A kid skateboards near the bathrooms at Kit Carson Park in Escondido on April 20, 2023.
A kid skateboards near the bathrooms at Kit Carson Park in Escondido on April 20, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

After repeated failed attempts to raise sales tax, Escondido now finds itself in a pickle. 

Tigist Layne reports that the city is currently set up to spend more money every year on its obligations than it expects to collect from taxes. In recent years, the city has closed its shortfalls with one-time funding sources. 

The temporary patches include Covid relief funds, loan repayments and tapping into its pension trust. And city staff say ongoing deficits mean that until revenue goes up, the city will have to continue relying on one-time sources. 

Layne checks in on what services have taken the greatest hit because of the city’s budget woes. 

Read the full story here. 

If you’re not already, consider subscribing to Layne’s biweekly newsletter the North County Report to stay up to date on all things North County. Subscribe here. 

Politics Report: Affordable Housing Advocates Eye Ballot Measure 

A little tree can be seen in the Barrio Logan neighborhood on Nov. 11, 2022.
A little tree can be seen in the Barrio Logan neighborhood on Nov. 11, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Our resident housing nerd Andrew Keatts writes that the San Diego Housing Federation this week unveiled its plans to push for a 2024 ballot measure. 

Keatts writes that, “The measure would impose transfer taxes on both residential and commercial real estate transactions, to build new homes reserved for low-income residents and homeless prevention programs.” 

He gets into how it would work, exactly, in the Politics Report. 

Also: On Tuesday, the County Board of Supervisors will decide if they will go the appointment route to fill Supervisor Nathan Fletcher’s seat. Or fill the remainder of his term and then have a special election. Or just have a special election. The Politics Report gets into the candidates that are already considering the job. 

Read the newsletter here. 

Note: The Politics Report is available to Voice of San Diego members only. 

Become a member today to get access to the politics roundup and other cool stuff, like our upcoming live podcast on May 10 at Whistle Stop Bar. Members get in for free and non-member tickets are $15. Sign up for the event here. We are almost sold out. 

Speaking of the VOSD Podcast … In the latest episode our hosts invite investigative reporter Will Huntsberry to talk about his latest finding from police data. In his “trademark dulcet tones” he explains that despite a decline in police stops, racial disparities are up. The crew also gets into other news and the history of Chicano Park and the group that calls the shots. 

Listen to the episode here or wherever you get your podcasts. 

Citizen Group Declines to Rubber Stamp Streetlight Surveillance

Members of San Diego’s Privacy Advisory Board (right to left) Pegah Parsi and Ike Anyanetu at a meeting on Thursday, March 30, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

San Diego’s Privacy Advisory Board was established in the demise of the city’s smart streetlights program, and one of its first major decisions late last week was to make no decision at all.

Instead, board members are taking advantage of the 90 days allotted to them to consider whether the surveillance system, shuttered in reaction to public uproar in 2020, should be officially revived and paired with license plate reader technology.

Police gave their pitch: Lt. Adam Sharki acknowledged the rollout of the streetlights was problematic but argued that SDPD has sufficient safeguards in place to prevent abuse. He emphasized that the devices are a purely reactive tool to exonerate the innocent and investigate criminal acts — including the prosecution of a sheriff’s deputy who shot a man in the back downtown.

He said the cameras would reduce interactions between police and residents, while the priority for investigators would be gun violence.

Community members pushed back: many argued that the $4 million cost for the new technology would be better spent on homelessness. Others expressed skepticism that SDPD wouldn’t come back in a few years to try to add new features, like facial recognition, considering the streetlight camera industry is pushing in more sophisticated directions.

Still others noted that crime is historically low and major crime stats are falling, and questioned whether the technology would be all that useful in the end. Investigators accessed the camera network nearly 400 times between 2018 and 2020. Twenty-nine percent of the video pulls were tagged as “not helpful.”

Board members need more time: almost every one of them said they had a long list of questions that will require further conversation with police, other experts and the actual maker of the technology. Vice chair Pegah Parsi said she learned from public commenters, not SDPD, that Ubicquia is the vendor.

No one explicitly stated which way they’re leaning, but some dropped clues. Cid Martinez, for instance, expressed skepticism that the devices do not — as proponents claim — violate a reasonable expectation of privacy in public.

The next public meeting is scheduled for May 17. 

In Other News 

The Morning Report was written by Andrea Lopez-Villafana and Jesse Marx.

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1 Comment

  1. “Cid Martinez, for instance, expressed skepticism that the devices do not — as proponents claim — violate a reasonable expectation of privacy in public.”
    wait, WHAT?!
    what part of “in PUBLIC” isn’t clear. folks, there is NO reasonable expectation of privacy when you are out in public. anyone can see you and hear you. by any means.

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