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Streetlight sensor in downtown San Diego / Photo by Megan Wood

Back in October, we asked city of San Diego mayoral candidates if they supported a measure to increase property taxes to build low-income homes that could be headed before voters on the November ballot. Councilwoman Barbara Bry said yes.

For more than a year, the Housing Federation — a group of affordable housing developers and advocates — have been drumming up support for a measure asking voters to approve a tax increase of 19 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. The group needs six votes from the City Council to get it on the ballot.

But at a debate over the weekend, Bry had a change of heart. If a separate hotel-tax measure passes in March, she said, “I will not support the housing bond measure” because a funding source will exist. If it fails, she said, “then I will read very carefully the housing bond measure to decide whether to vote for or against it.”

Voice of San Diego’s Scott Lewis, who moderated the debate, asked Bry if she had shifted her position on the tax.

“No, I have always been that,” she said.

This Water War Will Never End

The San Diego County Water Authority and Metropolitan Water District have been locked in a legal battle that has lasted more than a decade and cost ratepayers tens of millions of dollars. 

In hopes of ending the long dispute, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer made a rare appearance at a Water Authority board meeting recently and urged the agency to mend its relation with Metropolitan. We reported this week that the Water Authority instead appears ready to do the opposite: It’s doubling down.

A Streetlight Street Fight

Press conferences are normally boring and predictable. But one held this week by San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott was anything but.

She convened reporters to make the case that the city’s smart streetlights were an effective tool for law enforcement and to complain that activists were spreading misinformation. Those same activists then stepped onto the ground where Elliott had previously stood and initiated a press conference of their own. It got heated.

On this week’s podcast, Lewis, Sara Libby and Andrew Keatts sit down with VOSD’s Jesse Marx to discuss the ongoing controversy behind the smart streetlight program.

When the program was brought to the City Council for approval in 2016, it was presented as a way to save on energy costs and collect environmental and transportation data. Police are now accessing the cameras to aid criminal investigations. There’s little oversight, which led the city’s public safety committee on Wednesday to recommend a wider surveillance policy.

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