People cross the street at the intersection of Genesee Avenue and Governor Drive in University City on Sept.23, 2022.
People cross the street at the intersection of Genesee Avenue and Governor Drive in University City on Sept. 23, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

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The race to replace outgoing City Councilman Chris Cate in District 6 is one of the more high-profile contests in San Diego this year because it’s the only open seat. The polling we’ve seen suggests that the cost of housing is a dominant motivation.

Most District 6 voters cite housing-related matters as a top concern. That’s also where Tommy Hough and Kent Lee, the two candidates running to represent the area, really distinguish themselves on policy.

Jesse Marx surveyed the candidates and found a few similarities. Both say the city needs more affordable housing and they both like the updated Kearny Mesa community plan. Both say housing and infrastructure need to be built simultaneously to meet the region’s climate goals. 

But Hough has been much more vocal about the housing he doesn’t like and has criticized the strong mayor form of government, which he sees as a hindrance to community input. Lee, on the other hand, said the city should respect the character of neighborhoods but is unwilling to position himself as a defender of single-family zoning.

Read the dispatch from D6 in its entirety here.

Reminder! We’re hosting a debate between these two candidates at Politifest on Oct. 8. The conversation will touch on housing and more, so get your tickets.

Bill Walton Calls for Gloria to Resign Over Homeless Response

Former NBA star Bill Walton speaks at a press conference at the University of San Diego on Sept. 27, 2022. Walton called on Mayor Todd Gloria to resign for what Walton sees as a failure to respond to the city’s homeless crisis. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

San Diego’s most famous booster has also become the most prominent San Diegan voicing boiling frustration over a humanitarian scourge that appears to be surging.

Basketball legend Bill Walton erupted at a Tuesday press conference with the nonprofit Lucky Duck Foundation, calling for Mayor Todd Gloria to resign and coining “Gloria-ville” to describe homeless camps that have popped up on the mayor’s watch.

Walton noted that Gloria pledged as a candidate to take meaningful steps to address the homelessness crisis, but said he’s concluded Gloria “does not want to do the job” or to crack down on homeless camps, trash and sanitation issues.

“We need new leadership,” Walton said. “Todd Gloria should step aside.”

A spokeswoman for Gloria, who is this week on a trade mission in the Netherlands, responded by deeming the press conference a ”tantrum full of self-aggrandizing hyperbole and outright lies.”

“San Diegans are frustrated with the worsening homelessness crisis, and Mayor Gloria shares that frustration,” Gloria spokeswoman Rachel Laing wrote in a statement. “But unlike Mr. Walton, the mayor is translating that frustration into decisive, sustained action to improve the situation.”

She wrote that the mayor has added hundreds of new and diversified shelter beds including beds for women and people with behavioral health conditions, championed state-level behavioral health reforms, invested city funds in 10 affordable housing projects and has directed increased enforcement to try “to protect health and safety in our public spaces.”

Yet Walton and others aren’t seeing the evidence of that work. They want immediate action – yesterday.

Click here to read more. 

The Padres Chairman Weighs In: Peter Seidler, a Lucky Duck Foundation board member who was unable to attend the Tuesday press conference told us he wanted to clarify that he didn’t agree with Walton’s take on the mayor’s homelessness response.

Meanwhile… Supes Declare Homelessness Public Health Crisis

San Diego County supervisors unanimously voted Tuesday to formally declare homelessness a public health crisis.

County board Vice Chair Nora Vargas, who helped introduce the measure, said the declaration could help align local efforts and address housing instability and health issues. 

Vargas and Chair of the Board of Supervisors Nathan Fletcher have also said they hope the declaration will spotlight the physical and mental health challenges facing the region’s unhoused population and encourage collaboration with the county’s 18 cities on solutions.

But as the Union-Tribune has reported, Tuesday’s vote will not make the county eligible for more funds to combat the problem.

-Supervisors on Tuesday also voted to launch a pilot program to give dozens of seniors monthly $500 subsidies to try to prevent them from falling into homelessness. 

And… El Cajon Mayor Continues Stirring the Pot

El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells continued pushing back against a county hotel voucher program for homeless residents with a Tuesday morning press conference outside the county administration building, Fox 5 San Diego reported. 10 News reported that the El Cajon City Council later voted to create a subcommittee to study the hotel voucher program and whether changes should be made. The discussion followed a cease-and-desist order from State Attorney General Rob Bonta in response to El Cajon’s initial plan to fine hotels that didn’t decrease the number of homeless guests they were hosting. 

County Eyeing More Behavioral Health Beds   

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. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

The county wants to add hundreds of new community-based behavioral health beds to transform its currently clogged system.

County behavioral health officials on Tuesday briefed county supervisors on a plan that focuses on adding beds outside hospitals and instead in less-restrictive facilities such as skilled nursing homes and places they have dubbed respite centers. The goal is to, over time, reduce the need for expensive crisis services and connect those in need with care that can meet their needs at the least restrictive level possible.

Luke Bergmann, the county’s behavioral health services director, said the county and an outside contractor estimated the region needs nearly 400 new long-term care beds alone. He said a recent county pivot away from a plan to build a behavioral health hub on county property in Hillcrest and instead to a contract with Prime Healthcare opens up possibilities for the county to deliver resources such as dwindling board-and-care beds and recuperative care beds for people stepping down from hospitals at county-owned properties in Hillcrest and Midway. The county is considering a similar model in East County.

The Union-Tribune did a deep dive on the county plan and our Lisa Halverstadt last week explained how a years-long shortage of long-term care options has been exacerbated by the pandemic and the state’s new CARE Court policy could put more pressure on the system.

Bergmann said county officials will return to supervisors on Oct. 11 to provide more details on its strategy to add behavioral health beds.

In Other News 

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx and Lisa Halverstadt. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña and Scott Lewis. 

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1 Comment

  1. If you live by political correctness, you will, love that cat, Lee. What a shill, follower and glad handler! OMG NO!

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