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Whether it’s fresh local sand dabs, tasty red vermilions or spindly live sea urchins, San Diegans have been able to head to the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market Saturday mornings since early August to buy their seafood directly from the fisherman who caught it. With 840 miles of California coastline, and a population eager for locally sourced foodstuffs, you might think it’s a scene being played out regularly across the state. It’s not.
Even launching a fishermen’s market here was no easy task.
California commercial fishermen who want a market of their own don’t fit neatly into the state’s current regulations. They’re not farmers, so rules and permitting procedures that govern farmers markets don’t apply. While they might be able to sell you fish directly from their boat, they can’t gut it or fillet it for you. And while commercial fishermen might be able to sell their seafood from a food truck or inside a closed building, establishing a weekly market of their own has been a hurdle some communities can’t clear.
So it’s good news for fishermen that AB 226 sailed a bit further this week after the Assembly Committee on Health unanimously OK’d Speaker Toni Atkins’ measure.
“The bill will definitely make it easier for counties up and down the state to start a market,” said Zack Roach, a commercial fishermen and manager of the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market. “Sometimes it takes what we did to start the market to make things like this happen.”
The bill will streamline the permitting process so commercial fishermen can organize under a single permit, much like certified farmers markets already do. The bill will allow them to operate as a food facility, and — critical to the success of any fishermen’s market — will allow fresh fish to be cleaned and cut on site, a problem that has handicapped the San Diego market a bit.
Until very recently, customers who ventured to the market to pick up fish would have to clean it at home. Fishermen here have found a work-around: They wash and gut fish in a separate, screened-off booth. It’s a service the market is offering for free, but it’s not ideal.
“That bill will make it easy to offer cleaned fish because it will allow each vendor to do it,” said Peter Halmay, a local sea urchin diver and president of the San Diego Fishermen’s Working Group. “Right now, if someone asks the fisherman to cut the head off and gut it, they can’t do that.”
The bill could reach the Assembly floor for a vote as early as April 28.
— Clare Leschin-Hoar
Atkins Boots Gonzalez from Committee
Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins booted her San Diego colleague Lorena Gonzalez from the Assembly’s public safety committee along with other committee changes Thursday. It’s unclear what prompted Gonzalez’s removal. Gonzalez’s office said they respected the speaker’s decision.
Earlier in the week, Gonzalez had some mild criticism for a high-profile bill about rules for police body cameras. Back in December, Atkins declined to make Gonzalez the head of any committees, though another Democrat was picked to lead two and picked San Diego Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, a Republican, to lead another.
Cameras and Cops, Continued
Speaking of Assemblywoman Shirley Weber’s bill creating guidelines for the use of police body cameras, it passed an Assembly committee this week – but it also sparked plenty of disagreement between lawmakers and law enforcement officers.
Meanwhile, another bill addresses what happens when civilians are the ones recording. State Sen. Ricardo Lara’s Right to Record measure cleared the state Senate this week. The bill clarifies that “a civilian recording while an officer is in a public place, or the person recording is in a place he or she has the right to be, is not violating the law. Additionally, it makes clear that recording does not constitute reasonable suspicion to detain a person or probable cause to arrest. This bill also protects police by ensuring that these provisions do not allow a civilian to obstruct an officer,” according to a release from Lara’s office.
The release also notes that civilians in San Diego have been arrested for recording police officers.
K-Faulc to the Rescue
Assemblyman Rocky Chavez’s U.S. Senate bid is off to a slow fundraising start, the Sacramento Bee reports. As he works to catch up to the fundraising juggernaut that is Democrat Kamala Harris, Chavez is apparently looking to a familiar face for help.
“A spokesman said the campaign was just getting started and mentioned an upcoming event with San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer,” according to the Bee.
Sounding the Alarm Over False Alarms
Schools are constantly thinking about ways to keep kids safe, and how to react when the unthinkable happens. In San Diego, that’s meant peppering schools with surveillance cameras, and our fling with an armored military vehicle.
Far more often than actual violence, though, schools must deal with threats of violence that disrupt the school day. That’s why state Sen. Marty Block has introduced a bill that would distinctly make it a crime for someone to threaten to fire a firearm on private and public school campuses, reports NBC San Diego. “Under current law, those types of crimes are charged under Penal Code 422, a generic charge for someone making a criminal threat. The newly-proposed legislation would make the threat specific to schools.”
This week, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis put her stamp of approval on the bill. She cited the fact that more than 130 threats were called in to local school in the past three years.
What’s unclear, though, is whether there’s been an actual uptick in these threats locally, or if news accounts just make it seem that way. The DA said it doesn’t keep its own stats on school threats; it relies on San Diego Unified’s numbers.
• The Assembly will consider a bill that would make California the first state to impose a mandatory minimum punishment for campus sexual assaults. (Huffington Post)
• Why the Legislature’s attempt to tighten vaccine rules could backfire. (The Upshot)
• The drought is impacting plenty of things, but the state budget isn’t one of them. (Los Angeles Times)
• Move over, Rick Perry. Florida Gov. Rick Scott is lobbying Californians to move to the Sunshine State. (U-T San Diego)
• This is why your latest utility bill is so low. (Los Angeles Times)
• Tens of thousands of state workers are hoarding vacation days, leaving California on the hook for hundreds of millions in payouts. (Center for Investigative Reporting)
Liam Dillon and Ashly McGlone contributed to this report.