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San Mateo County extends property tax deadline to May 4

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San Mateo County extends property tax deadline to May 4

San Mateo County Treasurer/Tax Collector Sandie Arnott announced today the extension of the second installment of property taxes from April 10 to May 4, when her offices is set to reopen to the public following the COVID-19 shelter-in-place order that runs until May 3.

“Payments would need to be made in the office on this date no later than 5 p.m. to avoid a penalty,” Arnott said in a statement today.

Despite the extension, Arnott urged taxpayers to submit their second installment by the April 10 deadline, noting that cities, counties, school districts and special districts need the timely payments of tax dollars to fund critical services, such as healthcare, public safety, social services and sanitation.

“It is vital that we ensure the funding they require to continue providing these services is collected on time to enable the County to apportion these much-needed dollars to them in April,” Arnott said. “Additionally, it is important that we have the funds required to pay debt service on school bonds due in April and May in order to prevent a negative credit rating that could impact future bond issues.”

On March 24, Arnott submitted a resolution to the County Board of Supervisors to extend the deadline to the next business day that offices reopen following the April 10 deadline. Since the decision was made to keep the Treasurer-Tax Collector offices closed for public health reasons on April 10, the next possible business day is Monday, May 4.

San Francisco also decided to extend its property tax deadline to May 4.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA), which represents homeowners, has called on Gav. Gavin Newsom to extend the deadline to July 15, the date by which state and federal income tax payments have been extended.  Representatives of local governments have conversely called on the governor to retain the April 10 deadline and to forgive penalties for those who can’t pay them due to the pandemic.

According to CalMatters, property tax deadlines are set by state law, and changing them must be done either by legislative act, which can’t happen due to lawmakers sheltering in place, or by executive order.

For San Mateo County residents who still need to pay the second installment, they can do so online, via mail, by automated phone system at 866-220-0308, or by using the drop box located at 555 County Center in Redwood City.

Photo of 555 County Center, home of San Mateo Tax Collector’s office, courtesy of the County of San Mateo.

County considers banning evictions of small businesses impacted by COVID-19

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San Mateo County supes to consider moratorium on evictions of small businesses

San Mateo County may ban evictions of small businesses that can’t pay rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposed moratorium, which the County Board of Supervisors will consider at its meeting Tuesday, would apply only to businesses in unincorporated areas of the County that have annual gross receipts of under $2.5 million.

Under the ordinance, qualifying commercial tenants would need to pay back rent up to 180 days after the local emergency declaration ends in the County. Also, before landlords could pursue an eviction during this period, they would need to provide a County form to commercial tenants notifying them of their rights under the ordinance.

If approved, the ordinance would take effect immediately and would remain in effect through May 31, unless extended by the Board.

Qualifications for relief under the emergency regulation include:

  • a reduction in operating hours
  • available workforce or consumer demand
  • reduced business income due to illness
  • increases in the tenant’s health care expenses or employee health care expenses for which the tenant is responsible
  • increased costs of supplies or other overhead expenses
  • temporary closure of the tenant’s business.

“Commercial tenants, just like all of us in this county and this world, did not ask for this pandemic and the health and financial uncertainties it brings,” Supervisor Warren Slocum, who co-sponsored the ordinance with Supervisor Dave Pine. “As leaders of this county, we must do everything we can to help our community and that includes protecting our businesses for their own sake as well as the community that relies on them.”

The County noted cities could enact similar moratoriums. Two weeks ago, the Board of Supervisors banned the eviction of residential renters countywide, including both incorporated and unincorporated areas, for nonpayment of rent due to COVID-19.

Slocum said his district feels the impacts keenly.

Tuesday’s Board meeting will be conducted via Zoom conferencing. Community members may view a video broadcast here. Written comments may be sent to boardfeedback@smcgov.org.

 

Peninsula Clean Energy providing $100 credit to the bills of about 30K low-income customers

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Peninsula Clean Energy providing $100 credit to the bills of about 30K low-income customers

Peninsula Clean Energy recently announced it provide roughly 30,000 low-income customers with $100 credit that will appear on their bills this month.

This one-time credit, approved by PCE’s board on March 26, will be automatically applied to the bills of County residents who are covered under the California alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) or Family Electric Rate Assistance (FERA) rate plans as of March 20. The grants will provide about $3 million in short-term relief to those affected by Coronavirus induced business shutdowns.

“With many of our customers facing shuttered workplaces and heightened anxiety about paying their bills, we hope this can provide some support during this difficult time,” Peninsula Clean Energy CEO Jan Pepper said.

Customers on CARE or FERA rate plans as of March 20 do not need to take further action, and will automatically receive this credit. Community members who want to learn to qualify for CARE’s monthly discount of at least 20 percent on gas and electricity or FERA’s monthly discount of 18 percent on electricity can click here for more information.

Photo of the 200-MW Wright Solar, posted on the Peninsula Clean Energy Facbeook page.

Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA offering pet food to residents in need

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Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA offering pet food to residents in need

San Mateo County pet owners in need can receive donations, and even delivery, of pet food from the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“This service is for residents who are low-income or for those who are high-risk and in self-isolation.,” the organization said. “We will not be requiring income or health verification, but we do hope people will be honest and not access the food bank unless needed.”

For those who can’t visit the food bank in person, the PHS/SPCA can deliver within a limited area.

Call 650-988-5280 or email Brian@PHS-SPCA.org to register.

San Mateo County now has 250-bed field hospital; hopefully it won’t be needed

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The San Mateo County Event Center is now a 250-bed Federal Medical Station that aims to take on patients in the event that the area’s nine hospitals reach capacity due to the COVID-19 surge.

Beds are placed 6 feet apart, each with linens and pillows and supplies. The county hopes the “diligence of its residents” to follow guidelines on preventing the spread of the virus means this large pop-up medical facility will never have to used.

If it does, the medical resources from the National Strategic stockpile will provide “sub-acute, non-traumatic, non-surgical treatment when hospital bed capacity has been exceeded, as well as care for displaced persons with chronic diseases, limited mobility, or behavioral health requirements,” according to County officials.

Patients accepted at the site will not be suffering from severe illness, as the intention will be to free up space for those with urgent conditions at local hospitals.

Members of the California Air National Guard Cots set up the cots and other equipment early this week.  Some of those resources could be moved to local hospitals if the need arises, officials said. Similar medical centers have also been set up in Santa Clara County, Los Angeles, Coachella and Richmond.

San Mateo County Manager Mike Callagy speaks to media at the 250-bed Field Medical Hospital set up this week at the San Mateo County Event Center.

San Mateo County is now looking to staff the Event Center with retired medical professionals, nursing students and  paramedics and volunteers.

Anyone interested in volunteering or donating to the effort can do so at www.smcgov.org.

“This is the challenge of our generation,” County Manager Mike Callagy said. “Every generation has a challenge in some way and this is ours. And this is a great example, this medical station here, of what we can do when we all work together.”

San Mateo County health officials are asking the community for any unused N-95 respirators, surgical mask and unopened packages of disposable gloves, as well as unopened containers of hand sanitizer, any unopened containers of disinfectants or disinfecting wipes or any package to our unused protective goggles.

If you have these items, drop them off at the Maple Street Correction Facility at 1300 Maple Street in Redwood City.

Photos courtesy of the County of San Mateo

Sequioia Healthcare District earmarks $3M in emergency funds for nonprofits

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Sequioia Healthcare District to provide up to $3M to assist nonprofits amid COVID-19 crisis

The Sequoia Healthcare District is set to provide up to $3 million in relief and support funding to nonprofit partners serving southern San Mateo County’s most vulnerable populations.

The financial support aims to ensure the nonprofits can continue their life-saving work during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the healthcare district, which funds the work of more than 70 nonprofits annually, providing community and school-based health services to over 60,000 residents. The district’s Board of Directors approved the emergency financial support on March 18, then gave the green light to an allocation plan on Wednesday.

Under the plan, flexible funding assistance will be provided to agencies that serve the most at-risk populations. Current grantees will be allowed to use previously-specified programmatic funds toward general operations, and their reporting deadlines can be extended. Also, no-interest loans will be provided to partner agencies with substantial hardship, the District said. The plan additionally includes continued financial support to pay salaries for school staff currently funded through the Healthy Schools Initiative, including school nurses, wellness coordinators, physical education coaches, and mental health specialists.

The District intends to deploy the funds “quickly and efficiently.”

“These funds ensure that vulnerable populations in southern San Mateo County continue to receive care and support from the organizations they know and count on,” said Pamela Kurtzman, CEO of Sequoia Health District. “The District is in a unique position with financial resources that can be deployed immediately and used flexibly to meet the dynamic needs of our agency partners as they face this unprecedented hardship.”

For more details on the emergency funding plan, click here.

Photo Credit: Sequoia Healthcare District/Twitter

Meal train launched for San Mateo Medical Center staff

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Meal train launched for San Mateo Medical Center frontline staff

The San Mateo County Health Foundation has launched a Meal Train campaign for the San Mateo County Medical Center to support medical frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The campaign requires meals to feed 25 adults for breakfast at 6 a.m., 50 adults for lunch at noon, and 40 adults for dinner at 7 p.m.

Community members must purchase healthy food options from stores and restaurants including Whole Foods Deli, Mendocino Farms, and Pizza My Heart Pizza. Home cooked meals are prohibited to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Currently, the hospital prohibits visitors from entering the facilities. Individuals with deliveries must follow a “No contact” delivery by placing food in trunk and open for retrieval. Once at the hospital, they must contact John Jurow at jjurow@smcgov.org and 650 333-5634, or Phuong Hathaway phathaway@smcgov.org as a hospital representative will retrieve the delivery.

Photo credit: San Mateo County Health Center, 222 W 39th Ave., San Mateo County Health

Why the April 10 property tax deadline hasn’t been extended

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To pay property taxes online, click here.

While state and federal income tax deadlines have been extended to July 15 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, property taxes are still due no later than Friday, April 10.

That’s prompted some — such as the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA), which represents homeowners — to call on Gav. Gavin Newsom to extend the deadline. Meanwhile, representatives of cities, counties, school districts and special districts, which rely on the tax revenue, want to keep the April 10 deadline.

According to CalMatters, property tax deadlines are set by state law, and changing them must be done either by legislative act, which can’t happen due to lawmakers sheltering in place, or by executive order.

HJTA President Jon Coupal says Gov. Newsom “should issue an executive order granting homeowners some form of emergency relief.”

“As a weak alternative, treasurer/tax collectors should come up with a uniform process by which all 58 counties agree to abide,” Coupal wrote in an opinion piece. “Specifically, late fees and penalties should be waived until July 15 for all homeowners, or at a minimum for seniors over the age of 65 and those who can demonstrate that they lost their jobs before April 10.”

Meanwhile, local governments want the governor to retain the April 10 deadline and to allow officials to forgive penalties for property owners unable to pay by April 10 due to the pandemic. In this letter, the reps argued that local agencies rely on the timing of property tax payments.

“Unlike nearly every other tax, including the income tax and sales tax, property tax revenues are not distributed throughout the fiscal year,” the letter states. “Instead, nearly all funds—over $140 billion—are received in the days before the two payment deadlines of December 10 and April 10. Extending the deadline by 60 or 90 days would have a dramatic impact on local funding, as almost all local agencies rely on the property tax for the majority of their general funds.”

In a March 26 notice, San Mateo County Treasurer-Tax Collector Sandie Arnott expressed a need for balance on the issue, indicating her office is prepared to waive penalties for those with legitimate financial hardship caused by the pandemic.

“I stress to everyone in San Mateo County: If you can pay your property taxes online, I urge you to do so,” Arnott said.

To pay property taxes online, click here. Due to the pandemic, tax collection offices in Redwood City, South San Francisco and Half Moon Bay will be closed until further notice for in person payments.  Taxpayers can also pay by mail, by automated phone system at 866-220-0308, or by using the drop box located at 555 County Center in Redwood City.

Taxpayers are requested to use a personal check, cashier’s check, or money check to for mail payments.

Photo of 555 County Center, home of San Mateo Tax Collector’s office, courtesy of the County of San Mateo

SAMCEDA guiding local small biz on federal stimulus, resources

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SAMCEDA guiding local small biz on federal stimulus, resources

For San Mateo County small businesses needing to find a way to pay staff and the rent during the COVID-19 crisis, help is just a mouse click away.

The San Mateo County Economic Development Association (SAMCEDA), designated as San Mateo County’s business lead in the COVID-19 crisis response, released a COVID-19 Business Continuity Action Plan – 1.0 this week to help small businesses best take advantage of resources available to them, including the $349 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), part of the historic $2 trillion federal emergency aid package.

The PPP provides small businesses with funds to pay up to eight weeks of payroll costs including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities, according to the U.S. Dept. of the Treasury.

While the funds will certainly be helpful to small or medium-sized business owners or operators, “it will take several weeks to several months for all of the money to get in the hands to those who need it most,” SAMCEDA cautions.

In the meantime, SAMCEDA’s website and action plan provides business owners with a checklist and wealth of relevant links designed to ensure they tap all possible resources available to them to sustain their businesses, including the PPP.

Beginning in early March, SAMCEDA created an extensive resources portal at its website,www.samceda.org. SAMCEDA is also assisting in the development of the San Mateo County Strong Fund, a local emergency aid fund launched by a $3 million County contribution that aims to provide relief to local small businesses, individuals, families and nonprofits.

For daily updates, SAMCEDA is releasing a daily e-newsletter. The organization is encouraging local business owners to complete its Business Economic Impact Survey, which has received over 950 responses to date.

“We recognize, appreciate and understand the uncertainty many of you are facing and want to assure you that the County of San Mateo, SAMCEDA, your Chambers of Commerce and your respective cities and towns are working day in and day out developing solutions,” said to Rosanne Foust, SAMCEDA President and CEO.

Photo credit: US Small Business Association

Health officials now asking residents to cover nose, mouth with cloth when leaving home

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Health officials ask residents to cover nose, mouth with cloth when leaving home

Bay Area health officials are now recommending that residents cover their nose and mouth with cloth, such as bandanas, fabric masks or neck gaiters, when leaving the home, per new guidance from the California Dept. of Public Health.

Face coverings do not have to be hospital grade, as those are in limited supply and must be preserved for health care workers and first responders. Acceptable face coverings need to cover the nose and mouth and can be made of a variety of cloth materials, factory-made or hand-sewn, or can be improvised using bandanas, scarves, t-shirts, sweatshirts or towels, according to a San Mateo County statement. They should also be washed, ideally after each use, frequently with detergent and hot water and dried on a hot cycle, and they should have a dedicated laundry bag or bin, officials said.

Up until recently, local officials have not recommended large-scale face covering but “circumstances have changed,” the county’s statement said.

“In addition to shelter-in-place and social distancing requirements, wearing a mask in public is an important tool to stop the community spread of this disease,” says Dr. Scott Morrow, San Mateo County health officer. “People with no or mild symptoms may have coronavirus and not know it. Wearing face coverings helps protect others from exposure.”

Health officials stressed that residents continue staying home, and when leaving for essential activities to practice frequent hand-washing and social distancing.

Photo credit: CDC

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