MTS headquarters at the 12th and Imperial trolley station. / File photo by Adriana Heldiz
MTS headquarters at the 12th and Imperial trolley station. / File photo by Adriana Heldiz

The lawyer handling a case against the Metropolitan Transit System and County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, has gone up against the agency before. 

Jesse Marx reports that Zachary Schumacher represented a former MTS worker several years ago in a retaliation lawsuit. That suit alleged that the worker was retaliated against after reporting an incident of possible discrimination against a female employee. 

MTS claimed that the accusations had no validity. And in response, accused Schumacher’s client of taking confidential information on his way out and of downloading a virus into their computer system. 

His client denied it. Then the case was dismissed in February 2020 after the agency agreed to pay a settlement of $200,000, without admitting any wrongdoing. 

Schumacher is currently representing Grecia Figueroa in the bombshell lawsuit against the agency and Fletcher. She’s accusing Fletcher of sexual harassment and sexual assault. And the agency of retaliation and failure to prevent sexual harassment.  

Read the full story here. 

Proposed Homeless Camp Crackdown Faces Lots of Questions

Land Use and Housing Committee meeting in city council chambers in downtown on April 13, 2023.
The City Council’s Land Use and Housing Committee meeting in council chambers in downtown on Thursday, April 13, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

A City Council committee voted 3-1 Thursday to forward Councilman Stephen Whitburn’s plan to crack down on homeless camps to the full City Council without a recommendation for approval.

The vote followed two and a half hours of public comments on the proposed ordinance that would bar camping on public property when shelter is available and at all times within two blocks of schools and shelters, in parks and along waterways and some trolley tracks.

Councilwoman Vivian Moreno, who chairs the land use committee, persuaded Whitburn to include all city parks rather than a handful that Whitburn initially identified after raising equity concerns. Moreno and Councilman Joe LaCava also gave city officials a lengthy to-do list to complete before the policy goes to the full City Council.

Per their motions, city officials must produce a more specific legal analysis, a comprehensive plan detailing new shelter additions including much discussed safe camping sites, an enforcement plan, an update on the city’s 2019 homelessness plan and input from a key regional group that opposed the proposed crackdown.

City Chief Operating Officer Eric Dargan said after the Thursday meeting that he could deliver all that within 30 days.

Mayor Todd Gloria said he was eager to continue the conversation and that the proposed budget he will unveil Friday will fund more shelter options.

Councilman Kent Lee, who voted against forwarding the ordinance to full Council without further committee review, raised a series of questions Thursday that Gloria’s team will likely be asked again.

People sit in on a Land Use and Housing Committee meeting in city council chambers in downtown on April 13, 2023.
People sit in on a Land Use and Housing Committee meeting in city council chambers in downtown on Thursday, April 13, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Lee pressed city officials Thursday on topics including the number of vacant shelter beds that might allow the city to conduct enforcement citywide, the benefits of the ordinance beyond what the city already has on the books, the increased interactions it could create with police and plans for additional shelter offerings.

“This ordinance does not outline or come with a clear plan for additional shelter or housing solutions and without additional solutions, enacting such a policy would only provide band aids without addressing any of the root causes,” Lee said. “Ultimately, I think we simply have to ask where will people end up if they are forced to be relocated without places to go?”

Dargan later told councilmembers that the city could get safe camping and parking sites “up within the next 60 days.”

Tough truths: Many unhoused residents who now seek shelter are unable to access it. Housing Commission data shows that in March more than two thirds of city shelter referrals didn’t result in a shelter placement. And as our Lisa Halverstadt reported earlier this week, existing city shelters are struggling to move unhoused people into permanent homes as the city tries to expand options.

Another crackdown: The Port of San Diego adopted new parking regulations at its lots to curtail overnight camping. (Union-Tribune) 

The Summer Could Be Wetter Than Normal

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

Much to one of our managing editor’s chagrin, the cool and rainy conditions San Diego’s experienced so far this winter and spring could continue into the summer. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Organization reported Thursday there’s a 62 percent chance the world’s weather patterns will slip into a strong El Niño between May and July. The last time that happened in 2016, according to the Washington Post, global temperatures surged to record highs and helped trigger rainforest loss, coral bleaching, polar ice melt and wildfires. But it usually means lots of rain in California and high wave energy, which led to record coastal erosion on many beaches. 

Agencies like NOAA track signals like sea surface temperature, winds, and radiation to figure out which sibling has gripped weather patterns via a measurement called the ENSO index which the public can follow here

In Other News 

  • Democratic California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, 89, may be temporarily replaced on the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee after acknowledging medical complications have kept her away from Congressional activities longer than expected. The Senator hasn’t cast a vote since Feb. 16, missing nearly 60 of the Senate’s 82 votes. Several of her Democratic colleagues have called on her to resign before her term is up. (KPBS)
  • The Union-Tribune reports that Carlsbad rejected Oceanside’s invite to help decide where it should build a series of structures in the ocean to prevent sand from leaving its eroding beaches. Voice of San Diego previously wrote about the proposal to build the structures.
  • A popular live camera on the tip of Point Loma at the Cabrillo National Monument shut down mysteriously this week. (NBC 7)
  • School districts in Coronado and Oceanside joined a federal lawsuit targeting social media giants TikTok, Meta and Snapchat alleging the platforms are addictive and could be contributing to the escalating mental health crisis among adolescents. (KPBS)

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

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1 Comment

  1. Considering that San Diego is struggling with the capacity to provide services to those who lost their housing in San Diego, what obligation does the city have to those who became unhoused elsewhere and then traveled here?

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