The Morning Report
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Mental health-related visits to hospitals are on the rise in North County and cutbacks in behavioral health services are only making wait times for beds worse.
To stem a rush of patients, Lisa Halverstadt reports, San Diego County officials hope specialized “crisis units” can make a difference by providing a more suitable service for people in need than emergency rooms.
People experiencing a mental health crisis often end up in ERs, and the chaos of those places can further traumatize them. Instead, the crisis units offer plush recliners and connect patients with psychiatric care, medicine and other supports for up to 24 hours.
Police agencies are eager to have additional drop-off locations for patients considered a danger to themselves or others. And while the crisis units are considered helpful additions, they’re also seen as part of a larger plan to reform the mental health system.
It’s still unclear where the crisis units will go and when they’ll be open. But county supervisors have committed themselves to eventually leasing or purchasing sites across the county, starting in North County.
Drama Over SANDAG Priorities Continues
Politicians from North County and East County have been rallying for months against a new vision of transportation in San Diego — one that prioritizes public transit at the expense of freeway expansions. A compromise struck this summer to continue funding some freeway projects remains flimsy.
The Union-Tribune reports that the politicians most skeptical of transit expansion have seen a new $600 million spending proposal from the San Diego Association of Governments and it’s not what they thought they were promised.
They likely don’t have the votes to stop that proposal, but they could derail a countywide sales-tax measure needed to fund some of those projects. That initiative could go before voters as early as 2022.
San Diego Unified’s New Plan to Narrow the Achievement Gap
As the new school year starts Monday, San Diego Unified is launching a new initiative to help close the gap in access to advanced math courses.
Citing new data from the school district, the Union-Tribune reports that about 13 percent of black and Hispanic students were placed in advanced math classes for the 2018-2019 school year, compared with 43 percent of white students and 51 percent of Asian students.
Education leaders tell the newspaper that the disparity is not about a lack of ability, but a lack of opportunity. School district officials will now offer enhanced math classes, open to anyone.
Last year, we took a closer look at math scores and found that the achievement gap was vast. Nearly 70 percent of white students in San Diego had met or exceeded state standards while just 25 percent of black students did the same.
- Tasha Williamson’s campaign for San Diego mayor is about as grassroots as it gets, and one of her goals is to change the institution she’s a part of. The Democratic Party, she told us in the Politics Report, is “full of privileged and powerful people” who don’t reflect the people they’re supposed to serve.
- On the podcast, Andrew Keatts and Jesse Marx talked about a pair of early Democratic endorsements in high-profile races, and sat down with journalist Alain Stephens for a discussion on taking firearms away from people who pose a threat to themselves or others. San Diego has issued more gun violence restraining orders than any other county in California.
In Other News
- A new program allowing homeless people to reduce their outstanding parking fines comes too late for some. Since 2015, San Diego has towed 4,767 vehicles because of unpaid parking tickets — more than a quarter of which were then sold. (NBC 7)
- The Port of San Diego has told a wealthy enclave of Shelter Island to make their piers public or tear them down. (Union-Tribune)
- Federal officials separated a father from his family nearly two years ago when they asked for asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border after a perilous journey out of the Democratic Republic of Congo. With the help of North Park churchgoers, the family has been reunited. (Union-Tribune)
- The father, husband and brother-in-law of the bluff collapse victims in Encinitas is hoping to make something positive out of the tragedy. He asked the City Council for safety improvements. (NBC 7)
The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.