A STRONG YEAR FOR CDA’s GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS PROGRAM
The leadership of the California Downtown Association was heavily engaged in a number of critical policy areas as 2021 was another strong year for the Association’s advocacy efforts. Focusing in on the organization’s three top priorities this year, which include:
1. Operational Effectiveness of our BID membership
2. Economic Recovery & Vitality for our Downtowns
3. Improving the Environment of our Downtowns/Public Safety & Retail Theft
With strong interest in continuing to address the societal and economic impacts of the COVID-19 and the variants, increasing housing availably/affordability and staggering increase in homelessness throughout the state, 2022 will give CDA opportunities to engage the State Legislature and Governor Newsom’s Administration.
Operational Effectives for our BIDs and their Boards of Directors
CDA co-sponsored urgency legislation this year that allows local agencies, including BIDs, to continue to meet and provide essential local services during any statewide public health emergencies. AB 361 (Rivas, D-Salinas) was signed into law gives public agencies the authority to meet remotely during a declared state of emergency. To ensure transparency and public access, the bill requires agencies to post agendas and all meeting information but the bill does not force public agencies to host in-person meetings, does not require board members to physically be present at any remote participation site if those members are participating virtually.
Economic Recovery and Vitality of our Downtowns
As our downtown restaurants and bars continue to gain their footing after the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 and subsequent public health orders, CDA-sponsored legislation that was signed into law allowing for the expansion of outdoor dining, providing additional flexibility for utilizing shared spaces between businesses and allowing for the sale of to-go alcoholic beverages. The three major pieces of legislation were supported by a wide range of business, travel, restaurant industry organizations as well as the California Downtown Association.
AB 61 (Gabriel, D-Los Angeles) – SUPPORT
This bill empowers local jurisdictions and the Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) to provide much-needed regulatory flexibility to support struggling restaurants. This bill builds on initiatives restaurants and local governments took, at the outset of the pandemic, to expand critical outdoor dining spaces.
SB 314 (Wiener, D-San Francisco) – SUPPORT
This bill assists the hospitality industry recover from the devastating impacts of the pandemic, enacting common sense reforms, restructuring outdated laws, and allowing businesses more opportunities to recover. This legislation will help California’s events, restaurants, and bars recover economically from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic by creating more flexibility in how they can serve alcohol, including where they can serve alcohol, how they can share spaces with other businesses, and how frequently a catering permit can be used.
SB 389 (Dodd, D-Napa) – SUPPORT
This bill would allow the holder of a retail on-sale license or a licensed beer manufacturer, licensed wine manufacturer, or craft distiller that operates a bona fide public eating place to sell alcoholic beverages for off-sale consumption for which their license permits on-sale consumption. The ability to include alcoholic drinks with to-go orders has been helpful for many restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Improving the Environment of our Downtowns/Public Safety & Retail Theft
CDA played an important role in the passage of AB 331 (Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles) which extends until January 1, 2026 the existing Organized Retail Crime Task Force (ORCTF) housed within the California Highway Patrol. The bill extends the pairing of an effective criminal statute with a state-level entity dedicated to enforcing it, both of which are essential in the fight against organized retail crime (ORC). Organized retail crime typically involves a criminal enterprise that organizes multiple theft rings at a number of retail stores and employs a fencing operation to sell the illegally obtained goods for financial gain. According to a recent survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF), organized retail crime (ORC) is a $30 billion problem nationwide and rising. That survey also identified Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sacramento among the top ten metropolitan areas for ORC in the country.