The exterior of Dr. Tara Zandvliet's office in South Park / Photo by Megan Wood

Dr. Tara Zandvliet, who years ago became well-known as the vaccine exemption doctor of choice in San Diego, has now had her ability to prescribe narcotics taken away.

According to accusations filed by the Medical Board, the South Park doctor over-prescribed opioids to at least four of her patients. In one case, she prescribed a woman 10 times the recommended daily dose of opioids for almost six years.

In addition to not being able to prescribe painkillers for five years, Zandvliet will also be required to take a class on best prescribing practices and undergo an evaluation of her clinical competence, according to a new settlement agreement.

In March 2019, Will Huntsberry revealed that Zandvliet had written 141 student vaccine exemptions, accounting for nearly one-third of all exemptions in the San Diego Unified School District. At the time she was placed on three years of professional probation for issuing exemptions that were deemed grossly negligent.

In a new story, Huntsberry spoke with two parents whose son was a patient of Zandvliet and became addicted to opioids. They said they don’t necessarily believe she is responsible for their son’s opiate addiction, but do believe she is complicit.

Click here to read more about Zandvliet’s practice and the new settlement.

Another Delay for Vacation Rental Rules

The City Council voted Tuesday to delay the implementation of long-awaited vacation rental regulations that had been set to go into effect July 1.

The rules aimed at limiting the number of rentals in the city are now set to be enacted up to nine months after the state Coastal Commission fully signs off on them.

The Coastal Commission, which must approve the regulations in the coastal zone, has said it expects to review the city’s proposed regulations in March, but commissioners could order changes that force city officials to return to the City Council to pitch changes. The city has decided to wait to enact the rules citywide.

Tricia Mendenhall of the city treasurer’s office told council members the postponed implementation date will allow more time for the Coastal Commission process and city preparations and also give more notice to rental operators accepting bookings for later this year.

Councilman Joe LaCava, who opposed the vacation rental rules last year, was the sole vote against the delayed implementation. 

Related: 10 News reports that Chula Vista’s new vacation rental rules took effect Tuesday.

City, Businesses Grapple With Homeless Camps

What remained of a homeless camp in the Midway District after an encampment clean-up on Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Tuesday kicked off with a major clean-up effort at a Midway District homeless camp that has grown dramatically in recent months. A city spokeswoman told Voice of San Diego that the operation went forward mostly without incident early Tuesday and that no homeless residents were arrested as the city cleared a portion of the Sports Arena Boulevard camp that has recently covered much of the stretch between Pacific Highway and Rosecrans Street.

But business owners told NBC 7 San Diego they were frustrated when some homeless residents began to return to the area after the clean-up.

In a statement, a spokesman for Mayor Todd Gloria clarified that the city did not expect the Tuesday operation to remove the camp altogether.

“(Tuesday’s) action was aimed at immediately remediating health hazards in the context of a sustained, long-term effort to persuade unhoused residents to move off the streets into shelter,” spokesman Dave Rolland wrote in an email. “We have always understood – and communicated – that fully clearing the encampment will require repeated clean-up operations and continued outreach.”

City crews are set to return to Midway Thursday morning to clean another portion of the camp — and Rolland said the city will continue regular clean-up operations and homeless outreach efforts as long as the camp remains.

  • Street homelessness is spiking downtown, with more than 1,400 people and 422 tents tallied during the Downtown San Diego Partnership’s latest monthly census. The business group is now rallying for immediate short-term measures such as city-sanctioned safe villages that could provide an alternative for homeless residents staying in growing camps downtown. 

City of San Diego’s Public Utilities Head Leaves Agency

Shauna Lorance, director of the city of San Diego’s Public Utilities Department since August 2019, announced she’ll be leaving the agency in an email to her staff late January. Her last day is Feb. 11.

The city confirmed Lorance is retiring from the department she led under two mayors. No decisions have been made regarding her replacement, according to Arian Collins, a spokesman for the department. The department manages the city’s water supply network for more than 1.3 million residents and a regional wastewater system throughout the county.

Under her leadership, the department challenged the San Diego County Water Authority — which controls the region’s access to its main drinking water source, the Colorado River — on its math behind future water supply and demand projections that affect the eventual price of water and financial stability of the agency. The city is building a multi-billion wastewater-to-drinking water recycling system, called Pure Water, which ultimately means the Water Authority will lose business from its biggest customer in the years to come.

But the department faced challenges under Lorance’s leadership, too. Like the troubled Industrial Wastewater Control Program charged with monitoring pollutants being dumped by businesses into the future recycled drinking water system. An audit showed the program was understaffed and likely missing inspections at hundreds of businesses that could be leaking toxic waste into the sewer. 

Lorance responded at the time by saying the department had hired new staff in 2019 but turnover and the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the program from reaching its full numbers.

In Other News

  • The fallout from the city’s 2012 pension reform initiative could leave the city with more than $80 million in new costs. KPBS reported that the city will pay tens of millions of dollars to create retroactive pensions for thousands of city workers hired post-Prop. B following the City Council’s Monday approval of settlements with two of its largest unions. The city is also predicting a 7 percent cash penalty and is still in talks with other labor unions about how to move forward.
  • Scripps Health is predicting the surge in COVID hospitalizations will wane by early March, Times of San Diego reports.
  • San Diego Community Power began rolling out to customers in Imperial Beach, La Mesa, Encinitas, Chula Vista and San Diego Tuesday. (KPBS)

This Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt, Megan Wood and MacKeznie Elmer. It was edited by Andrea Lopez Villafaña.

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