Over the past several weeks, an outbreak of hepatitis A has killed 15 people and hospitalized more than 260 in San Diego. The homeless population is suffering the most, possibly because of poor hygiene. But efforts to bring hand-washing stations to downtown have been slow and small-scale as officials focused on typical bureaucratic process like permits and a pilot project.
As our Lisa Halverstadt reports, the county has only set up two hand-washing stations, and until Wednesday they were both far from the downtown streets where the outbreak has been concentrated.
“County officials have typical gripes about bureaucratic red tape, an issue with a vendor and an inability to swiftly coordinate with city officials,” Halverstadt reports. “They also insist that the plan to put out hand-washing stations must first exist as a pilot program before it can be rolled out on a larger scale.”
Hygiene is considered crucial to preventing the spread of hepatitis A. Vaccines are considered more important and thousands of them have been given to homeless people here, but the immunizations require multiple shots given over months.
Despite the urgency, “the county started with a pilot, a sluggish process that seems more befitting a plan to increase annual flu shots than to combat a fast-growing outbreak that’s left 11 dead just since the county announced its plan,” Halverstadt reports.
On Wednesday, the county moved one of the two hand-washing stations that had been in the Midway district to a downtown facility closer to the hub of the hepatitis A outbreak. There’s now a hand-washing station outside the county’s Family Resource Center at 10th Avenue and C Street.
• There appear to be plenty of local homeless college students, CityBeat reports, with many of them couch-surfing or sleeping in their cars.
“It’s not the typical ‘starving college student’ who’s eating ramen because money is tight,” says a local pastor who helps the students. “Money being tight is different from missing meals or not being safe where you sleep, and those are the issues we are starting to see more of the last five years.”
But there aren’t many resources to help them, especially when they’re still legal dependents of their parents.
I Made It In S.D. Podcast: The Queen of Jazzercise
This week’s edition of VOSD’s “I Made It in San Diego” podcast profiles Judi Sheppard Missett, who created the Jazzercise movement when she was teaching fitness classes at rec centers in Oceanside.
The movement became a wildly influential fitness franchise. She took Sara Libby through her career, including unexpected hurdles that came up along the way like losing her voice in the midst of teaching 30 classes a week, and a lawsuit from a woman who said she was told she was too overweight to become an instructor. Libby also interviews another Jazzercise expert: her mom.
Opinion: Vacation Rental Plan Hurts Homeowners
As the city considers how to limit Airbnb-style home rentals, an official with the company writes in a VOSD commentary that a proposal by Councilwoman Barbara Bry hurts the ability of homeowners to put their biggest asset to work for them. “Everyday San Diegans have been able to use their home to help pay for increasingly expensive everyday needs while welcoming visitors who otherwise might not have been able to afford a visit,” writes Christopher Lehane.
He also offers suggestions about what the new rules should include.
Big Giving to Mayor’s Pet Causes
“San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer continues to solicit donations for his favorite charities at a pace that far exceeds other local elected officials,” the U-T reports, “and many of the contributions support a nonprofit formed to benefit his office.”
The givers include Bank of America and SDG&E. It’s a perfectly legal system called behested payments. A mayoral spokesman says there’s been no quid pro quo. In other words, the individuals and companies just thought this kind of giving was a good idea.
Another big local fan of behested payments, as we’ve reported: Assemblyman Brian Maienschein.
• Faulconer oined with other mayors in Sacramento on Wednesday to advocate for new housing policies. He, of course, can make changes here without state assistance. We’ve reported on what he has in mind.
Sad Bus Stop’s Being Recognized More and More
The other day, we told you about an online NCAA tournament-style contest to name the sorriest bus stop in the nation. One of our own bus stops, on Mission Center Road in Mission Valley, is in the mix: There’s no sidewalk, no place to stand outside of a gutter and a bike lane, and nowhere to walk except up or down the bike lane or across four busy lanes of traffic with no crosswalk. Yikes!
So how is the bus stop doing? We’re overwhelmingly winning by, um, having a loser of a bus stop: Online voters are overwhelmingly saying our bus stop is worse than a competitor in the city of Commerce. Looks like we’ll move on to the next round.
• A protected bike lane linking Mid-City neighborhoods and Mission Valley is up and running. But, as KPBS reports, getting from here to there doesn’t mean that here — or there — is bike-friendly. The lane links a bike lane-free Adams Avenue to a bike lane-free Camino del Rio South.
North County Report: Another Water Plant Can’t Keep Up
This week’s North County Report recaps problems at Carlsbad’s plant that turns sea water into drinkable water and notes that a San Marcos water treatment plant is having difficulties of its own.
Plus: A possible candidate for county supervisor may go for the Oceanside mayor’s spot if it opens up due to the incumbent’s health, an ice cream shop’s success is bringing out crazy quotes from Encinitans, Del Mar’s lifeguard chief has been sacked and more.
Quick News Hits: To Serve Bob
• A bitter snit between the city’s lifeguard service and fire department over sending help to Houston has ended with news that the city’s Lifeguard Swift Water Rescue team will likely head out to help Hurricane Harvey victims.
• Yesterday, we told you about the new restaurant sign that launched 1,000 jokes: The North Park Diner now offers “Ribs,” “Wings,” “Ramen” and “Cup Bob.”
Well, a Twitter user is disappointed that I didn’t bother to Google “Cup Bob.” (Good point, disappointed Twitter user.) Turns out that cup bob is actually a Korean dish. Bob, or bop or bap, appears to refer to rice.
Well, that’s good news. Especially for Bob.
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. He is also immediate past president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). Please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.