The Coast News Group
The Encinitas Small Business Support Fund will hopefully supply up to 50 grants of $1,500 each. File photo

Encinitas City Council approves $75K in small business assistance

ENCINITAS — Just three days into a new sweeping and controversial county stay-at-home order, the Encinitas City Council on Dec. 9 unanimously approved $75,000 in grants awards for local businesses financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The aid package is made possible by CARES Act funding provided to the city last spring and will be dispersed through the Encinitas Small Business Support Fund and administered by the Cardiff-by-the-Sea Foundation.

During the meeting, the council approved a review panel consisting of representatives from the Cardiff-by-the-Sea Foundation board, Encinitas Chamber of Commerce, three main street business associations (Cardiff 101, Encinitas 101 and Leucadia 101) and a city staff member.

According to the city, the program expects to award 50 businesses grants of $1,500 each and will be available to businesses who serve customers on their establishment’s premises, with fewer than 25 employees and based on a demonstrated financial need.

Applicants will be further ranked by criteria, including financial details, community involvement, the businesses’ long-term viability and the number of employees, as agreed upon by the Cardiff-by-the-Sea Foundation. The program is seeking to obtain a “geographic balance” throughout the city in awarded grants.

Sitting councilmembers expressed their enthusiasm for not only the financial assistance but the method of dispersing the funds themselves.

“Delegating the responsibility for distribution of these grant funds to these business organizations makes a ton of sense,” Councilmember Tony Kranz said. “This will, I think, be the quickest way to get the money in the hands of business owners who are desperate to have this support.”

Councilmember Kellie Shay Hinze agreed that including all three local business associations is highly beneficial.

“They have such close relationships with our smallest businesses and are so nimble and creative in coming up with ideas to stay responsive,” Hinze said. Further details regarding grant criteria as well as the Council meeting’s full agenda may be found online.

The Council also unanimously passed the city’s first Draft Density Bonus Ordinance, debating the merits of calculating density based on gross acreage versus net acreage, noting the surrounding cities of San Diego, Solana Beach, Del Mar, Oceanside and Carlsbad all evaluate projects based on net acreage.

According to the city, while the existing ordinance is not inconsistent with State law, the changes proposed by the Planning Commission will clarity requirements in relation to the City’s local ordinances.

In addition, the council discussed the recent appointment of Mayor Catherine Blakespear to SANDAG chair as well as Councilmember Kranz’s appointment to North County Transit District.

Councilmember Jody Hubbard applauded her colleagues, noting the importance of their appointments to the City’s ability to execute planned infrastructure projects including improvements to Highway 101’s Streetscape and El Portal Undercrossing projects.

During the course of the meeting, the council also heard an impassioned plea for increased safety measures for cyclists from Elena Thompson, representative of Encinitas Bike Walk.

Thompson called upon the council to review and revise its current strategy in providing safe cycling and pedestrian conditions throughout the city in response to the death of a cyclist on Leucadia Boulevard on Nov. 28.