San Dieguito Union High School District in North County has been a haven for chaos over the last two years. From redistricting to reopening, letter grades, the text messages of one board member, comments about transgender students and others about Asian students, the district has been spinning out of control.
Enter a slate of union-backed candidates, pledging a return to civility, who will now hold a majority on the school board, following last Tuesday’s election.
Rimga Viskanta and Jane Lea Smith have gained unsurpassable leads over their Republican-endorsed opponents, according to the latest vote totals. Phan Anderson, a third Republican-endorsed candidate, appears to have won her race.
Regardless of the outcome in Anderson’s race, the other two wins will be enough to give more progressive-leaning politicians control of the five-person board.
Robyne Ruterbusch, who campaigned to help elect the new slate of candidates, said she believes the new majority will try to thread the delicate needle between left and right in San Dieguito.
The union-endorsed candidates “do hear the message from the other side. Because these are friends of theirs, that they know through sports teams. They know they have felt unheard in the past and have wanted change. They wanna try to be sympathetic to that.”
City Council Backs $175M Borrowing Plan Following Ash Settlement
A City Council majority on Tuesday signed off on plans for the city to issue up to $175 million in bonds in part to backfill money moves tied to the city’s 101 Ash St. and Civic Center Plaza settlement.
The vote comes months after the City Council approved the controversial deal to have the city buy out its 101 Ash and Civic Center Plaza leases. Cash previously allocated for other capital projects was among the sources the city tapped to pay for 101 Ash, which it has not occupied for almost three years. The city planned to rely on short-term borrowing and longer-term bond financing to purchase Civic Center Plaza, a facility that city workers have inhabited for decades.
On Tuesday, city finance officials returned to the City Council with a plan to issue so-called lease-revenue bonds to help cover $38.8 million in infrastructure projects that it previously pulled cash from and $32 million remaining it owes on Civic Center Plaza, along with other expenses city officials had planned before the settlement was finalized. They project that borrowing will come at a cost of $11.6 million annually for the next three decades.
City officials have been adamant that no infrastructure projects have been delayed by the city’s move to raid funds initially set aside for them.
The Council voted 7-1 – with Councilwoman Marni von Wilpert voting no and Councilwoman Vivian Moreno absent – to approve the bond financing plan.
The city’s finance team for now plans to return to the City Council in February for further authorization and with that approval, to proceed with their plans in March.
City Audit: City Towing Disproportionately Impacts Vulnerable San Diegans
A city audit released earlier this week found that the city towing disproportionately punishes low-income and vulnerable San Diegans.
The Union-Tribune noted that the audit revealed that the top two reasons vehicles get towed – expired registrations and violations of the city’s 72-hour parking rule – can have a significant impact on low-income residents.
City auditors also found that those top two reasons – which often affect people living in vehicles – were more likely to result in a lien sale.
Back in June, our Lisa Halverstadt and contributor Peggy Peattie profiled a family of six who had been living in their RV before it was towed due an expired registration and overdue parking tickets. Their RV was later auctioned off after the family learned getting it back would cost at least $4,800.
- NBC 7 San Diego spoke to two mothers who say they were forced to sleep outside with their children last week after the city towed their vehicles.
In Other News
- The City Council on Tuesday voted to accept $500,000 in federal money to back long-needed upgrades at the Starlight Bowl in Balboa Park, which has largely sat dormant for years while a nonprofit rallies to revive it.
- The San Diego City Council voted to ban styrofoam food containers starting in 2023. (NBC 7)
- Weather forecasters have made a sudden change in their predictions. Instead of getting hit by Santa Ana winds just once, the city will likely endure two bouts of windstorms in the coming days, increasing the risk of wildfire. (Union-Tribune)
- The former captain, as well as other executive officers, of the Bonhomme Richard were fined $5,000 each for a fire that burned on the ship for five straight days in 2020. (U-T)
- Sheriff-Elect Kelly Martinez is assembling her leadership team. (Times of San Diego)
- Mayor Todd Gloria on Tuesday announced proposed changes to city street policies to ensure utilities, contractors and city workers who dig up streets follow a “high standard of complete and timely repairs.” The City Council’s infrastructure committee is set to discuss the proposal Wednesday. (CBS 8)
The Morning Report was written by Will Huntsberry and Lisa Halverstadt. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.