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Some homeless residents who received vouchers from the city of Encinitas stayed at an EconoLodge in April. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Encinitas, like many cities and counties, responded to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call to get homeless residents off the streets and protect them from the pandemic in local hotel and motel rooms. It was also a way to stop transmission of the virus. 

The city approved a plan to get up to 80 family units into hotels. 

The city has now cut that down to 22 households and sent about 50 back onto the streets. City officials said they simply could not afford to keep families off the streets any longer. Many of the residents told our Kayla Jimenez that the experience was bizarre, poorly planned and lacked support for their belongings or proper meals. 

But the homeless services provider who did the work on the city’s behalf said money wasn’t the reason he is cutting many of the families out. He told Jimenez he doesn’t want to keep housing some homeless residents in hotels because he worries they’ll get too complacent in searching for permanent housing.

How’s testing going? We’re still updating our daily coronavirus testing tracker. Here are the new numbers: Local institutions have told us they can do a combined 4,700 tests per day. For the last seven days, San Diego has averaged just 1,976 tests per day. The governor has recently said that we should be doing about 152 tests per 100,000 residents per day to be able to track the virus effectively and ease the lockdown. That would be about 5,200 tests per day in San Diego County. 

Smart Streetlights Aren’t Living Up to Their Name

The boosters of San Diego’s smart streetlights promised to transform the public planning process by giving people access to a trove of anonymous mobility and transit data that could then be used to make apps. 

But more than three years into the project, local researchers are having trouble doing that. Why? Because the data is either flawed or unavailable. Several talked to Jesse Marx about what they’re seeing and not seeing, and how they’d like to actually use the data in the future. 

In the meantime, city officials have acknowledged a lack of expertise internally and said they recently hired a data scientist to help. 

In 2016, the City Council agreed to accept a $30 million loan to roll out the devices across the city. That loan was supposed to be paid back with energy cost savings, because a big part of the project involved the upgrading of streetlights to LEDs. 

The costs of the project, though, are higher than officials anticipated. As our friends at NBC San Diego noted in February, the city is renegotiating its contract with an outside company that processes the data. 

SDSU Sends the City a Deal to Sign

Late Tuesday night, SDSU officials sent San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and City Attorney Mara Elliott hundreds of pages that make up a purchase and sale agreement for the stadium land in Mission Valley they want to redevelop. 

No, negotiations did not stop because of some little virus. City leaders are anxious to get the deal done by the end of June. They want two things: the money. It’s about $88 million. And they do not want to include the costs of operating and maintaining the old stadium in next year’s budget. 

So that means city lawyers need to review it in just about a week so it can be presented to the City Council and public by May 5 and considered at a Council meeting May 19. 

We have not gotten our hands on it yet. City Councilwoman Barbara Bry told us Wednesday that the city attorney should have no trouble with it. 

“It has taken too long already and we are planning our budget around the sale of this property,” Bry said. “The city attorney has had her opportunities all along to be involved.”

The city attorney said her team will review it. 

“I think the City Council would appreciate someone doing the due diligence up front to make sure they are not surprised by something like the ticket guarantee in the future,” said Elliott. “The sooner the better, and we’re all ready to bring this home.”

Faulconer Announces Moves to Let San Diegans Step Up 2 the Streets

Some streets will be partially closed beginning Thursday for easier pedestrian access, the Union-Tribune reports. 

The streets are in Pacific Beach, North Park, Normal Heights and Hillcrest. Another location in southeastern San Diego will be announced. 

The mayor’s plan also includes opening up certain commuter bikeways, including the SR-56 Bikeway, the San Diego River Bikeway from Ocean Beach east to Mission Valley, Rose Creek Bikeway, Rose Canyon Bikeway, the SR-52 Bikeway and Murphy Canyon along I-15 and Lake Hodges Bridge, according to the mayor’s office.

Oceanside Officials Vote to Close an Elementary School

When some Oceanside elementary school students eventually return to their physical classrooms, it won’t mark the end of disruptions to their school experience.

Kayla Jimenez reports in the latest North County Report that the Oceanside Unified school board decided this week to permanently close Garrison Elementary School, which was damaged by sinkholes, and revamp and modernize San Luis Rey Elementary School to accommodate both schools’ students.

Some teachers and community members urged the school board to instead build a new school altogether and expressed concerns about environmental issues near San Luis Rey.

Meanwhile, beaches in several North County communities opened back up for certain uses this week, while beaches in Carlsbad, Del Mar and Solana Beach remain closed for now.

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