Case Managers Abigail Brown (right) and Shelly Baker (left) work at McAlister Institute- Adult Detox in Lemon Grove on Feb. 10, 2023.
Case Managers Abigail Brown (right) and Shelly Baker (left) work at McAlister Institute's adult detox program in Lemon Grove on Feb. 10, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

The county doesn’t see improving detox bed access as a foremost tactic to address the fentanyl crisis, according to a report released last week by city independent budget analysts.

“The lack of timely access to drug treatment in the city is seen as a major challenge in combating the opioid crisis by most stakeholders, except for the county which viewed current capacity for treatment in the region as better than most other areas of the state,” analysts Amy Li and Baku Patel wrote in a report released last Wednesday.

Our Lisa Halverstadt recently revealed that low-income and unhoused San Diegans seeking a safe place to stop using are often forced to wait for a bed – or are never able to access one — as fentanyl overdose deaths skyrocket. She also found none of the county’s contracted withdrawal management beds for Medi-Cal patients are in the city, home to about half of the county’s fentanyl deaths in recent years.  

Li and Patel wrote in their report that the county described encouraging opioid users to seek and accept treatment as “a bigger barrier than access to detox beds” and argued more focus should be placed on harm reduction strategies and other service connections.

So is the county discouraging investment in detox beds? County spokesman Tim McClain told Voice of San Diego that the county agrees there is a need for more detox beds and hopes to deliver them following a $12 million joint city-county pledge to the McAlister Institute and at a National City facility it took over last year.

But McClain also noted that detox isn’t recommended for most people with longstanding opioid addiction.

“In most cases, opioid use disorder can be treated as an outpatient with medication-assisted treatment,” McClain wrote in an email. “When thinking about adequate access to treatment, detox beds are not the primary focus.”

Come Again Some Other Day

People at Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach before it rained on Jan. 15, 2023.
People at Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach before it rained on Jan. 15, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

The ongoing rains of 2023, according to some in Voice’s office, have officially become an existential threat to San Diego’s core identity. But before the rains drown the city’s soul, they have havoc yet to wreak on its mind and body. 

The rain has massively exacerbated potholes, as news outlets were reporting as early as January. (KUSI called it a “pothole epidemic” and we don’t know whether to lol at that or cry.) Add to the pothole problem that rain has kept road crews inside for much of the winter. Those crews were finally able to get out Tuesday to begin the massive patch job needed, FOX 5 reported. But the specter of precipitation hangs heavy on the city Wednesday and Thursday, the National Weather Service reports. Good luck keeping those streets “sexy,” Mayor. 

Speaking of Thursday, it’s opening day for the Padres at Petco Park. The San Diego Union-Tribune broke down ways you can have the best time at the ballpark, from parking to getting tickets, but none of it will matter if Zeus heaves lightning bolts downtown as the Weather Service suggests could happen

Then there’s the OB Pier, that rickety, hulking symbol of beach life, beloved by us all. The pier has been mostly closed since January, due to the storms. High waves knocked off the pier’s railings, and city officials are waiting until after the rains pass to repair them, reports NBC 7

We. Are. All. Waiting. 

What Andrea Cardenas Said About Keeping Roles Separate

Andrea Cardenas, as a candidate for Chula Vista City Council, speaks at an event in support of South Bay Democratic candidates. / File photo by Adriana Heldiz

The Union-Tribune reports that the California Fair Political Practices Commission is reviewing a complaint filed against Chula Vista Councilwoman Andrea Cardenas. 

The complaint, filed by cannabis business owner Laura Wilkinson, alleges that the councilwoman violated conflict-of-interest and economic-interest disclosure laws. 

The business woman, who sued the city in 2020 over an operating permit, alleges that Cardenas failed to publicly disclose the cannabis companies represented by Grassroots Resources, a company Cardenas works for as director of community engagement. It also alleges she has failed to recuse herself from litigation discussions. 

Cardenas told the U-T she has filed a request to dismiss the complaint. 

Here’s what she told us: At a June live VOSD Podcast in Chula Vista we asked Cardenas how she keeps her roles separate? 

“Well it’s simple, there’s boundaries,” she said, describing the work she does outside of the City Council as community organizing and communications. At the time, she said she did “not really” have clients who she anticipated would have business before the city, or many clients, for that matter, as she was more focused on the administrative side. 

Then she added, “When we’re talking about like the cannabis industry and folks like that, I am very careful to not blend those lines, because it’s, you know, if it doesn’t look good, it’s not good.” Listen to the podcast episode here.

Meanwhile in Sacramento 

Tara Buesig, executive director of the Harm Reduction Coalition of San Diego County, uses a fentanyl test strip.
Tara Buesig, executive director of the Harm Reduction Coalition of San Diego County, uses a fentanyl test strip. / File photo by Megan Wood

State Senate Minority Leader Brian W. Jones’ bill aiming to ban homeless camps in parks, near schools, libraries and other “sensitive” areas failed to clear the Senate Public Safety Committee on Tuesday. In a statement after Tuesday’s hearing, Jones noted that the bill was granted reconsideration and said he would “continue pushing to pass this commonsense measure.” Jones, a San Diego-based Republican, now has until April 28 to get the committee to potentially take up the bill again. He’s not the only San Diegan eyeing this approach to address a boom in homeless encampments.

Two fentanyl enforcement bills that Mayor Todd Gloria has rallied behind this session also failed in committee votes this week. On Tuesday, a Gloria-backed bill seeking to raise the prospect of second-degree murder charges for repeat fentanyl dealers whose customers passed away failed to clear the Senate Public Safety Committee. The vote followed supportive testimony from Gloria, who spent the day in Sacramento. On Monday, a Gloria-backed state Assembly bill seeking to increase criminal penalties for dealers whose sales result in death or serious injury was held in the state Assembly Public Safety Committee. Gloria and Assemblymember Brian Maienschein, who introduced the bill, issued a joint statement decrying the decision. 

In Other News 

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

Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.