Barrio Logan NASSCO
Power lines along an alley in the Barrio Logan neighborhood on Nov. 2, 2021. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

San Diego’s public power company had complained when SDG&E was able to offer a lower rate but now its governing board has approved rates that are 3 percent cheaper than the former monopoly.  

That is, as long as rates remain what both power companies OK’d so far this year – but they probably won’t. 

Recent history has shown energy rates are volatile and SDG&E often asks to change rates multiple times per year at the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates investor-owned utilities. 

Public power companies like San Diego Community Power can change rates by a vote of their governing board. The agency’s policy, though, is to set rates once at the beginning of the year – and ride out any changes in cost. That’s in part why its board members followed San Diego Community Power staff’s recommendation of staving off an even bigger discount to customers because the three-year-old agency has a lot of work to do to build its credit and store reserve cash to keep rates stable should heat waves or other problems cause energy prices to soar in summer. 

Read the full story here. 

Environment Report: San Diego’s Orphaned Storm Water Drains Need Adopting

People take photos on their phones of the king tide waves at the Children's Pool in La Jolla on Jan. 22, 2023.
People take photos on their phones of the king tide waves at the Children’s Pool in La Jolla on Jan. 22, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Stormy Drainels. Drain’t Misbehavin’ and A Hard Drain’s Gonna Fall. These are the names given by volunteer San Franciscans who agree to keep storm water drains clear of debris in exchange for naming rights. San Francisco’s Adopt-A-Drain program created corps of stormwater maintenance volunteers that helps prevent street flooding and ocean pollution.

Now, San Diego City Councilman Joe LaCava is asking whether we should start something similar. At the latest City Council Environment committee meeting, the city’s interim stormwater director, Bethany Bezak, pointed to San Diego’s volunteer stenciling program – where residents get to help paint “drains to the ocean” warnings over its stormwater grates and curbs. 

But Bezak made other important points weighing heavily on the city’s mind. The city has set a goal of cleaning up and preventing major coastal pollution and the amount of infrastructure required will cost far more than the city has set aside, to the tune of billions of dollars. A proposed measure to tax parcels of land to pay for some of it never made it on the 2022 ballot. 

Read more in the Environment Report here. And a special science explainer on California’s King Tides.

Bonus Podcast: Sara Jacobs on Why We May Be Building Too Many Navy Ships 

VOSD Podcast host Scott Lewis sat down for a special bonus episode with U.S. Rep. Sara Jacobs this week. In the episode, they chat about her first two years in Congress, and how she went from rookie to leader. 

They also get into the defense budget, the fascinating battle for Speaker of the House and some wonky nuts and bolts of how Congress works. 

Listen to the full conversation here. 

San Diego Officials Propose Ending Covid-19 State of Emergency

After almost three years, San Diego’s declared Covid state of emergency will likely be lifted.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, along with City Attorney Mara Elliott and Councilmember Marni von Wilpert, are proposing the city end the emergency declaration that was enacted in 2020.

The proposal also includes ending the city’s employee vaccine mandate.

About that vaccine mandate: The decision to enact a vaccine mandate in San Diego did not win Gloria many fans — police officers and other city workers faced termination if they failed to get the shot or comply with routine testing back in July. The San Diego Police Officers Association was vocal about their opposition and has since continued to blame the city’s police officer vacancy on the vaccine mandate. 

If approved by the City Council on Tuesday, the move will coincide with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement that California’s state of emergency will end on Feb. 28.

The state and city’s emergency declarations allowed for eviction moratoriums, stimulus programs, grants for small businesses, PPE distributions and more.

In Other News 

  • According to a new report by the Union-Tribune, child care providers across the state that are promised state funding often don’t see that money for several months, if at all. Furthermore, a huge chunk of state funds that is allocated for subsidized child care providers goes unspent each year – last fiscal year that chunk was $328.5 million. (Union-Tribune)
  • Weekend service for rail passengers on the Surfliner will resume on Feb. 4, four months after riders were forced to take a bus between Oceanside and Orange County to avoid a possible bluff collapse above the tracks in San Clemente, the Orange County Transportation Authority announced Monday. Since late September, the stretch of tracks has been closed to passengers while crews stabilized the bluffs, though freight service continued to operate. The rail line will now be open on weekends (Saturday and Sunday), while work on the bluffs continues during the week. Full service between San Diego and Los Angeles isn’t expected to resume until the end of March.
  • The Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, a 500-member tribe in North County, has become the first in California to withdraw from state oversight and instead work with the National Indian Gaming Commission for casino regulation. The move will give the tribe more room to self-govern. (Union-Tribune)

Correction: In the Monday, Jan. 23, 2023, Morning Report, we incorrectly stated that Matthew Boomhower is the chair of San Diego’s Planning Commission. He is a member but not chair. 

The Morning Report was written by MacKenzie Elmer, Andrea Lopez-Villafaña and Tigist Layne. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña and Scott Lewis. 

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