Barrio Logan NASSCO
Power lines along an alley in the Barrio Logan neighborhood on Nov. 2, 2021. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The Morning Report
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In the spirit of our cost of living series this week, Voice of San Diego presents an explainer of almost every charge and fee found on an average San Diego Gas and Electric bill. 

Bills were so brutal this January, befuddled San Diegans posted their projected energy invoices to Reddit hoping the spike was a software error on the utility’s end. It wasn’t. 

The bulk of a customer’s bill is controlled by a few key things: where the customer lives and when the customer uses energy. But San Diegans are also paying for things out of their control, like shuttering the local nuclear power plant – which has a price tag in the billions of dollars. 

Read our latest story for the Cost of Living Crisis series here. 

Missed yesterday’s story on what it takes four families to survive in San Diego? Catch up here. 

San Diego Can’t Spend $300 million to Stop Tijuana Sewage Flow

Everyone in the San Diego region is super psyched to spend $300 million on a bigger treatment plant at the border to catch more of the Tijuana sewage spilling into the U.S. Except, as it stands right now, that money can’t actually be spent. 

The millions are currently tangled up in an arcane process only Congress can resolve. 

San Diego’s political delegation are still lobbying for a legislative fix that would allow the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to give the $300 million awarded by the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement to the International Boundary and Water Commission that runs the treatment plant, but it currently can’t unless a U.S. President eventually signs-off on an amendment allowing it to do so. 

Read MacKenzie Elmer’s latest on the Tijuana Sewage Crisis here. 

New City Hall Push May Be Restarting

San Diego City Hall / Photo by Brittany Cruz-Fejeran

More than a decade ago, some city leaders and power brokers unsuccessfully pushed for a new San Diego City Hall. City Councilmembers and interim Chief Operating Officer Jay Goldstone signaled Monday that the conversation is back on.

The City Council on Monday got a briefing on how the city’s office space needs may be evolving  amid a COVID pandemic that changed teleworking patterns overnight, an overview of downtown city properties including the 101 Ash Street and Civic Center Plaza buildings now embroiled in lawsuits that could end with the loss of those properties and a look at opportunities for new development downtown.

The outcome of that briefing seemed to be near consensus among City Council members that the city should consider a new City Hall to replace the city’s current one and other buildings in its so-called Civic Center portfolio with an estimated total of $262 million in deferred maintenance and capital needs. (For the record, 101 Ash St. supplied $115 million of that estimate.)

“In my mind, there’s no question that there’s a need for a new City Hall,” said Council President Sean Elo-Rivera, who noted that the city had recently had to evacuate the 10th floor during a water leak.

Elo-Rivera and other councilmembers called for the city to confront the challenge past city leaders have faced before as they grapple with new challenges – and new opportunities that city bureaucrats said could come with the sort of public-private partnership the city is now pursuing to redevelop its Sports Arena property. 

Only City Councilwoman Vivian Moreno seemed cool to the idea – at least for now.

“Before we can realistically plot out a vision like this, we need to determine what we’re doing with the 101 Ash St. building,” Moreno said.

After all, a city lawsuit sought to void the city’s 101 Ash and Civic Center Plaza leases – and it’s not yet clear whether the city will end its legal fights with or without those two downtown high rises. Civic Center Plaza now houses more than a dozen city departments while 101 Ash has remained vacant since early 2020.

  • The Union-Tribune has more details on an early analysis by real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle on potential strategies to accommodate the city’s workforce and to allow more employees to work remotely. Goldstone and city real estate chief Penny Maus emphasized Monday that far more analysis and talks with city departments and labor unions will be necessary before the city makes changes. The city is now in talks with unions about a teleworking policy.

In Other News 

  • The Padres announced Monday that the team’s star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. has a fractured left wrist and will probably need surgery. The news came as the team got ready for its first workout, shocking many fans. (Union-Tribune) 
  • Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced late last week that he’s bowing out of the race for governor. He said in a statement that the lingering effects of the “circus” from last year’s recall effort have made it difficult to relaunch the campaign he wants to run. Note: Faulconer got 8 percent of the votes in the state. (NBC 7) 
  • A new pilot program will pay homeless residents to pick up trash around downtown homeless camps. (Associated Press)
  • Stone Brewing co-founder Greg Koch took the stand Monday in an ongoing trademark trial following the Escondido-based brewer’s claims that MillerCoors’ rebranding of its Keystone Light economy beer was meant to confuse craft beer fans. Read up on the history here. (Courthouse News Service) 

The Morning Report was written by MacKenzie Elmer, Andrea Lopez-Villafaña and Lisa Halverstadt. It was edited by Andrew Keatts. 

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