As the city tries to pursue a pilot safe campground for homeless seniors, it now appears most focused on a vacant parking lot at 4th Avenue and Beech Street in Cortez Hill. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler
The San Diego Housing Commission is back to the drawing board on its hopes for a safe campground for unsheltered seniors after focusing in recent weeks on a vacant parking lot at 4th Avenue and Beech Street in Cortez Hill. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Early this year, a broad swath of advocates and activists got behind a new homelessness solution: open city-backed safe villages where the area’s surging population of unsheltered residents could safely camp.

Yet the hoped-for city pilot program has yet to launch months after power brokers and activists seemingly coalesced around the concept.

Our Lisa Halverstadt checked in with the Downtown San Diego Partnership and city officials on the hold-up as the area’s homeless population skyrockets and learned that the city and its Housing Commission, which is now leading the effort, have struggled to secure a service provider to operate a pilot program.

For now, the city seems focused on serving up to 40 seniors at a time in a now-empty Cortez Hill parking lot to test out the concept it previously tried in 2017 during a deadly hepatitis A outbreak.

Meanwhile, downtown City Councilman Stephen Whitburn says he’s planning to kick off the new year analyzing potential sites for a second, larger safe campground.

Read the full story here. 

WaPo Highlights San Diego’s Fentanyl Crisis

Tara Stamos-Buesig (right) from the Harm Reduction Coalition gives Narcan Nasal Spray to Victoria Secretos, 33 years old who is unhoused in downtown on Nov. 11, 2022.
Tara Stamos-Buesig (left) of the Harm Reduction Coalition of San Diego gives Narcan Nasal Spray, which can reverse opioid overdoses, to Victoria Secretos, 33, in downtown San Diego on Nov. 11, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

A new Washington Post series digging into the nation’s fentanyl epidemic highlights San Diego’s status on the front line of the crisis.

The newspaper told San Diego’s story in part through the eyes of a locally based Homeland Security Investigations agent who has responded to nearly 500 overdoses. This chapter of the newspaper’s seven-part series also includes a mini-documentary featuring District Attorney Summer Stephan and a San Diego police lieutenant who describes fentanyl as the most dangerous drug he’s seen in his career.

Indeed, local fentanyl deaths surged from 151 countywide fatalities in 2019 to 814 last year.

Related: On Tuesday, county supervisors voted to move forward with a spending plan on opioid settlement funds. Among the efforts: Bolster overdose prevention education and access to naloxone, an overdose reversal drug; proceed with an initiative to have peers intervene early with San Diegans at high risk of overdoses and improve detection of clusters of outbreaks to direct resources to prevent deaths. The Union-Tribune shared more details.

County Continues to Take on Wage Theft

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors moved forward Tuesday with a new policy intended to crack down on wage theft and other complaints coming from janitorial, landscaping and security workers. 

The county’s new policy requires that companies bidding for contracts include labor peace and collective bargaining agreements. It also establishes a wage floor for workers every five years based on a comparison to other jurisdictions and requires that a portion of the money awarded to companies be set aside and only released at the end the contract if no wage theft claims are made. 

Elected officials referred to this pot of money as “a first-of-its-kind wage theft fund.”

These changes are expected to be phased in over the next several years as current contracts expire. It’s part of a series of workforce protections pushed by the Democrat-majority on the board that also included the creation of an Office of Labor Standards and Enforcement.

Read more about the new policy here. 

In Other News 

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt, Jesse Marx and Will Huntsberry. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña. 

Correction: In the section “Nathan Fletcher Stepping Down As Supervisor Chair” of the Tuesday, Dec. 13, Morning Report, we incorrectly stated that Fletcher’s term ends in 2024. His term is up in 2027. 

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