This Tuesday, the Anaheim City Council will vote on expanding the Anaheim Community and Economic Recovery Plan, including the extension of eviction protections, more support for local businesses and increased funding for COVID-19 testing and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

The expansion would tap up to $4 million of the $33 million in CARES Act funding the city received from the federal government. Mayor Harry Sidhu, the driving force behind the expanded plan, wants to direct those federal dollars into the city to help sustain vulnerable Anaheim residents and businesses during the pandemic, while building a culture of patronizing local shops and restaurants.

The expanded Recovery Plan includes:

  • Extension of the eviction moratorium
  • Increase funding for the rental assistance program
  • Expand the small business grant program
  • Provide waivers, incentives and other measures to support local development projects
  • Increased funding through local non-profits to assist Anaheim residents in need
  • Establish a Buy/Shop/Dine/Hire/Purchase Local program to drive customers to local business and foster long-term resident loyalty Anaheim businesses.
  • Waive permits, fees and other regulatory obstacles to increased use of outdoor spaces for dining and business operations
  • Increased funding for COVID-19 testing and PPE

The agenda item would expand on the the program of resident and business assistance originally introduced by Mayor Harry Sidhu and approved by the council majority on March 26 as the coronavirus pandemic was gathering steam. The original Recovery Plan was supported by Sidhu, Mayor Pro Tem Lucille Kring and Councilmembers Steve Faessel, Trevor O’Neil and Jordan Brandman. Councilmembers Jose F. Moreno and Denise Barnes opposed it.

Since being approved in March, more than $2.8 million in grant funding has been awarded to local non-profits to provide meals and other necessities to disadvantaged residents. This aspect of the program is overseen by the Anaheim Community Foundation. $3 million was also made available to help qualifying Anaheim residents with rental repayment.

More Help For Businesses hit By COVID Restrictions
Already struggling Anaheim businesses are now coping with a second round of state-imposed operational restrictions, including a renewed ban on indoor dining. This has been an especially harsh blow to restaurants that did not already have outdoor dining facilities.

To offset those restrictions, Mayor Sidhu has added additional measure to assist Anaheim business: a plan to increase outdoor dining and business activities.  A number of cities have pursued similar strategies. The City of Orange, for example, has created “The Paseo” by closing the north and south blocks of Glassell off the Orange Circle to auto traffic, and restaurants have constructed outside, covered bistro seating:

Similarly, the expanded Recovery Act establishes a “plan for increased outdoor dining and business activities.” Places like the Center Street Promenade would make logical candidates for being turned into outdoor dining venues.

Plan Inaugurates Buy/Shop/Dine/Hire/Purchase Program
The expansion of outdoor dining and business activity is coupled with a Buy/Shop/Dine/Hire/Purchase program to encourage residents to patronize local businesses and provide those businesses with a mechanism to market themselves to residents. The program would be overseen by the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce.

According to multiple studies, Buy/Shop/Dine/Hire/Purchase Local programs can have a multiplier effect and benefit the wider community by:

  • Keeping a greater share of every dollar in the local economy
  • Increasing local hiring, as well as employee retention during downturns
  • Boosting locally-owned supply chains and investment in employees.

According to a study of the British Columbia economy, independent retailers generate $450,000 in local economic activity for every $1,000,000 in sales; the number was $650,000 for local restaurants. A similar study of Salt Lake City determined local retailers return 52 % of their revenue to the local economy, and local restaurants recirculate an average of 79 percent.

Studies have linked locally-owned businesses – especially independents – to higher income growth, lower levels of poverty and greater social capital.