We are all so worried about the signs and symptoms of COVID-19 right now. What f your child has a cold and cough? Dr. Stephen Carson explains some very practical things you can do to help alleviate your child’s symptoms. Watch his video HERE.
The next general election is right around the corner on Tuesday, Nov. 3 – make sure you’re registered to vote! In addition to the presidential election, you’ll also have the opportunity to vote for a San Marcos City Council Member for District 3 and District 4.
The deadline for voter registration is 15 days prior to the election.
In person: Complete a voter registration form with the City Clerk at San Marcos City Hall located at 1 Civic Center Drive.
What to consider before you vote
Who and what is on the ballot? Do you want to vote but are unsure who is running or what issues are on the ballot? The County of San Diego has compiled a list of candidates on the ballot in November 2020. Campaign statements and campaign status for San Marcos City Council candidates are now available.
Mail-in vote or in-person polling? In light of COVID-19, many residents have questions about how and where voting will happen. Per the Governor’s executive order in August 2020, postcards have been mailed to registered voters in San Diego County to encourage voting by mail ballot. If you’re registered to vote by mail, ballots are expected to start to arrive in early October. Voters can still visit their local polling place to vote in-person, but there will be fewer polling locations and some locations may have changed from previous elections. The County of San Diego encourages you to vote early and be prepared. Bring a copy of your mail ballot with you and expect long lines.
San Marcos district elections
San Marcos residents now vote for City Council members by district instead of an at-large election. During the November 2020 election, only residents from District 3 and District 4, as determined by their voting address, will be selecting a council member. The filing deadlines for candidates has closed and the list of San Marcos City Council candidates is now final.
District 3 includes area around Cal State San Marcos, the Creek District and Civic Center area, and extends east to the Nordahl Marketplace, west to Rancho Santa Fe Road and north to the 78 Freeway.
District 4 includes Santa Fe Hills, Palomar College, and neighborhoods north of Borden Road and Santa Fe Road to the west.
Still not sure what district you live in? The City has developed a district map as a resource for residents. To learn more, watch the City’s Know Before You Vote video or visit the City’s webpage on district elections.
About the San Marcos City Council
The City of San Marcos is a Charter City governed by a five-member City Council consisting of a Mayor and four Council Members from four districts. The term of office for each member is four years with staggered terms. There is a limit of three consecutive terms for each position.
Thousands of San Marcos students were scheduled to start school in-person on Aug. 18. In the weeks leading up to the start of school, COVID-19 numbers spiked, and plans to start in-person learning vanished. City of San Marcos leadership recognized an opportunity to support City employees as they prepared to balance the demands of their essential jobs and distance learning with their children.
The Parks and Recreation and Human Resources departments teamed up to quickly determine how to best assist City employees. That’s where the idea for ‘learning hubs’ was born.
Learning hubs are socially distanced classrooms providing online learning support for students of different ages and grade levels at the San Marcos Senior Activity Center. There are two classrooms with an average of 18 students that attend daily. Desks are spaced out and aisles are lined with power strips where students can charge the devices they need for online learning. While there are not on-site teachers, City staff members oversee the classrooms and provide support to students when needed. The City follows CDC guidelines by checking temperatures before students enter, prohibiting visitors (including parents) from entering the classroom, providing hand sanitizer and wipes to students, and following a strict cleaning protocol.
“The City has a number of staff members, across several departments, who have limited or no ability to work from home,” said Darren Chamow, program manager for the City of San Marcos Parks and Recreation Department. “When we got the news about school districts continuing distance learning due to COVID-19 numbers, we saw challenges ahead for City operations. The City is providing critical services and programs to the community. Without the learning hub, it would not have been possible for some of our employees to continue to work and support our community and assist their kids at the same time.”
The concept of the learning hub not only supports the City’s essential workers and their children, but also provides new job responsibilities for other City employees whose programs were put on hold or canceled for the year due to COVID-19. In addition, the learning hubs program provides the City with an opportunity to leverage underutilized facilities to provide support to City employees, who are providing essential services during the pandemic.
“Launching the program was a perfect example of timing meeting opportunity,” said Janelle Laughlin, human resources manager for the City of San Marcos. “The demands on our employees, as public servants, have never been greater. Overnight, we had to completely change the way we do business and how we provide programs and services to the San Marcos community.”
Program costs for this new offering have been largely covered by funds available from programs that were canceled due to COVID-19. The program will likely continue to provide support for City staff through the end of 2020 and potentially beyond.
“The math made sense and we got buy-in from City leadership, allowing us to quickly launch a program to support our employees, at a time when they needed it the most,” Laughlin said.
San Marcos renters who have experienced financial setbacks due to COVID-19 may be eligible for the City’s new COVID-19 Rental Assistance Program.
The program, funded with $1,051,615 of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) resources, will provide immediate financial aid to residents experiencing a loss of income directly related to COVID-19. It provides residential rental assistance (up to $10,000, total) to residents whose incomes are at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income, who were current with rent payments prior to March 16, 2020 and who are otherwise in good financial standing.
“Thanks to these CDBG resources, the City of San Marcos is able to extend a helping hand to renters facing extreme financial hardship during the pandemic,” said Lisa Fowler, City of San Marcos Finance Director. “Our goal is to raise awareness about this valuable program and encourage residents who are eligible to apply.”
The development of the Rental Assistance Program was approved by San Marcos City Council on June 9. Program funds will likely be fully expended by June 30, 2021.
Applicants with the lowest income levels will receive priority over other eligible applicants. Residents may receive up to $10,000 per household, per application, for up to six months of partial or full rent. A rent reasonableness assessment may be conducted by the program administrator to determine the amount of assistance that will be provided.
San Marcos Mayor Rebecca Jones has recorded a virtual ‘State of Your Community’ address to keep residents in the know about all things San Marcos. Click here to tune in!
Although hosting a ‘State of Your Community’ event isn’t currently possible due to COVID-19, the Mayor felt a virtual presentation would provide a helpful update to residents. In her address, she covers a wide range of topics including: Community safety, quality of life, supporting local businesses, lending a helping hand, the importance of community input, healthcare and education and infrastructure and mobility.
“2020 has certainly been a challenging year, unlike anything we have experienced before,” Mayor Jones said. “Yet the resilience I’ve witnessed in our community has been absolutely astounding. From businesses navigating uncharted waters and families supporting each other, to online solutions for what we used to do in person and creative new communications tools that are helping us bridge the gaps. I am incredibly proud of who we are and how we have adapted.”
The Mayor’s ‘State of Your Community’ address will air on San Marcos Televisionat 2:30 p.m., and can be viewed anytime on the City of San Marcos Youtube channel here.
Last evening at the Regular Meeting of the Governing Board, it was announced that an amicable separation has occurred between Dr. Carmen García and the San Marcos Unified School District. Dr. García’s full goodbye statement can be read here. We thank Dr. Garcia for her service to the District, its students, employees and community, and we wish her well in future endeavors.
In light of Dr. Garcia’s departure, I have been placed as Acting Superintendent while our district begins the process of transitioning to new leadership. I have had the privilege of being a member of the SMUSD community for fifteen years, serving as principal of San Marcos Middle School and San Marcos High School before moving to the district office to serve as Director of Secondary Education, Assistant Superintendent of Equity and Secondary Schools, and my current position as Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Services. My joy as an employee of this district has been eclipsed only by my joy of being a parent here as I have watched my daughter thrive in her elementary years at Joli Ann Leichtag and blossom into a self-confident seventh grader within the supportive environment of San Marcos Middle School. It is through this lens, as a grateful employee and thankful parent within the SMUSD community, that I will work to serve as a collaborative partner with all of you as we move into the next phase of our school year.
I am happy to report that our Governing Board approved Safe School Reopening plans for both Elementary and Secondary schools, paving the way for a return to in-person instruction for our students when viable. Details of the Elementary 2-Day Combo plan with possible phase-in timelines can be found here and the Secondary A/B Hybrid plan with its phases/timelines can be found here. Lastly, a discussion of questions and answers related to the safety protocols and instructional models that will be in place for the in-person return can be accessed here.
One additional note from our Board Meeting highlights. Last night was the final meeting for Mark Schiel, our current Assistant Superintendent of Business Services. Mr. Schiel has been an invaluable and trusted member of our SMUSD team for over five years; his knowledge, passion, and innovation has been an asset to our district. As he transitions to his new role as Chief Business Official of Santa Clara Unified School District, I offer him a collective thank you from our district and a personal one from me; you will be missed.
As we ramp up our preparations for In-Person learning, you will be receiving additional communications in the upcoming days.
Attracting, retaining and expanding businesses is at the forefront of the City of San Marcos’ economic development efforts. The City offers a variety of services to help businesses thrive.
Piercan, a worldwide leader in manufacturing niche polymer products, including specialty gloves (used by NASA, pharmaceutical companies, national laboratories, military, and beyond) experienced this concierge service first-hand. The City helped Piercan secure a $1.5 million California Competes Tax Credit (CCTC) this summer. Announced by Governor Gavin Newsom’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz), the income tax credit is set up to help businesses that want to grow and stay in California.
With this assistance, Piercan will expand their San Marcos operations and hire 62 new employees. The company will be investing more than $7.5 million in wages, equipment and improvements within the next five years.
“The City was instrumental in obtaining this tax credit,” said Julio Cedillo, General Manager of Piercan USA, Inc. “I’m very grateful for their support and their guidance through this process, as well as defining new opportunities to help us grow as a company in a reasonable and responsible way.”
Piercan, an international company headquartered in France since 1948, has been operating in the U.S. since 1995. It started in Vista, then expanded to San Marcos, where it currently employs more than 60 full time workers. Thanks, in part, to this tax credit, accelerated growth is on the horizon.
Piercan’s San Marcos headquarters specializes in containment isolator and glovebox gloves as well as bladders that are used to form unique carbon fiber components for aerospace and recreational markets to create propellers for airplanes, forks for bicycles, wing spars for drones and bows for violins among other products.
“We’re planning to grow, we’re going to create more jobs here in San Marcos, and we’re going to bring indirect development to this area. We want to stay in San Marcos, and we will likely double our size and workforce within in the next five years,” Cedillo said.
The City of San Marcos has helped five San Marcos companies secure nearly $3 million in state income tax credits since 2017, allowing local businesses to expand and create new jobs. Winning these tax credits is highly competitive, so City staff help guide business owners through the process.
Only 22 companies across the state were awarded tax credits in this round of CCTC tax credits – and San Marcos was the only city in northern San Diego County to make the list.
Of the more than $73 million tax credits awarded, nearly $18.2 million of that will go to nine businesses (of which Piercan is included) that are adding high-quality manufacturing jobs to our state – a national leader in manufacturing. Early in the stay-at-home order, Governor Newsom deemed manufacturing to be an essential function of California’s economy.
“As California works to safely recover from the COVID-19 induced recession, this tax credit program continues to be a model for both accountability and transparency. What we see today is 22 companies not only choosing California, but choosing Californians,” said Chris Dombrowski, GO-Biz Acting Director, and Chair of the California Competes Tax Credit Committee. “We are innovators at heart and so is our economy and we will continue to invest in companies that look to build the future here in California.”
To date, the City has helped Piercan USA, Inc. earn a $1.5 million tax credit that will create 62 jobs; Wholesale Shade earned a $500,000 tax credit to create 26 jobs; Cliniqa earned a $350,000 tax credit to create 24 jobs; Creative Electron earned a $446,700 tax credit to create 22 jobs; Oasis Breads earned a $200,000 tax credit to create six jobs and QC Power earned a $100,000 tax credit to create seven jobs.
These companies are all are part of San Marcos’ booming manufacturing industry, the City’s second-largest economic sector. Manufacturing provides 11 percent of local employment, which is about 4,300 jobs.
“We love helping connect local businesses with resources that will help them grow in San Marcos,” said Tess Sangster, Economic Development Director for the City of San Marcos. “This is a big win for the City and Piercan, as their expansion and creation of new jobs will boost our local economy and community.”
Informational Webinar on the 2020/21 School Options recording
Dear SMUSD Parents,
As a follow up to tonight’s webinar, please visit the website link below to access the presentation and video recording. Both will assist with your family’s Learning Pathway selection: Remote Instruction to Start/In Person When Viable or Leading Edge Virtual School.
As the death, disease, and financial devastation wrought by COVID-19 begins to recede in some communities, people who live in the San Elijo Hills community are wondering how best to protect their families as San Marcos moves to re-open restaurants and other businesses.
As a resident of San Elijo Hills, and as the Program Supervisor for Vista Community Clinic’s Tobacco Control Program, I have been learning a lot about the interaction between COVID-19 and tobacco and what it means for our families, friends, and neighbors. The combination of smoking/vaping and COVID-19 can be deadly – not just for those who use these products, but for people who may be exposed to secondhand or thirdhand smoke in their homes or in outdoor dining areas.
Residents are fortunate that almost every San Elijo Hills restaurant has voluntarily made its outdoor dining area smoke-free. Unfortunately, many restaurants in other parts of San Marcos still permit smoking outdoors, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Check our online guide to find other San Marcos restaurants that offer healthy, smoke-free air: http://northcoastalpreventioncoalition.org/programs/tc/sfod/guide/.
The benefits of smoke-free air where we live, work, and play go beyond those who smoke or vape. It is possible that secondhand smoke exhaled by an infected person can spread COVID-19 to others. Secondhand smoke spreads quickly, is detectable more than 6 feet away, and remains airborne for a long time. The California Tobacco Control Program warns, “When people are smoking or vaping, they are also exhaling particulates from deep within their lungs into the environment around them.” (See: https://tobaccofreeca.com/health/covid-19-and-tobacco-what-you-need-to-know/)
Now, researchers at San Diego State University are warning us about thirdhand smoke and COVID-19,saying that the coronavirus may be spread in indoor environments by “hitching a ride” on particles exhaled during smoking and vaping, and that the particles may linger for days on surfaces and in dust where thirdhand smoke and vapors accumulate. (See: https://thirdhandsmoke.org/dont-let-covid-19-hitch-a-ride/)
Last fall, well before COVID-19 captured our attention, Vista Community Clinic sponsored a series of community forums on secondhand smoke attended by more than 85 San Marcos residents. Many lived in apartments and expressed concern about secondhand smoke drifting into their units. “I am bothered by secondhand smoke in the apartment complex where I live. People are sometimes smoking around my kids, and my kids sometimes are curious to pick up cigarettes with their bare hands,” said Norma Vazquez.
Other participants were concerned about exposure to secondhand smoke in outdoor dining areas. “This hits close to the heart for me because my mum passed away when I was 12 years old because of an asthma attack. I have asthma and my daughter tends to wheeze and has an inhaler,” said San Elijo Hills resident Sharmin Jesuthasan. “While we love sitting outdoors enjoying a meal at a restaurant, we typically don’t go if others are smoking in the outdoor dining area.”
I encourage residents to thank restaurants in San Elijo Hills for their leadership in offering smoke-free outdoor dining to protect our health. For more ideas about what you can do to promote smoke-free air, contact Jennifer.Gill@vcc.org.
COVID-19 certainly surprised us all. As public health mandates were implemented and businesses responded, it became clear that no industry was safe from COVID – even the ones we traditionally think of as “recession proof.” Instead, many organizations had to adapt quickly (very quickly) to ever evolving protocols because, pandemic or no pandemic, people needed them.
Educational institutions in San Marcos did just that.
San Marcos is a hub of education with eight institutions of higher learning, so when COVID-19 impacted campuses mid-semester, our educational leaders had to adjust quickly. California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) and Palomar College, for example, both pivoted to online learning offerings in a just few days, which is no small feat considering the adjustments necessary to evolve experiential classes (laboratories, student teaching, art studios, internships, performances, community engagement, group projects, etc.) to an online setting.
“We were able to transition to distance learning in four days,” said CSUSM President Dr. Ellen Neufeldt. “So much credit needs to go to our faculty and staff for adapting so proficiently. Of course, some classes were easier than others, but I am really proud of how quickly we were able to respond to the realities of COVID-19 and maintain our level of student support.”
Similarly, Palomar College’s acting Superintendent/President Dr. Jack Kahn remarked at how the challenge of transitioning to distance learning provided some collateral benefits that can be applied to future semesters. “We have seen several instances of improved practices, innovations and collaborations across the campus,” said Dr. Kahn. “We have also provided an incredible amount of professional development to faculty and staff over the last months which has also helped us prepare [for future semesters].”
Both institutions strongly emphasized their commitment to fostering continued student success efforts, even with new dynamics resulting from online courses, and they see a potential for online education to reach new students in the future.
“As faculty are learning more and getting excited about opportunities we believe there will be more online options in the schedule in the future,” continued Dr. Kahn. “By increasing these options, we will increase access to education, especially for our students who typically hold down one or more jobs in order to make a living in San Diego County.”
Dr. Neufeldt echoed the value of blending online with in-person pedagogy and noted the need for “innovation for all.” “We stand ready to serve and support our students find a sense of community during COVID,” said Dr. Neufeldt. “Our campus has been committed to serving the needs of our community since the beginning, and the adjustments we’ve made in response to COVID are inspiring us to innovate our way forward.”
As public health restrictions are rolled back, CSUSM and Palomar College are looking forward to striking the appropriate balance between online and in-person learning to the benefit of students and the greater San Marcos community.
“By opening up access to education through our online delivery, many residents will find they are able to attend college while continuing to work in their current fields, raise a family, and continue to meet their obligations while improving their marketability through advancing their education,” said Dr. Kahn.
Cal State San Marcos also appreciates that by exploring new methods for making courses accessible remotely, it can strengthen its ability to provide a multitude of learning modalities that could potentially reach non-traditional students who are not recent high school graduates.
Planning for the fall semester is well underway and both institutions are currently offering robust online summer sessions with full enrollment numbers.
As COVID relief efforts continue and businesses reopen, San Marcos’ higher education leaders offer a reminder that they are here to serve the business community. “We always invite businesses to be our partners, so we can best serve our students and the City of San Marcos,” said Dr. Neufeldt. “We’re here to support our community now and beyond COVID.”