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Chair Fletcher's Policy Will Waive Permit Fees for Event Industry, Board to Vote April 6

03/26/21

San Diego County Board of Supervisors' Chair Nathan Fletcher wants to provide financial relief to the events industry -- planners, venues and vendors -- as event restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic loosen. Chair Fletcher has been working in partnership with the San Diego Event Coalition (SDEC) to better understand their needs, advocating to the State  for event guidance  and on Tuesday, April 6 he will present a policy to waive Fiscal Year 2021-2022 permit fees for the event industry.  

“The event industry was dealt a tremendous economic blow by the pandemic. Unlike other sectors who were able to operate at limited capacity and bring in some revenue, they could not because of the protections around large gatherings,” said Chair Fletcher. 

According to SANDAG, the meeting and special events industry is an essential economic driver for the San Diego region and brought 2.7 million visitors and $3.5 billion in spending to San Diego in 2019 (see statistics sheet from SDEC below).

“As the restrictions on events are relaxed, the event industry deserves some financial help,” Chair Fletcher continued. “I am introducing a policy to waive County fees as venues, producers and vendors build back their businesses and help put them in a better position to bring back the festivals, live shows and family friendly events so many San Diegans and visitors love.”

If passed by the Board of Supervisors on April 6, Chair Fletcher’s policy will: 

“...waive permit fees for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021-2022 from the Department of Environmental Health and Quality (DEHQ), Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR), the Sheriff’s Department, and the San Diego County Fire Authority. The Chief Administration Officer will return with a resolution within 30 days that includes the fee waiver as part of the Board’s regularly scheduled COVID-19 update.”  

“Events are about people -- the human connections they create, the non-profit programs they support, the community awareness and traffic they generate, and most urgently, the individual people behind the scenes that rely on events to make a living,” said Laurel McFarlane, President of the San Diego Event Coalition. “It has often felt as if the industry, and its people, have been forgotten; however, County Supervisor Chair Nathan Fletcher never forgot about us.  He has been listening and advocating for our industry since the San Diego Event Coalition was formed in June 2020.  Even taking the time to text some of our members with encouraging messages to remind us he is fighting for a pathway back for our industry.”

“SDEC has been advocating for safe reopening guidelines, it has also campaigned for the introduction of cost-saving measures at the City & County level to assist the industry in recovery,” said Martha Henderson, co-founder of the SDEC. “Chair Fletcher has been a champion for these efforts and is stepping up huge for the devastated San Diego Event Industry!” 

“We are very encouraged that our plea for cost recovery measures is being answered, said Mike Kociela, Vice President of the SDEC. “These savings will have a meaningful impact on thousands of small event businesses and individual people who have struggled financially for over a year!”

The SDEC membership produce some of San Diego’s most anticipated annual events, including: Chula Vista Harborfest, San Diego Pride, So Cal Taco Fest, Art Walk, San Diego County Fair, San Diego Diner En Blanc, Gator By the Bay, La Mesa Oktoberfest, and many more. 

If Chair Fletcher’s policy passes, the expected revenue impact to San Diego County for waiving fees is estimated to be: $1,137,000 in DEHQ, $400,000 in DPR, $118,280  in the Sheriff’s Department, and $6,000 in San Diego County Fire Authority. Pending guidance from the Treasury Department, the funding source will be American Rescue Plan Act funds.