A floor plaque inside the Vista Civic Center, which serves as the city of Vista's City Hall. / Photo by Tigist Layne
A floor plaque inside the Vista Civic Center, which serves as the city of Vista's City Hall. / Photo by Tigist Layne

Vista’s City Council has decided that a council majority, not just the mayor, will be able to recommend and appoint SANDAG representatives moving forward.

Previously, the city’s mayor could recommend a representative to send to the San Diego Association of Governments, and the council would have to support or reject his nomination. 

Other councilmembers didn’t have the power to make their own recommendations — until now.

How we got here: The move comes after a contentious start to the new year for Vista that left the council at odds over who to send to SANDAG as their board representative.

Vista’s mayor, John Franklin, nominated himself for the SANDAG role, but the Democratic majority preferred to send Councilmember Katie Melendez. The impasse eventually led to the policy change.

The council’s next move will be to choose a SANDAG representative.

Read the full story here.

The Old Library Is Now a Homeless Shelter

Beds at the Old Central Library that is now a shelter for women in downtown on Jan. 26, 2023. The new shelter has 36 beds and is being operated by NAMI San Diego. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

The city’s long-vacant old Central Library is now sheltering unhoused women.

Mayor Todd Gloria and others announced Thursday that the old downtown library will shelter up to 36 homeless women each night for the next six months. This week’s opening comes about a month after a Superior Court ruling cleared a century-old deed restriction that had haunted plans to redevelop the facility.

Advocates for years urged the city to shelter unhoused residents in the shuttered library. It has been vacant since 2013 and surrounded by homeless camps for years.

Some background: In 2021, Gloria had city officials assess several city buildings including the old library to see if they could serve as shelters and in September, the city began preparing for the facility.

Gloria’s office has said the city spent about $74,000 to prepare the old library, which still boasts a sign near the entrance directing patrons to fiction books. Among the city’s expenses was a generator that a spokeswoman said the city had to rent due to vandalism that left the facility without power.

The shelter operated by NAMI San Diego will be closed during the day, but the nonprofit is providing transportation to its nearby clubhouse where people can access food, showers, case management and healthcare during the day.

Gloria’s office said Thursday that the city’s long-term plan is to provide affordable housing at the old library site. The mayor said the city will spend the next several months exploring options.

Volunteers Survey San Diego’s Homeless Population

A volunteer from state Sen. Toni Atkins’ office talks to an unhoused person during the in downtown San Diego during the annual point in time count on Jan. 26, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

About 1,600 volunteers fanned throughout the region early Thursday to tally the county’s unsheltered residents.

Outreach workers, volunteers and politicians crouched up to tents and ventured into canyons and under bridges throughout the county to survey homeless residents.

As the Union-Tribune reports, the point-in-time count led by the Regional Task Force on Homelessness is an annual effort to learn more about the demographics and needs of the region’s unhoused population. The census is mandated for communities to receive federal homelessness funding.

As our Lisa Halverstadt has reported, the point-in-time count is broadly considered a minimum count of homeless San Diegans but was once considered the foremost data point on the problem each year.

In more recent years, other data points from the Task Force – including the number of people accessing homeless services and the pace of people falling into homelessness for the first time – have shed more light on the scope and nature of the region’s homelessness crisis.  

In Other News 

  • A taxpayer lawsuit challenging the city’s 101 Ash St. lease has been dismissed by a Superior Court judge but former city attorney Mike Aguirre is pledging to take the fight to the state Court of Appeal. (Union-Tribune)
  • Wind gusts through downtown San Diego reached speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, knocking down large trees in Balboa Park injuring one person and causing power outages. Speeds from these Santa Ana winds, which originate in the desert and blow westward over the mountain ranges, reached double those speeds and over. (Union-Tribune)
  • The city of San Diego could end up paying $23 million in cash and credits to a downtown developer to acquire land and build a half-acre park. (Union-Tribune)
  • Investment bank Goldman Sachs predicts home prices in San Diego and three other cities will plummet over the next year. (NBC 7)

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

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