The Travel Forecast

April 29, 2021

COVID Update: Santa Cruz County Awaits Yellow Tier, More Help for Restaurants from the SBA, Vaccine Survey for Homebound Individuals

With a very slight increase in local COVID case rates – from 1.4 to 2.1 cases per 100,000 people – missing the yellow tier threshold by a mere .1, Santa Cruz County will be staying in the orange tier until May 12. As the county is poised to enter the yellow tier in the next couple of weeks, other bay area counties are in similar positions as destinations prepare to make similar advances. The local tourism industry continues to move ahead with leisure market promotions – VSCC’s spring campaign is still going strong. As progress is made, news that the SBA is offering additional assistance to restaurants with the Restaurant Revitalization Fund has been announced – and there are resources from local health officials for homebound individuals who want to be vaccinated.

Beginning on Friday, April 30th at 12 Noon PST, the SBA will begin registration for $28.6 billion available for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which will provide economic relief to establishment types of eateries (restaurants, food stands, food trucks, bars, brewpubs, tasting rooms, etc) – and any establishment with 20 or fewer locations.  SBA may provide funding up to $5 million per location, not to exceed $10 million total for the applicant and any affiliated businesses. The minimum award is $1,000.

Registration for this program begins on Friday the 30th and ends on Monday, May 3rd at 9AM PST.  Details on application requirements, eligibility, and a program guide are now available in English and Spanish.

For the first 21 days that the program is open, the SBA will prioritize reviewing applications from small businesses owned by women, veterans, and socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. Following the 21-day period, all eligible applicants are encouraged to submit applications.

The SBA said, upon applying for the RRF, applicants should withdraw any outstanding PPP application.  Companies that receive funds must use all of them by March 11, 2023, on eligible expenses incurred beginning February 15, 2020. If the business permanently closes, the covered period will end when the business permanently closes or on March 11, 2023, whichever occurs sooner.

Finally, the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency is distributing a 10-minute survey to assess vaccine needs for homebound individuals requesting a COVID-19 vaccination. The Vaccine Interest Survey – to be completed by or on behalf of a resident of Santa Cruz County – will help identify individuals interested in having a medical professional visit them in their homes to administer the vaccine.

City of Santa Cruz Water Restrictions Go Into Effect on May 1st

The City of Santa Cruz water commission recommended water restrictions which were approved by the city council at their April 13th meeting. Facing the potential of the fourth driest year on record for the city since 2014, these measures will be only the first level of restrictions and water officials stress that most residential users won’t be heavily affected. The average amount of water used by households in Santa Cruz is on par or less than the rationed amount of 500 cubic feet. However, businesses would normally see a five percent water reduction from the previous year. Instead, they will receive an allotment based on the amount of water used each month during the previous peak season.

Stage 1 of the Water Shortage Contingency Plan is expected to reduce water usage by ten percent, or approximately 136 million gallons, and will end on October 31st; May through October is considered peak water usage season in Santa Cruz. City water officials estimate that the Loch Lomond Reservoir – at roughly 71 percent capacity currently, to deplete to approximately 58 percent capacity – which would put the reservoir at around 1.6 billion gallons but does not leave much room for surplus water if next year is as dry as this year was.

As businesses reopen this season and Santa Cruz County moves through less restrictive tiers while COVID case numbers continue to decrease and vaccinations become more available, the water department will not restrict water usage this summer.   

Read the updated Interim Water Shortage Contingency Plan here!  

SmartHire Offers Employers Up to $2,000 a Month for New Hires

To support the hiring of new workers within Santa Cruz County for the part and full-time positions, SmartHire is able to assist local businesses with a minimum of $1,750 per month up to $2,000 per month after each month that an employee works – depending on the agreed-upon hours and wage – for the first six months of employment. SmartHIRE is a public/private partnership funded by the State of California and the County of Santa Cruz through its coordinated Workforce Services for Business in collaboration with the Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County. There are eight requirements businesses must meet in order to take advantage of this program:

1, Commitment to an open position at 25-40 hours per week.
2. The starting wage is negotiable but must exceed the legal minimum wage by at least one dollar.
3. Provide your Employee Identification Number and proof of workers’ compensation insurance.
4. The ability to transition the SmartHIRE placement to your payroll after the subsidy period ends.
5. Complete and submit worksite satisfaction surveys after 60 and 90 days.
6. Maintain and submit the SmartHire timesheet records on a timely basis. Provide proof that you have complied with state and federal wage reporting requirements.
7. Comply with Equal Opportunity Employment laws.
8. Complete the employer evaluation at the end of the SmartHIRE contract.

Click here to download the SmartHIRE brochure or call 831.322.9898 for more information. 

SmartHIRE is sponsored by Workforce Santa Cruz County, the County of Santa Cruz Human Services Department, the Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County, and Alcance.

ERC County Blueprint Status Report

The weekly County Blueprint Status Report related to COVID-19 in Santa Cruz County is available for the week of April 28, 2021, in English and Spanish.  These updates are provided by the Economic Recovery Council of Santa Cruz County (ERC). Information from the ERC aligns with state and county health officials, Governor Newsom’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency, and SAVE Lives Santa Cruz County.

Legislative Update: Rehiring Laid-Off Workers

On April 16th, Governor Newson signed a statewide recall and retention bill that is now in effect until December 31, 2024. Senate Bill 93 requires hotels (50 rooms and over) to first offer open positions – by seniority – to those who were previously employed for at least six months in 2019 and whose separation was due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A qualifying employee is one who worked for at least two hours a week for at least six months in 2019 and whose most recent separation was due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including a public health and/or a government shut-down order, a reduction in force, or other economic, non-disciplinary reason.

Meetings Venue Photography Wanted

Has your property or meeting venue adapted in order to bring meetings and conferences back to Santa Cruz County? VSCC welcomes photos that show how your business has adapted to bring this critical revenue stream back to our region. Share your indoor or outdoor photos with VSCC to be featured on our meetings blog, in our meetings e-newsletter, or on social media!

Clean + Safe Kudos!

Congratulations to the Continental Inn and the Beach Street Inn & Suites which received Clean + Safe certification from the California Hotel & Lodging Association (CHLA). As a reminder: all lodging properties are members of CHLA and have the capacity to become certified as a benefit of their membership. Find out how your property can become Clean + Safe certified here!

Did you know……

that beginning Saturday, May 1 parking meter rates in and around the beach area will increase from $1.80 to $2.25 per hour? This 25 percent increase is the first since 2019.

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