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When it comes to combating homelessness, the city is embracing a trend that focuses on finding permanent housing instead of getting people a short-term place to live. But there’s a big problem: It takes a long time to find a long-term home, putting pressure on advocacy organizations that try to house the homeless while they wait.
“It can take weeks or even months to secure long-term housing for a homeless person,” VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt reports, “and without an interim place for that person to stay, he or she can lose touch with those trying to help.”
Now, there’s a movement afoot to get more short-term beds in the region and to immediately connect them with programs and services, an idea that’s been floated and carried out in various forms before.
Advocates say the focus is still on finding more permanent housing. The lack of it causes a bottleneck at emergency shelters, worsening the problem all around.
More Horror Stories About 911 Dispatch
As we told you this week, the city’s 911 dispatch system is in crisis. Wait times are often beyond standards, and some people with emergencies have had to wait crucial seconds or minutes for someone to pick up.
The U-T has a story of its own that suggests the city has fallen behind its local counterparts in terms of analyzing 911 dispatch performance. And there’s this: “Officials now say wait times to speak to a 911 operator averaged about 13 seconds in 2015, when the department received about 673,000 emergency calls. That figure reached 15 seconds in January, and 26 seconds in February of this year.”
Mayor Kevin Faulconer held a press conference Tuesday where he promised financial incentives to hire and hang on to more dispatchers, KPBS reports.
The Reader reports on Ocean Beach residents who’ve had poor experiences with 911 calls. One woman tried to get help after being threatened, but the operator insisted she call the non-emergency number for follow-up after a message was sent to officers. According to the woman, a police official later told her “they could have handled it better.”
Two other women said they too were told to try the non-emergency number after reporting they were threatened. “The fact of the matter is, it’s not being handled properly,” a police official told a community meeting, according to the Reader. “We need to be doing a little bit better of a job … this is across the city we’re hearing this … It’s going to take time, but there is a plan.”
Opinion: No Data to Back Up Anti-Airbnb Claims
Airbnb has gotten a bad rap from many local residents and leaders, but Councilman Chris Cate isn’t one of them. Pointing to a study, he writes in a VOSD commentary that “San Diegans who rent out all or a portion of their homes earn about $110 million in rental income annually, supplementing their household incomes and enhancing our local economy. Their guests spend more than $86 million per year supporting the shops, restaurants and other businesses that make our neighborhoods vibrant.”
Cate, a Republican, also takes aim at Democratic City Council candidate Barbara Bry, who’s criticized Airbnb and short-term vacation rentals, and wrote in her own VOSD commentary that the services contribute to the affordable housing crisis.
Politics Roundup: Brown’s Down for Trash Talk
Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott in L.A., where he’s trying to poach businesses, said: “By raising the minimum wage in California, 700,000 people are going to lose their jobs, there are a lot of opportunities for companies to prosper in Florida and compete here and that’s what I’m going after.”
Gov. Jerry Brown to Scott: Hey man, get b… Um, never mind, I was just trying to translate. His actual words: “Rick, a fact you’d like to ignore: California is the 7th largest economic power in the world. We’re competing with nations like Brazil and France, not states like Florida.” (L.A. Times)
• Two years after a bitter battle with former Councilman Carl DeMaio, Rep. Scott Peters looks like a shoo-in to stay in Congress. He has no prominent Republican opponent this time. (KPBS)
• The L.A. Times says Democratic legislators hope Brown will be more open to spending on things like assistance for the poor even as state tax revenues fail to meet targets.
• Donald Trump is wrong, public radio station KPCC says via KPBS: Undocumented immigrants aren’t behind a rise in L.A. crime. In fact, a criminologist says, “first-generation immigrations of all kinds have extremely low crime rates.”
Well, About That Primary Election …
I’m old enough to remember when reporters believed the California GOP presidential primary might be a race for once, the first time in 52 years. You know, two days ago.
So much for that. (New York Times)
• As the park in front of Horton Plaza reopens after a facelift, U-T columnist Logan Jenkins goes down memory lane, recalling the landmark’s role in the notorious 1912 free speech fight, the Gaslamp’s gritty past and (mostly) glittering present and a presidential visit.
Jenkins was there at Horton Plaza when JFK held a rally in 1960. I was present 28 years later, wearing a “Tall People for Dukakis” T-shirt (forgive me, it was a long time ago), as another Democratic candidate tried to connect with the crowd. He didn’t. (For a compendium of San Diego visits by presidents — every one since Benjamin Harrison has dropped by while in office — check our history flashbacks here and here.)
SDSU Chief Under Fire Over Flier Response
“After a protest over posters on campus that linked Muslim students to terrorism, San Diego State University President Elliot Hirshman on Monday agreed that school policies should be reviewed to ensure a balance between free speech and safety,” the U-T reports. “But some students who met with Hirshman said they were disappointed that he has not strongly condemned the fliers.”
Last week, protesters surrounded Hirshman’s car for two hours, according to the U-T. Templates for the fliers, from a conservative group, have been distributed online. They accuse several students of being allied with anti-Israel terrorists.
Wacky on the Waterfront Again? We’ll See.
Developers have big (and really big) ideas for Seaport Village. (U-T)
We’ve had a lot of wacky waterfront proposals in the past. You may recall proposals for a sky ride that looked like a “giant coffee press,” a “lawn ornament” of a ferris wheel, a “kitschy retread of Soviet-style socialist realism,” a boat apocalypse and the Wings of Freedom project that reminded observers of bunny ears and feminine hygiene products. Only one of these has reached reality.
Culture Report: Teens Get Testy Over Tech
This week’s VOSD Culture Report checks in with local high school students who are using art to express their views about the technology that links and binds them to one another and their parents. One teen “said parents should ease up a bit and let their kids mess up because the constant surveillance causes a ton of stress.” Good luck with that, kiddo!
Also in the Culture Report: details on the fixed-up Horton Plaza fountain, good news for the Agua Caliente mural, a possible new day for the historic La Paloma theater in Encinitas, a doggy dream house competition and a free meal for mom at Hooters.
Quick News Hits
• Mayor Kevin Faulconer wants to spend $127 million on a variety of city upgrades and improvements, including road repairs and sewer upgrades, that the city believes will combat climate change. Some, like fire prevention via brush maintenance, seem like a bit of a stretch. Indeed, “not all the funding is directly correlated with greenhouse-gas reductions,” a city official says. (U-T)
Meanwhile, Faulconer’s in hot water over a city web link that went to a campaign page. This oops was inadvertent, a spokesman says. (City News Service)
• The tiny San Ysidro school district, which runs elementary schools in the southernmost neighborhood of San Diego, claims that a huge percentage of its students are homeless. But the long-troubled district lost a $375,000 state grant to help them. In a lengthy story, inewsource investigates, but the state isn’t very helpful in explaining what went wrong.
• The county will be considering a $5.4 billion budget. (City News Service)
• Kids, don’t skateboard on the freeway. I can’t emphasize this enough. (U-T)
• Hey everybody, there’s a Burrito Finder app for your phone so you can find the nearest Mexican joint! Very handy if you don’t have a mental map of these things like some people (me).
Now if they could just invent a Couch Finder for that inevitable Carne Asada Coma.
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and national president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). Please contact him directly at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.