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Thousands of jobs in natural gas are on the line if the region decides to pursue policies that retrofit buildings to run on electricity only, a recent analysis from the city of San Diego found. 

That’s not all natural gas jobs, but it does represent at least 30 percent of the specialized natural gas workers currently employed to do things like operate gas plants, pipe- and steamfitting and pumping station operators. 

The city of San Diego has a range of building electrification policies on the table under Mayor Todd Gloria’s reconfigured Climate Action Plan proposed back in September. The City Council could decide to mandate only new buildings be all-electric, or start to dig into existing buildings and require deep energy retrofits. 

Natural gas fossil fuel running through buildings, to power water heaters and stovetops, accounts for about 20 percent of the city’s planet-warming emissions, based on 2019 data. Retrofitting existing buildings would drive that number down a lot faster than simply requiring electrification of new buildings, but it would have the inverse effect on natural gas jobs.

That’s why the two think tanks that authored the city’s workforce study suggest the city start retrofitting now to create jobs in construction, while considering other actions that could create jobs with similar traits to natural gas — like requiring buildings have water reuse systems or asking large university campuses or hospitals to use a shared underground boiler, all pipe-like work that would suit the skills of the natural gas trade.

Click here to read the full story.

San Diego Has Hundreds of Pieces of Surveillance Tech, Across All of Its Operations

In response to the controversy surrounding police use of streetlight cameras, the San Diego City Council in 2020 signed off on an ordinance meant to put stronger rules around surveillance.

Since then, the city has been working on a list of all its technical applications that meet the definition of surveillance and has found a couple hundred so far.

Jesse Marx got a peek at the inventory and writes that hardware and software capable of observing or analyzing the movements and behavior of individuals is embedded into virtually every aspect of city operations. The public and its representatives must now decide how useful or concerning each one is before anyone can make an informed decision on the trade-offs.

The technologies range in scope and scale. Some are fairly benign and others are not. Some pop up in places you wouldn’t necessarily expect, like in preserves.

A hiker starts his ascent up Cowles Mountain near Barker Way Trailhead on March 25, 2022. / Photo by Jesse Marx

The Parks and Recreation Department, for instance, relies on trackers that use infrared wavelength to distinguish people from animals and vehicles at the base of Cowles Mountain. The Police Department has also deployed motion-activated trail cameras to look for polluters near the San Diego River.

Marx spoke to people locally about the real and potential harms of surveillance, including a retired librarian who got an up close look at the pressure that governments face to expand their view of things.

Next week, the City Council is expected to discuss and adopt a privacy advisory board that can assist with the oversight of surveillance. 

Read more about the city’s surveillance tech here.

In Other News

  • Sempra Energy, which owns San Diego Gas and Electric, is looking to invest in offshore wind in California in Morro Bay. (Union Tribune)
  • The legislature extended California’s eviction moratorium three more months, giving officials until June 30 to disperse relief payments for renters still reeling from the pandemic. (Los Angeles Times)
  • San Diego has about 5,000 streetlights in need of repair, and the average time it takes to repair each of them has grown to roughly 10 months, thanks to supply chain disruptions and city staffing problems. (KPBS)
  • A gas price analyst told 10 News that prices in San Diego could be on the verge of dropping 50 cents.
  • A man shot by a San Diego Police Department officer in a San Carlos garage after allegedly pointing a gun at the officer had been armed with a BB gun, an SDPD homicide lieutenant said Thursday. (Union-Tribune)

This Morning Report was written by MacKenzie Elmer and Jesse Marx. It was edited by Andrew Keatts and Megan Wood.

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