Encontro owner retaliates against workers fearing for safety
Many San Diegans were excited at the prospect of being able to go out to a restaurant or bar over the holiday weekend, and employees were excited at the prospect of being able to work. Not so for the employees of Encontro Restaurant, it seems.
“It’s scary being back to work,” an Encontro employee told CBS News 8 on Saturday. “I am overwhelmed by the number of people surrounding me without masks on. It was really alarming. I didn’t feel safe or comfortable, or prepared.”
The employee, who didn’t want to be named for fear of retaliation, said that she saw her hours cut when she raised her concerns to Mr. Hotchkiss.
“I’m still going to try to talk to him,” she said, “but I’m sure it will result in me being told to leave.”
As part of the state government’s reopening protocols, restaurants are required to create a written safety plan, put someone in charge of its implementation, and provide training to employees, among other guidelines.
Jared Sooper, a manager of the restaurant for more than one year, asked Mr. Hotchkiss for time to implement a safety plan before reopening. Mr. Hotchkiss responded by telling Mr. Sooper to turn in his keys to the restaurant and safe, and that Mr. Sooper would be reported to EDD for refusing to work. “It’s horrible,” Jared says. “The employees are calling me with a lot of questions and concerns, and there’s absolutely nothing I can do. I’m worried for everyone there and I feel totally helpless.”
Property crime rate hits 40-year low
Property crime in the San Diego region reached a new 40-year low in 2019, according to a report recently released by the SANDAG Criminal Justice Clearinghouse, Forty Years of Crime in the San Diego Region: 1980 Through 2019. The report found that while the region’s population has increased 80% during the past 40 years, the number of crimes reported has decreased considerably.
In 2019, the property crime rate was 3% lower than in 2018 and 74% lower when compared to rates in 1980, the same year SANDAG began reporting regional crime statistics.
The SANDAG report also found that burglaries were at an all-time 40-year low in 2019. More than two in every five burglaries reported did not involve forced entry, suggesting that the number of burglaries could be lowered further with increased crime prevention.
According to the report, an average of $539,000 was stolen per day in the San Diego region in 2019, with 34% eventually recovered.
Other notable findings in the SANDAG report include:
- In 1980, one in 16 residents was a victim of property crime. In 2019, that number decreased to one in 61
- The only reported crimes in the San Diego region to increase between 1980 and 2019 were rape and aggravated assault, though the implementation of mandated domestic violence reporting requirements and changes to the definition of rape are likely contributing factors to increases in reports
- Between 1980 and 2019, several crimes reported dropped:
- Motor vehicle theft was down 25%
- Robbery was down 41%
- Larceny was down 42%
- Homicide was down 52%
- Burglary was down 80%
The study also found that between 2018 and 2019, hate crime events were up 24%, with the three most common motives being anti-black, anti-Jewish, and anti-homosexual male.
This report measures crime trend data through the end of 2019. Since then, we have all been affected by the public health crisis and stay at home orders. In an attempt to evaluate how COVID-19 and the stay at home orders have affected crime in the San Diego region, SANDAG analyzed crime case data reported across the San Diego region for March and April 2019 and 2020. This analysis was highlighted in a recent SANDAG InfoBits report, which found property crime, as measured by larcenies, decreased more from March and April 2019 to 2020, compared to violent crime, as measured by aggravated and simple assaults.
“The San Diego region is still one of the safest in the nation, starting 2020 with the property crime rate at a 40-year low and the violent crime rate at its fourth lowest since 1980,” said Dr. Cynthia Burke, SANDAG Research and Program Management Director. “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change daily life for all of us, our team will keep working with law enforcement agencies across the region to document possible short- and long-term impacts of this public health crisis on public safety.”
San Diego city libraries begin contact-free pickup service
As the city of San Diego continues its phased reopening by expanding neighborhood services, the San Diego Public Library will offer contact-free pickup service at 11 library locations beginning earlier this week.
The pickup service will restore access to 2.9 million physical materials in the San Diego Public Library’s collection to library patrons for the first time since libraries were closed in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also prioritizes the health and safety of patrons and employees while allowing San Diegans to pick up materials at designated locations.
Pickup service will be available Monday through Friday, from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the following locations: Carmel Valley, College-Rolando, La Jolla/Riford, Logan Heights, Mira Mesa, Mission Hills-Hillcrest/Knox, Mission Valley, Point Loma/Hervey, Rancho Bernardo, San Ysidro and Valencia Park/Malcolm X.
Feeding San Diego expands food program in City Heights
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact San Diegans across the county, Feeding San Diego is responding by getting more nutritious food into the community. Recently, Feeding San Diego launched a new partnership with the Union of Pan Asian Communities (UPAC). Based in City Heights, UPAC distributes dry goods and fresh produce from Feeding San Diego every Friday, from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. 150 households are served each week.
“Feeding San Diego is making a significant impact on the community, and we are extremely grateful for their partnership. This collaboration allows us to provide critical needs for our most vulnerable families and neighborhoods,” said Margaret Iwanaga Penrose, UPAC President and CEO.
The distribution is located at UPAC Neighborhood Enterprise Center, The Neighborhood Café, at 5296 University Ave., Suite A, San Diego, CA 92105.
“With more than 27% of San Diegans unemployed as a result of COVID-19, we continue to experience a tremendous surge in people facing hunger — those living in City Heights are particularly vulnerable,” said Vince Hall, CEO of Feeding San Diego.
Feeding San Diego offers food assistance at hundreds of distribution sites throughout San Diego County. Since March 14, the hunger-relief organization distributed 4.5 million meals at drive-through, no-touch distributions, including emergency regional food distributions, rural mobile pantries, and youth meal sites.
South Park transitional residence for injured veterans opens
Warrior Foundation Freedom Station, a San Diego-based nonprofit organization, is proudly opening its second transitional residence for ill and injured service members. The nine-unit property has been named Freedom Station II, a nod to its sister property Freedom Station I, which opened in 2011 and has been highly successful in helping service members transition from military service to civilian life. The first group of warrior residents is slated to move into Freedom Station II on June 1 and includes veterans from the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.
Located in the South Park neighborhood, Freedom Station II features eight one-bedroom, one-bathroom cottages that are approximately 475 square feet. Each unit is fully furnished and stocked with household necessities to help shift warriors from a barracks environment to independent living. The units surround a central courtyard and common areas including an outdoor kitchen, firepit and BBQ, an essential design feature that fosters the camaraderie that is so crucial during the transition period. An additional 1,000 square-foot, two-bedroom unit, known as the Doyle Foundation’s Legacy House, will serve as an extended stay residence for out-of-state warriors and their families, who are visiting the San Diego region to receive specialized medical treatment.
Freedom Station II’s location was chosen to facilitate access to nearby Naval Medical Center San Diego, one of the nation’s largest military hospitals and leading centers for amputee care. While living at Freedom Station II, residents continue to attend their medical appointments while preparing for the next chapter in civilian life. This includes pursuing new careers and job opportunities, applying for college or vocational schools, financial planning and more. The foundation’s first property, Freedom Station I, features 12 units and is located just a few miles away in the Golden Hill neighborhood. Current residents represent the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force.
United Way of San Diego County and HandsOn San Diego launch volunteer hub
While many in our community are facing difficult challenges due to the pandemic, charitable organizations around the world are working around the clock to provide much-needed supplies, services, and support for individuals and families in need. But nonprofits couldn’t provide these emergency services without the help of community volunteers. To meet this growing demand, United Way of San Diego County has partnered with HandsOn San Diego to launch the San Diego COVID-19 Volunteer Hub, a new website where San Diegans can find ways to help other San Diegans get through this crisis.
Among the many opportunities to help, the website provides the following volunteer options for individuals, groups, and companies:
- Donate in-kind goods/relief items
- Volunteer in-person
- Volunteer virtually from the comfort of your own home
- Lend your professional skills to help a local nonprofit
- Make a monetary donation
- Provide the gift of life by donating blood
Just like many nonprofit organizations, HandsOn San Diego had to change the way it operated to respond to the pandemic. “Volunteering is the best thing we can do for each other during these challenging times,” says Crystal Trull, interim executive director, HandsOn San Diego. “Whether you give of your time, talent, or treasure, it all helps us to be a stronger, more united community. If your heart is eager to give back, but you just don’t know how, the volunteer hub will help you find just the right opportunity.”
Visit sandiegovolunteerhub.org for more information.
Here are more ways to get connected:
- If you have questions about how to volunteer or if you would like to list your nonprofit and volunteer opportunities on the site, contact Jessie Case, volunteer engagement coordinator, HandsOn San Diego at firstname.lastname@example.org
- If you would like support with your CSR strategy, or identifying meaningful engagement opportunities and volunteer projects for your employees, please contact Carlee Chatman, corporate social responsibility manager, United Way of San Diego County at email@example.com for more information.
SD non-profit Guitars in the Classroom awarded $47,100 from NBCUniversal
San Diego non-profit Guitars in the Classroom (GITC) has been awarded a generous grant of $47,100 to provide free teacher training by Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation’s “Project Innovation 2020.” The grant is supporting just six local nonprofits using innovative solutions to tackle everyday problems, including those caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thanks to Project Innovation, GITC will continue to increase and support music integration training and daily classroom music making for interested teachers and their students in their online classrooms during COVID-19.
Training is open to any teachers or specialists serving students and registration is available at guitarsintheclassroom.org. GITC’s work has promoted cross-curricular and social-emotional learning for every child through “the power of song” and strumming along by training education professionals in group classes after school in since 2000. Thanks to Comcast NBCUniversal, any teacher may now start lessons online, no musical experience required, and begin to engage students through the magic of music. GITC empowers all kinds of teachers including special educators and paraprofessionals to teach lessons from the heart by creatively engaging students of all abilities with songs and songwriting, percussion, ukuleles and guitars.
This funding will also help the organization create an elaborate library of free training videos to make GITC’s groundbreaking Adaptive Music for Achievement in Inclusion and Special Education (AMAISE) approach available for anyone serving or parenting disabled students. Since launching this work in San Diego Unified School District mod-severe classrooms in 2016, the nonprofit has seen teachers reach and inspire students with diverse physical, cognitive, sensory, medical and emotional needs to participate successfully in learning by making music. AMAISE is leading to powerful breakthroughs for many whose teachers are developing music leadership skills. This training, like all GITC offerings, is available free of charge.
During this time, our community needs music more than ever. When COVID-19 forced school closures, GTC pivoted immediately to online instruction for teachers as they took on this huge and sudden new challenge of teaching over the Internet. Teachers are working harder than ever to try to engage and educate kids from a distance.
“Many of our teachers are reporting that music is ‘the only thing that’s working’ to fully engage and uplift these children who are so young to be tasked with independently managing this process of online learning,” explains GITC executive director Jessica Baron.
Comcast NBCUniversal shared that the six nonprofit organizations in San Diego selected as Project Innovation 2020 grant recipients all exhibited flexibility with their programming and will use their funding to deliver services and programs that address the needs of those impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Those organizations include Reality Changers ($50,000), Guitars in the Classroom ($47,100), Coastal Roots Farm ($43,750), Jacobs & Cushman SD Food Bank ($38,950), La Maestra Foundation ($25,000) and Project Concern International ($20,200), for a total of $225,000 in grants.
Millions in tax revenue from cannabis sales
The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA) reported revenue numbers today for cannabis sales for the 1st Quarter of 2020. As of May 15, 2020, California’s cannabis excise tax generated $68.3 million in revenue reported on the 1st Quarter 2020 returns due by April 30, 2020, and the cultivation tax generated $16.4 million.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a unique reporting period since approximately half of the taxpayers normally reporting have yet to file a return with the CDTFA. Revisions to first quarter data are expected in mid-August after the second quarter return filing due date of July 31.
Sales tax from cannabis businesses totaled $50.2 million in revenue for the same period. Sales tax applies to sales of cannabis, cannabis products, and other tangible personal property. Certain retail sales of medicinal cannabis are exempt from sales and use taxes when the purchaser provides at the time of purchase a valid Medical Marijuana Identification Card issued by the California Department of Public Health and a valid government-issued identification card.
Total tax revenue reported by the cannabis industry is $134.9 million for first quarter returns due by April 30, 2020. This does not include tax revenue collected by each jurisdiction. Previously reported revenue for 4th Quarter 2019 returns was revised to $177.3 million, which included $85.9 million in cannabis excise tax, $24.1 million in cultivation tax, and $67.3 million in sales tax. Revisions to quarterly data are the result of amended and late returns, and other tax return adjustments.
Since January 2018, total program revenue to date is $1.17 billion, which includes $569.8 million in cannabis excise tax, $140.2 million in cultivation tax, and $456.9 million in sales tax.