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Homeless people line up their belongings alongside Fault Line Park in East Village. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

In May, local leaders announced a drop in homelessness in the region. They touted the news at a press conference, saying the annual homeless census showed a 6 percent drop in homelessness from last year.

But this year’s count excluded hundreds of people living in RVs and anyone at the San Diego Rescue Mission. Those two groups have been counted in the past.

As Voice of San Diego’s Lisa Halverstadt explains, if those hundreds of people had been included, it would mean homelessness in the region has likely gone up slightly this year, not down.

Officials at the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, which oversees the count, say they weren’t attempting to skew the results. They told Halverstadt the Rescue Mission didn’t report its numbers in time and that it’s rethinking how it handles people who live in RVs.

Why the homeless census matters: The point-in-time count has long been considered an imperfect science, but the annual census is still a key barometer used to evaluate the region’s successes or failures in addressing the issue. The count can influence how local leaders direct resources, and what kind of homeless services get funded.

Why RVs matter: The number of people sleeping in RVs has surged in recent years in other regions like Seattle. Locally, Fiesta Island has seen a boom in large vehicles, including RVs, parking along one of its shorelines, and San Diego overall saw the number of people living in vehicles more than double from 2015 to 2016. The city of San Diego has in the past year invested city funding in safe parking lots for people living in cars, but those lots don’t accept RVs.

What’s next: The Department of Housing and Urban Development, the federal agency that certifies homeless counts, has said it’s taking a closer look at San Diego’s numbers. The Regional Task Force says it plans to confer with HUD to decide how to count homeless people living in RVs next year.

We’re Going to Court to Stop San Diego Unified’s Email-Destruction Policy

San Diego Unified School District had plans to begin deleting thousands of emails on its servers beginning Friday.

It’s temporarily put that plan on hold, because Voice of San Diego has filed for a temporary restraining order to halt San Diego Unified School District’s destruction of email archives over a year old. We have a hearing scheduled today.

The district initially announced, without consulting the Board of Education, that it would purge emails six months or older. That plan drew criticism from open government and media groups, as well as employee unions, who were concerned about training employees in how to retain older emails they might need to keep (six months isn’t even an entire school year).

District officials said deleting the old emails would save money and alleviate the burden posed by public records requests. But they haven’t explained why it costs so much — the district, after all, uses a free cloud-based email server.

Voice has several pending public records requests with the district and it’s unclear whether, if the district is allowed to move forward with the policy, it plans to delete records we’ve requested.

  • San Diegans for Open Government has also sued San Diego Unified over the policy change.
  • There may be dueling ballot measures about San Diego Unified school board to vote on come November, reports KPBS. On Tuesday, the school board voted to put a measure on the ballot that would limit trustees to three four-year terms on the board. An advocacy group is countering with a different proposal to limit board members to two four-year terms and would eliminate citywide runoffs for school board races.

Grand Jury Wary of CLERB’s Death Case Dismissals

Back in November, Kelly Davis published a bombshell: The watchdog group that investigates county law enforcement decided to dismiss investigations into 22 in-custody deaths. Her reporting cast doubt on the group’s reasoning that it was required to toss the cases based on its interpretation of a state law.

Now the San Diego County Jury has weighed in, and it’s not buying that reasoning either. “Death cases should not have been set aside,” the report says. It also addresses the backlog that led to the cases being dismissed in the first place, and seems to confirm that the board was in disarray late last year before its executive director resigned.

The Grand Jury, by the way, has been digging in to some weighty topics in the past year.

Thought the Immigration Situation in Federal Court Was Chaotic Before?

Thirty-two illegal entry cases were dismissed after a prison computer glitch, according to the Union-Tribune. The Metropolitan Correctional Center, a prison downtown that processes defendants before their initial hearings before a judge, was affected by a nationwide Bureau of Prisons computer shutdown and couldn’t process new inmates in time.

The Department of Justice said the computer problems had nothing to do with the surge in immigration prosecutions, but defense attorneys say it is further proof that our court system can’t handle the surge in immigration-related prosecutions.

Today in Politics

  • San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond, who’s running for county supervisor, is under investigation for receiving campaign contributions from developers for this supervisor campaign while those developers had projects pending approval from the San Marcos City Council. As VOSD’s Andrew Keatts noted on Twitter, Desmond is under investigation for being too cozy with developers days after he stormed out of a public hearing in opposition to increasing home building requirements. (inewsource)
  • John Cox wants to be California’s next governor. He also wants to radically reform the state Legislature and has a plan to “make legislative districts small enough that anyone can run — and they won’t need special interest money to do it.” (Los Angeles Times)
  • Gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom made a stop in San Diego Thursday to talk to seniors about housing, health care and other issues. (NBC7)

In Other News

  • Imperial Beach is moving forward with a marijuana ordinance after a local trade group fumbled its attempt to put a measure on the ballot. (Union-Tribune)
  • On this week’s San Diego Explained, Voice of San Diego’s Jesse Marx and NBC 7’s Monica Dean look at how the fallout from last year’s hepatitis A outbreak is still unfolding.
  • According to polls, Andrés Manuel López Obrador is likely to become the next president of Mexico. The U-T takes a look at what that might mean for the energy reform measures Mexico recently put into place (López Obrador is not a fan) and Sempra Energy, a San Diego company that has invested billions on energy infrastructure there.
  • San Diego may become the fourth city in the county to ban styrofoam food and beverage containers. City Councilman Chris Ward announced the proposal Tuesday. An anti-straw movement is also growing in San Diego. Because straws suck (get it?). (KPBS, San Diego Magazine)
  • The U-T reports that SeaWorld mysteriously shut down its new submarine ride (VOSD’s Kinsee Morlan here with some insight: The ride is super short and lame, plus it constantly breaks down).
  • The grunions are running. (NBC7)

Social Media Tidbits

A piece of street art in Barrio Logan / Photo by Bucky Montero

From Culture Report author Kinsee Morlan: I got a call from a woman who was concerned that the street art depiction of a hooded KKK member included the words “White Supremacy 15 Terrorism.” She thought it was a piece promoting racism. But it actually says “White Supremacy is Terrorism.”

Corrections

This week’s Culture Report referred to El Carrito, a restaurant that’s reopening, as a former cable car. It’s a trolley car.

The Morning Report was written and compiled by Maya Srikrishnan and Kinsee Morlan, and edited by Sara Libby.

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