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The San Diego City Council voted 5-to-1 to back a so-called no-fault eviction moratorium Monday. City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera pushed the legislation to shield tenants up to date on their rent from being booted from their homes as the region grapples with a surging cost-of-living crisis.
If the moratorium is approved in an upcoming second vote, it will keep landlords in the city from forcing out a tenant to take the property off the market or making significant upgrades that haven’t been ordered by a government entity or agreed upon by the tenant. The moratorium will stay in effect until Sept. 30 or 60 days after the end of the local state of emergency, whichever comes first. Ahead of Monday’s vote and a decision to have the protections end by Sept. 30, Elo-Rivera’s office produced this report on the proposed rules.
Monday’s vote follows the extension last week of a statewide eviction moratorium through June 30. That moratorium only applies to tenants who did not pay rent due to COVID-related challenges and applied for rental assistance by March 31.
The San Diego proposal, meanwhile, was aimed at addressing what Elo-Rivera and others described as an eviction loophole that could create thousands of dollars in unexpected costs for families and potentially increase homelessness.
“I’d like for us to picture a couple of scenarios. The first is a family with maybe three kids in school, barely getting by but completely up to date on their rent and now being told they have 30 days to find a new home,” said Elo-Rivera. “We can also picture a senior on a fixed income also just getting by, having carefully constructed their lives to afford to live and be able to get to and from their medical appointments attempting to navigate that same situation.”
Dozens of renters and tenant advocates called into the Monday meeting arguing that the increased protections were needed while many property owners and groups representing landlords argued that Elo-Rivera’s proposal represented an overreach that would punish landlords, particularly those who only own a property or two.
City Councilmembers Raul Campillo and Joe LaCava recused themselves from Monday’s vote because they own rental properties or have family members who do, and Councilwoman Jen Campbell was absent. Councilman Chris Cate was the lone no vote and voiced concerns about confusion surrounding the proposed moratorium, an angle the Union-Tribune delved into a bit. (Warning: Their story is only for subscribers.)
- Three San Diego City Councilmembers and several business leaders tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from a lobbying trip to Washington, D.C. (Union-Tribune)
- The City Council on Monday voted to appoint Charles Modica, a veteran city budget analyst, to be the city’s second independent budget analyst. (Union-Tribune)
Gloria Backs State Behavioral Health Reform Package
Mayor Todd Gloria on Monday joined other California mayors in backing a legislative package aimed at improving the state’s behavioral health system and reforming the conservatorship process.
State Sen. Susan Eggman of San Joaquin County has introduced eight bills with goals including increased accountability and tracking of counties’ use of state Mental Health Services Act funds, establishing a web-based dashboard of various mental health beds and a regional process to address service and facility needs.
One of Eggman’s bills would also expand the definition of “gravely disabled” — one of the reasons that a person with a mental illness can be held under the state’s 1967 Lanterman-Petris-Short Act in a conservatorship. Gloria has previously advocated for such changes, arguing the current definition leaves out many vulnerable people in San Diego and across the state.
“Gravely disabled” generally means a person can’t address their need for food, clothing or shelter — though there are many potential caveats to that definition, and street homelessness alone doesn’t qualify someone for a conservatorship. Eggman’s bill would expand the definition to include people who are “unable to provide for the basic needs of personal or medical care or self-protection and safety” as a result of a mental health condition.
“I’m grateful that Sen. Eggman is not shying away from reforming a 1960s era set of legislation,” Gloria said at a Monday press conference. “It is time to update this to match what we’re seeing on our streets — a combination of wealth disparity, rising unaffordability of housing and the injection of opioids and other kinds of drugs that have made this issue that was already bad when the legislature took this up in the 60s but it made it infinitely worse and a part of why urgency is a part of the call today.”
Disability rights and civil liberties advocates, however, are likely to have another take. They have long argued against mandated treatment. Some service providers have also raised concerns about conservatorship and other reforms pushed by Gov. Gavin Newsom they could simply expose the lack of resources and beds for people in crisis.
Eggman and others pledged Monday that the state’s budget surplus and Mental Health Services Act funds gleaned from a 1 percent income tax on millionaires should provide ample resources to ramp up services statewide.
Tijuana’s Inefficient Transit System Forces a Reliance on Cars
Anyone who’s ever been stuck in Tijuana traffic knows that it can be an exhausting experience. Attempting to trek across the city during peak periods can make a short trip take hours — and the number of vehicles on the road just keeps multiplying.
But getting drivers to choose public transportation over their cars has been a challenge as the city’s system of buses and mini-buses has often proved to be inefficient, costly and unreliable.
Other cities in Mexico have been successfully making the switch to Bus Rapid Transit, with newer buses, centralized controls, and dedicated lanes. But in Tijuana, not all transportistas — private operators who work under concessions from the city — have been willing to make the switch.
For this week’s Border Report, Sandra Dibble dove into the city’s transportation challenges with Jorge Alberto Gutierrez Topete, an architect who has been studying transportation issues there for years. Read their full interview here.
Election Day in the 80th Assembly District
Tuesday is the last day to vote in the special election to replace former Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez in the 80th Assembly District, the district that includes southern San Diego and Chula Vista, National City and Imperial Beach.
Results should start pouring in tonight, after polls close at 8 p.m. If any one of the three candidates on the ballot receives more than 50 percent of the vote, they could win the race outright and we could know the new assemblymember before going to bed. Otherwise, the top two vote recipients will proceed to a runoff election in June.
The candidates are former Councilman David Alvarez, and former Councilwoman Georgette Gomez, both of whom are Democrats, and Lincoln Pickard, a Republican.
In Other News
- Wearing masks indoors is now optional for students in the San Diego Unified School District. The state lifted the school mask mandate on March 12, but the district waited until after spring break to lift the requirement for the students and staff. (NBC 7)
- SANDAG will allow anyone 18 and under to ride public transit for free in San Diego County starting May 1. The offer will apply to local buses, the trolley, the Coaster and the light-rail Sprinter line. The program will be available through June 30, 2023. (NBC 7)
- San Diego will allow the public to return in person to city council meetings beginning April 11. It will be the first time that the meetings have been open to the public in more than two years — since the pandemic began. Members of the public will still have the option to participate by Zoom or by phone. (Union-Tribune)
This Morning Report was written by Tigist Layne, Lisa Halverstadt, Andrew Keatts and Megan Wood. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.