aging infrastructure using the most innovative technologies and engineering practices.
  • Protect water supplies from the effects of climate change, sea level rise and earthquakes by delivering water through a modern water pipeline rather than solely through today’s deteriorating level system.
  • Prepare for the impacts of climate change by improving the state’s ability to capture, move and store water to account for extreme swings in drought and flood, and protect against salinity caused by sea-level rise.
  • Serve as a critical component of a comprehensive water portfolio for state and local water managers.

More Information

To help interested parties understand and navigate the draft EIR, DWR has prepared informational resources and tools. Items include explainer videos, fact sheets, brochures, flyers and more. The materials are available on the Delta Conveyance Project website at www.deltaconveyanceproject.com.

Timeline

The 90-day comment period on the draft project EIR will end on October 27. DWR will respond to “substantive comments” in the final EIR and projects that the EIR will be finalized in fall 2023.

 

 

August 8, 2022

What Happened to Vocational Education (and Why We Need It Back)?

Written by Keith Lambert, Education World Associate Contributing Editor
Lambert is an English / Language Arts teacher in Connecticut.

Today, post-pandemic, Gilroy’s workforce development looks a little different. While training workers is a significant aspect of workforce development, there’s much more. Helping those who are soon to enter the job market understand the options available to them is another aspect. Making connections between available workers and the business community is another. Creating internships, job shadowing, and exposure to high-tech jobs, the medical field, and the trades is yet another. Allowing educators to tour local and regional job sites, tech facilities, and other places of employment will help them guide students looking to enter the workforce. The Gilroy Chamber of Commerce is focusing on a Workforce Development Initiative where we will partner with various agencies and organizations such as the Gilroy Unified School District, Gavilan College, the business community, and others so that we create pathways for students and workers who want to advance their careers and help connect workers to industry.

The Experience in the Classroom

We’re all feeling the pressure from the federal, state, district, and building level: college, college, college. We’re supposed to get our kids accepted to college at all costs (and in the end, theirs). Our school depends on it. And yet, the general idea that there are no jobs out there for young people without a college education is clearly not true! You need a plan, certainly. A desire for lifelong learning, absolutely. But there are multiple routes to learning new things these days. It isn’t magically contained solely within the walls of a multi-million-dollar state institution. “But data shows that those with college degrees generally make more money,“ you retort. We’ve all heard that data as the “end all, be all” for the defense of a college education. But have we thought about the implications of that conclusion? What variables add to this outcome? Well, at the current price tag, who can afford college? Those, generally, that already come from financially-stable families. If you can afford an extra $28,000 a year for education, statistically, you’re not doing so bad. And if you’re growing up in a more financially stable environment, chances are you already have a handful of privileges and connections that could lead seamlessly into the world of gainful employment. In other words, what is the likelihood that our college graduates were already in a position for future economic security anyway, and where does that leave our students that simply can’t afford it? Perhaps we need a follow-up study.

And our language in the classroom is discouraging. The answer to “why are we doing this” is increasingly being answered with, “to get you ready for college.” Why this assessment? Why this skill? Why am I being asked to reflect on this data? What are we indirectly telling our students that already know that college will not be an option? We’re telling them they can work as hard as they can, pray and hope that they will be able to snatch up the handful of scholarships and grants available, and if they don’t secure that funding, they will never reach any financial security. All the while, as vocational programs are cut across our nation, we are clear keeping them from the training that will give them alternate options. To a 14-year-old with dreams of a better life, this feels devastatingly hopeless, and the very existence of this system is just as bad as telling them directly: “this is not for you.”

In this climate, kids who might be passionate about a particular craft or vocation are often discouraged from pursuing it. Sure, it is fair to say we don’t wish to pigeon-hole a student at such a young age. We don’t want to limit a student’s ability to expand and explore new interests and fields. And yet, who’s to say we can’t do both? Why shouldn’t my student be allowed to pursue a current passion in automotive repair, potentially putting her in a position for an apprenticeship post-high school that would allow her to choose whether or not saving money for higher education is a part of her life goals? There’s a reason why dropout rates are lower at vocational education schools. They made the choice to be there! Why isn’t this sort of realistic, long-term career planning a celebrated part of our curricula? Because we’ve decided to embrace the portrait of an “American Dream” job market that is simply no longer the only path to success. And worst of all, we’ve institutionalized that belief.

We have an opportunity to better help our students to be prepared for – as well as navigate – their own future. Our obsession with college readiness is grasping to an idealized world that might never have existed in the first place. It makes promises to our students that we can’t always deliver on. It’s leading to unpayable debts. It’s even leading some students away from reaching their actual potential. It’s time to embrace the present. Vocational education programs give our students so much more than a skill – it gives them an option. A choice in how their future could unfold from here. We need to redefine “success” in our government and education systems, at all levels. Without a drastic shift in perception, the institution we value so much runs the very real risk of becoming a future resentment of our nation’s young professionals. 

California Fair Pay and Employer Accountability Act Qualifies for 2024 Ballot

By CalChamber

The Secretary of State has announced that the California Fair Pay and Employer Accountability Act qualified for the 2024 ballot on the random sample count of signatures. The initiative’s campaign submitted 962,217 signatures in support of the reform, meeting the 110% validity rate threshold

The ballot measure will put workers’ labor claims back in the hands of the independent regulator, getting their claims handled faster without having to hire trial lawyers that drag out the process and take a third of their settlements. This initiative will also help small businesses around California that have been defenseless against shakedown lawsuits while ensuring willful violators will be fined double the penalties.

The California Chamber of Commerce strongly supports this initiative and is encouraging members to learn more about the important reforms it enacts to the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA).

“We are excited to take this measure directly to the voters who will vote to empower the Labor Commissioner instead of continuing to line the pockets of some unscrupulous trial attorneys,” said CalChamber President and CEO Jennifer Barrera. “We are positive that when voters learn more about how these bad actors have taken advantage of PAGA, leaving workers with less money, they will vote yes on this reform.”

Why Reform Is Urgently Needed

Frivolous lawsuits brought under PAGA have cost California businesses billions of dollars, all while workers are left waiting years to receive very little and attorneys walk away with millions.

The California Fair Pay and Employer Accountability Act would replace PAGA with increased enforcement mechanisms in the hands of the Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) so that workers recover wages faster and employers are no longer targeted by frivolous private litigation.

PAGA was enacted in 2004 to help the LWDA enforce California’s labor laws. It allows employees to sue for any Labor Code violation as if they were the state. Because it deputizes private attorneys to file lawsuits on behalf of those employees, it has been abused.

Attorneys can leverage PAGA’s penalties to get big settlements even if the claims have no merit. The employer ends up paying a hefty sum with much of the money going to the attorneys and very little going to workers or the state.

PAGA lawsuits have increased more than 1,000% since the law took effect in 2004. By 2016 and every year since, the LWDA has received between 4,600 to 6,000 PAGA notices. Plaintiff’s attorneys capitalized on the COVID-19 pandemic, filing a record number of PAGA notices in March 2020. Data also shows that those attorneys have preyed primarily upon small and mid-size businesses in recent years. Employers have paid out billions of dollars in PAGA penalties since 2004.

The California Fair Pay and Employer Accountability Act would solve this problem by:

  • Replacing PAGA with alternative enforcement mechanisms through the state;
  • Ensuring 100% of penalties go to workers;
  • Speeding up recovery of wages and penalties for workers; and
  • Doubling penalties where employers willfully violate the law.
Cities Still Seeking Housing Quota Escape Plans

BY DAN WALTERS – CALMATTERS

When state officials issued markedly higher regional quotas for zoning land for new housing a few years ago, and regional agencies imposed specific numbers on cities, the reaction among local officials was sharp and negative.

Resistance was especially stout in small cities containing mostly single-family homes occupied by affluent families because the state’s orders emphasized building more multi-unit projects for low- and moderate-income families.

It would, residents and officials in those cities complained, undermine local control and change community character. The state housing agency, however, was armed with new tools to enforce its dictates and has been insistent on compliance.

In turn, some rebellious city officials have tried to find ways around the state’s orders that they zone enough land to meet their housing quota, particularly after the Legislature passed and Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation that allows construction of duplexes, or in some cases fourplexes, on lots zoned for single-family homes.

As many as 40 California cities adopted policies that were clearly aimed at discouraging the kind of dense development the state sought. The most famous, or infamous, example was Woodside, a very wealthy San Francisco Peninsula hamlet, which early this year declared itself mountain lion habitat.

Woodside, under pressure from the state, quickly backed down, but local officials’ search for an escape hatch from the state’s pro-housing pressure has continued.

Last week, a new wrinkle in the guerrilla war between the state and rebellious cities surfaced in Santa Monica, a very wealthy coastal community west of Los Angeles.

In June, Santa Monica’s city council very reluctantly accepted its quota of 8,895 units, most of which are to be designated for low- and moderate-income residents, reversing a previous rejection vote.

 “I am appalled by the state’s approach to this whole process and I still believe that they shouldn’t be allowed to do this and that there should be controls on this and there probably ought to be a lawsuit,” Mayor Sue Himmelrich, said before moving to accept the quota.

In the aftermath, two of the council’s most vociferous opponents of the quota, Oscar de la Torre and Phil Brock, drafted an amendment to the city charter and urged their colleagues to place it on the November ballot.

It would establish new pay scales for workers on projects built to satisfy the quota, as high as 2.7 times the local prevailing wage for construction work.

The amendment declared that mandating high wages would “preserve and protect the character of housing, neighborhoods, and the community; maintain social and economic diversity; protect the health and safety of Santa Monica residents; encourage the development of affordable housing within the limitations and capacity of Santa Monica’s infrastructure and geography; and ensure the payment of living wages to the construction workers working on large projects in the city so they may live where they work.”

That lofty language notwithstanding, the true purpose of the proposal was clearly to make construction cost-prohibitive, undermining the state’s housing quota.

The proposal came before the council last week and it was decided that it wouldn’t be placed on the ballot but would be considered later for adoption as a city law.

The Santa Monica dodge may or may not become law, but it indicates that the search for ways to escape the state’s pressure to build more housing is continuing.

Meanwhile, however, the state’s housing crisis grows worse each day. The state needs two-plus million more units, particularly those for low- and moderate-income families, but construction is barely half of what the state says we should be building each year.

August 1, 2022

What's New With Business

The state has recently enacted the multi-million dollar CalAIM investment in improving health outcomes, access, quality, and access in the state. Health Net is a leader in this effort and as one of California’s largest Medi-Cal providers and one of the first to launch CalAIM across its statewide footprint, Health Net has compiled these insights to help optimize the ongoing implementation of this historic program and build on its success. For more information, read their new report entitled, CalAIM Community Supports Initial Lessons Learned and Recommendations.

Mod Movers recently opened a Gilroy office and joined the Chamber of Commerce. Mod Movers is one of the top moving companies in Northern California that provides a wide range of residential and commercial moving services throughout the Golden State. At Mod Movers, they’re ready to be your resource for moving throughout the area and all of California. They work hard to eliminate some of the “sticker shock” from the moving experience by providing their clients with a written estimate of how much your move will cost based on the services you choose. Contact them today at 831-480-0381 or marlene@modmovers.com.

A membership to the conveniently located Gold’s Gym Gilroy gives you access to everything you need to transform your life: state-of-the-art amenities, a variety of classes tailored to your fitness needs, and the world’s best personal trainers. Browse the weekly class schedules for group workouts ranging from martial arts-inspired cardio classes to carefully paced foundational yoga sessions. Team up with a certified personal trainer if you’re new to exercise or just looking for more guidance and coaching. And take advantage of their innovative digital tools to take your fitness further, no matter your fitness level. Whatever you need, you’ll find it there, with help from experts who will be with you every step of the way and a community of members who will inspire and support you. Stop by today and experience change with Gold’s Gym. They are located at 8797 San Ysidro Ave. Check out their website at https://www.goldsgym.com/gilroy-ca/

Catch the health wave while enjoying fun outdoor activities! Join Bay Area Community Health for a family fun event on Saturday, August 6 from 10am-2pm at Glen View Elementary School and learn about the services and programs Bay Area Community Health offers.  

Bring your friends and family to enjoy live music, cultural performances, raffles, resources, health screenings, and activities for all ages. 

They will feature experts from our medical, vision, and dental teams in addition to specialists in women’s health, pediatric care, chiropractic, and nutrition health. They will also offer screenings, including blood pressure along with COVID-19 vaccinations. Other community partners are Unitek, City of Gilroy, Santa Clara Family Health Plan, On Lok PACE, and more!  

For more information, please visit https://bach.health/

California Welcome Center Manager Pam Gimenez to Retire

California Welcome Center Manager Pam Gimenez to Retire

Pam Gimenez has been with the Gilroy Visitors Bureau dba Visit Gilroy for over twenty-three years and has welcomed thousands of guests to Gilroy. Pam started her career in the hospitality industry in the original location of the Gilroy Visitors Bureau located at 7780 Monterey Street in downtown Gilroy. She has been instrumental in planning a number of organizational changes, including the move to the Gilroy Premium Outlets location in 2011 and the designation as a California Welcome Center in 2019. Pam plans to retire on September 30 and said, “I’m looking forward to spending time with my grandchildren and my ninety-year-old father.”

Anyone interested in applying for the California Welcome Center Manager position please contact Pam Gimenez – pam@visitgilroy.com.

Conversation and Coffee with Mayor Marie Blankley: Gilroy's on the Move!

The community is invited to join Mayor Marie Blankley for Conversation and Coffee on Saturday, August 13, 2022, at 9:30 AM in Council Chambers located at 7351 Rosanna Street. This month the Mayor will be joined by City Administrator Jimmy Forbis for an exciting discussion about multiple projects that are moving in positive ways including:

  • the potential ice rink addition to the Sports Park,
  • the Surplus Lands Act as it applies to the parcel on which the ice rinks are proposed,
  • the upcoming Ballot Measure to amend the 1960 City Charter to allow public works dollars to be stretched farther for larger City projects,
  • upcoming improvements to the downtown alleys on both the east (from Lewis to 7th) and west (from 4th to 7th) sides of Monterey Street,
  • and the Eigleberry & 7th Street parking lot.

All are welcome to attend.

To request Spanish language interpretation services for this meeting, please contact communications@cityofgilroy.org a minimum of 72 hours prior to the meeting.

 Conversation and Coffee | Gilroy’s on the Move!

 Date: August 13, 2022 

 Time: 9:30 AM

 Location: Council Chambers at Gilroy City Hall located at 7351 Rosanna Avenue

Please note that Conversation and Coffee is taking place on the 2nd Saturday of August this month, as opposed to the typical 1st Saturday, due to a scheduling conflict.

NEW: Business License Services are Online!

We are excited to share that the City’s business license services are now available online!

Businesses can now ApplyRenewPay and Update business licenses online, including obtaining copies of certificates, forms, or other relevant information.

To access the online services visit the Business License page on the City’s website. From here, click the link labeled “online” which will direct you to Gilroy’s “HDL Gov Website” provided by HdL Companies, the City’s partner for business license services. Services are also available by phone and by mail.

HdL’s Business Support Center offers telephone support (including assistance in Spanish) and is available Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM.

For more information, visit: https://www.cityofgilroy.org/207/Business-Licenses

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