Children participate in an activity at Blossom Valley Elementary School in El Cajon on Nov. 28, 2022.
Children participate in an activity at Blossom Valley Elementary School in El Cajon on Nov. 28, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

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Since the release of our 2023 Parent’s Guide to San Diego Schools, I’ve been speaking to parents and responding to some of their most pressing questions about our local school systems. As the editor of this year’s edition, it is eye-opening to see how complex of a system it really is and how much parents are eager to learn.  

If you haven’t already, you can download the guide for free or get a print copy at your local library. Here are locations where you can also find the guide

Our upcoming workshops  

  • Monday, March 13, at Skyline Hills Library from 4 to 5:30 p.m. RSVP here
  • Tuesday, March 14, at City Heights/Weingart Library from 6 to 7:30 p.m. RSVP here.   

Check our site for more workshops, as new ones will be added over the coming weeks.  

If you have any questions, send me an email at If you value our work, you can donate here to support the Schools Guide 

OK, grab your cafecito and let’s get into the chisme.  

Chisme to Start Your Week 

Captain Jeffrey Jordon speaks during a Smart Streetlights & Automated License Plate Recognition Community Meeting in Point Loma on March 6, 2023.
San Diego Police Capt. Jeff Jordon speaks during a Smart Streetlights & Automated License Plate Recognition Community Meeting in Point Loma on March 6, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

The city of San Diego hosted a series of public meetings this week, led by police officers, to discuss a proposal to install new streetlight cameras and merge the devices with license plate readers.  

If you remember: When the city pitched its smart streetlights program in 2016 it was supposed to be a means of capturing data about air quality and traffic, but became a tool exclusively used by local police. Pushback on that use, along with other complaints, caused the city to hit pause – though the streetlight weren’t turned off immediately. The city eventually also set up a Privacy Advisory Board and a process for how the city uses new technology.   

These lights are smart: As associate editor Jesse Marx wrote recently, “In the years since the smart streetlights program went bust, the devices have advanced to enable other forms of surveillance that weren’t present to officials before.”  

Though the police department says it doesn’t intend to use the cameras for more sophisticated analytics, the capabilities of the new streetlight platform are raising alarms among the same people who helped write the city’s rules governing surveillance technology.  

Why cops want them: police say the camera footage will aid investigators after a crime has been reported and the license plate readers will be used to find stolen cars and missing persons.  

“My goal is that at the end of this process, we can redeploy important technologies in a way that respects civil liberties and privacy while also making important tools available to our police department so they can keep us all safe,” Mayor Todd Gloria said in his weekly update.  

The city’s Privacy Advisory Board is meeting on Wednesday, March 15, at 5:30 p.m., but police don’t expect to present the proposal until later. Here’s more information on the meeting

Read more about the streetlights here

Resources Have Run Dry for Families on the Brink  

Claudia Munoz at City Hall in Oceanside on March 3, 2023.
Claudia Muñoz at City Hall in Oceanside on March 3, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

North County reporter Tigist Layne this week had two stories about programs that recently lost their funding source. One in Oceanside focused on helping low-income families achieve financial independence. Another in Escondido helped families at risk of becoming homeless stabilize their income and living situations.  

Both of their funding wells have run dry.  

One voice that struck me: In her latest story, Tigist featured Claudia Muñoz, a mother of two who was a part of Oceanside’s Family Self-Sufficiency program, a savings incentive program for families who have Section 8 housing vouchers or rely on some other state assistance for housing. Muñoz heard that the city was suspending its program and she decided to speak up at a Housing Commission meeting about how it helped her pay off debt, enroll her children in college and set her on her way to becoming a homeowner. Read her story here

The other program’s future is still uncertain: Leaders of the Families First program, which was run by the nonprofit Escondido Education COMPACT, want the city to step up. That program worked with school districts to identify families on the brink. In the first year it operated, it helped 54 families. Read more about that program here

Billionaire Didn’t Get the Warmest Welcome  

It has been less than a year since law enforcement officials in South Dakota concluded a child pornography investigation implicating billionaire T. Denny Sanford. No charges were filed on their side. And now, as Sanford returns to the local philanthropic spotlight, and is expected to receive UC San Diego’s Lifetime Legacy Award, some are not so sure if they are ready to welcome him. Read the story here

More Chisme  

  • The city of San Deigo released a plan for its Climate Action Plan. Self-proclaimed catastrophes reporter MacKenzie Elmer explains how the city’s climate action plan actually works and what it might cost. Read her latest story here.    
  • The San Diego Housing Commission is considering converting an unused office floor into a shelter space for youth ages 18 to 24. They are still in the beginning stages, but Lisa Halverstadt has the deets here.  
  • Also from Lisa, back in October she wrote about a criminal case that kept coming up in the County Assessor/Recorder/Clerk race. There’s a ruling now on those charges. Read more here

Andrea Lopez-Villafaña

Andrea Lopez-Villafaña, Managing Editor, Daily News Andrea oversees the production of daily news stories for Voice of San Diego. She...

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