Transit riders say San Diego’s new digital ticketing app isn’t working and costing the Metropolitan Transit System a pretty penny.
MacKenzie Elmer reports that a growing number of passengers are complaining that the Pronto app isn’t user-friendly. The scanners riders use to pay as they board don’t always work. This is an inconvenience and, as transit advocates argue, discourages people from riding the bus or trolley.
But that’s not all. Because some riders are jumping on without actually tapping or scanning their Pronto app, their tickets are not actually validated and paid. That means that it’s costing the agency millions of dollars.
Elmer reports that MTS estimates it lost $3 million in farebox revenue in 2022. And the agency expects that to double this year. Now, MTS is proposing other contactless pay options.
Largest County Union, SEIU, Is Backing Monica Montgomery Steppe
Monica Montgomery Steppe has secured one of the most important endorsements in the race to replace former County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher.
Her campaign announced Wednesday that SEIU Local 221 is supporting her run for District 4 supervisor. The county’s largest union represents more than 13,000 workers.
“Monica’s work leading our region’s shift toward equity and her laser-focus on supporting working families and communities informed this choice,” said Crystal Irving, president of SEIU Local 221, in a statement.
Montgomery Steppe currently represents the southeastern communities of Lincoln Park, Emerald Hills, Encanto, Paradise Hills and more on the San Diego City Council.
North County Report: Carlsbad Puts Building Electrification Plans on Hold
Carlsbad is taking a pause on its building electrification plans, or the banning of natural gas in new buildings, after a federal court overturned the city of Berkeley’s natural gas ban last month.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that banning natural gas effectively bans natural gas appliances and that violates federal law.
Berkeley has until the end of the month to appeal the court’s decision. Meanwhile, Tigist Layne dives into what this means for cities like Encinitas and Solana Beach that already have building electrification ordinances in place.
Six Years Later, Mission Valley Stadium Site Hosts the Big Shots
Thursday morning Major League Soccer, San Diego State University and the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation will announce their plans to bring soccer at the highest levels, at least in this country, to San Diego.
This wasn’t supposed to happen: In a column, Scott Lewis reviews the last six years at the Mission Valley stadium site. When the Chargers left, it represented failure and civic despair. And a bitter fight developed when SDSU and investors who wanted to bring Major League Soccer to San Diego cut off negotiations.
The one piece of leverage the investors believed they had over SDSU was that they could bring soccer and SDSU couldn’t.
Several years and a Snapdragon Stadium later, and the people who thought SDSU could get it all have been proven right.
A longer history of the moment: The Kumeyaay have a long history in Mission Valley. About a half mile away from Snapdragon Stadium sits Mission San Diego de Alcalá, the second Spanish mission established by Junipero Serra in California in 1769.
In 1775, angered by mistreatment, sexual assault, forced labor and more, the Kumeyaay attacked and destroyed the mission and the Spanish claimed their first martyrs in California.
Now, a surviving band of the Kumeyaay, Sycuan, will deliver to San Diego something residents have wanted for decades: professional soccer at the highest level. And the team will start playing in 2025, exactly 250 years later, and walking distance away from that historic site.
San Diego Unified Closure of Virtual Academy Took Some by Surprise
Jakob McWhinney reports that San Diego Unified is closing iHigh Virtual Academy to students in grades 6-12.
The online learning institution that included live instruction had swelled to nearly 1,700 students during the 2021-2022 school year. iHigh served nearly 650 students this year. In emails to parents and staff, the district said students had the option of enrolling in a self-paced independent study program or for in-person instruction at families neighborhood school.
Parents and staff said they weren’t allowed to give any input prior to the decision to close iHigh. And the timing of the announcement, which came in the waning days of the current school year and only around three months before the beginning of the next, left them feeling like they have few options for next steps.
Ex-San Diego Homeless Czar Now Works for the Guv
Hafsa Kaka, who recently departed her post as the top city of San Diego official focused on addressing homelessness, is now a senior adviser to Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The new post follows 19 months as director of the city’s Homelessness Strategies and Solutions Department and a March city reorganization that shifted that department under the city’s neighborhood services division rather than have it report directly to Mayor Todd Gloria. (Read more on Kaka’s new job here.)
On Wednesday, Kaka told Voice that she was recruited by the Governor’s Office and that she saw her hiring as recognition of her success in San Diego.
“The good work was recognized,” Kaka said.
Worth noting: Kaka’s time at City Hall coincided with a visible increase in street homelessness even as she worked to add dozens of shelter beds and other increased service offerings – and not everyone was thrilled with her approach. The city and region have struggled to put a dent in the region’s homelessness crisis because the countywide homelessness response system has been unable to keep up with the number of people falling into homelessness.
Related: Gloria joined other members of the California Big City Mayors group he leads Wednesday in Sacramento to call for permanent state funding for cities to combat the state’s homelessness crisis. Courthouse News Service has the details.
In Other News
- The MTS strike is having an impact on dozens of South Bay bus routes, which account for around one third of the organization’s total bus routes. (NBC)
- San Diego Unified settled a lawsuit by former students who accused a La Jolla teacher of groping for $1.5 million. The stories of those students were brought to light by a Voice of San Diego investigation. (Union Tribune)
- A package of proposals by Mayor Todd Gloria aims to boost housing construction in San Diego. (Union Tribune)
- Because of the uncharacteristically wet winter, the vegetation that has followed could lead to some big wildfires if the weather turns hot and dry. (Union Tribune)
- A 65-unit bridge shelter opened to homeless Chula Vista residents this week. (Union Tribune)
- Despite the Covid state of emergency ending, UC San Diego will continue to monitor the county’s wastewater for the virus. (KPBS)
The Morning Report was written by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña, Lisa Halverstadt, Tigist Layne, Scott Lewis and Jakob McWhinney. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña and Scott Lewis.