Oceanside fashions itself a small town in North County, but it faces at least one big-city problem: homelessness.

An annual count of the county’s homeless population showed that the number of unsheltered people in Oceanside doubled since last year, to 392 people, while the police have seen a 150 percent rise in the number of calls dealing with homeless and transient people.

Margery Pierce, the city’s neighborhood services director, said it’s part of the broader housing shortage in the area, especially in Oceanside, where the rental vacancy rate is far below the rest of the county’s. That means even those who have been connected with housing assistance often can’t find a place to live before they lose their voucher.

At the same time, Pierce says the annual count was a bit high, because it may have included some folks who have homes but who were waiting in line to receive a free meal at a local nonprofit.

A member of Oceanside’s Homeless Outreach Team estimated there were about 300 people living on the street last fall, when I profiled the city’s somewhat conflicting efforts to address homelessness.

One of the people I interviewed in that segment was a homeless man who was working with the Homeless Outreach Team to get a voucher and find a place to live. Pierce tells me that he did find housing, despite the shortage.

Tangled Relationships Behind Encinitas Yoga Program

Yoga has been everything but a tranquil experience for parents in the Encinitas Union School District, especially this year, when the district proposed to start paying $800,000 for the program.

Ultimately, the school board decided to continue yoga for one day per week at the cost of $416,000, but now the ties between Superintendent Tim Baird, the nonprofit that funded yoga in the schools for several years and a University of San Diego research center have come under scrutiny.

The Coast News’ Aaron Burgin details the mess of relationships and money surrounding the yoga controversy.

At the center is the Sonima Foundation, a national nonprofit that promotes yoga in schools. Baird served on Sonima’s board of directors as an advisory member for the past few years, while the school district received grants from the organization to pay for yoga in the schools. Baird’s daughter also worked at Sonima, doing public relations.

In 2013, as the district fought a lawsuit that said yoga was a religious program in a public school, the USD Center for Education Policy and Law produced two reports that touted the benefits of yoga at Encinitas schools, which the district used to gain parents’ support for the program.

But CEPAL Director Scott Himelstein is also an advisory board member at Sonima Foundation, and the research center received a $500,000 donation from Sonima to study yoga programs in schools, including Encinitas.

Two of Himelstein’s private businesses also received contracts totaling $1 million from Sonima, to partner with USD to produce the reports, and lobby the state and local districts to incorporate yoga in their fitness programs.

Also in the News

 Tri-City Hospital was ordered to pay $20 million to the company the hospital allowed to construct a new office building on the hospital’s property, which the hospital then took ownership of through eminent domain. (Union-Tribune)

 Oceanside will ban digital billboards on city-owned land, and most private property. (Union-Tribune)

 Encinitas settled one lawsuit related to its evasion of the state’s density bonus law, and the question of meeting a state mandate despite a local requirement that any plan be approved with a popular vote. (Seaside Courier)

• Of course, the city then got hit with another lawsuit over density bonus, this time by residents. (Coast News)

 Del Mar is exploring how to regulate short-term vacation rentals. (Union-Tribune)

• Solana Beach is getting on board with a ban on the sale of puppies from commercial breeders . (Union-Tribune)

Ruarri Serpa is a freelance writer in Oceanside. Email him at ruarris@gmail.com and find him on Twitter at @RuarriS.

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