The Morning Report
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Leaders at the Metropolitan Transit System have been making moves since the summer to possibly put a sales tax to fund transit improvements on the 2020 ballot.
Now, they know roughly how much the measure could bring in to boost the region’s modest transit system that is nonetheless being counted on to help make good on promises to reduce the region’s carbon footprint by making it easier for people to live in the dense, transit-focused housing that leaders expect to house San Diego’s growing population.
A half-percent sales tax could bring in roughly $5 billion over 20 years and $13 billion over 40 years, according to a forecast conducted by an MTS contractor that was obtained by Voice of San Diego through a public records request.
The agency is also conducting a public opinion poll this week to help determine how popular the measure could be, and which potential projects would most entice voters.
MTS board chair Georgette Gomez said she wants to pursue the biggest possible measure.
“The more the better,” she said.
The agency is also putting together a large group to collect public feedback, consisting of organizers from as many special interest and community groups as possible. MTS leaders hope that will help them avoid the mistakes made by the San Diego Association of Governments with a similar measure in 2016, where major groups never got on board and didn’t feel they were involved in shaping the measure early enough.
Election Reform Drama in Fallbrook
The school board trustees of Fallbrook Union Elementary School District voted to approve new boundaries for their seats.
The district, like many around the state, was facing a legal threat that the electoral system that had been in place was unfair to minority candidates because it required them to complete districtwide against predominantly white candidates. But many Latino community members had lobbied for a different map, which the board overruled.
In the latest North County Report, VOSD’s Jesse Marx looks at the differences in the maps and the next steps for the community members who want to challenge to new map.
Also in this week’s North County news round-up, Encinitas and Poway are trying to make granny flats much easier to build, the woman who falsely accused Republican Assembly candidate Phil Graham of sexual misconduct pleaded guilty and more.
County Eyes a CCA Energy Shift
Dianne Jacob, the chairwoman of the County Board of Supervisors, said Wednesday during the annual State of the County that the county would try to enter the power-buying business along with the city of San Diego.
The city is working to launch a “community choice” energy agency within the next few years to compete with San Diego Gas & Electric by selling cheaper and greener energy to 1.4 million city residents. SDG&E would still own and operate all the lines and cables that come into people’s homes.
Several other cities are looking to join the city’s effort. With the county on board, it’s possible nearly all of San Diego County could soon buy power from a government-run agency.
Jacob pointed to a similar program the county has used for its own power needs in recent years. That program has provided the county with cheaper energy, but the county’s power relied more heavily on burning climate changing fossil fuels than SDG&E does.
Jacob has long been interested in community choice energy, but in the past lacked support on what was once an all-Republican board. In 2017, Jacob couldn’t get a single other supervisor to support even studying the matter further.
Now, though, Democrat Nathan Fletcher has joined the board and SDG&E, whose parent company was once critical of community choice, is now trying to leave the energy-buying business entirely.
(Disclosure: Mitch Mitchell, SDG&E’s vice president for government affairs, sits on Voice of San Diego’s board of directors.)
- Jacob’s State of the County address marked a fundamental shift in the Board of Supervisors in many ways. Jacob talked about big changes — including the county investing more resources — in some of San Diego’s biggest issues like housing and mental health. Jacob laid out a proposal she is working on with fellow Supervisor Greg Cox that would increase the number of affordable homes in the county by doubling the size of the county’s housing trust from $25 million to $50 million. On the mental health side, she described a need for a “coordinated system of care” and announced she would soon request that the board explore the creation of crisis-stabilization centers, where law enforcement could drop people off so they could detox and receive care. (Union-Tribune)
In Other News
- Rep. Duncan Hunter’s campaign reported spending hundreds of dollars at a Belmont Park and made $2,000 in now disputed charges to a company that flies drones at the end of 2018. Hunter and his wife are currently facing a federal indictment over their alleged misuse of more than $250,000 in campaign funds. (Union-Tribune)
- Juarez Elementary in Serra Mesa alerted parents this week that five of its water outlets showed elevated lead levels. (NBC San Diego)
- A plan to reduce Tijuana’s high homicide numbers is gearing up as new traffic checkpoints have been set up across the city and military outposts are being established in some of its most violent neighborhoods. Tijuana ended 2018 with more than 2,500 homicides, its deadliest year on record. (Union-Tribune)
- San Diego City Councilwoman Monica Montgomery laid out a plan to improve police-community relations, including tougher civilian oversight of police misconduct investigations and incentives for officers to live in the communities where they work. (KPBS)
- ProPublica is out with a gripping and exhaustive investigative report about the collision between a cargo ship and a U.S. Navy destroyer, an accident that left seven sailors, including two from San Diego, dead.
- In yet another twist in the Coronado mansion murder case, a $5.1 million judgment and jury finding that blamed Adam Shacknai for the death of Rebecca Zahau in a Coronado mansion eight years ago was wiped out and the entire case dismissed after Zahau’s family settled. (Union-Tribune)
The Morning Report was written by Maya Srikrishnan and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.