Looting near the U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego. Courtesy OnScene.TV

The San Diego City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve allocating $12.8 million in federal coronavirus relief money to the city’s small business relief fund.

The city fund launched March 27 and accepted applications from small businesses impacted by COVID-19 for three weeks. It received more than 10,000 applications, “far exceeding available funding,” a city staff report said. The council had allocated $6.1 million on March 24 to be doled out in increments from $1,000 to $10,000 in grants, and forgivable or low- to zero-interest-rate loans to eligible small businesses for working capital.

San Diego has received $248.45 million from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, and $12.8 million of that money will go toward the fund.

To be eligible, a business must have fewer than 100 employees, be impacted financially by the COVID-19 pandemic and must be based in the city of San Diego.

As of Monday, the fund has given assistance to 273 businesses “with proven financial hardship” with an average staff of 7.2 full-time employees, city officials said.

Councilman Chris Cate said he appreciated the fund for helping to keep businesses open, but implored the city to have consideration for minority- owned businesses.

Counciwoman Vivian Moreno agreed, stating that of the 273 businesses to receive small business relief funds, fewer than 10 were in her district — District 8. That district encapsulates Barrio Logan, Logan Heights, San Ysidro and other historically underserved neighborhoods.

The funding approved Tuesday is subject to veto from Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

In May, Faulconer proposed using $189 million in relief funds for COVID-19-related operational expenses such as personnel and supplies, $50 million to continue housing the homeless at the San Diego Convention Center and $5 million for child care services for essential workers.

“Child care, housing and employment are critical needs right now,” Faulconer said at the time.

On Monday, the council voted 8-1 to approve Faulconer’s revised budget, including a $27 million increase in police funding.

— City News Service

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