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We have revved up Café San Diego again for a special feature this week. Along with the Equinox Center we’re hosting a virtual panel discussion on “Regional Liquidity: The game of pricing water in San Diego.”

Setting water rates does often seem like a game — public officials moving around pieces on a board hoping just to anger the fewest amount of residents. But our water sources are facing unprecedented pressure and some communities are trying to set rate structures that incentivize conservation.

The city of San Diego has struggled recently to set a new rate structure with city officials awkwardly trying to explain why approaches other communities have used are not appropriate here.

Peruse the introductory remarks of our three panelists and the Equinox Center has provided a fantastic primer for background on the issue.

You can comment on the posts and e-mail your questions to scott.lewis@voiceofsandiego.org, as I am the “moderator” of the panel. Throughout the week, the three panelists will respond to your and my questions and observations.

Now, for the news of the day:

  • The mobile homes at picturesque De Anza Cove are falling into disrepair as residents put off maintenance while they wait to learn their fate once and for all. Since 2003, when their 50-year lease with the city ended, residents of the semi-permanent dwellings in Mission Bay — an icon of San Diego — have been pushing the city to let them stay or help them relocate. At the same time, other groups try to envision how this priceless piece of city land might be used differently.
  • Speaking of dwellings in danger of disrepair, Rich Toscano broke out his foreclosure rates graphs and has an update. Both defaults and trustee sales of homes in San Diego are at “elevated” levels but they aren’t as high as previous months. “Foreclosure activity may have crept down of late but it’s still blowing away pre-bust historical comparisons,” Toscano writes.
  • Mt. Hope Cemetery has seen a lot of emotions but it has been years if ever that “hope” was included in them. For years the historic resting place of both famous and indigent San Diegans has been on the edge of the city’s budget axe, barely surviving. It is one of the only cemeteries in the state managed by a municipality and it is a losing proposition, with officials estimating it bleeds $300,000 annually. Now, some city officials have a new vision for the dirt lot that now sits above the remains of the 4,000 destitute residents buried there as a public service: Make it a desert garden filled with public art and other features.

    Now, all they need is money. There is definitely the will to protect and improve the peaceful place. As one historian notes in the story: “You can stand by where Horton and Sherman and those others are and you can actually see into downtown San Diego, which most of these guys are responsible for developing.”

  • Finally, I broke my blogging drought with a collection of thoughts from a forum last week hosted by the San Diego County Taxpayers Association. The topic? Municipal bankruptcy. It may have been one of the most informative panel discussions I’ve ever attended. And though the city of San Diego was not discussed, watching the talk were the city attorney, heads of employee unions, city activists, and even members of the mayor’s secretive advisory group. In fact, it was only the mayor’s team who seemed conspicuously absent.

    The forum provided an invaluable explainer of what happens when a municipality chooses bankruptcy to restore balance to its books. I try to capture some of that. Let me know your thoughts.

  • In case you missed it, The New York Times Magazine website has an interactive photo showing Rancho Bernardo now compared to right after the 2007 fires destroyed so many homes there.

We have another great week planned. If you care about what you and your neighbors should have to pay for water use, please take a moment to check out the thoughts on water pricing in the virtual panel today. One of our panelists writes, bluntly, there is no water shortage in San Diego.

What do you think?

SCOTT LEWIS

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