The Morning Report
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North County residents have done an excellent job saving water over the past several months, but they likely won’t be saving much on their water bills. Water rates around the county are going up. The question of how much, though, can be murky.

A recent notice from the city of Oceanside demonstrates how confusing the process can be for customers. The notice seems to say that customers will see their rates increase by 7.5 percent, but VOSD’s Ry Rivard digs deeper and finds that Oceanside water customers will actually be paying an extra 18.9 percent once they factor in rate increases dictated by outside agencies such as the County Water Authority and Metropolitan Water District.

Oceanside residents can give the City Council a piece of their mind at a Nov. 18 hearing, but the likelihood that they’ll be able to stop the rate change is low. As Rivard explains in another article, it’s practically impossible for customers in large water districts to marshal the opposition they would need to successfully block a rate hike.

If you don’t live in Oceanside, you’re not off the hook. Several other water districts — including the Santa Fe Irrigation District, Carlsbad Municipal Water District and the San Diego Public Utilities Department — are also moving ahead with rate increases.

2016 Ballots Taking Shape

The Carlsbad City Council will decide Nov. 17 how to proceed on the controversial Caruso development plan. The Council this week certified a citizen petition that forces it to reconsider its approval for a land-use plan that would allow a large luxury shopping center on the south shores of the Agua Hedionda Lagoon.

The Council now has three options: repeal the plan immediately, place it on a special election ballot or place it on the next general election ballot in November 2016. A special election would cost the city about half a million dollars. Most of the 20 public speakers at Tuesday night’s meeting urged the Council to put the issue on the November 2016 ballot, according to the Coast News.

The Seaside Courier reports that unidentified insiders remain confident the Council will opt for a February special election.

• A health care workers’ union at Oceanside’s Tri-City Medical Center says it has prepared a ballot initiative to limit the salary of the hospital’s CEO. The measure would also require the hospital to publicly disclose the salaries of its 10 highest-paid administrators. (Seaside Courier)

• Del Mar school officials are evaluating whether to set up a special financing district to pay for its $126 million wish list of improvements to school facilities. A special financing district would be an alternative to a general obligation bond, an attempt at which failed in 2012. (Del Mar Times)

Nuclear Waste Issue Has Yet to Cool

With nowhere else to go, nuclear waste from the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station will be buried near the beach in canisters made of steel and concrete. Southern California Edison officials say there’s not much risk of damage from earthquakes or tsunamis, but citizen activists say Edison can’t be trusted. Experts admit there’s no good way to monitor the canisters for cracks or leaks. (KPBS)

True to form, former San Diego City Attorney Mike Aguirre described the plan as “the world’s first beachfront nuclear waste dump.” He’s suing the state Coastal Commission for approving it. (City News Service)

KPBS also obtained documents showing Edison apparently knew in 2004 about a design flaw in the steam generators that later failed and led to the plant’s closure. Edison officials conveniently left that information out of their reports to federal energy regulators in 2006.

Also in the News

• The state’s ethics watchdog says there was no conflict of interest when Tri-City Healthcare District officials approved a real estate deal on a medical office building with Medical Acquisition Company. The health care district is still suing in an attempt to void the deal. (The Coast News)

• Two local surfers have died at Swami’s beach in the last week. The L.A. Times interviewed Swami’s regulars as they tried to process their shock.

• It may look like a floating dumpster, but that big black box in the Oceanside harbor is actually filtering and removing the trash and organic debris that collect in the water. (Union-Tribune)

• Former Escondido Police Chief Jim Maher has given up on his quest to squeeze a final $75,000 severance payment out of the city. (Union-Tribune)

• Volunteers are unhappy with the way the county is running its animal shelters, including the Carlsbad location. They say shelter officials are too quick to euthanize pets, and that volunteers who question the status quo are given the boot. The county’s animal services director said not one treatable animal was euthanized between July and September.

• A class action lawsuit over sewer fees in Ramona is under way. (Ramona Sentinel)

• The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego will sell the church property of St. Anne’s in Oceanside and All Saints in Vista. In a letter to the community, the bishop writes: “Many Americans have genuine spiritual hunger, but fewer and fewer receive nourishment through traditional religious communities predicated on one building, one or more clergy, and one congregation. We still have a vital and important ministry to fearlessly love our communities and our world.” (Virtue Online)

• Escondido has hired Graham Mitchell as its new city manager. Mitchell was hired as Escondido’s assistant city manager just three months ago after working 13 years as city manager of Lemon Grove. (Union-Tribune)

• Artists are adding some color to the alleys of downtown Encinitas. (Encinitas Advocate)

 Are car lifts catching on? The developer of a four-unit condo building in the Carlsbad Village met city parking requirements by installing a car lift. Another developer proposed car lifts at a proposed mixed-use building, but members of the Planning Commission said they didn’t fancy the concept. (Union-Tribune)

• Small farms are still a big part of San Diego County’s identity. The U-T talks to growers of dragon fruit in Fallbrook and exotic flowers in Valley Center.

Fun Fact

Agua Hedionda — the name of the Carlsbad lagoon upon which an L.A. developer would like to build a mall — is a Spanish phrase that translates to “stinking water.” If today that name seems more appropriate for the wretched Tijuana River, it’s because the stench in Carlsbad dissipated in the early 1950s when SDG&E built the Encina Power Station. Engineers dredged the lagoon and built jetties to ensure a steady flow of ocean water, which the power plant needs to cool its steam generators. The new desalination plant will also get its water from the once-stinking lagoon. If all goes according to plan, that water will also be odorless by the time it hits kitchen faucets.

Jeremy Ogul

Jeremy Ogul is a freelance writer and editor in San Diego. Drop him a line at jsogul@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter...

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