Students, parents and community members walk a two-mile route toward Lincoln Middle School to protest Oceanside Unified School District's decision to cut school buses on Aug. 31, 2019. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Transportation is a burden on many working families, especially for those who’ve moved away from city centers in pursuit of cheaper housing, as we reported earlier this week.

But being in a more urban environment doesn’t necessarily alleviate the problem if the geography is prohibitive, one’s options are limited, and public agencies aren’t required to help.

In his Fine City column, Jesse Marx visited the predominantly low-income Latino neighborhood of Crown Heights in Oceanside. After the school district cut buses a couple years ago, parents began turning to a private, informal network of drivers who offered rides to and from the classroom — for a price.

Those costs are now eating into the already-modest budgets of many families.

For years, officials have said the school bus cuts were necessary because the district was veering off a fiscal cliff. But in effect, Marx writes, the cost of school transportation today is being passed down to people who can least afford it. 

Although California gives local school districts the discretion to decide which students are worthy of transporting, lawmakers are starting to rethink their role and responsibility. Arguing that there’s a link between busing, attendance, graduation rates and poverty, one senator recently introduced a bill that would create a new transportation fund at the state level. 

Read the entire column here

Why San Diego Wants Voters to Undo Free Trash Pickup

A side-loader city of San Diego sanitation truck collects trash in a residential area in North Park on Dec. 23, 2021. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Over half of homes in the city of San Diego get free trash pickup, a right installed by San Diegan voters in 1919 called the People’s Ordinance. 

But apartment buildings, businesses and any home not on a public street have to pay for private trash pickup.

Now the San Diego City Council wants to test whether the will of the people has changed with a new ballot measure slated for this November. It would allow the city to charge trash pickup fees to homes currently getting free city trash collection — and perhaps in the future reap funds that other municipalities count on to pay for things like public safety and infrastructure.

The City Council Rules Committee voted Wednesday to start drafting that ballot measure, according to reporting by KPBS. Taxpayers currently pay for free trash pickup to the tune of $43.2 million this fiscal year. Come 2027, if the People’s Ordinance remains intact, that cost could inflate to about $75 million, auditors predict. 

That cost will skyrocket in the coming years as cities across California begin to institute mandatory food recycling collection to help cut down on the production of planet-warming methane in landfills. The city of San Diego is expected to build a new organics recycling facility at a cost of at least $50 million. Plus, the city has already spent millions in the current city budget to order 43 new sanitation trucks, hundreds of thousands of green organic waste carts and hire another 40 sanitation workers. 

In Other News

  • As Ukrainian asylum seekers approach the border to the United States, many have noted a racial disparity between those allowed into the country and those who are turned away. Nataliia Poliakova, a Ukrainian immigrant now safe with relatives in California, spoke with KPBS and reflected on the inequities she witnessed at the border
  • William Schuck, a 22-year-old man from Orange County was found dead in his cell at the San Diego Central Jail downtown Wednesday morning. He was arrested less than a week earlier following a traffic accident in Ocean Beach, charged with driving under the influence of drugs, carrying a concealed weapon and a gun charge. He is the fourth inmate in San Diego County to die while in custody in the first two and a half months of 2022. (Union-Tribune)
  • San Diego’s public transit system says ridership on city buses and trolleys rose an estimated 20 percent in the past week since gas prices shot up. (CBS 8)
  • Over 200 cannabis businesses applied to enter the city of Encinitas’ lottery system to set up shop in town. The city said it expected, like, 25. (Union-Tribune)
  • Qualcomm, the San Diego-based communications tech giant, filed lawsuits against two former engineers alleging they uploaded confidential trade secrets from the company’s internal network just prior to accepting a job with a competitor. (Union-Tribune)
  • The Union-Tribune reports on continuing disputes over depositions and discovery in a taxpayer lawsuit challenging the city’s 101 Ash St. lease, and emails that show attorneys for the city coordinated with lawyers for parties in the case to request a referee to oversee depositions.

This Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, MacKenzie Elmer and Lisa Halverstadt. It was edited by Megan Wood.

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