Commuters make their way through the San Ysidro Port of Entry. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Twenty-two new pedestrian lanes opened at the San Ysidro Port of Entry last month. The improvement is only one piece of a more than billion-dollar investment that’s been made at San Diego’s border to make it easier for people and goods to cross.

The additional PedEast crossing lanes are a part of a $174 million, multi-year expansion and modernization to the San Ysidro Port of Entry.

In addition to the San Ysidro upgrades, a $122 million upgrade is set to begin at the Otay Mesa Port of Entry later this year. A few years ago a $120 million cross-border airport facility opened, and regional leaders are hoping that a bran new port of entry that one with a $900 million price tag will come online around 2022 or 2023.

VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan details the recent upgrades in border infrastructure that have come online along San Diego County’s border and the projects we can expect to see in coming years.

Hotel-Tax Measure Qualifies for 2020 Ballot

A hotel-tax hike aimed at funding a Convention Center expansion, homeless programs and road repairs has qualified for the 2020 ballot.

The San Diego County registrar’s office said Thursday that its hand count confirmed that the labor and tourism-backed campaign collected the nearly 72,000 valid signatures required.

The campaign’s rush to this November’s ballot fell apart last month after the registrar’s initial random sample revealed there weren’t enough valid signatures to immediately qualify the measure for the ballot. Then the City Council rebuffed Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s last-ditch effort to put an almost identical measure on the ballot.

Now Faulconer and the campaign must decide next steps. Faulconer has hinted he’d be open to a special election.

It’s unclear whether Fifth Avenue Landing, a developer that owns the lease to the parcel where boosters want to expand the Convention Center, will agree to hold off on its own hotel development for another two years. The City Council approved a deal in June to pay the developers to step away from the land. The city and the developer are expected to hash out in coming days when and if the city will proceed with an initial $5 million deposit to allow for the bayfront expansion.

Gov Signs Bill Inspired by VOSD Report

Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday signed AB 1974, a bill that forbids schools from withholding diplomas or other retaliatory measures against students who can’t pay certain debts, such as bus fares.

The bill, written by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, was inspired by a Voice of San Diego report that San Diego Unified, which charges families to ride the bus, was sending parents who couldn’t pay the fees to collections agency. The district voluntarily stopped doing so after the VOSD report and after Gonzalez began working on her measure.

It’s a Day That Ends in Y, Which Means There’s Bad DMV News

It’s one thing after another with the DMV.

Officials say an additional 3,000 people were mistakenly signed up to vote, despite an attempt to opt-out of a new program. Then came the news that offices in and around San Diego were slower than normal Thursday because of a “router issue.”

Lingering problems with the DMV have galvanized Republican politicians who love using it as a punching bag.

Voters Leaning Toward Levin but Some Won’t Vote at All

The New York Times’ Upshot is polling voters in northern San Diego and southern Orange counties about California’s 49th Congressional District race. So far, the results show Democrat Mike Levin at 51 percent and Republican Diane Harkey at 44 percent, with an 8-point margin of error.

The pollsters also asked several interesting questions about leadership and policies in Washington, D.C. For instance, 65 percent of respondents said they supported the North American Free Trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico. Less than half said they opposed the tax reform bill passed by Congress.

Perhaps the most interesting bit of data released Thursday was about voters who intend to sit out the election: The overwhelming majority of people reached by the pollsters who said they weren’t likely to vote in November were Republicans. Only 15 percent were Democrats.

The number of independent voters in San Diego County surpassed the number of Republican voters this summer. One of the leaders of the San Diego-based Independent Voter Project told the Union-Tribune he wouldn’t be surprised if independents eventually overtake Democrats.

In Other News

  • The U-T interviewed a San Diego State researcher who worked on a series of reports that found, among other things, California under-funded its schools by $22 billion last year. She highlighted pension liabilities as one major problem: “It’s basically like having credit card debt. If you never pay off the balance, it just keeps getting bigger.”
  • Policy changes at the state and county level will allow for the release of some in-custody video deaths, and law enforcement hopes the move will promote trust with the public. (Union-Tribune)
  • The vaccination rate for kindergartens in San Diego and across the state went down last year, raising the question of whether more kids need a medical exemption or whether doctors are becoming more permissive. (inewsource)
  • A UC San Diego professor said she’s pleased that a glacier in Antarctica is no longer named after a man who sexually harassed her. (Union-Tribune)  
  • And the governor said, let there be neighborhood electric vehicle plans in San Diego County! They’re basically four-wheeled, motorized and low-speed — think golf carts. (City News Service)

Wikidy Wut?

Rocky Balboa, the motivated prizefighter played by a ripped Sylvester Stallone in the “Rocky” movies, should probably have at least a few city parks named after him if he doesn’t already. But, uh, Rocky Balboa is definitely not the namesake for Balboa Park, despite a rogue edit that made its way into the park’s Wikipedia entry

The funny falsity, by the way, was quickly deleted by one of Wikipedia’s dedicated editors.

The Morning Report was written by Maya Srikrishnan and Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.

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