There was big drama in the state Capitol Thursday night as lawmakers considered several housing bills, including one from San Diego Sen. Toni Atkins that would add a $75 fee to certain real estate documents to fund affordable housing. Even with help from San Diego Republican Assemblyman Brian Maienschein crossing the aisle to vote for the bill, it stalled, causing a long, tense standoff.
The measure finally passed the Assembly just before 10:30 p.m.
It’s part of a big scramble to get every bill passed through the Legislature before Friday’s midnight deadline. A bunch of bills have already failed to cross the finish line.
Sara Libby gives a snapshot of some of the other bills from San Diego lawmakers that moved on to the governor’s desk on Thursday:
• A bill by Assemblyman Todd Gloria helps recipients of public assistance to continue receiving benefits during emergencies.
• A bill by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher protects women from being fired or disciplined over decisions related to her reproductive health. The bill was inspired in part by a 2012 San Diego case in which a Christian college fired a woman who became pregnant while unmarried.
• Another bill by Gonzalez Fletcher requires public schools to test for lead in their water, and to notify parents if any lead is discovered.
Presumably the bill would prevent situations like the time San Diego Unified discovered lead in a school and told only one parent about it.
• A bill by Sen. Toni Atkins would let residents change their names and gender markers on state-issued documents, including birth certificates and driver’s licenses, including allowing people to select a “nonbinary” gender option on state forms.
• A bill by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber and Gloria would overhaul the redistricting process for the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.
All of this bill vetting made Oceanside Assemblyman Rocky Chavez a little hangry.
Public Power Agencies Face Steep Hurdles
Cities throughout California are suddenly very interested in starting their own publicly run power agencies, which have been dubbed “community choice aggegrators,” or CCAs. Those CCAs would capture responsibility for the bulk purchase of power that flows through to the city’s population, and in doing so they’d take that responsibility away from private power companies.
Naturally, power companies push back hard against the formation of CCAs, but eight local governments in California have already taken the plunge. Ry Rivard reports on the march of CCAs across California as San Diego joins dozens of other cities considering whether to literally give power to the people.
“Expect a series of hurdles – foreseen and unforeseen – that try to stall, undermine or kill their plans,” Rivard warns. Power companies are throwing as much weight as they can into lobbying the state Legislature and persuading the public that public power agencies aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. In San Diego, SDG&E has fended off earlier attempts around the county to start CCAs.
For one, Sempra says, San Diego has already committed to buying power from Sempra, and would have to either run that agreement out or pay Sempra fees for the power it has already purchased. Those fees could eat away at any cost savings the new CCA might achieve, depending on how high they’re set.
Also, power companies argue, if the main point of starting a CCA is to meet climate goals and stop buying power from non-renewable sources, that goal is unrealistic. “SDG&E has suggested it’s just not possible to have a reliable grid now without natural gas, which can be burned to generate electricity when the wind is flat and the sun is behind a cloud,” Rivard reports.
• A coalition of business and civic leaders announced they’re banding together to oppose CCAs. (KPBS)
The Learning Curve: How San Marcos Grows
San Marcos Unified School District has one of those good problems: It serves a city that’s actually growing, by a lot. “The city of San Marcos’ population more than doubled between 1990 and 2010,” Maya Srikrishnan writes, and that kind of explosive growth is tricky for a school district to keep up with. San Marcos relied on portable classrooms in some places, in others it converted collaboration space into classrooms. But they really needed more schools.
“The district has to be careful not to pull the trigger on new schools pre-emptively, because sometimes developments are uncertain,” Srikrishnan writes. When the district does build, it will look for opportunities to share costs, for example by sharing space park space with other public agencies so that kids use the space during school and the public uses the space on the weekends.
WaterFix: San Diego Explained
California wants to ensure that water from Northern California can always be delivered to Southern California, and to do that state leaders have proposed constructing two underground tunnels capable of making that delivery. The proposal has been around for a while, but a moment of decision has arrived for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. In the coming weeks, the agency will vote on whether it wants to do the project. Ry Rivard and NBC 7’s Monica Dean wade into the details of the proposal — and some big unknowns that remain to be ironed out — in our most recent San Diego Explained.
Anti-Gas Tax Group Files for 2018 Ballot
Earlier this year, the California Legislature passed a tax package that will increase the cost of cars and gas for California consumers. It goes into effect in November, but local talk radio host Carl DeMaio has pulled together a coalition of people opposed to the increase and will seek to qualify a constitutional amendment for the 2018 ballot to overturn the tax. The Sacramento Bee reports DeMaio’s group “must gather about 580,000 signatures to qualify a ballot measure that would prevent the Democratic-controlled Legislature from passing a fuel tax increase without a vote of the people.”
The Bee notes an intriguing poll taken in June that indicated only 35 percent of Californians support the tax increase as it was passed.
• With 33,800 residences booked this summer, San Diego’s the fourth busiest market for the home rental company AirBnB, even though our current city attorney says all of those rentals are illegal. (KPBS)
• San Diego Unified will start a new program testing all drinking water taps for lead at all district schools. (Union-Tribune)
• I guess we need to start talking about how to know if you’ve contracted Hepatitis A, since we now live among America’s Finest Hepatitis A Outbreak. (NBC 7)
• My plea last week for red cup maker Solo to buy naming rights to the stadium formerly known as Qualcomm fell on deaf ears. Instead we are very likely going to end up with “SDCCU Stadium.” Let’s get working on a nickname. (Union-Tribune)
Clarification: An earlier version of this post said eight cities in California have formed CCAs. Eight local government entities have formed CCAs.