The Morning Report
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Terry Goffigan and Lisa Brotzman embrace each other in front of the scene of a deadly crash on B Street, where they both sheltered overnight. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Just last week, our Lisa Halverstadt wrote that Mayor Todd Gloria faced a major dilemma with the homeless tent encampments that are expanding around the city. He hasn’t significantly slowed the enforcement and cleanup efforts the previous mayor began. Yet there are more tents — mostly downtown but strewn throughout the city’s streets, canyons and parks.

The urgency of the crisis became horrifically clear Monday when three people who lived in tents died and several others suffered severe injuries after a driver ran off the road under a bridge near City College.

The scene led the mayor to say we cannot keep allowing people to live like that. Halverstadt writes, though, that he still hasn’t explained what he plans to change.

What happened: Police said the driver is a 71-year-old man who has been charged with vehicular manslaughter, felony DUI and causing great bodily injury while committing a felony. San Diego Police Chief Chief David Nisleit “said the driver walked over to the victims and police heard from witnesses that the driver tried to help some of those who were hurt,” NBC San Diego reported. “When he saw police officers arrive at the scene, the driver identified himself.”

Coastal Bluff Tunnel Vision

A bluff collapsed on Feb. 28, 2021, near railroad tracks in Del Mar. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The San Diego region has spent millions in recent years repairing the crumbling coastal bluffs propping up the train tracks that connect San Diego to Los Angeles, only to see them erode and demand stabilizing repairs yet again.

Regional leaders are now working on a long-term solution. Now, you may think that tunneling under one of the richest and most beautiful parts of California would be easy and free of complications but you would be mistaken, as MacKenzie Elmer covers in a deep dive into Del Mar’s boring problem.

It’s not too hard of a physics and geological problem, though. Along the bluff, wind, rain and the ocean aren’t going to stop compromising the sandstone under the tracks, but further inland, that sandstone is plenty suitable to tunnel through.  Of four possible new routes, planners now favor one that allows trains to travel fastest, with a tunnel ending by the Del Mar fairgrounds.

“It’s 100 percent doable,” a geologist who has worked on the project told Elmer. “From a scientific and technical standpoint, there’s no effect on the surface whatsoever,” Feistel said.

Including money spent since 2000 and planned expenditures that haven’t been made, transportation agencies have already dedicated $128 million to patching the problem.

What’s in the Water

City officials recently updated their projections about the Pure Water project, which will recycle sewage and turn it into drinkable water, to show that the city will eventually get half of its drinking water from the effort.

But as a new city audit flags, “the watchdogs working on the back end to investigate what industries might be spilling bad things into our sewer system aren’t yet best equipped to do their job,” Elmer reports in the latest Environment Report.

Why does this matter?

“If we don’t know what’s in the water, we can’t be sure how to best treat it,” Elmer notes.

The audit found that the city’s Industrial Wastewater Control Program is understaffed and is working inefficiently. It could be “missing hundreds of businesses we didn’t know about that might leak toxic waste into the sewer — and subsequently into our future drinking water.”

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby, and edited by Scott Lewis.

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