San Diego County Taxpayers Association President Haney Hong speaks at a press conference touting the taxpayer protections in Measure C. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

For more than a decade, city boosters have been adamant about the need for a Convention Center expansion they say is crucial for the local economy. Now they’re urging city voters to approve a hotel-tax hike that would fund the long-wanted expansion, homeless initiatives and road repairs.

But Measure C, the March ballot measure designed to help pay for the expansion, isn’t without risks.

In a new story, Lisa Halverstadt catalogues the major economic assumptions behind the March ballot measure.

Among them: that the expansion cost remains within reach for the city, that the expansion itself can draw dozens of additional conventions each year that deliver many more hotel room stays and that long-range revenue projections for the measure end up panning out – and matching annual debt payments tied to the expansions.

Meeting Underscores Fractured Trust in Southeastern San Diego Schools

A tense Monday meeting for parents whose children attend schools that feed into Lincoln High in southeastern San Diego offers a window into parents’ frustrations in cluster that’s home to four of the state’s worst-performing schools.

In this week’s Learning Curve, our Will Huntsberry tells the story of that meeting and parents’ latest reason to feel frustrated: allegations of misspending in the so-called Lincoln High Cluster. 

Mayoral candidate Tasha Williamson, who attended the meeting, summed up parents’ feelings.

“Parents have been ostracized and damaged by this school district. So there’s gonna have to be some wrongs righted,” Williamson told a school principal. “$400,000 – is it missing in La Jolla or Point Loma?”

City Attorney’s Office Asked Hueso Staffer to Destroy Email on Public Records Bill

Gerry Braun, a former journalist and current chief of staff to City Attorney Mara Elliott, tried to destroy public records about the city attorney office’s correspondence with state Sen. Ben Hueso’s office over a proposed law the two offices worked together on to weaken the state’s public records law.

NBC 7 San Diego obtained deposition transcripts of Braun and another city attorney staffer in which both acknowledged that they had asked a Hueso staffer to delete an email relating to SB 615, the proposal that would have made it harder to enforce the California Public Records Act.

Braun asked Hueso’s office to delete the email after attorney Cory Briggs had already issued a public records request for all correspondence between Hueso and Elliott’s office over SB 615.

Last year, VOSD’s Sara Libby reported that the law, introduced in the legislature by Hueso, was written by Elliott’s office. Hueso eventually pulled the bill under public pressure.

After NBC’s report was published Thursday, Elliott released on Twitter the email that Braun had asked to be deleted, arguing the request had been misinterpreted.

The email reflects that the law intended to make it harder for governments that willfully withhold public records to be forced to pay civil penalties.

Audit: City Needs to Bolster Homeless Outreach

A new city audit urges the city to retool its approach to homeless outreach and sweeps of homeless camps that have escalated in recent years plus take more strategic steps to implement its new homelessness plan.

The audit recommends that the city bolster homeless outreach efforts not helmed by police officers and take a more coordinated, data-driven approach to that work. It also calls for the city to do more to engage homeless San Diegans before it clears their camps during formal abatements.

“If the city does not conduct effective outreach when abating encampments where individuals are found to be present, homeless individuals may relocate to another location that may later also require abatement — thereby sometimes resulting in a repetitive and costly cycle of abatement and inefficient use of city resources,” auditors wrote.

The audit is the latest call for the city to pull back on its reliance on police officers to address homelessness. The city’s homelessness plan also suggested that the city settle on an outreach strategy that de-emphasizes the role of police officers and City Councilman Chris Ward, who chairs the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, has unsuccessfully pushed for a citywide outreach policy. He ultimately led efforts to adopt a regional one last month.

The audit also recommends that the city create a funding plan for its homelessness initiatives and take proactive steps to monitor and report its progress in implementing the city’s new homelessness plan.

In response to the audit, the city’s point person on homelessness wrote that city officials agreed with many of the report’s recommendations but noted that the city has already increased its outreach corps and that a regional pool of outreach workers is needed.

Keely Halsey, the city’s chief of homelessness strategies, also wrote that the city “cannot responsibly reduce non-law enforcement outreach” amid a countywide void of homeless outreach workers. 

Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s office announced Thursday that the city is seeking bids to build supportive housing on five city-owned properties.

An analysis by the state Legislative Analyst’s Office released earlier this week concluded that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s budget proposal fails to articulate clear strategy for combating homelessness and urges the state Legislature to develop one.

News Roundup

  • UC San Diego Health said Thursday that a miscommunication rather than mislabeling led a patient with coronavirus to accidentally be sent back to quarantine. (Times of San Diego)
  • New single-family homes in the county are now costing as much as $1 million. (Union-Tribune)
  • A San Diego police sergeant’s comment that aiming a Taser at someone can de-escalate tense police encounters didn’t go over well  at a City Council committee hearing earlier this week. (KPBS)
  • The rundown California Theatre building downtown has a new owner. (Union-Tribune)
  • Our latest San Diego Explained video provides some basics on CalWORKS, CalFresh and Medi-Cal, and the county’s role in administering them. 

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.

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