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A major power struggle is playing out in communities across the San Diego region.
Local cities like San Diego, Solana Beach and Carlsbad want to be in charge of buying power for residents. The cities suspect they can provide greener energy at a lower cost than San Diego Gas & Electric, which has held on to its power monopoly for decades despite some serious attempts over the years to loosen its grip.
In his latest, Voice of San Diego’s Ry Rivard compares the latest round of municipalities’ moves to unseat SDG&E to past endeavors.
“The question is whether tactics SDG&E used to preserve its monopoly in the past can work again today,” Rivard writes.
There’s actually an anti-municipalization playbook from an energy industry trade group, and some folks think SDG&E has been following its strategies closely, including using campaigns to call municipalize power “risky” and “costly.”
Whatever playbook SDG&E has been following, it’s been working. Earlier this year, the county government looked at buying power for some people in the region, but SDG&E-affiliated lobbyists swung into action and helped kill the plan. Decades ago, the San Diego County Water Authority explored a takeover of SDG&E, but it never happened.
The city of Chula Vista got close to chipping away at SDG&E’s power, but in the end, the energy company agreed to give Chula Vista a bunch of perks if the city backed down, so it did. San Marcos did successfully create a utility to compete with SDG&E, but the agency has never really amounted to much.
While it’s still too early to tell exactly how the latest round of competition from local governments across the county will shake out, Rivard writes that the failed efforts of the past have not been all for naught: They may have ultimately steered SDG&E a bit away from gas. Until SDG&E is at 100 percent renewable energy, though, expect these kinds of takeover attempts to continue.
Mayor Names New Homeless Adviser
Mayor Kevin Faulconer has named Jonathan Herrera as the city’s new point person on homelessness, writes the Union-Tribune.
Herrera, a former gang member who turned his life around and eventually landed a job as Faulconer’s director of public safety and neighborhood services, will take the place of Stacie Spector, who resigned abruptly in May.
Homeless advocates told the U-T they’re happy with the hire, which comes on the heels of Gordon Walker being named head of the county’s Regional Task Force on the Homeless.
Herrera told the U-T that he plans to work closely with regional efforts already under way. He also said that the homeless problem is so pressing that he’ll be exploring short-term solutions, as well as working toward providing permanent housing.
“When you look on the streets you see that the need is now,” he told the U-T. “And although permanent supportive housing is the end goal, we are three years out on bringing online the inventory we need to transition those individuals.”
The short-term solutions will have to be creative. San Diego shelters host fewer homeless people today than they did in 2007, despite adding thousands of shelter beds since then, according to a U-T analysis.
“That’s 85 percent more beds than a decade ago, but 12 percent fewer sheltered people,” writes the U-T’s James DeHaven.
The drop in numbers is likely the result of a few issues with shelters, including strict residency rules and admission standards.
Tijuana’s Sea of Yellow Taxis Has Parted
A video that made the rounds on social media over the weekend showed what appeared to be Tijuana cab drivers threatening and then beating a person who reportedly had opted for an Uber ride instead.
Soon after the video surfaced, Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastélum “ordered an unprecedented crackdown by Tijuana’s police department,” reported the U-T.
Confrontations between taxi and Uber drivers in Tijuana have been escalating over the past few years as ride-sharing services gain traction in the city that has long been monopolized by cabs. The U-T’s Sandra Dibble explains that the yellow taxis are “not just a means of transportation in Tijuana” but also a “political force,” which could be why city leaders took so long to respond to the problem.
Weekend News Roundup
• Lots of San Diegans showed up to a downtown march Sunday calling for President Donald Trump’s impeachment. (NBC San Diego)
• Got questions about the field of genomics? Here are some answers. (U-T)
• A new $555.5 million Central Courthouse building in downtown San Diego is expected to open this year, but many of its courtrooms and office spaces will likely remain empty as the San Diego Superior Court sheds staff, closes courtrooms and otherwise consolidates due to a $6 million cut to its budget. (U-T)
• Chalk a temporary win up for students who live near San Diego State University in the long-running war against so-called “mini-dorms” and the City Council’s attempt to regulate them. (NBC San Diego)
• Many hospitals and pharmacies are declining to get involved in helping patients end their own lives in California even though it’s now legal. (U-T)
• Here’s a roundup of firework shows happening across the county. (U-T)