Small businesses in Los Altos continue to adjust to evolving mandates amid the lockdown, and a series of city-sponsored webinars aims to address merchants’ ongoing concerns.
Los Altos economic development coordinator Anthony Carnesecca discussed the status of Santa Clara County’s shelter-in-place order and its impact on the Los Altos business community during the latest two webinars Thursday.
The order – in effect until rescinded, superseded or amended by county health officer Dr. Sara Cody – requires operating businesses to publicly post various documents, including a green-checkmark verification poster and a COVID-19 social-distancing protocol form, at the entrances of their businesses.
Los Altos police officers are patrolling to verify that businesses are complying, pointing those who are not to the county’s online resource page for instructions.
Carnesecca said he checks in with county officials regularly to ask about the reopening of all businesses, including personal services, and any restrictions that may be imposed. He told webinar viewers that a county representative said the number of customers permitted inside any store or office will depend on the square footage.
“I see this as a challenge, and retailers should recognize that (a lot of) buildings are very narrow and long, so (there will be a) need to have a continuous flow of traffic,” Carnesecca said, encouraging business owners to determine how they would manage the flow now.
A few of the webinar participants asked about financial relief, representing those commercial tenants and property owners struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic.
Carnesecca reported that of the two federal Small Business Association loans offered, only the Paycheck Protection Program is still accepting applications, and some banks in town can help arrange those loans. The California Infrastructure Economic Development Bank Small Business Finance Center is accepting loan applications from those who did not receive SBA loans. Locally, Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s Small Business Relief Fund is accepting applications.
For tenants, the county’s eviction moratorium protects business owners who cannot pay their rent, Carnesecca said. The moratorium grants owners 120 days after the shelter-in-place order is lifted to pay back all rent with no penalties. The city of Los Altos does not have an eviction moratorium, but the county’s ordinance covers all cities within its limits.