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Late last year, Mayor Todd Gloria’s team made public their goal to have a restroom within a five-minute walk of any location downtown.
Jakob McWhinney and Lisa Halverstadt checked in on the city’s progress and found it’s still working to address downtown restroom gaps. It’s also grappling with ongoing access challenges at two existing East Village restrooms that developers committed to provide. The latter underscores the challenges the city faces in meeting its target. Achieving it requires ensuring restrooms new and old are actually accessible.
Gloria’s office said the city recently added a new temporary restroom near Childrens Park. It is still trying to find solutions to address other gaps it identified in Little Italy and near City College. Meanwhile, the city reports stepping up efforts to make San Diegans and tourists aware of existing restrooms and a downtown business group has assembled a group to provide input to the city on potential options.
But McWhinney and Halverstadt revealed that frustrations continue with the often-locked prefabricated single stall restroom incorporated into the Park and Market project downtown that incorporates a UC San Diego expansion. The two found that UCSD has continuously pushed back against the placement of the restroom.
The developer overseeing two permanent restrooms at Fault Line Park has also continued to require that security guards unlock them for park visitors. There is also a policy that those who use the restrooms leave large belongings behind.
In both cases, complaints from advocates and would-be users of those restrooms abound but those charged with operating say they are doing the best they can to keep them open while also combating vandalism and illicit activity.
What San Diegans Are Most Worried About
During the height of the 2020 election, San Diegans had two top concerns: the cost of housing, and homelessness.
Not yet two years later, those are still the city’s top two concerns, but both of them have only grown more salient. Now, nearly 60 percent of the city lists one of those two issues as the biggest problem facing San Diego.
In the Politics Report this week, Andrew Keatts outlined the city’s narrowing focus on housing and homelessness as the city’s biggest problems, based on a poll conducted by a campaign during the 2020 election, and another poll taken last week from the same pollster. No other issue in the city gets more than five percent of respondents listing it as their biggest concern.
Also in the Politics Report this week, Keatts reminisces on the wildest take on One Paseo, back before its complete retreat as a political issue. Nowadays, it’s just a nice place in a successful suburb, not something people fight about.
Over on the pod: North County reporter Tigist Layne joined our hosts to talk about Oceanside’s first homeless shelter and what it means for the region. They also walked through Encinitas’ thorny housing history and the California attorney general’s recent warning to the city.
What We Learned About ‘Community Choice’ Energy
When San Diego Community Power, a new publicly-run operation, first joined the local energy market, it made a big promise to customers: Its energy would be cleaner and cheaper than its competitor, San Diego Gas and Electric.
But as we learned from environment reporter MacKenzie Elmer last week, we know now that may not be the case.
The agency’s leaders say there’s one major cost that, if removed, could substantially lower rates for customers: a charge SDG&E collects to pay for energy it bought for its customers back when it was a monopoly — before San Diego Community Power was a thing.
While the great debate now is whether investor-owned utilities like SDG&E can figure out how to reduce those costs for all customers, readers online seemed interested in another debate: whether customers joining the government-run energy alternative — technically called a community-choice aggregator — is really a choice at all.
Megan Wood and MacKenzie Elmer jumped into the discussion for the latest edition of What We Learned This Week. Read it here and tell us what you think.
Opinion: Homeless Services Workers Need Raises Now
In a new op-ed, San Diego’s leading homeless service providers are jointly calling for the city and county doling out contracts for their services to ensure their front-line workers can receive annual wage increases that keep up with the region’s surging cost of living.
Deacon Jim Vargas of Father Joe’s Villages, Akilah Templeton of Veterans Village of San Diego, Hanan Scrapper of PATH San Diego and Bob McElroy of Alpha Project argue wage increases are sorely needed amid increasing burnout and turnover as service workers grapple with increasing homelessness and other challenges.
The San Diego nonprofit leaders are echoing counterparts elsewhere who have said low pay and burnout are fueling recruiting and retention challenges as the state tries to bolster its homelessness response. Father Joe’s and PATH also revealed to Voice last year that they struggled to keep two hotels that the city converted into housing fully staffed for similar reasons.
Workforce shortages in the homeless service sector inspired Mayor Todd Gloria to allocate funds in the city budget to help expand local training programs for the industry. The county has separately teamed with the San Diego Workforce Partnership to bolster training opportunities to increase the behavioral health workforce.
In Other News
The San Diego Housing Commission approved a one-year contract with nonprofit Alpha Project to continue operating a shelter at 17th and Imperial Avenue through at least June 2023. The city is also working with the county to open a shelter in Midway. (KPBS)
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that planners in Oceanside are grappling with how to preserve a community’s agricultural heritage, while also addressing growing pressures for the city to create more housing.
The San Diego City Council is set to vote on a new eviction moratorium today. The council plans to tackle so-called no-fault evictions, which tenant advocates have long argued serve as a loophole for landlords to remove tenants. Warning this link is for subscribers only. (Union-Tribune)
The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt, Andrew Keatts, Megan Wood and Jesse Marx. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.