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Last year, Mayor Kevin Faulconer pledged to house 1,000 homeless veterans by March 2017, an effort in keeping with a larger regional goal to end veteran homelessness by the end of next year.
VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt checked in on that goal and found the city has housed less than half of the 1,000.
“Homeless veterans are spending weeks and even months seeking housing despite a major influx of incentives offered by the city and the county to encourage landlords to take them in,” writes Halverstadt.
Veterans are getting off the street, but it’s happening slower than agencies have hoped and ultimately comes back to the region’s major issue: there’s not enough housing.
“Obviously, we’re not creating new housing opportunities at the same rate we are finding veterans and providing vouchers,” Veterans Village of San Diego CEO Phil Landis tells Halverstadt.
• Halverstadt also dug into homeless data released this week that reveals that about half of San Diego’s homeless population is newly homeless.
The data comes from a database that agencies that help the homeless use to track all the people who access their services and it provides a sharper, more comprehensive picture than the annual homeless census, which just captures a snapshot of homelessness one morning each year.
The new data will better equip San Diego as it continues to try and address homelessness.
The data did provide one positive: county agencies helped more than 6,600 homeless people move permanently off the street last year.
It’s just that even more people became or continued to be homeless during the same time period.
VOSD Podcast: When Politicians Give Themselves Raises
This week, the Union Tribune revealed that the County Board of Supervisors quietly voted 4-1 to give themselves a $19,000 raise, a move that will benefit them until they die in their pensions. Only outgoing Supervisor Dave Roberts voted against the measure.
That earned them “Goat of the Week” on this week’s podcast. The supervisors already earn double what San Diego City Councilmembers make, with an additional car allowance (which also factors into their pensions) and they’ve received regular raises, above inflation, because their salaries are tied to judges’ pay.
We shouldn’t reflexively reject politician pay increases, however. Rep. Scott Peters called to say that politicians need competitive salaries and a broad opposition to all pay increases for public officials isn’t the right way to address the issue – though he didn’t endorse the supervisors’ move and noted that it seemed a bit aggressive.
VOSD’s Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts also talked about into Ry Rivard’s story on Chollas Creek. Water officials decided to roll back cleanup requirements for the waterway, which has had high toxic metal levels for decades, rather than invest $1 billion in cleaning it up – but the vote on the plan was temporarily derailed by an environmental attorney.
Lewis and Keatts also discuss the big budget cuts looming for San Diego Unified and the letter four City Council members sent to the Chargers, rehashing an old plan to give or lease Qualcomm Stadium to them.
• Keatts and Rivard were also both on KPBS Roundtable this week to talk about that Chollas Creek story and the San Diego City Council’s new president. Check it out.
San Diego Explained: Liquor License Drama
Alcohol permits are a hot – and contentious – commodity.
In Pacific Beach, the permits are worth between $100,000 and up to $1 million, often causing predatory business practices and power struggles between landlords. In lower-income communities, like City Heights and National City, fear of competition can turn permit applications into big political battles.
In this week’s San Diego Explained, NBC 7’s Monica Dean and I breakdown some of the alcohol battles that have been happening around San Diego and what’s driving the all the drama.
Quick News Hits
• This rundown of California figures willing to take on President-Elect Donald Trump include state Sen. Ben Hueso and Mayor Kevin Faulconer. (Los Angeles Times)
• The Children’s Pool in La Jolla is closed as of Friday morning after an appellate court gave the city permission to decide whether or not to close it seal pupping season, as the legal battle over how to deal with the colony of harbor seals ensues. (Union-Tribune)
• Major League Soccer has listed San Diego as one of 10 potential markets for an expansion. (Soccer Nation)
• A federal judge upheld California’s mandate that Electoral College members must vote for the statewide winner of the presidential election. (AP)
• After a one-day blackout, CBS 8 reached an agreement with Cox and will again be available for Cox cable subscribers. (Union-Tribune)
• A multi-state deal on the Colorado River, which provides much of San Diego’s water, doesn’t look like it’s happening this year, but is still imminent. (John Fleck, University of New Mexico Water Resources Program)
• What $750,000 will buy you in Chula Vista, Borrego Springs and Fallbrook. (Los Angeles Times)
• This investigation into the effects of Agent Orange for the children of Vietnam War veterans in another military town, Norfolk, Virginia, is worth a read. (ProPublica)
This webcam loop of Borrego Springs Friday from the National Weather Service San Diego is pretty incredible.
The Week’s Top Stories
These were the top five Voice of San Diego stories for the week of Dec. 10-Dec. 16. Click here to see the full top 10.
1. Layoffs Will Follow Raises at Cash-Strapped San Diego Unified
San Diego Unified is again staring down the barrel of insolvency. City school officials must cut $116.6 million in spending from next year’s $1.3 billion budget to avoid trouble, and are set to consider everything from a reorganization of the district office to changes in health benefits to an unspecified number of “strategic layoffs” of teachers and staff. (Ashly McGlone)
2. San Diego Cities Will Save $1 Billion by Changing Regulations to Avoid Chollas Creek Cleanup
Thousands of pounds of zinc and copper to continue flowing into Chollas Creek, but soon those materials will be considered officially less harmful than they were a decade ago. (Ry Rivard)
3. The Council’s Letter to the Chargers Is News — But Not for the Reasons You Think
The idea of giving or leasing the Qualcomm Stadium land to the Chargers is at least 13 years old. But City Council members’ letter resurfacing the idea was the first PR trick that put the team on its heels. (Scott Lewis)
4. City Ignores Its Own Development Rules, Five Architects Overwhelmingly Benefit
Several architects who shouldn’t have qualified for a program that fast-tracks development projects benefited anyway, including some with ties to Mayor Kevin Faulconer. (Andrew Keatts)
5. In Search of Safe Harbor, Parents Look Beyond Neighborhood Schools
While San Diego Unified – along with many other school districts – has moved toward softer, less punitive discipline policies in recent years, some parents in southeastern San Diego are choosing The O’Farrell Charter School precisely for its stringent discipline policies. (Mario Koran)