James Robinson, 45, has managed to remain consistently employed since he became homeless in 2018 but has struggled to access housing, a challenge he said he believes is tied to his race. / Photo by Lisa Halverstadt

The Regional Task Force on the Homeless has for years documented Black San Diegans’ overrepresentation in the region’s homeless population.

Black people made up less than 6 percent of the county’s population but 22 percent of its homeless population, according to last year’s homeless census. The Convention Center was turned into a temporary shelter during the pandemic and recent numbers from the city show that 28 percent of its occupants were Black. 

Now, two members of the task force are pushing to create an advisory group focused specifically on addressing Black homelessness, reports VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt.

Los Angeles went through a similar, high-profile review of its own data and offered possible solutions two years ago. 

San Diego’s task force is set to discuss and vote on its effort Thursday.

New Surveillance Rules Clear First Hurdle

As we wrote last week, San Diego is considering a surveillance ordinance that will force officials to think more carefully about the financial and social implications of the technology it deploys. With the help of activists, City Councilwoman Monica Montgomery is also championing the creation of a privacy advisory commission.

Both proposals unanimously passed the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee, which Montgomery chairs, on Wednesday. Council members Barbara Bry, Vivian Moreno and Chris Cate all voted yes.

Much of the committee’s attention was on the city’s smart streetlights program, which began as an energy cost-savings effort but evolved into a tool for law enforcement without public input or deliberation. Montgomery acknowledged that the cameras had helped solve crimes, but said “today’s action is about transparency and without oversight these powerful technologies can be misused and abused.”

The surveillance ordinance is on its way to the larger City Council but may also need to go through a legal process known as “meet and confer” with union representatives because it could subject employees to discipline for abusing technology. The City Attorney’s Office is reviewing.

In the meantime, Cate promised to produce a memo highlighting possible conflicts he sees in the ordinance as written. During Wednesday’s meeting, he asked if officials could quickly deploy some tech (say a fire department drone) in an emergency. That’ll be a point of discussion later.

The privacy advisory commission goes next to the city’s Rules Committee. 

Here’s What We Know About School Reopenings

San Diego Unified’s decision not to reopen classrooms in the fall and instead move learning online is a big deal. But whether that decision will sway other school districts is an open question. 

Some have begun releasing their plans for the coming weeks and months but have yet to make any final decisions. They still need input from the community and, of course, from their respective boards of education. 

Several are looking at a hybrid model of learning in which students spend part of their time in a classroom and part of their time in front of a computer. 

Kayla Jimenez rounded up the various plans that have been released so far in the North County Report

An Update on VOSD’s Diversity Efforts

Voice of San Diego’s staff and board collaborated on a joint statement about our commitment to diversity and inclusion, and how improving our representation of the community will be central to our ability to grow and connect with a much broader audience.

Right now, our newsroom demographics are significantly different than those of San Diego County — the community that we serve. We’re proud of the investigations we’ve done exposing racial inequities and the efforts to make our products, including the annual Parents’ Guide to Public Schools, available in Spanish to reach more people. But we recognize we have a lot of work to do.

In this message to our readers, we lay out our newsroom demographics, how our lack of diversity limits us and outline the steps we are taking to ensure our newsroom is a more inclusive place.  

People Have Opinions

  • San Diego City Councilman Chris Cate argues in an op-ed that the coronavirus is serious, but so is the economic harm to small businesses, which account for almost 98 percent of all San Diego companies.
  • Meanwhile, Jason Riggs, founder of the San Diego Stadium Coalition, argues in a separate op-ed that the Sports Arena property is a pivotally important project that San Diegans should be weighing in on. Riggs’ coalition supports the ASM Global and Brookfield Properties plan and he raises several questions about the Toll Brothers and Malmuth Development.

In Other News

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

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