Homes overlook San Elijo Lagoon in Encinitas. / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

Encinitas is getting close to cracking down on natural gas used to heat homes and businesses, but the city of San Diego isn’t quite ready to follow the smaller city’s lead.

That’s despite one fifth of the city’s emissions coming from natural gas used in buildings, as opposed to any natural gas used in power plants to make electricity. The city adopted a policy more than five years ago that commits it to relying on only renewable sources for electricity by 2035, but that policy specifically excludes fossil fuels used to heat water, in stoves or to keep residents warm. And, the city earlier this year inked a new 10-year deal with SDG&E that guarantees the city will keep delivering gas to city residents.

Now, as city staff write an update to its Climate Action Plan, it’s not committed to committing to building electrification — though it hasn’t ruled it out yet, either, as MacKenzie Elmer writes in a new story.

“All things are on the table right now,” said Alyssa Muto, director of sustainability and mobility for the city.

Encinitas, meanwhile, is on the verge of adopting an electrification commitment. Its policy would ensure all new buildings are equipped to power everything through electricity. Last month, the Encinitas City Council decided not to approve the policy, though, instead directing city staff to re-write it to remove exemptions for certain buildings.

Even still, the Encinitas policy wouldn’t yet mandate retrofits for existing buildings, limiting how much it could do to reduce emissions, even if every other city in the county adopted the same thing.

“We build about 1 percent of the building stock each year, so it’s a relatively small amount but overtime can build up,” said Scott Anders, director of the Energy Policy Initiatives Center at the University of San Diego, which assisted Encinitas on its ordinance. “Even if everybody in San Diego did an all-electric requirement for new construction, there’s still a lot of gas in the existing infrastructure used in homes, businesses and industrial settings.”

School Is Back in Session

San Diego Unified opened all schools for full-time, in-person learning for the first time during the pandemic Monday. The district is requiring all students to wear masks both indoors and outdoors on campus, the Union-Tribune reports. All staff must either be fully vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID testing. Students must also undergo weekly testing at school if their family hasn’t opted them out of regular testing.

Although the district is offering remote learning options, most students are going back in person. Fewer than 800 of the district’s roughly 100,000 students signed up for the district’s virtual school.

Solana Beach School District is also requiring students to wear masks outdoors — a step beyond what is required by the California Department of Public Health.

Preparing for the Return of ‘Remain in Mexico’

Remain in Mexico was recently resurrected when the Supreme Court decided not to overturn the decision of a federal judge in North Texas, who ruled that President Joe Biden violated the Administrative Procedures Act in his attempt to end the policy.

In this week’s Border Report, Gustavo Solis wrote about all of the issues the program has seen since it’s been implemented in light of its resurrection and captures local responses to the decision. It’s not clear how quickly Remain in Mexico will be reinstated.

Quiz Time

Mayor Todd Gloria joined us on the podcast last week to discuss San Diego Specials, a term he coined to refer to a persistent problem in local government that should be solvable but has stuck around due to a lack of vision or leadership.

Which of the following issues was not on his list of San Diego Specials?

  1. Airport trolley connection
  2. Scooters
  3. Downtown public restrooms
  4. The Convention Center

Scroll to the bottom of this newsletter for the answer.

In Other News

  • High Tech High CEO Rasheed Meadows announced that the board that oversees the collection of schools had come to a deal recognizing its new teachers union, the High Tech High Education Collective. “Today’s agreement is an important step toward achieving the vision outlined in our new strategic plan and fostering organizational unity among High Tech High staff, families, and students,” he wrote. 
  • Cryptic Supes: County Supervisors Nathan Fletcher and Jim Desmond have something they want to say, it seems. Fletcher tweeted this out midday Monday: “COVID-19 dis-information is a public health crisis.” And a little while later, Desmond posted this: “We wouldn’t be a country today if a group of people didn’t question those in power.” Later, we got at least some clarity: Today, the board is considering a vote to declare COVID-19 misinformation a public health crisis, as Times of San Diego reported.
  • South Bay cities have developed their COVID-19 stimulus spending plans. Much of the money will go towards creating grant programs for people affected by the pandemic, recovering revenue loss and restoring infrastructure and community spaces. (Union-Tribune)

Quiz answer: 3. Downtown public restrooms.

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