If you were to ask city and county officials what they’re doing to respond to the massive hepatitis A outbreak, they’d probably tell you (when they weren’t blaming things on each other) about vaccinations, hand-washing stations and street cleanings.

But the city has responded in another way, too, one with big implications for the homeless population: The police have massively ramped up enforcement actions against the homeless in recent weeks, reports Lisa Halverstadt.

“Police made nearly 270 arrests last month for two offenses commonly aimed at San Diego’s homeless compared with just 84 in September 2016, according to data released following a public records request,” Halverstadt writes. There’s also been “an 83 percent spike this September in prosecutions for illegal lodging and encroachment, which penalize homeless San Diegans for staying in tents and blocking sidewalks,” according to data provided by the city attorney’s office.

City and police officials say homeless residents are offered help and resources before they’re cited. But the homeless residents Halverstadt spoke with painted a much different picture of what’s been happening: “Many say police rarely offer help and are constantly asking homeless San Diegans to move elsewhere. Those who’ve been arrested say their lives have been rocked by the enforcement.”

• In a VOSD op-ed, John Horst, who is challenging Rep. Scott Peters, makes a familiar argument but offers a new solution. No one is taking the lead on tackling homelessness, Horst writes. He argues that forming a joint powers authority is the way forward: “These are formed by multiple governmental bodies (e.g., the county and various cities) to address regional issues that cannot be successfully addressed at a single municipal level.”

Sacramento Report: Gore and Zimmerman on SB 54

At a forum this week to discuss how they’ll implement a blockbuster state law limiting law enforcement agencies’ cooperation with federal immigration officers, Sheriff Bill Gore expressed some wariness about the policy but said he intends to comply with the law. He also left open the possibility that he’ll support an effort to overturn the law via referendum.

“I think Gov. Brown made some significant changes,” Gore said. “I’m going to follow the law as written and see how it plays out.”

Also in this week’s Sacramento Report: Expect Kevin de Leon to heavily tout his roots in Logan Heights in Tijuana as his campaign against Sen. Dianne Feinstein gets under way, and one last rundown of the bills signed into law from local lawmakers.

VOSD Podcast: No Decisions on Cate Memo or Airbnb

City Attorney Mara Elliott is at the center of some of the biggest twists and turns happening in city politics.

This week on the podcast, Scott Lewis, Andy Keatts and I discuss two dramas are tied to Elliott. The first is a new twist in the saga of Councilman Chris Cate, who leaked a confidential memo Elliott sent to Council members regarding the SoccerCity development. Interim DA Summer Stephan announced this week that she’ll hand off the investigation to the state attorney general — but she declined to say why she thinks she’s too conflicted to handle the case, or why she’d want to avoid the appearance of a conflict.

If it’s just normal political connections that have her spooked, does that mean she’s bowing out of all prosecutions of local politicians connected to her or her party? She said she would answer no more questions about it.

We also delve into Elliott’s eleventh-hour determination that a City Council plan to regulate vacation rentals might be illegal. The result of Elliott’s reading of the plan is that San Diego will continue to live with no solution.

In Other News

• It looks like the first person to get hepatitis A was living in El Cajon at the time. (Union-Tribune)

• “Tony — The Movie” is a new documentary that follows a local homeless man, plus info on Houston and other regions making more progress on homelessness. (Union-Tribune)

The movie is made by first-time filmmaker Dennis Stein, who recently argued in a VOSD op-ed that San Diego leaders should be focusing on the region’s long-term plan to reduce homelessness.

• Artist Yves Clement is suing the US Grant Hotel, which pays him to hang his work inside. In the suit, Yves claims many of his pieces have been damaged, that some have been featured in adult films and that the hotel is refusing to return his work. (Courthouse News)

• Vicente Fox, former president of Mexico, is set to join the board of the local Reality Changers nonprofit. Reality Changers lost several board members earlier this year due to a leadership dispute. (Union-Tribune)

• Backers of the proposal to allow SDSU to buy the Qualcomm Stadium site are hitting the streets Saturday to gather signatures to qualify an initiative for next year’s ballot. (Times of San Diego)

• San Diego Reddit users are sorta flipping out over this video showing the Horton Plaza mall looking like a ghost town.

Top Stories of the Week

These were the five most popular Voice of San Diego stories for the week of Oct. 12-20. To see the full top 10 list, click here.

1. Roberts Confirms Fraud of NFL Offer While Dodging Bill for Homeless Needs

County Supervisor Ron Roberts’ claim that the county does not and cannot spend money on city “facilities” is only valid if you also conclude Roberts was trying to con the NFL and desperate Chargers fans two years ago. (Scott Lewis)

2. San Diego’s Been Losing a Century-Long Battle Against Poop

The hepatitis A outbreak has renewed interest in the bacteria-filled San Diego River. The county has called downtown a “fecally contaminated environment.” A congressman has sounded the alarm about local waterways. And an image problem has arisen again, like in the 1980s when there so much sewage running into Mission Bay its beaches were closed a quarter of the time. (Ry Rivard)

3. Documents Reveal How San Diego Unified Urges Struggling Students to Find New Schools

San Diego Unified spokespeople have publicly denied that students were counseled out of district schools. But documents obtained through a California Public Records Act request show that between fall 2012 and fall 2016, school staff members recommended students find a new high school on at least 238 occasions. (Mario Koran)

4. Cate’s Favor to SoccerCity Wasn’t Necessary — It Was Illegal

Eight City Council members in the exact same situation as Councilman Chris Cate did their jobs without disclosing a confidential memo. With that, Cate’s defense utterly collapses. It wasn’t necessary. (Will Moore)

5. Opinion: Vacation Rentals Worsen the Housing Crisis

It’s already hard enough to find affordable homes in San Diego. Our elected leaders should not consider a proposal that will make it harder. (Blake Herrschaft)

Sara Libby

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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