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.
WaPo Highlights San Diego’s Fentanyl Crisis
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.
In Other News
- Curious about your neighborhood’s climate footprint? The New York Times published an interactive map that includes San Diego.
- Heads up: Your utility bill might be higher. San Diego Gas and Electric officials are alerting customers to higher bills in December and January. Here’s why. (KPBS)
- KPBS dug into the unintended consequences of California’s universal TK rollout. The decreasing market for four-year-olds (who now have guaranteed access to free public school) means even more child care centers are shuttering – exacerbating a crisis in available child care spots that has been ongoing for several years. TK programs are also sucking up workers in a market that already had a labor shortage.
- In a victory for activists, the Port of San Diego is pushing back a decision on whether to allow Mitsubishi to build a cement warehouse in Barrio Logan. (CBS 8)
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.