Social workers at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital
Psychiatric social workers Carrie Dillon (left) and Jacqueline Rivera (right) work at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital on Sept. 20, 2022. They are tasked with finding step-down placements for patients who need additional care after they leave the hospital.ditional support after they leave the hospital. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

San Diego’s behavioral health system was clogged before the pandemic, and it got worse during the pandemic.

Next year, the state’s new CARE Court mandate is poised to put more pressure on a system that has long grappled with a deficit of long-term care options that has fueled long waits in hospital beds and delays for others seeking care.

Our Lisa Halverstadt obtained county data revealing that the number of days adult behavioral health patients with Medi-Cal insurance spent waiting for post-hospital care has surged since the start of the pandemic.

The county has also lost hundreds of so-called board-and-care beds over the last decade that were long considered key housing options for behavioral health patients.

County officials who have in the past few years focused more of their investments in crisis services are now pledging to bolster back-end resources and expected to be crucial options for CARE Court participants and other patients. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has pushed controversial CARE Court reforms, has noted that the state is offering unprecedented funding to help counties build out behavioral health resources to better address the need.

Next Tuesday, county officials are set to provide their own analysis of needed behavioral health beds at a County Board of Supervisors meeting and next month, they plan to unveil their strategy to deliver them.

Read the story in its entirety here. 

  • inewsource this week is rolling out a series of stories about the county’s conservatorship system for people with serious mental illnesses. Its major finding: While state and local officials have couched conservatorships as a potential solution to homelessness among people with serious mental illnesses, the existing system is already plagued with problems.

North County Report: About Those Train Tracks

The San Diego Coaster in Del Mar on Sept.19, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

A plan to relocate the Del Mar train tracks from the fragile Del Mar bluffs into an underground tunnel is moving forward, and regional planners say the move is crucial as the bluffs continue to erode. 

Almost 2 miles of the busy LOSSAN rail corridor runs along the Del Mar bluffs, which have been impacted by rising sea levels, erosion and increasingly severe rainstorms over the years.

SANDAG recently received a $300 million state grant toward the project, which could cost a total of up to $3 billion and won’t be completed until 2035, the agency estimates.

Del Mar officials can’t wait for the move as they say years of bluff stabilization efforts, including the building of seawalls, has increasingly restricted access to Del Mar’s beaches. The relocation would also greatly reduce the threat of bluff collapses for beachgoers.

The project is part of SANDAG’s $160 billion Regional Transportation Plan. 

Read the North County Report here. 

In Other News 

  • The Union-Tribune reports that a Superior Court judge on Wednesday issued a tentative ruling suggesting the court can’t “second guess” the City Council’s 2016 decision to acquire the now scandal-plagued (and city owned) 101 Ash St. Need a refresher on various 101 Ash litigation? Check out our primer.
  • The Union-Tribune reports that new infrastructure policy changes approved by the City Council earlier this week will help speed up projects by limiting the City Council oversight of those projects.
  • The City Council this week also signed off on a 3 percent water rate increase, CBS 8 reports.
  • Fixes to the city-owned 104-year-old Hodges Reservoir Dam will take longer than expected, The Associated Press reports.
  • KPBS reported that El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells and county officials are continuing to spar over a county voucher program that has allowed homeless residents to stay in El Cajon hotels. Meanwhile, the Union-Tribune reports, El Cajon officials have agreed not to fine hoteliers who agree to stop accepting new voucher holders ahead of a Friday meeting to discuss next steps.
  • The Union-Tribune reports that the state Supreme Court batted back a request by Coronado, Solana Beach and other San Diego cities opposing zoning mandates for affordable housing set by the San Diego Association of Governments.
  • A USA Today investigation reveals the County District Attorney’s Office’s charged 11 Antifa activists after they battled with white supremacists and Proud Boys in Pacific Beach last year. The far-right activists haven’t been charged despite video footage of the incident.

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt and Tigist Layne. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña. 

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