A 1st grade class at Guillermo González Camarena, primary school in the eastern part of Tijuana on Sept. 13, 2022. Most of the students are two years behind because of the pandemic. They have been learning letters and shapes.
A 1st grade class at Guillermo González Camarena, primary school in the eastern part of Tijuana on Sept. 13, 2022. Most of the students are two years behind because of the pandemic. They have been learning letters and shapes. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Students everywhere are racing to make up for lost time to the coronavirus pandemic. 

But students in Tijuana, especially, faced another obstacle — random acts of vandalism on campuses. In some instances, the destruction further delayed the reopening of their schools. That meant students had to keep learning online, and those without access to the internet continued to fall behind.

At one school, Guillermo González Camarena Elementary School in eastern Tijuana, vandals climbed over the fence, shattered locks, ripped out lights and bathroom fixtures, stole electric cables and sprayed walls with paint.

Sandra Dibble recently visited the school, which got financial help from parents, the government and a nonprofit, to fix up the school. In the classrooms, uniformed students leaned over classwork, and groups of parents came to meet with teachers, she writes. 

Dibble details in the latest Border Report that while Guillermo González Camarena Elementary School was lucky, others were not. Children are struggling to catch up. 

Read the Border Report here. 

Walton Goes Public; Mayor Responds

A homeless man at an encampment near the San Diego Zoo on Park Boulevard on Sept. 15, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

We wrote Friday about emails basketball legend Bill Walton has been writing to San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria about the homelessness crisis and his desire to see more cleanups and enforcement to sweep away encampments. 

Monday, Walton posted his thoughts on Instagram: “I can no longer say that my hometown of San Diego, is the greatest place in the world, I can no longer say that SD is a safe, healthy, clean, and beautiful place, I can no longer urge my family, friends, tourists, and businesses to come to SD to live, work, and play, I can no longer say that our neighborhood for the last 43 years is still my dream, I am brokenhearted, Mayor @toddgloria —clean up our city, and let us reclaim our lives, we must fix our homeless crisis, we need engagement, rehabilitation, and constant enforcement, and we need it now.”

Gloria responds: In a series of posts on Twitter, the mayor outlined the city’s approach. “Homelessness is the City’s top priority. Our approach can be boiled down to outreach, shelter and housing. There’s also the need for significant mental health reform. We’ve made progress on all of these fronts over the last few days,” he wrote, to start the list. 

Sports betting online would obviously help: If you watch any TV or online streaming, you’ve probably seen the commercials about Proposition 27 and its promises to fund homeless services and housing. The San Francisco Chronicle Monday explored why so many homeless service providers, though, are not supportive of it. The story featured Fran Butler-Cohen, CEO of Family Health Centers of San Diego.

“I don’t think there’s anybody in homeless services that actually thinks that we would realize a windfall from this, that we can instantly start building housing units and getting people off the street and getting them into mental health service,” said Butler-Cohen.

The Great Trash Fee Debate Hits Council Races

The news: Tommy Hough, a Democrat running in the San Diego City Council race against Kent Lee, opposes Measure B, which would allow the city to study and eventually implement a special fee for trash collection. Union-Tribune writer David Garrick surveyed Council candidates for their stances on the initiative, which could be a big deal in November. 

Explainer dispatch from Scott Lewis: Few common claims are guaranteed to generate more responses to a journalist in this region than the assertion that residents within the city of San Diego get trash picked up “for free.” So, the Union-Tribune probably heard from plenty of people when, Sunday, Garrick wrote the article with the headline “Repealing free trash pickup in San Diego: Where do your City Council candidates stand?”

I can’t tell you how many times I or another Voice of San Diego writer wrote something similar and then watched our inboxes fill with: “Nothing is free, you nimwit! I pay my taxes!” Or “Nothing is free! We have to pay for that service and, if we charged a fee, it would free up money to make the city better!”

It is true residents and visitors pay property taxes, sales taxes and tourist taxes and those are what pay for trash collection. San Diego is the only city in California without a special fee for trash collection. 

But almost half the city actually does have to pay special fees to trash haulers to get service. What gives?

Garrick wrote “The freebie, guaranteed by a 1919 law called the People’s Ordinance, doesn’t extend to businesses, apartments or condos, whose owners must pay private haulers.”

The “freebie” … wow, so brash! But this sentence is also not precise. The law says that if you can get your trash to a city street, the city must collect it. That means, most people living in single-family homes can access the service (however, people living on private streets don’t get the benefit). And that means most people living in apartments and condos must pay haulers although some do have normal cans they can get to a city street. 

Can’t get enough? Here: We’ll be hosting a special debate about Measure B at Politifest, Oct. 8. Council President Sean Elo-Rivera will debate Haney Hong, the CEO of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association. Elo-Rivera supports the measure and first broached the idea of making this change in a Voice story last year. 

Head over to our Instagram for a chance to win a set of tickets.

Cash for Trash Program Resumes

Bella Roberts, 35, brings in bags of trash to receive her $2 per bag on the last day of the Triangle Project, Thursday, June 30, in downtown San Diego. / Photo by Peggy Peattie for Voice of San Diego

An initiative to pay homeless residents to pick up trash twice a week is back on.

Voice’s Lisa Halverstadt and contributor Peggy Peattie previously profiled a pilot effort known as the Triangle Project for the triangle-shaped area bounded by National Avenue and 16th and Commercial streets where homeless residents could receive $2 for every bag of trash they collected. Participants picked up nearly 45 tons of trash over the 34-day pilot backed by nonprofit Lucky Duck Foundation.

Drew Moser of the Lucky Duck Foundation said the initial effort was such a success that the nonprofit decided it needed to bring it back.

So early Monday, volunteers once again set up around a donated dumpster from waste disposal company EDCO, supplied bright blue trash bags and handed over cash as nearby residents returned with packed trash bags.

Bella Roberts, a past participant who stays at the nearby Alpha Project shelter, cheered the return of the program she learned was restarting Monday morning.

“That was an awesome start to the day,” Roberts said.

Roberts said she easily filled 10 bags.

Moser said the group gathered about 200 trash bags on its first day back at the corner of 16th and Commercial. They’ll be back again Thursday, and through at least the end of the year.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by  Andrea Lopez-Villafaña, Scott Lewis, Lisa Halverstadt and Tigist Layne.

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