Maybe 2017 will be the year San Diego finally steps up to deal with homelessness.

At least that’s what Mayor Kevin Faulconer is saying – and what advocates hope for – writes VOSD contributor Kelly Davis.

Homelessness “is one of the biggest issues we’re going to be tackling in the coming year,” Faulconer told Davis. “Because we have to.”

San Diego continuously came up short on the homelessness front in 2016. The downtown homelessness numbers continued to increase, the police continued to draw criticism for how they handle people sleeping on the street and while other large cities in the state, like Los Angeles and San Francisco, managed to pass bond measures to fund housing for their homeless, such an initiative wasn’t even floated here.

In the cities where strides have been made in addressing homelessness, political leadership on the issue has been key. That has been missing in San Diego.

Davis delves into the transformation Faulconer has had in regards to homelessness since his time as a City Council member. Advocates view his Housing Our Heroes program and his hiring of Stacie Spector to advise him on housing solutions as promising.

“You’re never going to get a city that does exactly what they really need to do, because that’s really hard,” one advocate told Davis. “But you’ve got to do more of the right stuff than the wrong stuff. If we jump off [in 2017] and start doing more of the right stuff and less of the wrong stuff, then I’m going to feel pretty positive about it.”

Sacramento Report: What Your Lawmakers Plan to Do This Year

In this week’s roundup of news from the state capitol, VOSD’s Sara Libby asked San Diego’s 10 lawmakers what their priorities would be this year.

“It might shock you to learn that a group of politicians did not all stick to the question too closely, but many identified one, two or a handful of things they plan to focus on,” Libby writes.

Among the priorities listed were housing, veterans and health care.

Also in the year’s first Sacramento Report, you can find stories about Faulconer’s flirtation with a 2018 governor run, the passing of beloved corgi Sutter Brown and the lack of diversity in the state Legislature.

VOSD Podcast: Stormwater’s Toxic Mess

VOSD’s Ry Rivard joins podcast hosts Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts this week to talk about his series on stormwater and how the system in place to prevent metals and toxic chemicals from entering streams, bays and the ocean is its own mess.

Rivard explains how thousands of businesses across the state don’t comply with the rules and how businesses that do make themselves vulnerable to lawsuits from environmental lawyers who have taken it upon themselves to police the system, since the state doesn’t have the resources.

Environmental attorney Wayne Rosenbaum also called in to weigh in on the system’s issues.

“I think regulators would agree that it leaves a bad taste in everybody’s mouth,” he said.

Lewis and Keatts also discussed SANDAG’s most recent response to its tax revenue shortfall and the latest attempts to keep the Chargers in San Diego.

• Rivard was also on KPBS Midday Edition Friday to discuss the stormwater series.

Op-Ed: TransNet Shortfall Doesn’t Mean SANDAG Won’t Deliver on Promises

In an op-ed, County Supervisor Ron Roberts, chair of the SANDAG board, responds to our investigation into the agency’s tax revenue shortfall.

Roberts explains the “complex computer model” that the agency uses to make its forecasts, how staff discovered that the forecasts “appeared aggressive” and says overestimates will be corrected.

He also says that as long as SANDAG can bring in enough money from the state and federal governments, there is no reason why the projects promised by TransNet won’t be completed.

“I remain confident that many opportunities will present themselves over the remaining 32 years in the TransNet program to bring in matching funds,” Roberts writes. “SANDAG has a proven track record of being able to take advantage of those opportunities and deliver on its promises to voters in the San Diego region.”

Quick News Hits

• Tilikum, the killer whale that drowned his trainer in Orlando’s SeaWorld in 2010, died Thursday night, right before SeaWorld San Diego will end its theatrical orca shows this weekend. (CBS News)

• Rep. Duncan Hunter removed a painting from the halls of Congress without permission because he found it offensive. The painting was inspired by police-community relations in Ferguson, Mo., and depicted police officers as animals.  (Roll Call)

• If Congress repeals the Affordable Care Act, California stands to lose $15 billion annually in federal funds that have expanded the state’s Medi-Cal program. (KPBS)

• Two San Diego hospitals were fined nearly $150,000 by the state for incidents that resulted in a patient’s suicide and left a woman unable to bear children. (Union-Tribune)

The Week’s Top Stories

These were the top five Voice of San Diego stories for the week of Dec. 31-Jan. 6. Click here to see the full top 10.

1. ‘We Do Not Owe Them a House in Poway’
In Poway, a veterans housing project was rejected over fears of low-income housing and the people who would live there. (Maya Srikrishnan)

2. He Tried to Follow the Rules – and He Lost His Business
Jerry Williams self-reported stormwater pollution from his business to the state, as required by law. Environmental groups sued over the reports, and as the legal fight dragged on, Williams closed shop. Meanwhile, other businesses flout the law, don’t do the monitoring and likely make more in profit. (Ry Rivard)

3. California’s Stormwater Regulations Are Themselves a Toxic Mess
Across California, there could be thousands or even tens of thousands of businesses dodging environmental rules and sending pollution into the state’s waters. Though an entire regulatory system exists to police businesses and keep water safe for residents and wildlife, the state doesn’t know how many unpermitted businesses are out there, or how much damage they’re doing. (Ry Rivard)

4. Big Year Coming for Balboa Park
The coming year promises lots of conversations about Balboa Park funding and needs, plus some new projects. (Lisa Halverstadt)

5. Opinion: Developers Win Plenty in San Diego
Developers have the inside track both to staff and elected officials in numerous jurisdictions, often using (and sometimes abusing) their connections and their significant campaign contributions for their personal gain. (Everett DeLano)

Maya was Voice of San Diego’s Associate Editor of Civic Education. She reported on marginalized communities in San Diego and oversees Voice’s explanatory...

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