Becca Williams is an outsider candidate. She moved to San Diego three years ago, is not endorsed by the teacher’s unions who’ve long dominated San Diego Unified School District board politics and is conservative. But in a time characterized by forceful opposition to school board decisions by many parents and activists upset by its pandemic-era policies, these traits may be a breath of fresh air to some.
Williams has been embraced by many of the activists angered by the district’s mask and vaccine mandates, and hopes to bring an oppositional voice to a board on which many consequential decisions often end with a 5-0 vote. But despite raising significantly more money than her opponent, Democrat Cody Petterson, the liberal lean of the sub-district and her lack of union support –– and the funds they may eventually bring her opponent –– could give her a slim chance of winning.
Still, she believes her opposition to policies like standards-based grading, COVID-19 related mandates and criticism of school closures during the pandemic may be just what some voters are looking for.
After Wiping Millions in Back Debt, Superior Court to Tighten Budget
The San Diego County Superior Court, per an agreement struck earlier this summer in Sacramento, will wipe nearly $200 million worth of debt it imposed on hundreds of thousands and cease collection efforts.
Superior Court judge Michael S. Groch, who oversees the criminal division downtown, filed an order last month vacating the unpaid balances on fines otherwise known as civil assessments prior to July 1. Groch’s order includes a list of the 681,531 cases entitled to relief. It runs 1,444 pages long, giving a sense of how common it was for judges to hit defendants with late fees when they didn’t show up in court or missed a payment.
“Although state general fund revenue was allocated to the judicial branch to make up for the statewide elimination/reduction of civil assessment revenue, San Diego did not get 100% reimbursement,” said Emily Cox, a spokesperson for the court, in an email. “Therefore, to make up a shortfall between the amount of civil assessment revenue [versus] what was ultimately received, we are proposing spending reductions and hiring freezes to ensure that we have a balanced budget.”
For decades, local courts have relied on fines and late fees as a source of funding, and San Diego was a pioneer of the model. Officials portrayed it as a means of incentivizing people to pay their underlying ticket or face monetary consequences, but many have trouble meeting it.
Meanwhile: The Union-Tribune reports that three glass panels at the central courthouse downtown have shattered in recent months. Court officials are constructing a protective canopy around all four sides to protect pedestrians while investigating what caused the breakage.
Vista Approves Plans to Convert Old Motel Into Low-Rent Housing
A developer is moving forward with plans to convert a Motel 6 in Vista into a single-room occupancy hotel. The project is supposed to be a low-cost option for renters, but the 375-square-foot units, each at $1,300 to $1,400 per month, are drawing some backlash.
Some council members and residents argued the rents should be cheaper considering the units’ sizes and the lack of nearby services and public transportation options.
On the other hand, supporters of the project said there is a need for housing at this price point. The units are considerably cheaper than other studios and one-bedroom apartments in the city, and for some families, it could make all the difference.
In Other News
- The Board of Supervisors approved language for a ballot measure that would place a tax on marijuana businesses in unincorporated areas of San Diego County on Tuesday. Voters in November will vote on the measure, which supervisors said would allow law enforcement and the county to better regulate the marijuana industry. (Union-Tribune)
- The supervisors also approved a resolution in support of a federal proposal aimed at protecting the privacy of reproductive health data. (City News Service)
- With the support of the Poway City Council, the Sheriff’s Department is installing cameras to “potentially track crime in real time,” the U-T reports. The program also allows businesses and residents to voluntarily share access to their video feeds with deputies.
- Despite Mayor Todd Gloria’s pledge to implement plans to build housing on top of city facilities like fire stations and libraries when they’re redeveloped, and the city council passing an ordinance to make such projects easier last February, KPBS couldn’t find a single instance of such plans being in motion. (KPBS)
The Morning Report was written by Jakob McWhinney, Jesse Marx and Tigist Layne. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.
Correction: This article has been updated to clarify that Williams has lived in San Diego for three years and did not move directly from Texas.