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Transit officers Xavier Herrera and Jose Morales check for trolley tickets. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The Metropolitan Transit System made a decision several years ago to step up its enforcement of fare evasions and other quality of life issues on buses and trolleys. It led to an explosion of tickets that disproportionately affected people of color.

If someone failed to pay a ticket and then missed a court hearing, a $2.50 ride could easily balloon into several hundred dollars in debt that was picked up by a collections agency.

Manny Guaderrama, a former SDPD officer and the architect of the agency’s bolstered enforcement effort, is now on his way out. As Lisa Halverstadt reports in a new story, MTS announced Monday that Guaderrama will retire at the end of August as head of the agency’s transit enforcement and conduct a national search for his replacement.

MTS has a quasi-public security team made up of full-time code compliance officers and private guards. None of them go through the same training as cops.

In 2017, Guaderrama pitched the MTS board on doubling the number of code compliance officers, allowing for more enforcement on a beat system more typical of police agencies. The board agreed.

But since then, the agency’s leadership has changed and the new board is more sympathetic to the region’s wider police reform movement. They’ve called for a less punitive approach and in June approved a pilot program so that people accused of evading fares had the option to pay a lesser fine or complete community service. 

Despair in Senior Care

Coronavirus senior citizens
Natasha Josefowitz looks beyond her balcony at the White Sands Retirement Community in La Jolla. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Despite recent guidance permitting, at a minimum, outdoor visits, many senior care homes throughout the county are staying in lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Facilities are cautious following a rise in cases, and a grim statistic that 42 percent of coronavirus-linked deaths nationwide have occurred in longterm care facilities.

But some families, doctors and advocacy groups are advocating for an expansion in visitation, citing isolation that can trigger a decline in health. VOSD contributor Jared Whitlock spoke to residents in assisted living facilities and their families to learn more about the impact isolation has had.

“My mom never complains. She’s of that generation, and she’s a Texan,” said Jan Thompson, whose mom lives at Monte Vista Village in Lemon Grove. “But she’s now reflecting in our conversations, ‘What is there to live for?’”

Water Bills Are Likely Going Up

Last month, the San Diego County Water Authority approved a 5 percent increase over the objection of San Diego City Council President Georgette Gómez, who argued that the timing couldn’t be worse. Unemployment is sky high because of COVID. 

But the agency that oversees the distribution of water to the region has said COVID is part of the reason why residents and businesses need to pay more

As MacKenzie Elmer explains, the Water Authority is in the business of buying and selling water and its sales have dropped 14 percent because we’re collectively consuming less during the pandemic. We also just had a wet winter, meaning the reservoirs and soils aren’t as parched as they have been during past droughts.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, Megan Wood and edited by Scott Lewis.

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