The Business Improvement District (BID) was officially disestablished with an unanimous vote by the council during its teleconference meeting on June 3. The BID has assets that equal $105,000 ($79,00 held by the city and $26,000 in a bank account.) Any remaining revenues from the sales of assets purchased with the BID revenues will be refunded to the business owners located within the area in which assessments are levied.
An update on Mike Hess Brewing at 805 Ocean Lane and 23 Date Avenue was presented by Tyler Foltz, community development director. The project was initially approved in August 2017 and included a remodel of an existing building, a shipping container, seating areas and satellite bar and amenities. During construction Hess was able to obtain the lease of the adjacent lot facing Seacoast Drive. With the new lease, in 2019 Hess proposed a new project to the new council with new seating areas, shade structures, free-standing shipping container entry, amenities and ground cover. In February 2020 the council approved a resolution to authorize a portion of the public’s right of way for seating, bike parking, surfboard racks, fencing/planters and ground cover. At that time, Hess estimated the project would be finished by May 2020 but due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the project was not started.
At the June 3 meeting, Hess requested an extension for the project to now start in late September so that his summer business would not be impacted. Hess spoke during the meeting and explained that the brewery was heavily impacted by the virus and while he maintained City Tacos and Hess Brewing open with take out, it has seen a 75 percent reduction in business. City Manager Andy Hall said that it would help if Hess could make some progress as soon as possible; for example removing a tree and widening the sidewalk could be possibly done.
During the public comment period over 115 comments in support of Mike Hess Brewing were read. During council discussion, Councilwoman Paloma Aguirre said she had received emails from residents with concerns about the current aesthetics of Hess Brewing. Hess said he could start some improvements, such as installing the footings for the shipping containers but the entire sidewalk is a project that comes at the end although he could smooth out the sidewalk.
Councilman Ed Spriggs also said heard from some residents about the aesthetics on Seacoast Drive. “Regardless of the reasons, no other business has had this aesthetics problem for so long and still be able to operate. That’s the issue,” he said. Spriggs said he would like him to move the schedule up.
Councilman Mark West asked Hess what Hess could do before the actual project starts to improve the aesthetics. Hess suggested removing the trees, fixing up the sidewalk and installing the footings for the shipping containers. West suggested communicating with the community about what is going on to let them know changes are coming. West suggested the date of Sept. 8 as the start of the projects right after Labor Day.
“We have an obligation to neighbors, the community and other businesses. We have super high standards we have to get this done ASAP…Five years from now I want to say we did it right,” Councilman Robert Patton said.
In other business:
The consent calendar was approved unanimously.
An update on the city’s response to COVID-19 Pandemic was presented by Assistant City Manager Erika Cortez. She said as of June 2 the beaches are open for passive use like sitting and sunbathing but no sports are allowed and parking lots are still closed. Community testing is now available at South Bay Urgent Care on Palm Avenue and San Ysidro Civic Center via drive through. The city is planning on reopening City Hall, employees will be tested for the virus and shields will be installed as necessary. Cortez also spoke of a pier reopening plan featuring signage and semi permanent markings on the ground to create one way aisles for walkers. Fishing will be allowed with 10 feet separation but not allowed around the perimeter of the Tin Fish. Access to the restaurant area will be restricted to diners only and the eatery will only be open while the lifeguards are on duty. The pier will close at 8:30 p.m. It was also discussed that the port will not fund a security guard this summer as in the past. A GIS map of open businesses has been created by the city.
The acceptance of the Coronavirus Relief Fund from the county and authorizing the city manager to execute a sub-grant agreement creating an Imperial Beach Relief Fund program and expenditure plan were approved unanimously by the council in two separate motions. The total amount the city will receive is $489,295 that will be broken up in the following categories: $299,000 for city expenses; $150,000 for small business assistance; $25,295 for housing assistance; and $15,000 for community testing. The funds have to be spent by Sept. 30, 2020. The reason the city has to provide the county with a budget proposal is that it will be responsible for money spent if not compliance of the budget plan.
The intention to dissolve the assessment district 67M, a lighting and landscaping district located in a portion of Palm Avenue was approved by the council by a 4 to 5 vote with a no by Spriggs. During council discussion Spriggs said he believed it is better to leave the district in place so that businesses can continue to pay their share. He suggested creating a district for Seacoast Drive. West sided against it. “This is not fair to the businesses…the way it is written is not fair for small businesses like Deb’s Cookie Jar who are struggling at this time. I support dissolving it,” he said. The public hearing date on this item is Aug. 5, 2020.
The next council meeting will be held on June 17 at 5 p.m. via teleconference.