A streetlight camera in downtown San Diego / File photo by Megan Wood

San Diego wants to buy a new streetlight surveillance system before the previous one has been paid off.

Though the program went bust during the pandemic, it’s still costing $1 million a year, Jesse Marx reports. The final payment is due in 2032.

That’s because of the financing structure of the original purchase — which included a loan from General Electric. 

Earlier this week, the City Council agreed to set aside another $3.5 million for the Police Department’s new proposal to pair more sophisticated cameras with automatic license plate readers.

The current project is still being reviewed by the city’s Privacy Advisory Board, but some have complained they don’t have all the information yet to properly vet it.

Read the rest of the story here. 

Unhoused Residents on the Camping Ban: ‘Doesn’t Help Anybody’

View of a homeless encampment on 16th Street in the East Village on June 14, 2023.
View of a homeless encampment on 16th Street in the East Village on June 14, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

During a contentious10-hour-long meeting on Tuesday, Councilman Stephen Whitburn’s controversial camping ban narrowly passed

Jakob McWhinney and Ariana Drehsler spent the following morning with unhoused residents living on National Avenue, who said the ban doesn’t leave them with many options. 

Some were game to move into planned safe camping sites, but were worried about capacity. Others planned to peacefully protest the ban by remaining on the streets. One thing they all agreed on was that things were unlikely to change if they had no place to go.

Read the whole story here. 

Related: Over at the Union-Tribune, columnist Michael Smolens compared San Diego’s disjointed approach to homelessness over the years to Houston, which just reported a 17 percent reduction. Crucially, he writes, the Houston agencies and orgs dedicated to homelessness “are required to work collaboratively on an agreed-upon set of goals and to share a centralized database.”

The county announced, in the meantime, that it secured $17 million in partnership with the city of San Diego and others to help people along the riverbed find permanent housing and other services. 

Homelessness in Escondido Shot Up, Even as it Decreased in Most North County Cities

Graph by Ariana Drehsler

The results of the latest countywide homeless census, which was conducted back in January, revealed that many cities in North County saw decreases in the number of unhoused people. Tigist Layne writes in her North County Report that Escondido, however, saw a sharp increase. 

The count recorded 67 percent more homeless individuals in Escondido than last year. That makes it the city with the third highest homeless population in the county, just edging out Oceanside.

The census has been criticized as being an undercount, and North County has its own set of challenges. The population is typically more spread out than in cities like San Diego. Still, even with many cities reporting decreases, the overall number of people experiencing homelessness in North County increased.

Read the North County Report here. 

Boundary Refs Expedite Water Divorce Decision

San Diego’s boundary referees successfully pushed up a vote on a controversial water divorce, while condemning an attempt by the Legislature to exert power over them.

During an emergency meeting, a majority of the Local Agency Formation Commission or LAFCO voted to move a critical decision on whether two small farming communities can leave the San Diego County Water Authority to July 10. 

Just a week earlier, LAFCO commissioners asked for more time to decide and set Aug. 7 as the date for that vote. 

The difference a month makes may be whether a state lawmaker, Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner, a Democrat from Encinitas, can rush a bill through the Legislature that would effectively dethrone LAFCO of its authority over this issue. Her bill would require not only a “yes” vote from LAFCO to allow the water districts in Rainbow and Fallbrook to leave San Diego, but a countywide vote of the residents as well. 

Many of the Republican lawmakers on the commission or representatives from rural areas of San Diego County saw Boerner’s bill as an attempt by the state to thwart local control over local decisions. 

“I’ve seen it for decades where Sacramento thinks they’re smarter than the local folks,” said John McCann, the Republican mayor of Chula Vista. “Even if you support or oppose detachment, I think we should support LAFCO and what its mission is and not allow them to circumvent it.” 

A majority of the LAFCO commission voted to show they opposed Boerner’s bill. 

In Other News 

  • The county announced a second homeless person has died of hepatitis A amid a spike in cases so far this year.
  • A Marine at Camp Pendleton has been accused of firebombing a Planned Parenthood in Orange County. (NBC 7) 
  • Transportation officials are building a temporary wall to protect the tracks around San Diego’s only railroad link to Los Angeles due to a “still slowly creeping” landslide. Service has been shut down and there’s no estimate on when it will resume. (Union-Tribune) 
  • San Diego County Supervisors award millions of taxpayer dollars each year to community organizations. But on Tuesday, supervisors voted to no longer vote to approve those grants at public meetings. (Union Tribune)

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx, Jakob McWhinney and MacKenzie Elmer. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña. 

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