101 Ash St.
101 Ash St. / File photo by Adriana Heldiz

Mayor Todd Gloria on Monday abruptly postponed a planned City Council vote on a controversial settlement with the city’s 101 Ash St. landlord and lenders who backed the deal. 

Just 20 minutes before an 11 a.m. special City Council meeting, Gloria announced that he had requested that a vote on the proposed settlement agreement calling for the city to buy out its 101 Ash and Civic Center Plaza leases be “delayed for further review by the City Council and the public.” 

“While there is still no ideal outcome to this civic debacle, we have heard clearly that the public should be given more time to review the proposed settlement agreement in its entirety – including all accompanying documents and analyses – and so we are granting that request,” Gloria wrote in a statement. “We intend to move forward in approximately one month’s time.” 

City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera said in a separate statement issued jointly that he appreciated the mayor’s request to allow the public more time to review the proposal which calls for the city to spend about $132 million to buy the buildings.  

Read more about the last-minute delay here.

Council Expands Safe Parking Hours

The San Diego City Council on Monday unanimously voted to expand the hours at one of the city’s safe parking lots for people living in vehicles and, at Council President Sean Elo-Rivera’s request, to also assess potential sites citywide for more lots.  

Mayor Todd Gloria late last week urged the City Council to approve a contract with nonprofit Jewish Family Service to continue its safe parking programs and provide around-the-clock access at its Mission Valley lot. The city now has two safe lots in Kearny Mesa and one in Mission Valley that can accommodate RVs. Now people who park in the JFS lots must leave by 7 a.m. each day. 

Gloria’s initial announcement followed word that the city would receive state grant funds to combat family homelessness and a Voice of San Diego story documenting the challenges faced by a family of six who have recently lived in a van. The Raschke family stayed in an RV until it was impounded by the city in February.  

Natalie Raschke, center, starts putting shoes, cooking gear and other things back into the van as night falls in the parking lot where they hope to spend the night in early June. / Photo by Peggy Peattie for Voice of San Diego

On Monday, Natalie Raschke addressed the City Council about her experience at Elo-Rivera’s request. She told city council members her family decided against parking in the city’s Mission Valley safe lot despite the prospect of more tickets from police for reasons including its restricted hours, location far from her children’s schools and safety concerns. She said shelters also haven’t seemed well suited to accommodate her husband and four children whose ages range from 4 to 15.

Click here to read more about the Council’s decision.

Atkins Makes Big Moves on Abortion, State Budget

State Sen. Toni Atkins speaks at a press conference in 2020. / Photo by Megan Wood

Immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overrule Roe vs. Wade and allow states to prohibit abortion before fetal viability, San Diego’s Toni Atkins, the president of the state Senate, put forward a state Constitutional amendment to ensure the right to an abortion is ingrained in the state’s governing document, not just its laws. 

The Assembly and Senate moved fast and approved the move which means that voters will decide in November whether to put the right to “reproductive freedom” in the California Constitution. 

That would ensure only voters, through a separate amendment, could ever take it out. This is the line that would be added to the state Constitution if voters approve:

“The state shall not deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions, which includes their fundamental right to choose to have an abortion and their fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives.”

And you may be getting some cash: Atkins made a deal with Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Gov. Gavin Newsom on a $300 billion spending plan for the California budget, which is enjoying a nearly $100 billion surplus. 

$17 billion is directed to “inflation relief” — checks will go out to taxpayers. Here’s how the Sacramento Bee described it:

“Families will receive relief checks of $200 to $1,050, depending on their income level and family size. The three income tiers for individual filers range from $75,000 and under to $250,000. The package still provides additional money for families, but it’s capped at one dependent. For example, a family of four would be eligible for three payments — two checks for the tax-paying adults and one check for the two children.”

Baja Weighs Buying Water from Mexicali’s Farmers

The drought is hitting northern Mexico so hard that the state of Baja will likely have to buy water from farmers in the agricultural region of Mexicali at an incredibly inflated price. 

That’s what Vicente Calderón, my collaborator on our Tijuana River pollution crisis series, reported for Tijuanapress.com last week.

The Colorado River provides almost all of Tijuana’s water. But a decades-long drought is threatening that supply and Mexico has already absorbed some water cuts as prescribed under international agreements. 

If water levels on the Colorado River’s biggest reservoir continue dropping, Mexico could face losing 18 percent of its water supply. So, the U.S. federal government is looking to financially back water conservation projects for its neighbor to the south. 

Read the full Environment Report here

In Other News

This Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt, Tigist Layne, Scott Lewis, MacKenzie Elmer and Catherine Allen. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña and Megan Wood.

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