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Voters cast ballots at a polling place in Barrio Logan. / Photo by Maya Srikrishnan.

San Diego’s deadline for applications to serve on its redistricting commission came and went last week, and Latino residents represented just 13 percent of its 102 submissions, despite accounting for 31 percent of the city’s population.

San Diego County’s deadline is at the end of the month, but its applications thus far underrepresent Latino residents as well. And Chula Vista had just five applications total last month, ahead of its end-of-month deadline.

In San Diego’s District 8, which is over 70 percent Latino, there were just four applicants.

“Thirteen percent is very disappointing for anyone who cares about San Diego,” said former Councilman David Alvarez, who represented District 8. “Lack of representation really matters and this is a reflection of the lack of diversity in civic institutions.”

The redistricting commissions will be in charge of next year’s effort to redraw political boundaries based on regional demographics from this year’s Census. They’ll hire the staff that will conduct the technical work and public outreach, and ultimately approve final maps.

The city received more applications to serve on the committee this year than it did 10 years ago, during the last redistricting process, despite the COVID-19 pandemic that blunted outreach efforts during the spring.

Nonetheless, organizers told Andrew Keatts and Maya Srikrishnan that the failure of applications to reflect the region’s demographics reflects a broader problem in San Diego.

“It was a hard-fought battle to ensure District 8 and District 4 were created decades ago and to see that despite that hard work, we haven’t been able to engage those communities with city leaders and fold them into civic decision-making is very unfortunate and we in these communities will pay the consequences for that,” said Christian Ramirez, a former Council candidate and Sherman Heights resident.

Tijuana Sewage Lawsuits on Hold as Feds Dangle $300 Million

Several groups, including the city of Imperial Beach, have been tied up in lawsuits trying to force better containment of Tijuana sewage spills that affect Southern California’s coastline. 

But now the groups have “agreed to put down their proverbial legal swords for a period of 12 months while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency puts a stack of cash to work on the decades-long sewage issue plaguing the Tijuana River watershed,” writes MacKenzie Elmer. 

The EPA has up to $300 million to put into projects that might stem the flow of sewage. But what the agency will do and how fast it will do it remains to be seen. 

Before the EPA begins any work, “it first wants to analyze all the solutions that have already been studied and proposed – some that cost California more than half a million dollars to reach,” Elmer wrote. 

After completing an analysis of proposed solutions, the EPA will decide exactly what projects to focus on and how much it will spend. 

For now, the groups that previously sued will have up to a year to decide whether or not they want to continue pushing their case in court. 

Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated the amount San Diego County spent in state funds to identify which Tijuana River projects to prioritize. It was $500,000.

Teachers’ Union Demands Could Derail Back-to-School Plans

The San Diego Unified teachers’ union is laying out demands for certain benchmarks to be met before teachers return to the classroom, NBC 7 reports. 

The union wants there to be a downward trajectory, or near zero instances, of new coronavirus cases for 14 straight days. Teachers also want frequent testing of students and staff. And they want necessary prevention measures to be fully funded.  

None of those requirements is currently being met. The number of new coronavirus cases is holding relatively steady. There is no plan for robust school testing. And right now, San Diego Unified officials have said they only have funding to safely operate for half the school year. 

Last month, San Diego Unified officials passed a plan that would bring students back to the classroom on August 31. It’s unclear if the union will challenge that start date if its criteria aren’t met. 

VOSD’s Scott Lewis predicted last month that school reopening would become a big political issue. And Will Huntsberry wrote about one of the first reopening plans in the state which gave families an option for full-time physical school, full-time distance learning or a hybrid model created by Cajon Valley Union School District.  

In Other News

  • A San Diego woman said she was fired from her job because children disrupted her work calls. The woman was working as an executive assistant for an insurance brokerage. Her boss allegedly told her “to take care of your kid situation.” (New York Times)
  • San Diego County recorded another daily high in coronavirus cases Wednesday, City News Service reported. County health officials want San Diego to have fewer than seven COVID-19 outbreaks, defined as three or more cases traced to the same location, at any given time. Active outbreaks are one of the key indicators they’re looking at to determine how many businesses can open. Right now, the county is tracking 24 community outbreaks, the most on record, according to KPBS reporter Tarryn Mento.Of those 24 outbreaks, 16 came from bars or restaurants, which the state closed in San Diego County this week, after county officials last week declined to do so even while acknowledging that the data suggested it was inevitable.
  • The long-vacant central post office in Point Loma, on Midway Drive, is finally slated for demolition, the first step in an eventual redevelopment for new housing. (NBC 7) 
  • A deadly rabbit virus has been detected in San Diego. But there’s probably nothing to worry about. When was the last time a virus spread from animals to humans and caused problems for any significant number of people? (KPBS)
  • One big difference between a proposal to regulate short-term vacation rentals a few years ago, and one making its way through City Hall right now, is the chaos COVID-19 unleashed on the vacation rental industry, argues Union-Tribune columnist Michael Smolens. 
  • SDPD released graphic footage of officers shooting a man at police headquarters after he allegedly escaped from handcuffs and got a hold of an officer’s backup gun. (NBC 7)
  • San Diego County is now accepting applications from small businesses or nonprofits looking to tap a $17 million COVID-19 relief program. (Union-Tribune)
  • The state is accepting public feedback for its plan for a suicide prevention project on the Coronado Bridge, the Union-Tribune reported. The so-called “bird spikes” placed on the bridge to deter suicides seemingly haven’t been working, as we reported earlier this year.

The Morning Report was written by Will Huntsberry and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.

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