Daniel Palmer, 61, is a tenant of North Park Towers. Palmer has a Section 8 voucher but has seen an a 86 percent rent increase. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler for Voice of San Diego

Mayor Todd Gloria and City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera on Tuesday announced a proposal to enhance tenant protections in the city.

They unveiled a framework with a series of proposed changes including just-cause eviction protections for tenants, more required relocation assistance following no-fault evictions and additional time for seniors and San Diegans with disabilities to find new homes after receiving a no-fault eviction notice.

(Just-cause protections limit the reasons a landlord can evict a tenant to things like failure to pay rent or breach of contract.)

Gloria and Elo-Rivera want to ensure tenant protections in the city are consistent with the state rent cap law, which the city’s 2004 Tenants’ Right to Know Ordinance falls short of for now. In some areas, Gloria and Elo-Rivera aim to surpass state protections.

Gloria and Elo-Rivera hope to bring an ordinance to the City Council to consider early next year. 

The purpose: Gloria and Elo-Rivera said in Tuesday statements they believe the proposed protections could prevent San Diegans from losing their homes and shield them from wrongful evictions.

Gloria argued the rise in San Diegans falling into homelessness “requires policy reforms at the local level that will help keep roofs over San Diegans’ heads.”

Elo-Rivera agreed.

“San Diegans who are paying their rent and following the rules need and deserve protections that will provide them with the housing security necessary for a stable life,” Elo-Rivera wrote.

Reactions: For now, the landlord group Southern California Rental Housing Association and tenant advocacy groups Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA) and Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) say they are supportive of the proposed rules.

Report: Balboa Park’s Woes Require Multiple Solutions

Overlooking downtown and canopy of trees on State Route 163 from Balboa Park on Nov. 11, 2022.
Overlooking downtown and canopy of trees on State Route 163 from Balboa Park on Nov. 11, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

A new report concludes that Balboa Park needs an oversight overhaul and major influxes of cash to address longstanding challenges including a repair backlog projected to total about $444 million by 2036.

The analysis by the Burnham Center for Community Advancement is the latest review of the state of the park over the last two decades to highlight its various woes and what might be done to address them. 

The authors offer options such as a tax increase and policies that would dedicate existing city revenue streams to Balboa Park. The report also suggests a new joint powers authority or cabinet-level city department could help address longtime debates over who is in charge of the park.

“The recent history of managing Balboa Park makes clear that no single solution exists that will solve institutional governance and finance issues,” the report states. “Rather, city and county governments, organizations that operate within Balboa Park, the communities surrounding the park, and the larger San Diego community need to consider a variety of options in combination with one another to reimagine, restore, and maintain the park in perpetuity.”

The Burnham Center plans to host an event to gather feedback on potential Balboa Park solutions early next year.

City to Double Allowed Housing in Mira Mesa

The San Diego City Council passed new development regulations for Mira Mesa Monday, in hopes of spurring home building there in the coming decades.

Mira Mesa is currently home to 26,800 homes, and the new regulations would allow the community to grow to 58,000 homes.

Keep in mind: Mira Mesa’s new community plan – like others that set general development rules throughout the city – are not strict blueprints anyone should ever expect to be fully fulfilled, even in the long-term.

For example, the new Mira Mesa plan replaces one passed in 1992 that would have allowed developers to theoretically build 34,000 homes there. In thirty years, it reached just over 75 percent of that. The total development number the plan allows is a maximum that could only be reached if every property in the community not only redevelops from its current use, but also does so to the absolute limit of the new zoning rules.

City planners started writing the new plan four years ago.

The city’s climate action plan imagines 50 percent of city residents walking, biking or taking transit for all of their trips by 2035. Planners say the Mira Mesa plan will max out at 28 percent of trips taking place outside of a car. The city has never passed a community plan with the mode share targets it lists as a target in its climate plan.

Another South County City Is Regulating Mobile Home Parks

On Tuesday, the National City Council moved forward with a new ordinance that will provide a temporary rent cap for all mobile home parks within city limits. The ordinance goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2023, and is good through the end of 2024. 

The decision to intervene in mobile home parks, which typically fall under state jurisdiction, comes after the Keystone Trailer Park increased its rent by 20 percent on July 1. Elected officials said the ordinance was a good first step but acknowledged that more work needed to be done to keep the cost of housing low. 

“It is long overdue,” said City Councilman Jose Rodriguez. “We need to make sure that we preserve already-existing affordable units in our city.”

Tenants who had petitioned the city for help — some of whom are living on fixed incomes — said the rent hikes put them at risk of homelessness and expressed gratitude to the Council for listening. 

“Thanks to you … I have some peace of mind that I will be able to pay my bills and I will be able to be okay with this rent stabilization,” Sylvia Gardner said.

A similar debate took place in Imperial Beach earlier this year after tenants in the Miramar Imperial Beach Mobile Home and RV Park staged a protest against rent increases and a policy requiring they move out every six months. The Imperial Beach ordinance, approved in October, includes an eviction moratorium and no more than 5 percent annual rent increases. 

National City’s ordinance also limits rent increases to 5 percent annually. An earlier version would have pushed the rent caps back to the summer, but elected officials removed that provision after pushback from an industry rep.

In Other News

  • State Sen. Brian Jones, whose district includes Escondido and Poway, announced Tuesday he has introduced legislation aiming to “compassionately clear” homeless camps near schools, parks, libraries and daycares throughout California. Jones is now the leader of Senate Republicans and his office reports that the bill has been co-sponsored by every member of the state Senate Republican caucus.
  • Voice of San Diego contributor Peggy Peattie produced a photo essay for San Diego Magazine featuring portraits of the city’s unhoused artists and some of their work. 
  • The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a settlement with the county’s Air Pollution Control District to resolve asbestos violations at a city fire training center and 101 Ash St. The deal calls for the city to invest $4.7 million in a new tree-planting program and to pay a $250,000 fine to APCD.
  • And a judge reaffirmed his previous decision to toss out a taxpayer lawsuit challenging the city’s 101 Ash St. acquisition. (Union-Tribune)
  • A rare octopus humans haven’t been able to study well because it lives so deep in the ocean got caught in a prawn trap and was sent to Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She fiercely guarded her eggs and they led to a scientific discovery. Story from the La Jolla Light.
  • Southwest Strategies, the influential public affairs and lobbying firm in San Diego has a new investor. Palladium Equity Partners formed a new fund, Palladium Heritage and it invested in Southwest Strategies to help the firm expand its lucrative public outreach services statewide and beyond. “We’re not going anywhere. The purpose of the partnership is to gain additional resources to expand the network of services we can offer clients,” said Chris Wahl, Southwest’s CEO and a longtime San Diego lobbyist. He said the money will help him plan for succession as well. “I don’t want to be doing this when I’m 70,” he said.
  • Councilman Chris Cate, the lone Republican on a Council that will soon have none, joined KPBS Tuesday to discuss his eight years in office, saying he’s concerned the body will lack diverse viewpoints because there is now “a monolithic block of partisanship on the Council.”

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