The San Diego County administration building / Photo by Brittany Cruz-Fejeran

San Diego County officials released their recommended budget for the next fiscal year on Thursday ahead of a series of upcoming hearings and public meetings. 

It’s not yet final. But so far, county staff are proposing a $745.8 million increase from the year prior, which represents an approximately 10 percent increase over the previous one that’ll add nearly 500 new positions. 

In an executive summary, Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer said the new $8.11 billion budget continues to build on principles to ensure a just, sustainable and resilient future for all San Diegans. She highlighted housing, homelessness and climate change as some of the biggest priorities. 

For example, $66.7 million will be set aside for mental health and substance use disorder services, including 41 long-term beds, and another $25 million will go toward the Innovative Housing Trust Fund to help build affordable housing. The budget also includes $18 million to implement Care Court, a new state initiative to compel more people with certain mental health conditions to connect with treatment.

The proposed budget also includes $18 million for a South County Family Justice Center like one that opened in North County to aid families with restraining orders, therapy and other service connections and $5 million for free legal aid for migrants who are detained and seeking asylum or facing deportation. 

It also pencils in $3.8 million for a Regional Decarbonization Framework that will help communities in the county pursue zero carbon emissions and $2.5 million for design work on a new carbon portfolio plan for the county that calls for a 90 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in facilities by 2030.

The challenge: The Board of Supervisors will have to pass the budget with at least three votes. But with Nathan Fletcher’s seat presumably vacant for several months, it will have to be a bipartisan deal. 

Weigh in: The released budget now kicks off a series of public meetings though June. Keep track of those here.

Black San Diegans Feel the Brunt of Use of Force

San Diego Police officers make a traffic stop on University Avenue in City Heights in 2014. / File photo by Sam Hodgson

In a recent story on racial disparities in policing, reporter Will Huntsberry measured disparity in a number of ways. Each showed that Black San Diegans are policed harder than any other group in San Diego. 

One chart didn’t make it into the story. We hated for it to stay on the cutting room floor forever, so we’re publishing it here for the first time in the Morning Report.

Huntsberry measured the instances of use of force by population subgroup and the results – while they may not be entirely new – are startling. 

Black people are five times more likely to face force from police than Whites. Cops also use violence against Pacific Islanders and Native Americans at significantly higher rates than other groups. 

Asians are by far the least likely to face violence from police.

Yet Another Childcare Provider Bites the Dust 

For over 50 years, Normal Heights Children’s Center has provided daycare and preschool for children in the neighborhood. The center is a nonprofit operated by the Normal Heights Methodist Church.

But early this week, church leadership announced it would be shutting down at the end of June. 

While the church credited financial concerns related to maintenance costs of several buildings it owns, it also cited a familiar refrain – the effect universal transitional kindergarten has had on its business model.

Universal transitional kindergarten, a new (and free) grade for all California four-year-olds has hobbled many private childcare providers, who tend to make the most money from older children because of smaller staffing requirements.

Read more here.

In Other News 

  • KPBS has an update on how the city’s new program for monitoring vacation rentals is going. “There are already dozens of complaints filed, ranging from barking dogs to people renting out an RV as a short term rental.”
  • KPBS this week profiled a volunteer group of San Diegans who watch and document police interactions with community members in southeastern San Diego. Related: Back in 2021, we dug into the debate over what role police should play in communities amid police reform movements. 
  • The Union-Tribune reports that a school in Barrio Logan, “is a confluence of the biggest challenges facing schools nationwide, challenges that predate but have been exacerbated by the pandemic.” Perkins Elementary School has a large number of students who are chronically absent and homeless. Those are among other struggles as nearly every family with children at the school is living in poverty. Related: Jakob McWhinney reported that of the 15 San Diego Unified schools with the highest levels of chronic absenteeism, seven were in the same ZIP code, 92113, which stretches from Barrio Logan to Lincoln Park. 
  • NBC 7 San Diego reports that a portion of Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach is now closed.
  • CBS 8 spotlighted how local charities are preparing for the lifting of a Title 42, pandemic restriction, that is expected to result in a major influx of migrants.

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, Scott Lewis, Lisa Halverstadt, Will Huntsberry and Jakob McWhinney. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña. 

Correction: The section, “Get Ready for a Summer Election to Replace Fletcher” of the May 3 Morning Report incorrectly stated Michael Vu’s title. He is the assistant chief administrative officer at the county. 

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