The Morning Report
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It may sound hard to believe now, but San Diego used to seem about as unsafe as Tijuana, at least when it came to killings.
In the early 1990s, the two towns had similar murder rates. San Diego murders topped Tijuana’s some years.
Things have changed for the better — much better — on the American side of the border and for the worse — incredibly worse — to the south. San Diego had 29 murders last year, the fewest since 1968 when the city was quite a bit smaller. Tijuana, which has about as many people as San Diego, reported 688. We’ve created a graphic that shows just how big this fata cross-border divide has become and how it grew over the last two decades.
Due to sloppiness on my part, yesterday’s Morning Report incorrectly referred to the subject of an opinion column. CEO Scott Lewis was referring to a “garbage claim” by County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, not her colleague Pam Slater-Price. I apologize for the error.
Redevelopment, An ‘Emergency ATM’
The LAT is sniffing around and discovers this: “Cities throughout California are using redevelopment funds — intended to fight blight and promote economic development — as emergency ATMs to pay for core services, including police, fire and code enforcement, and sometimes the mayor’s salary.”
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La Mesa is one of the cities that “sold city land to the redevelopment agency and used the proceeds to balance their budgets.”
Back on a Redevelopment Track
In San Diego redevelopment, Jerry Groomes, who’s just returned to take his old job, may have a case of terrible timing. He’s coming in to oversee urban renewal in southeastern San Diego just as there’s talk that the state may eliminate agencies like his.
On top of the possibility that he’ll be out of a job, Groomes has other challenges. The last permanent person in his post was forced from her job after we discovered that she’d given secret bonuses to herself and her staff. How will he move the agency forward? What are his priorities? And what should the community he serves be called, anyway? Neighborhoods reporter Adrian Florido asked him that question and others in this week’s Q&A.
“There are things we can do to rebuild the trust and confidence” in the agency, he said, adding: “I’m no stranger here. There are a lot of people I don’t know, but there may be even more people I do know. They know I’m a person who can be trusted and who’s not going to be involved in scandals. I’m not that kind of person and I’m certainly not going to change now.”
Getting a Handle on Redevelopment
All the fuss over the future of redevelopment can be hard to track. City Hall reporter Liam Dillon looks at four signposts up ahead — what, does he think he’s Rod Serling? — that will help you keep track of what’s next. Among other things, Dillon raises the prospect of a deal between the governor and cities. But will it give the governor the redevelopment-designated taxpayer money he wants to use for other purposes?
City Stuck with Landfill?
No one wants to buy the Miramar Landfill, the U-T reports, so the city may have to find someone to run it but not own it: “the potential sale appears to have been doomed by the landfill’s complicated ownership structure and an unwillingness by the private companies to shoulder the financial risk of unknown environmental liabilities.”
Ruling on Jessica’s Law
A local judge told officials to stop fully enforcing the state law that prevents sex offenders from living near places like schools and parks, but the ruling is specific and only affects four offenders. It’s not clear what’s next for other offenders. (U-T)
So That’s What They’re Calling It These Days
Remember the embarassing revelation last week that the city had made a $10 million math error in its projections of the next fiscal year’s budget? The Reader published a story about it the other day, and it includes a classic bureaucratic quote from a city official: “The original [five-year financial outlook] released last week contained a technical error in the forecast mechanism.”
What We Learned This Week
City May Tell Governor to Drop Dead The governor wants to kill redevelopment, but San Diego is poised to tell him where he can stuff his plans. City leaders may consider approving almost $4 billion in redevelopment projects before the legislature gets a chance to turn off the tap.
Baby, It’s Cold in Sacramento The forces behind redevelopment are getting a bit of a chilly reception from local state legislators. Only four of them, all Republicans, told us that they’re definitely in favor of keeping it alive.
A Brush Past Reality The mayor’s office is pushing to halt some funding for public art and use it for other purposes, a move that’s got the arts community rattled. But, as we discovered, there’s more to the story: the mayor actually doesn’t control a big chunk of funding that’s slated to be suspended.
Tunneling Through to the Truth Yes, there are tunnels under UCSD. But what about those rumors you may have heard about them being built to facilitate riot control? That would be pretty awesome if it was true. It would also have shown some amazing foresight, considering that UCSD was designed before the huge student protests of the late 1960s.
But the rumors, as San Diego Fact Check found, are false.
The Coffee Collection (engaging stories to savor over a cup of rainy-day hot chocolate):
A Big Giant Mess in Chula Vista A “human chain” around a senior center? Yup, that’s exactly what appeared in Chula Vista not too long ago as seniors protested cutbacks en masse. The protest may have helped prevent the city from closing it, but now it’s just open four hours a day. The county’s second city has a wide swath of other problems, as we discover. “I was part of the boom, now I’m part of the bust,” says a local who moved to town in 2003.
Quote of the Week: “Death is something you don’t recover from.“ — a helpful reminder from John Shirey, head of the California Redevelopment Association, on local agencies locking up funding after the governor proposed killing redevelopment.