There’s never been a month like this in San Diego. COVID-19 has impacted all of us, devastating our local businesses and our economy, with the tourism industry among the hardest hit. The hotels, restaurants and attractions that fuel our regional economy have been forced to close or operate in a limited capacity.
Just like every family and business right now, the City of San Diego will have to make difficult choices, but we are going to do it with care. All of us, from our city employees to our city residents, are going to get through this together.
The financial impact is significant. There’s been a massive decrease in both sales and transit occupancy taxes – two of the main financial pillars that provide the revenue needed to fund public safety, parks, libraries, trash pickup and so many of the other services San Diegans rely on for their daily lives.
The combined loss of revenue for the current fiscal year and the new fiscal year that begins July 1 is projected to be $300 million and climbing. Earlier this month, I released my proposed Fiscal Year 2021 budget – a balanced proposal that prioritizes essential services, calls for targeted workforce and service level reductions, preserves public safety and takes a fiscally responsible approach to close the largest deficit in San Diego history. There will no doubt be more adjustments when I update the proposed budget in mid-May.
We’re making these decisions and others with the reopening of our economy in mind. Tourism is vitally important to San Diego’s local economy and the region’s identity. That is why I have made sure the San Diego Tourism Authority plays a primary role in reopening San Diego safely and successfully. The Authority, along with many business associations from across the region, is part of my Economic Recovery Advisory Group. I formed this group to provide clear guidance, regulatory relief and the financial support needed to help all businesses, including the tourism industry, get back to business as efficiently as possible.
These are challenging times. But I have no doubt that by working together on a thoughtful and forward-looking recovery plan, San Diego and the tourism industry will emerge stronger and more resilient than ever before.