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When a private company set up sites at trolley stations to make testing more accessible last year, it was billed as a no hassle, free of charge service for those looking for shorter lines.

But around the holidays, individuals encountered long wait times for results, ranging anywhere from one to two weeks. Some never got their results at all.

Voice of San Diego intern Jakob McWhinney reports that the company put the blame on the lab it hired to process samples and ended up shutting down some of its testing sites to get a handle on the demand.

The company acknowledged that it hasn’t lived up to its promise and said it would not be seeking reimbursement from the federal government for any tests until they were returned.

Turns out a number of private interests were involved.

As McWhinney notes, another outside company was responsible for overseeing the leasing of tenant space on MTS properties and the parent company that owns the group that actually collected samples was founded by the mayor of El Cajon. 

Read the rest of McWhinney’s story here. 

The City Won a Major Legal Case But …

San Diego won a big lawsuit last month over neighborhood opposition trying to stop a 20-story, 204-apartment project in Bankers Hill and it could set a precedent of great importance statewide, write Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts in the latest Politics Report

But City Attorney Mara Elliott isn’t so sure she wants that.

The project’s size is a result of California’s “density bonus” program, which lets developers build more homes than allowed by city regulations and to bypass other restrictions if they include homes reserved for low-income residents. The neighborhood group opposing it argued that the state’s program was not a free pass.

A trial judge and now an appellate court have sided with the city. And that matters because the ruling should set a significant precedent across the state: cities have no choice but to allow developers to build at increased densities and waive any conflicting regulations once a developer agrees to put low-income units on site.

Read the latest Politics Report here. The weekly roundup is available for VOSD members only. Support our work here.

Elsewhere in the underworld: border reporter Sandra Dibble joined the podcast to discuss the recent killings of Mexican journalists. Our hosts also talked about the Downtown Partnership’s call for “safe villages” as an alternative to shelters to keep homeless folks safe outside. 

And beyond: U-T columnist Michael Smolens spoke to a former mayor and city attorney about the unraveling of Proposition B, the 2012 ballot measure that they both supported and that dismantled the pension system for a decade. U-T columnist Charles Clark writes, in light of a state audit confirming the dangers of San Diego County jails, that the Sheriff’s Department needs to own up to its failures

The lobby of the Central Library on Dec. 15, 2021. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Libraries Are Cool

San Diego’s Central Library and many of its branches are returning to normal as the Omicron surge begins to subside. During the pandemic, some shut down entirely or converted to pick-up service.

Voice of San Diego contributor Randy Dotinga spoke to head librarian Misty Jones about the last couple years and the future. More than 100 jobs need filling and patrons have been eagerly checking out portable Wi-Fi hotspots. Staff recently distributed 20,000 rapid covid tests.

“That’s what I love about the library,” Jones said. “We have the ability to constantly redefine ourselves to fit community needs.”

In Other News

  • An organizer for Sierra Club San Diego argues in favor of improving and expanding public transit to ensure safety and convenience in an op-ed.
  • Councilwoman Jennifer Campbell’s office released it proposed long-awaited sidewalk vending rules last week. Merchants and beach area residents are celebrating the proposed rules, but vendor advocates feel that some sections are too restrictive. The proposed rules are expected to go before the city’s economic development committee on Feb. 9. (Union-Tribune) 
  • The Union-Tribune reported that the Marines are investigating a San Diego-based Marine Corps reservist for having an alleged link to a White Supremacists hate group.
  • Hundreds of migrants staying at a makeshift campsite just south of the San Ysidro Port of Entry were forced to leave the area by officers of Mexico’s National Guard on Sunday. (Fox 5) 

This Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña. 

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