Summer Stephan
District Attorney Summer Stephan appears at the US Grant Hotel on the night of the June 2018 primary election. / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

Without much attention or discussion about the impacts, the governor signed a bill recently that will ensure District Attorney Summer Stephan stays in her job through 2028. She’s running for re-election this year unopposed for another four-year term.

But the new law will give her two more years in addition. The legislation was intended to align sheriff and district attorney elections with the presidential election cycle after 2022. As Jesse Marx reports, the Democrats and advocates who pushed the bill argue that, in the long term, it will boost turnout in law enforcement races and ensure underrepresented communities have more influence on the races.

In the interim, that means District Attorney Summer Stephan, who’s running unopposed, will remain in office through 2028 before going back to the voters. Same goes for whomever wins the sheriff’s seat. John Hemmerling, the former head of the city attorney’s criminal division, is running against Kelly Martinez, the undersheriff.

Both said the additional two years will give them more time to carry out their agendas and stop deaths in the jails that they’ll manage. San Diego has the highest jail-mortality rate among the state’s largest counties.

Read the story in its entirety here. 

Speaking of the election: KPBS reports that the county Registrar of Voters has new dropboxes where voters can drop off their ballots.

Gloria: ‘Quit Acting a Fool’ So City Can Build More Public Restrooms

Mayor Todd Gloria and Chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors Nathan Fletcher discuss homelessness at a Politifest panel, moderated by Voice of San Diego reporter Lisa Halverstadt on October 8, 2022.
Mayor Todd Gloria and Chair of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors Nathan Fletcher discuss homelessness at a Politifest panel, moderated by Voice of San Diego reporter Lisa Halverstadt on October 8, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Mayor Todd Gloria at this weekend’s Politifest said the city was trying to add more public restrooms but its attempts to do so are harder than they should be because they’re so gross.

“I just need to ask folks to quit acting a fool in these bathrooms,” he said. “I mean, it’s not just the homeless population. It’s everybody. You’ve seen the stories about the lack of cleanliness. Talk about worker issues. It’s very hard to get people to do that job as well. And so, you know, when these bathrooms are being destroyed – and I’m not saying this is the homeless thing – this is everybody’s getting in there and acting some foolish. Like, it’s kind of funny, but it’s not, right? I mean, it makes it hard for me to tell a community we need to put a public restroom there because they think of it as only a negative thing rather than a common human thing, which is that we all go to the bathroom, right?”

Last year, Gloria’s administration set a goal of having a public restroom within a five-minute walk of everywhere downtown. The city told our Lisa Halverstadt Tuesday that it has not yet met that goal it set for itself nearly a year ago.

Read more of Gloria’s comments on public restrooms here.

Port Supervisors Signal Support for up to $550M in Public Funding for Seaport Village Redevelopment

Six years after selecting developer 1HWY1 to redevelop Seaport Village, the Board of Port Commissioners Tuesday indicated it is on board with the developer’s plan to seek $550 million in public money to make the project happen.

The subsidy would help pay for things like stabilizing the shoreline, lifting the land to withstand sea level rise, and accommodating utilities, and pay for amenities that were a selling point for the project like an urban beach, parks, a boardwalk and an elevated “green strand” walkway modeled after The High Line in New York.

Public funds wouldn’t be used for revenue-generating infrastructure like parking garages, or for the $2.6 billion in private development that would include 2,000 hotel rooms, an aquarium, observation tower, retail and office space or concert venue.

Yehudi “Gaf” Gaffen, who runs 1HWY1, had said he could build the project without public funds, covering upgrades out of profit from the private development. That changed, he said, when the bill for those upgrades swelled from $150 million to $1.2 billion.

Where the money is coming from: One chunk, about $250 million, would come from special taxes on hotel rooms and tickets for attractions in the project. That would be on top of hotel taxes the city of San Diego charges.

The other chunk would come from a tax-increment financing district. The development would itself generate new tax revenue and a portion of that would be kept in the district. The port would use it to pay back the money borrowed to make the improvements outlined. Tax increment was a common source of public funding in downtown San Diego, before the state killed the redevelopment program in 2011. This could rely on a similar, little-used replacement, known as an enhanced infrastructure financing district, though that wasn’t detailed Tuesday.

That increment would come from increases to the property taxes, sales taxes, and hotel taxes that would flow to the county, city and school district.

Port commissioners, though, made clear that they are in favor of the idea and want the city’s help to study its feasibility.

“Folks are mischaracterizing it because they oppose any development on the site, period – they call it a subsidy,” said Port Commissioner Rafael Castellanos. “In the private sector they’d call it an investment, because you get a return on it. I implore the city to devote the resources necessary to vet the economic impact study, just as we will, to determine if the business case is there… If the return is there, we should invest in our region.”

“The reality does sound a lot different than a tax subsidy, or revenues funneled away from other things,” said Commissioner Michael Zucchet. “These are revenues paid for by things that don’t exist right now.”

Commissioner Ann Moore said she always expected some public funding, but she didn’t want it coming from the Port’s general fund, or using the Port’s general fund as a backstop for bonding.

“That’s a bottom line, we can’t go there, and so we do need participation from the city and county of San Diego,” she said.

What’s next: The Port could next month give preliminary approval to the project, which would allow the developer to begin its environmental review needed before it can seek approval from the state Coastal Commission. Gaffen said he hopes the project could break ground in 2025 or early 2026,  ten years after the Port selected the developer.

San Diego County’s Got a New Homelessness Plan

San Diego County needs more than 9,000 new affordable and supportive housing options, at least 850 new shelter beds and thousands more housing aid slots to dramatically reduce homelessness, according to a new regional homelessness plan released Wednesday.

The Regional Task Force on Homelessness, the countywide group coordinating the local response to homelessness, contracted with the Corporation for Supportive Housing to calculate regional needs. What resulted was a long-wanted plan that urges dramatic upticks in housing and aid.

“Currently there are not enough resources to effectively make homelessness in San Diego rare, brief, and onetime,” the plan states.

The new strategy pushes the region to strive to halve unsheltered homelessness and end homelessness among veterans, families, youth and seniors in the next five years.

It also describes challenges the region must address to put a significant dent in its homelessness crisis including fragmented leadership and lacking regional coordination, a dearth of low-barrier shelter options, service and housing deserts in some areas of the county and “little urgency” to address a major shortage of affordable housing.  

Task Force CEO Tamera Kohler acknowledged delivering new homes and shelter won’t be easy, but cheered a recent city and county commitment to produce 10,000 housing units. She also said shared and nontraditional housing options such as modular units could also help the county quickly house more of its homeless residents.

The key, Kohler said, will be drastically scaling up solutions including housing.

“I think we could dramatically change the landscape and reduce the numbers,” Kohler said.

In Other News

  • The county earlier this week debuted a welcome center for immigrants and refugees in National City. (Union-Tribune) 
  • SANDAG told 10News it’s pursuing a proposal to extend one of its trolley lines into Tijuana
  • Dozens of the county’s home care workers who feed, bathe and dress some of the region’s most vulnerable rallied in favor of better wages and benefits. 10News reports that the workers make $15.50 an hour and their union says the low pay is causing a shortage. 
  • Inside the county administrative building, supervisors signed off on a new mandate to provide education about fentanyl in county schools, distribute naloxone overdose treatment to parents and teach students how to use it. (City News Service)
  • Barrio Logan residents are collecting petition signatures with the Environmental Health Coalition to demand county air quality regulators to put an end to odors coming from a local biodiesel plant they said are making them sick. (Union-Tribune) 
  • Military families are getting a bump in their housing allowance, but it still might not be enough. (KPBS)

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, Andrew Keatts and Lisa Halverstadt. It was edited by Andrew Keatts.

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