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The giant lemon in Lemon Grove / Photo by Kinsee Morlan

Voters in Lemon Grove are being asked to approve a sales tax increase proponents say will save the city from being run by the County Board of Supervisors, but public finance experts aren’t so sure the new revenue will be anything more than a temporary reprieve.

In a new story, Bella Ross outlines the debate over roughly $3 million in new revenue city staff expects the small East County city to generate if voters approve Measure S.

Without the tax increase, city officials expect Lemon Grove – facing increased pension and public safety costs – could see its reserves fall below 25 percent of its budget within five years. That could lead to disincorporation, with the city ceasing to be run by its own City Council and instead becoming part of the unincorporated county, though city officials have not contemplated how or on what timeline that would occur.

But an expert in local government finance argues that could still happen regardless. Nationwide, sales tax revenues are trending downward. Even with the new, higher rate, if the overall trend continues as it has, and the city’s expenses continue to grow, Lemon Grove could in a few years be right back where it is today.

D1 Candidates Want to Expand Staffing, Outreach for Assistance Programs

The candidate who wins the D1 seat on the County Board of Supervisors will represent the biggest share of users of certain county services.

All of the Democratic candidates running in the March primary say they want to help eliminate barriers to accessing services for vulnerable residents and increase staffing to help those services reach more people, Maya Srikrishnan reports: “Some candidates want to use a mobile center to get programs to communities in the county’s furthest reaches. Some want to focus on county workers’ compensation and pensions.”

Judge Grants Injunction Against Instacart

San Diego Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor, who’s been presiding over the San Diego city attorney’s lawsuit against grocery delivery app Instacart, made it official: He granted an injunction against the company affirming that it has been misclassifying its workers as independent contractors. The injunction only applies to San Diego.

The case is part of a massive reckoning in the wake of a state Supreme Court ruling and a landmark state law to sort out what it means to be an employee in the age of the gig economy. 

“This decision is also a warning to other companies to do right by their employees. As the court said, ‘The handwriting is on the wall.’ California has had two years since the Supreme Court’s Dynamex decision to distinguish between a contractor and an employee. Everyone, not just Instacart, must live up to their legal responsibilities; they cannot ignore the significance of what occurred here,” City Attorney Mara Elliott wrote in a statement.

Instacart said in its own statement that is plans to appeal, and Taylor encouraged the Court of Appeal to take up this still-developing area of the law quickly so that businesses like Instacart have more guidance and certainty: “Frankly, the sooner the Court of Appeal can hold forth on these issues, the sooner the parties will have a clear and definite signal of what is expected of them,” Taylor wrote.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Megan Wood and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.

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