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For San Diegans, Border Patrol officers and vehicles are ubiquitous. Border Patrol agents are permitted to perform operations within 100 miles of a border, an area that essentially blankets San Diego County. Despite their presence, many people aren’t clear about which laws the Border Patrol is there to enforce, and under what circumstances they choose to do so.

“Their authority to question individuals, make arrests, administer oaths or take and consider evidence is not geographically restricted by law,” writes Mario Koran. That said, Border Patrol checkpoints and roving units are not out there to enforce vehicle laws. But that doesn’t mean they don’t pull over cars. They do, and while police require concrete evidence to stop a car, the Border Patrol’s standard only requires that an agent has “reasonable suspicion.”

Unlike other agencies, Border Patrol agents can consider race and ethnicity when deciding whether to stop a car. Koran also notes some other activities the Border Patrol have found suspicious: “not looking at agents who pulled up alongside the car, sitting rigidly upright in seats, acting nervously in the presence of Border Patrol agents or simply driving toward Los Angeles.”

San Diego Unified Staffing Surged Then Plunged

New data obtained by our Ashly McGlone illuminates the staffing levels at San Diego Unified. The numbers show the district overall has shed 857 employees when compared to the school year that began in 2016.

“Non-teaching staff decreased by 398 employees, while certificated staff are down 373 employees, according to district figures,” McGlone reports.

Those numbers contrast to the school year that began in 2015, when the district went on a hiring binge. That year, the number of certificated employees rose by 526, although the district wasn’t sure why that was.

Either way, the cuts to staff won’t be enough to bring budgets into the black. “Despite the latest cuts, the school district’s general fund expenses will still outpace revenues by $24.65 million this year,” McGlone writes.

The Learning Curve: Helping More Families With Child Care

Help is on the way for San Diego County residents who are struggling to afford care for their young children. A bill approved last week allows San Diego to start pilot programs aimed at giving the county more flexibility in how it spends money it receives from the state for child care.

The problem is, San Diego is an expensive place to live. That means salaries here are higher, and those salaries are pushing families out of eligibility for financial assistance to place children in care. As a result, the county can’t spend the money it’s been given; too few people qualify to receive the money.

Maya Srikrishnan reports the new law will help some people stay eligible for assistance even if they suddenly get a raise at work, and will let the county help people who are near the cut-off once lower-income families have been taken care of.

City Still Paralyzed on Vacation Rentals

Four members of the San Diego City Council recently released a proposal that looked like it might settle the city’s dilemma on short-term vacation rental regulation.

Technically, the city attorney has said all existing vacation rentals are illegal. But they keep operating because the mayor refuses to enforce that. Both had hoped the City Council would come up with a solution.

This plan looked like it was a done deal. It would have allowed people to rent out their whole homes to vacationers for short periods forever if they got a special permit. The hearing was set for Monday.

But at the very last minute to submit items for the Council’s consideration, the city attorney blew it up. Here’s the Union-Tribune’s Lori Weisberg. “The City Attorney’s office Wednesday released a memo that raises numerous legal questions about [the proposal].”

City Attorney Mara Elliott isn’t sure it’s legal to treat rental hosts differently depending on their rental type, as the proposal does. She’s also worried some of the fees suggested in the proposal may actually be taxes, which would require a voter approval to be legal. That question of whether something is a tax or a fee continues dog San Diego’s leaders.

The controversial proposal was set to be taken up by the City Council on Monday, but Council President Myrtle Cole announced on Thursday the meeting would be cancelled.

Austin Hong is a San Diego resident who rents to short term visitors. In a commentary for us, he thinks opponents of short term rentals rely on too many feelings and too little data to make their case. “Those against short-term rentals would have the city legislate based on emotion and polarization,” Hong writes. He points to a report that lays out economic benefits San Diego enjoys from short term rental activity, and praises a recent proposal by four City Council members to widely allow short term rentals in San Diego.

Revamping School Board Elections Redux

Rumblings from several city councilmembers this week indicate there may be some renewed appetite for overhauling the way school board members are elected to the San Diego Unified School Board.  “Council President Myrtle Cole and members Chris Cate and Mark Kersey encouraged citizens to present a ballot initiative to their rules committee in January” at a meeting this week, KPBS’s Megan Burks reports. Councilmembers Alvarez and Gomez also expressed interest in term limits for board members.

Last year we put some serious time into figuring out what it would take to change the school district’s elections.

Single Mother Deported

After pleading guilty to a crime in 2009, a judge ordered Silvia Ocampo-Ortiz deported. But she made an agreement with immigration enforcement: as long as she checked in with them every year, she could stay in the U.S. and continue to raise two of her children.

After years of successful check-ins and work in the San Diego community, Ocampo-Ortize was deported on Thursday, the Union-Tribune reports, amid outcries of injustice from local politicians. “After President Donald Trump signed an executive order in January that changed enforcement priorities, many have found themselves detained and then deported,” writes the Union-Tribune.

Lightning Round

• Hep A Count: 600 sickened, 395 hospitalized, 19 dead in San Diego. (WTVR)

• A Union-Tribune reporter tells the story of his family’s house burning down in the recent fires of Northern California.

• Local stakeholders met on Thursday to work out how to test autonomous vehicles on Interstate 15 and state Route 125. (Times of San Diego)

• There are practically no running tracks open to the public in San Diego and La Jollans, at least, are kind of fed up about it. (La Jolla Light)

• San Diego was listed in the top 10 of cities whose residents are spending beyond their means. (Wide Open Country)

Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. You can email him at or follow him on Twitter: @loteck.

Seth Hall

Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. You can reach him at or follow him on Twitter: @loteck.

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