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Racquel Fick, who is homeless in Carlsbad, has been unsure where she can safely stay during the coronavirus pandemic. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

After the coronavirus began to spread, San Diego officials quickly converted the Convention Center into a temporary shelter. But thousands more, especially those outside the city, remain on the outside

Many of them have express confusion and concern over what Lisa Halverstadt and Kayla Jimenez describe as mostly sluggish efforts to provide new shelter options in other cities. 

Some relief dollars are starting to flow in. In many cases, though, the additional safe havens could take weeks to materialize, and the ones starting to become available aren’t immediately able to meet the demand.

One advocate, Vanessa Graziano, has been raising money in Oceanside to put more homeless people into hotel rooms during the shelter-in-place order. It’s a precarious position to be in. If she’s unable to, say, come up with a few hundred dollars in a single day, that might mean kids will sleep on the streets that same night. 

Oceanside’s neighborhood services department said it had moved more than 50 people into county hotel rooms since the pandemic began. Some have since been placed in other programs or permanent housing, while others have left the rooms for a variety of reasons.

In the meantime, a U.S. District Court judge has denied an emergency order filed by disabled homeless San Diegans to halt ticketing and impoundment of the vehicles they’re living in. Halverstadt wrote last month about how San Diego police were continuing to cite the homeless during the pandemic despite CDC and City Council directives. 

The Union-Tribune also reported that as of Friday, the first and only person cited for violating Chula Vista’s emergency orders had been a homeless man with a history of mental illness

Faulconer’s Hotels-to-Housing Plan Faces Setback

The San Diego Housing Commission decided Friday not to move forward with any of the 10 hotel properties that it was interested in purchasing and renovating for homeless residents. 

That wasn’t the best of news for Mayor Kevin Faulconer, but as Andrew Keatts writes, the idea of acquiring financially distressed hotels during the pandemic and repositioning them as long-term housing for homeless people is gaining steam at a statewide level. Gov. Gavin Newsom championed a similar idea in his latest proposed budget. 

The commission, which already set aside money for the purchases, could still move to identify new properties and negotiate a lease-to-own deal with the owner. Any plan would still require City Council approval, though. 

Forging a Path Through a Pandemic Graduation

The coronavirus has destroyed lives and livelihoods. It’s also robbed students of the ability to conclude high school this month by donning the cap and gown and receiving a diploma in front of loved ones. 

For trailblazing teens, many of whom are the first in their families to graduate, the unceremonious end of high school is a particularly cruel reality. Adriana Heldiz took portraits and interviewed several seniors about what the last weeks have been like and what the future holds

NBC San Diego also highlighted siblings who became the first in their family to graduate from college. The celebration was held in their living room. SDSU’s virtual commencement took place Saturday. 

Politics Roundup

  • In an appearance on Fox News, County Supervisor Jim Desmond doubled down on his contention that the county has had only six purely coronavirus deaths because the others represent people with underlying health conditions.
  • Serious question: Is SDSU bluffing? Negotiations over the Mission Valley stadium site are getting tense, and the university’s representative recently told the city to take their latest purchase agreement or leave it. Voters gave the city permission to sell the property in 2018. 
  • The November ballot is coming together, and it’s gonna be a good one in San Diego. It’ll include proposals to change the way we elect City Council members and — perhaps most divisive of all — an attempt to reduce coastal height limits in Midway. Scott Lewis, Sara Libby and Andrew Keatts discussed these and more on the podcast. 
  • The eviction moratorium is a ticking time bomb, because it doesn’t absolve tenants from their rents: It merely delays those payments. With this in mind, California Senate leaders unveiled a new proposal giving renters 10 years to make good on payments. 

Political Affiliation Alters One’s View of the Pandemic

Several press reports this weekend were a depressing reminder that much of the public debate around the coronavirus is just team red versus team blue — political partisanship masquerading as independent thought. 

Hundreds gathered in downtown San Diego to demand businesses and churches reopen, some waving President Donald Trump flags. The conservative speakers included TV talk show host Graham Ledger, former San Diego Mayor Roger Hedgecock and Oceanside City Councilman Christopher Rodriguez, who’s called on businesses to defy public health orders.

Meanwhile, U-T columnist Michael Smolens considered political divisions over face coverings. Riverside County just lifted a requirement that people wear masks outdoors. A city responded with stricter social-distancing guidelines.

To drive the point home, Smolens highlighted a number of polls, including this one from CNN: 82 percent of Democrats say the federal government is doing a poor job responding to the crisis, while 80 percent of Republicans say it’s doing a good one. 

In Other News

  • Joe Leventhal, a former ethics commissioner and City Council candidate, argues in an op-ed that current City Council members who want to save money should look no further than their own budgets — the vast majority of these budgets go to the hiring of political staff. 
  • The Sheriff’s Department continues to book suspects on minor, nonviolent offenses during the pandemic. A U-T analysis shows that a quarter of arrests were for public intoxication and other misdemeanors. 
  • Mexico’s official coronavirus death count is a mystery because of a lack of tests. Some death certificates are listing “probable COVID-19″ as the cause. (Los Angeles Times) 
  • Four casinos in San Diego County are reopening. Gov. Gavin Newsom urged the tribes reconsider. The county’s public health officer acknowledged the sovereignty of tribes but said she would review their plans. (Union-Tribune, NBC San Diego) 

Correction

Thursday’s story about North County parents demanding schools provide letter grades for online coursework misquoted parent Kim McLachlan in one instance. Her full quote was, “I’m a doctor and everyone thinks I make a lot of money, but I still need him to get a merit scholarship, because I already have two kids in college.”

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.

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