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A view of the entrance to the Connections Housing facility. / Photo by Sam Hodgson

If you think San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s plan to create a walk-in homeless service center in the East Village sounds familiar, you’re right.

Nearly a decade ago, as a member of the City Council, he and others sought to provide the homeless downtown with a similar center at the old World Trade Center at Sixth Avenue and B Street, but it was quietly scaled back before opening in 2013, Lisa Halverstadt reports. That site now serves a much narrower population.

The change was driven by a fear that homeless center would become a magnet for … homeless San Diegans.

But while that center hasn’t lived up to the claims made by boosters — it’s not, for instance, being replicated in other neighborhoods — it has successfully moved hundreds of homeless San Diegans off the street. And community leaders and neighbors report that it seems to have led to a dramatic reduction in the surrounding population within a quarter-mile.

Now that Faulconer is once again trying to turn an old skydiving center into a center for homeless services, Connections Housing offers a lesson that the end result might not match the vision.

Sweetwater’s Credit Rating Takes a Hit

Sweetwater Union High School’s credit rating has been downgraded, just days before voters are being asked to invest heavily in the district. South Bay residents will consider the fate Tuesday of Measure DD, a $403 million construction bond.

Will Huntsberry reports that Fitch, a major credit agency whose reports reflect the level of trust that investors place in an organization’s ability to manage money, changed its fiscal outlook for the school district from “stable” to “negative,” suggesting that the rating could continue to slide.

The second largest school district in San Diego County, which serves about 40,000 students, is in the midst of a budget crisis. When officials closed the books on the last fiscal year, they noticed that they’d overspent by as much as $30 million. Trustees had been warned in 2015 that they needed to find more money or tighten the budget, but raised salaries anyhow.

The district is looking to cut an immediate $19 million from the current school year to avoid receiving an emergency loan from the state, which would come with some loss of control.

  • At least 10 districts in San Diego County say they will not be able to meet their financial commitments next school year, and the U-T cites three reasons: rising pension costs, rising special education costs and declining enrollment.

Record Numbers of New Voters, Independents

More people are registered to vote in Tuesday’s midterm than the 2016 presidential election — nearly 19.7 Californians, or 78 percent of the state’s eligible voters, the Mercury News reported. The Republican voter roll shrunk while Democrats picked up a few, and independents continued their ascent.

“It’s clear to say Californians are fired up and ready to vote,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said at a press conference Friday.

The U-T reports that independents — who are younger on average make up 30 percent of the electorate in San Diego County, higher than any other county in Southern California.

Politics Roundup

  • San Diego is not home to a professional football, basketball or major league soccer team, but man, oh man, can we assemble an election preview draft. Our podcast hosts Scott Lewis, Sara Libby and Andrew Keatts offer their picks for the most interesting races of the year.
  • Dozens of community leaders in southeastern San Diego are demanding that organized labor groups stop sending hit pieces aimed at Monica Montgomery, a progressive challenger for City Council. Without establishment backing, Montgomery finished first in the primary against City Council President Myrtle Cole.
  • Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill this session that would have ended mandatory arbitration clauses in employee contracts. Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who wrote the bill and thinks it can withstand judicial scrutiny, intends to reintroduce it next year, when a new governor takes office. Assemblyman Todd Gloria also intends to re-up legislation giving counties like San Diego’s more leeway to spend cash they receive through a voter-approved state millionaire’s tax.
  • Union-Tribune columnist Michael Smolens breaks down the major differences between SoccerCity and SDSU West, which are competing on city voters’ ballots. We’ve covered those proposals in depth, and you’ll find plenty of our stories here. The U-T also reported that San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s former chief of staff is now working for a political consulting firm to pass the SoccerCity measure.
  • Recent polls put Republican Diane Harkey between seven and 14 points behind Mike Levin, her Democratic opponent in the 49th Congressional District race, and in recent days she’s ramped up support for President Donald Trump’s immigration proposals. “The move has the potential to fire up her Republican base, but is a questionable way to attract the swing voters she needs,” Smolens wrote in a separate column.

In Other News

  • The $1.6 billion redevelopment of Seaport Village is still in the beginning stages, and the U-T offers a glimpse of what’s now under consideration: nearly 2,000 hotel rooms, retail, office space, 28 acres of public open space and more.
  • At the same time, the South County Economic Development Council says Otay Mesa’s Brown Field has been dormant for too long. Plans are in the works for three new hangars, hotels and more. (Union-Tribune)
  • As migrant caravans continue north through Mexico, officials in Tijuana worry they won’t have enough shelter space. Several facilities are already overcrowded with people preparing to petition U.S. authorities for asylum, and reaching the front of the waiting list can take as long as six weeks. Indeed, some migrants in the current caravan told reporters they’re considering staying in Tijuana instead of trying to cross into the United States. (Union-Tribune, Associated Press)

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

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