San Diego Police parked in the middle of the road to talk to a man yelling in Hillcrest on Dec. 20, 2022.
San Diego Police vehicle in Hillcrest on Dec. 20, 2022. / Photo by Gabriel Schneider for Voice of San Diego

When voters approved Measure B in 2020, they approved the creation of a new police oversight commission that, unlike its predecessor, would be able to investigate allegations of police misconduct, rather than just review the internal reviews by the San Diego Police Department.

Two and a half years later, though, the new commission was hardly functioning, after two thirds of its commissioner seats became vacant through a combination of attrition and inattention, as Kelly Davis reported for us earlier this month.

The City Council took a step toward addressing the situation Monday, filling 25 vacancies during a four-hour meeting. 

The new group of commissioners includes, as Davis reports, Brandon Hilpert and Doug Case, both of whom have chaired the commission, LGBTQ activist Nicole Murray Ramirez, homeless advocate James Justus, community organizer Laila Aziz, and Dwayne Harvey, whose son, Aaron, split a $1.5 million settlement against the city of San Diego for wrongful arrest.

The commission isn’t out of the woods yet, though. The new commissioners need to undergo background checks and training before they can begin doing the commission’s work. And once that happens, the commission still needs to draft its own operating procedures – which the Council will need to approve.

Read the full story here. 

Environment Report: San Diegans Say, Pronto Sucks 

A man helps an older woman use the PRONTO machine so she can purchase a ticket to ride the trolley at 12th and Imperial Avenue in downtown on May 1, 2023.
A man helps a woman use the Pronto machine so she can purchase a ticket to ride the trolley at 12th and Imperial Avenue in downtown on May 1, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Last week, environment reporter MacKenzie Elmer revealed the Metropolitan Transit System’s digital ticketing app is causing trouble for riders. 

Riders often struggle to validate their tickets because the scanners don’t always work. This isn’t only an inconvenience for riders, but it’s also costing the transportation agency a lot of money. 

Who can relate: After we published the story, many took to social media and San Diego Reddit to share their frustrations with the app. Some say they want to pay, but often jump on the trolley without doing so, or get waved through by bus drivers who don’t want to keep waiting. 

“It’s a terrible system that is incredibly easy to manipulate and ride for free for months on end,” wrote one Reddit commenter who said they use both the bus and trolley almost every weekday. 

In response, MTS pointed to a survey showing 92 percent of riders were satisfied with the service. 

But that’s not what we heard from readers. And there’s other points to consider. Elmer unpacks the agency’s response and what people on the ground are saying about the tech in her latest Environment Report. 

Read the Environment Report here. 

In Other News 

  • A Starbucks in Encinitas has successfully unionized and is the first to do so in San Diego County. The high-volume store at Leucadia Boulevard and Interstate 5 is now part of the Workers United Upstate labor union and is part of a nationwide movement advocating for higher wages and better benefits. (Union-Tribune)
  • The San Diego County Fair in Del Mar is just weeks away, but the agency charged with overseeing the Del Mar Fairgrounds is still wrapped up in an ongoing lawsuit that accuses the district of bid-rigging and fraud. A recent attempt to dismiss the case was turned down by the judge overseeing it. (Union-Tribune) Related: Last year, North County reporter Tigist Layne broke down exactly what the district is being accused of after a judge concluded that the district likely rigged a massive contract it approved in January 2022. (Voice of San Diego)
  • County health officials are directing the city of San Diego to add more restrooms downtown due to a recent resurgence of hepatitis A infections among homeless residents. Cities throughout the county are also being asked to ramp up street sanitation, vaccination and outreach. (Union-Tribune)
  • Workers from multiple bus divisions of the Metropolitan Transit System were still on strike Monday. Transdev, which operates the services, is in ongoing negotiations with its bus operators, represented by the Teamsters. Until they reach agreements, dozens of bus routes in the county could be affected. (KPBS)
  • Upkeep for the vacant 101 Ash St. building will cost San Diegans $2.4 million next year, the Union-Tribune reports. Under Mayor Todd Gloria’s new budget, taxpayers will spend more than $6,000 every 24 hours to maintain the downtown high-rise that has been the subject of lawsuits and a criminal investigation. (Union-Tribune) Related: Voice of San Diego’s Lisa Halverstadt has been covering the 101 Ash St. scandal since 2020. Read her coverage here.

The Morning Report was written by Andrew Keatts, Andrea Lopez-Villafaña and Tigist Layne. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.

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