Photo by Vito Di Stefano

What happened last week at the San Diego Association of Governments may not have seemed remarkable to longtime Voice of San Diego readers. After some of Andrew Keatts’ reports, it has been quite obvious that the agency was going to struggle to make good on promises it made voters in 2004 when it extended a half-cent sales tax with their blessing. Now, the agency has officially acknowledged that some of the projects promised – many road widenings and express lanes – just won’t be able to happen.

But it is remarkable, and Scott Lewis writes that you should really let sink in what has now been acknowledged: That SANDAG found itself in trouble and officials had all the information needed to know that a new tax increase proposed in 2016 would have largely backfilled for shortcomings of a previous one.

San Diego Took a Big Step Toward Getting Into the Energy Business

The San Diego City Council voted Monday to go ahead with creating its own energy-buying agency, called a “community choice aggregator.” The Council’s six Democrats were joined by Republican Councilman Mark Kersey in greenlighting the move, with Republican Councilmen Scott Sherman and Chris Cate voting against it.

The move will mean San Diego – potentially along with a handful of other cities that join the effort – will be in charge of buying and selling power, and therefore can more quickly move the city to using more renewable energy. SDG&E would still deliver the energy that the city will now select and purchase.

Last fall, Ry Rivard outlined the biggest questions you might have about the city’s big change, and why the mayor’s decision to back it was such a big deal.

In the Environment Report this week, Rivard also laid out how it’s increasingly likely that the new public energy program will become a regional effort. Other cities are going that direction, and the county is suddenly interested as well. It could mean we have an energy agency much like the joint agency that handles our water, the San Diego County Water Authority.

Rivard also went over local environmentalists’ efforts to spearhead a local “Green New Deal,” borrowing from the national campaign of the same name. The idea would be to consolidate the various city-level climate-focused initiatives into a single regional focus that backers believe could make them more effective and far-reaching.  

Like the national green deal, the local plan is a liberal wish list of changes to the economy gathered around the idea that fossil fuel energy and the climate change it causes are at the heart of malfunctioning American political and economic systems,” Rivard writes.

YIMBY Mayor Gets Statewide Attention

Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s YIMBY turn has caught Sacramento’s eye.

In the Los Angeles Times, our old pal Liam Dillon profiled Faulconer’s efforts to slash housing regulations to encourage developers to build more and taller apartment buildings with less parking near transit stations.

Dillon framed the move as part of a trend among large cities that, along with the Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration, are increasingly taking drastic actions to combat the state’s housing shortage.

“You either have a housing crisis or you don’t,” Faulconer told Dillon.

But as we indicated when Faulconer announced his most dramatic proposals, there’s bound to be significant backlash to the pro-development policies. Dillon also spoke to one of the main activists in the Bay Park area who has pushed back on the ideas, and environmental attorney Cory Briggs is now running for mayor explicitly because he found the ideas so objectionable.

In any case, the city’s move to undo its decades-long pattern of sprawl is getting more attention, and it comes a few weeks after the head of the region’s planning agency publicly acknowledged that San Diego can’t comply with state greenhouse gas reduction targets with anything resembling its current development layout and transportation system.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby and Andrew Keatts.

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