San Diego City Hall / Photo by Brittany Cruz-Fejeran

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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.

Traffic on the Vía Rápida Oriente in Tijuana seen here in September 2021. / Photo courtesy of El Imparcial by Abdiel Ortega

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.

Join the Conversation

4 Comments

  1. Elect Smiechowski SDCC D2 and we can all move to Havana where rents are cheap. The same people who approved this nonsense get elected via political prostitution than cry crocodile tears for social inequities. I’m embarrassed and sickened to be a registered Democrat. Whatever happened to the folks who built America? The estates in Point Loma where mothers prayed for their sons in WWII. God help us! Smiechowski D2 SDCC VOLUNTEER 858 405 5118

    Why I am running for San Diego City Council
    My name is Daniel Smiechowski and I love my home of 55 years in San Diego. As kids we played at an undeveloped Mission Bay Park and watched the San Diego Rockets at the new Sports Arena. There were about 420,000 residents of the entire city back in those innocent days. I want to restore honesty, trust, hard work, vision but most importantly fair play and justice to the San Diego City Council.
    As it stands, only the prostituted candidates get elected via a two-party system rife with insiders determining the fate of our residents. This is wrong, immoral, unethical and must end. Any person with a modicum of common sense would agree that the probability and reality of all nine seats on our City Council being of the same political party sets a dangerous precedent to our time-honored tenets of democracy. I have been a registered Democrat my entire life but have disavowed many policy decisions of the current Council.
    Several issues are clear to my view of San Diego. All scooters must go to the graveyard. Private property rights must be respected as per zoning, setbacks, CC&R’s and the maintenance of cohesion in our neighborhoods. The Jarvis Gann Initiative of 1978 has saved untold seniors from economic catastrophe. The Midway area will ultimately require additional access to both Interstate 8 and Interstate 5. San Diego will need trams of the future as in my second home in France. I have spoken to French leaders on this subject for many years. Vendors are going to create a Coney Island atmosphere throughout our city. Be forewarned of this fact and plan accordingly. Why do we continue to drive on streets resembling the Ivory Coast? The homeless do not need shelters, they need hospitals. The City’s liability fund is bleeding out of control. This is preventable. Nonprofits who sponsor athletic events must be afforded reduced city fees not additional fees as approved several weeks ago at Council. As a former Ironman and current endurance athlete, this city needs more health and fitness and less Mary Jane, drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Think about our most precious resource being our children. It is time for the City of San Diego to approve a children’s advisory group composed of youth in order to instill sincerity and honesty to our city. Children seldom if ever lie.
    These are just a few issues and the tip of the iceberg. But fundamentally, I can say with all honesty that I am the only candidate who has not prostituted myself through disingenuous and surreptitious mumbo jumbo cloaked in normalcy. Let the voters beware. Daniel Smiechowski Landlord/Movie Extra/Model/Teacher

  2. Scale back bike lanes in San Diego
    Last week, I was honored and privileged to be the guest speaker at the Triathlon Club of San Diego. I was the first member of this Club at its inception in 1984. I love cycling, running and swimming and became an Ironman triathlete in 1985 logging countless miles on local roads. As a candidate for San Diego City Council District 2, I vow to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. This City has too many unused and dangerous bike lanes. This must end.
    On just one stretch of a so-called protected bike lane in Clairemont at least one person has died and many critically injured. This must end. These lanes for cyclists have become de rigueur in the sense of being politically correct. But they are unwise and unsafe. Why doesn’t the City’s Climate Action Plan in regard to cycling consider that it takes human energy to pedal a two-wheeler? Have you ever heard of Henry Ford or the fact that cycling is touted as the sport of suffering? Listen, I’ve done hundreds of triathlons during the past forty plus years and maybe one of a half million residents have the will power to join me at the starting line. San Diego residents are unlike those in the Netherlands, China or India. We are rooted in a tough individualism. We want our cars and will not give up our cars.
    What does our city’s history say about cycling on local roads? I spoke to my friend Bob Babbitt recently, a giant among giants in this town’s triathlon community on the old days. Back in the late Seventies, cycling and running in San Diego were dominated by a select group of endurance athletes. Unlike today where five thousand and more trendy folks show up for a finishers medal, we had no entertainment value back in the day. It’s safe to say that most of these Johnny come lately runners and cyclists park their cars as close to the start line as possible. This ought to illustrate the devotion to cycling and running we had back forty years ago in San Diego.
    But most significant, were the fatalities from cycling and running. It was rare to hear about hit and run drivers and multitudes without a conscience. driving in bike lanes with disrespect. Unless these lanes are encased in concrete like a German bunker, we are in danger of bleeding the City’s liability fund. More residents will needlessly die and suffer serious injury. This must end.
    I remain a man devoted to my sport of cycling and running. Except I must conscientiously speak truth to power. Dan Smiechowski candidate for San Diego City Council, District 2.

  3. The problem is not the landlord, so government should stay out of the landlord business or landlords will quit. People are homeless because they have underlying problems, some have mental health issues others have a dependency on drugs. This “free” mentality hurts people. MONEY IS NOT FREE. SOMEONE WORKED HARD FOR THAT MONEY. Rent is not free. Someone is paying for the building, insurance, taxes, fees, etc.

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