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Vaccine opponents have seized on a legislative effort intended to prevent future public health crises like San Diego’s hepatitis A outbreak.

The bill was introduced by Assemblyman Todd Gloria and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and would empower public health officers to take actions they deem “necessary to control the spread of communicable disease.” It was written in response to San Diego officials’ slow response to San Diego’s deadly 2017 hepatitis A outbreak.

But, as VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt reports, that language has vaccine opponents worried that it could mean during public health crises, health officers could choose to impose mass vaccines.

“When you have a such a broad piece of legislation giving broad authority, we’re really just concerned that that can be overreach,” one of the advocates told Halverstadt.

Gloria’s office acknowledged the pushback caught them by surprise and said they’re committed to hearing out opponents’ concerns but haven’t committed to any changes.

San Diego City Council D5 Race Shapes Up

Veteran political maven and Republican activist T.J. Zane, who is a member of the school board at Poway Unified School District, announced he is not going to run for City Council.

The seat, once reliably Republican, now is attractive to Democrats as a potential pickup. Gov. Gavin Newsom won the district by 6 points last year, and Hillary Clinton won it by 15 over Donald Trump in 2016.

Tuesday, a deputy city attorney, Marni von Wilpert, a Democrat, announced her intention to run for the seat. Interestingly, she touted the support of Sunday Gover, who had been rumored as a potential candidate.

Lawyer Joe Leventhal remains the sole Republican in the race. We talked to him for a recent Politics Report.

A Local Bookstore Is Actually Expanding

Verbatim Books in North Park just signed a new lease on the space next door. The space will triple the store’s current size, meaning space for plenty more books, but it’s also going to provide a space for larger and more frequent events.

In this week’s Culture Report, VOSD contributor Julia Dixon Evans speaks with Verbatim’s owner about her plans for the new space.

Also in the Culture Report: A new exhibition with photography from Australia, an all-woman art show at La Bodega and more.

New Border Numbers Show Troubling Trends

The number of Central American families coming to the U.S.-Mexico border continues to break records.

February saw more than 76,000 migrants either apprehended at the border or presenting themselves at ports of entry without proper documentation – the highest number of people in any February in 12 years, though still significantly lower than 2000, which saw a peak of 1.6 million apprehensions.

Families are now coming to the border in larger numbers than single adults or unaccompanied children, now making up roughly 65 percent of those apprehended at the border. Guatemalans and Hondurans are coming in even larger numbers than Mexicans – yet another major shift. Border officials have also seen more large groups of migrants – over 100 people – crossing in remote parts of the border in New Mexico, Texas and Arizona. At least 70 groups of more than 100 people have turned themselves in at Border Patrol stations. Last fiscal year, there were only 13 such groups and the year before there were only two.

In San Diego, apprehensions of families crossing between ports of entry in February were 696 percent higher than last February. This increase has been happening as the federal government has been implementing policies making it more difficult to seek asylum at a port of entry from Tijuana, including through the practice of “metering” – or setting daily limits on the number of asylum seekers accepted the port of entry daily – as well as the new Migration Protection Protocols, which returns asylum-seekers to Mexico while they await their asylum hearings. Since the policy began in late January, it’s been restricted to those requesting asylum at the San Ysidro Port of Entry, but Vox reported that Border Patrol was set to return the first people who requested asylum after crossing illegally Tuesday.

For families presenting themselves at ports of entry, the increase from this February to last was only by 5 percent, demonstrating the impact of these policies that have been in making it more difficult to seek asylum through the ports of entry.

This trend was even more stark in El Paso, where family unit apprehensions between ports surged by 1,689 percent and families presenting at ports of entry dropped by 23 percent.

In Other News

  • San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer spoke Tuesday to A New Way California, a group of moderates who want to reform the California Republican Party. On Twitter, the mayor drove home his points about his vision for the party. One thing he emphasized: The state’s party shouldn’t resemble the national one, but should truly represent California’s population – he specifically highlights women and immigrants – and present solutions to fixing California problems, like its housing shortage. CalMatters featured Faulconer’s remarks
  • Faulconer and others paid respect to former City Councilwoman Judy McCarty, who served on the Council from 1985 to 2000. Her former chief of staff, Jim Madaffer, who went on to succeed her on the Council, also posted a tribute with a link to an obituary.
  • The Union-Tribune’s Morgan Cook is out with another harrowing story from the county’s foster care system. Cook details a new lawsuit in which three boys say they were sexually assaulted by a foster child placed in their home and allege the county repeatedly refused to remove him despite their mother’s repeated reports of abuse and pleas for help.   
  • It’s still not clear when the Ocean Beach Pier will reopen, weeks after it was closed due to damage from high surf. (KPBS)

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

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