Photo courtesy of MTS

San Diegans who meet certain requirements and can show with a doctor’s written prescription that they suffer from a disability are entitled to reduced bus and trolley rides. Yet the Metropolitan Transit System has declined hundreds of those requests.

Lisa Halverstadt reports that, over the last three years, the agency rejected about 1,660 of the roughly 5,660 long-form applications, or nearly a third. Another third were deemed incomplete.

“A contingent of advocates, health care providers and MTS riders with disabilities have criticized the flood of denials and say they point to a broken system for doling out discounted fares and passes the agency is required to offer qualified riders with disabilities as a condition of federal funds it receives,” Halverstadt writes.

Patients with mental health conditions rarely receive discounted passes. Others described confusion about the form itself.

For years, MTS has defended itself against these criticisms by maintaining that its requirements are consistent with Federal Transit Administration policies — even though it’s placed a higher bar for approval on applications than at least one nearby transit agency.

Both the CEO and board chair are signaling that changes are on the way. 

San Diego Mayoral Candidates Split on Transit

City Councilwoman Barbara Bry has cleared up any confusion on where she stands in relation to an ambitious new transit. She’s against it. She said rail-based transportation was “out of date” and would destroy “our neighborhoods.”

SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata recently unveiled his $177 billion plan to fundamentally change the way San Diegans move around. The regional planning agency is governed by elected leaders from each city and the county, and it’s particularly important where San Diego stands because of its size and voting power. 

In effect, Bry, a Democrat, has aligned herself with the conservative opposition at SANDAG, which for years has been arguing that on-demand autonomous vehicles are the real future of transportation and that roads are where the agency’s investments should be primarily going. 

Her mayoral opponent, Assemblyman Todd Gloria, is supportive of Ikhrata’s plan. 

The District 3 Board of Supervisors race has also emerged as a crucial one for Ikhrata’s plan, as Jesse Marx reported earlier this month. 

Surprise! Indoor Activities Reopening for Some Businesses

Without warning, California gave San Diego the green light to reopen indoor activities at restaurants, salons, gyms, churches and other places of business at limited capacity Monday. The county hastily called a press conference Friday to talk about the change, but one of its own, Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, boycotted the briefing. 

“I believe we should take a more cautious and safe approach to re-opening than what was outlined today,” he tweeted. “My concerns are with the size, scope and speed of what is being reopened on Monday.”

The county, he said, was only now seeing improvements after a previous round of reopenings in June led to an uptick in outbreaks.

Politics Roundup

Sen. Brian Jones’ announcement last week that he’d tested positive for COVID-19 prevented the entire Republican Caucus from entering the Capitol. With only days remaining in this year’s abbreviated session, senators were allowed Friday to vote on the last-minute dash of legislation remotely.

Andrew Keatts wrote last week about the origins of single-family zoning in San Diego, which account for 70 percent of residential land and will be untouched under Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s push for housing reform. Keatts walked us through the segregated history of our city on the podcast

A resident of City Council District 9 argues in an op-ed that Kelvin Barrios should drop out of the race. The district attorney’s Public Integrity Unit is investigating a complaint that he embezzled money out of a local Democratic club where he served as treasurer. 

In Other News

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

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