Transit officers check for trolley tickets at the La Mesa station in 2016. / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

Over the last five years, MTS officials have quadrupled the number of tickets they hand out for fare evasion on San Diego public transit. As ticketing has gone up, so has the number of poor people who get dragged into lengthy court proceedings and ultimately debt collection. 

VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt analyzed all of the fare evasion tickets issued during one week in June 2019 and her findings were astounding. A full 86 percent of the tickets remained unresolved a year later. That ultimately leads fare evasion tickets to go up from $193 to roughly $500. 

Most of those tickets then get sent on to debt collectors. 

One woman racked up 17 tickets in one week and now owes $8,000. 

Halverstadt details the story of one man who could no longer afford the sober living facility he was living in because of his tickets. When some of the fines were docked from his paycheck, he could no longer pay his rent. 

The man is now living with his mother and can’t rent his own place. Even though he has enough money for rent and a deposit, he said, he can’t pass a credit check. 

“It’s all because of the trolley,” he said. 

On Thursday, the MTS board will consider a pilot program that might help some fare avoiders escape lengthy court battles and debt collection. 

Meet the Teen Activists Behind North County Protests

Protests in North County, like the many others across the country, were spurred by the violent death of black men and women at the hands of police officers. 

But they were also unique in some ways. Many people voiced one particular insight: “I can’t believe this is happening here.”

“That so many of the protests that sprung up across some of the more conservative pockets of North County over the last month felt different from how civic affairs typically play out in those spaces might be explained by who was behind those protests,” writes Kayla Jimenez. 

Jimenez introduces us to several young people, some of whom are still in high school, that helped organize some of the protests, despite no previous organizing experience. 

“Hey, would anyone come if I started a protest?” wrote one 17-year-old on Instagram. She got an overwhelming response and by the end of the day her and dozens of others were protesting at Escondido City Hall.  

City Council Signs Off on Mission Valley Stadium Deal

The San Diego City Council signed off Wednesday on the sale of the old Mission Valley stadium site to San Diego State University, which plans to develop the approximately 130 acres into retail, housing, a river park and more as part of an expanded campus. The deal was finalized weeks ago, but the final wording of the compromises still needed official blessing in the legal docs. 

The vote was 8-1. The deal was made possible by a ballot measure in November 2018. 

City Council President Georgette Gómez said in a press release: “Thanks to the voters and the hard work of staff at the City and SDSU, Mission Valley will soon be home to a vibrant university expansion, a beautiful River Park, and badly needed new housing — all with direct access to our trolley system.

City Councilman Scott Sherman was the lone no vote. His spokesman, Jeff Powell, told us that Sherman had a problem with language in the purchase and sale agreements that could, in his eyes, “create a loophole for SDSU that keeps them from paying tens of millions in future taxes on the property.”

Parking Enforcement Is Coming Back

San Diego will resume enforcement of all parking regulations on July 1 but will be issuing warnings for the first two weeks. The city announced that citations and fines will begin again for most street violations on July 15. 

In March, the city pulled back many of its meter readers and officers to help monitor closed beaches and parking lots as state and local stay-at-home orders went into place. Enforcement related to street sweeping, metered parking and others were temporarily suspended. 

But officers were still issuing tickets for various safety hazards. As Halverstadt wrote in April, the mayor’s directive to ramp down enforcement still required police to cite handicapped parking violators and those parked in red no-stopping zones and white loading zones for more than a few minutes. 

In Other News

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

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