A woman waters plants at a nursery in 2020. / File photo by Adriana Heldiz

More than a decade ago, the San Diego County Water Authority made a big prediction: The drinking water from its desalination plant would be cheaper than what was imported from Northern California and the Colorado River via the Metropolitan Water District.

Yes, it would be expensive from the start, but in 20 years it would pay off. That investment would be worth it, they said. They were wrong.

The cost of desalinated water soared. Now, San Diego’s water is more than $400 more per acre foot than the water it gets from the Met. 

And now, some want out: The Fallbrook Public Utility District and Rainbow Municipal Water District want to leave San Diego in search of cheaper rates in Riverside. And they got the votes, too.

The commission that oversees such separations is letting them leave. But the remaining water agencies don’t want that and some are trying their best to stop it from happening. 

But why? Our Scott Lewis writes that they have given their reasons: When the two agencies leave, the rest will have to pay more for water to pay off the bills they took on when they made investments in the region’s water. There are also some water power politics at play.

But Lewis explains that there is another reason.

“Fallbrook and Rainbow leaving could mean this period of expansion, innovation, investment and independence is coming to an end,” Lewis writes.

Read more in the Politics Report.

Note from our editor: The Politics Report newsletter is only available to Voice of San Diego members, but we’ve opened this week’s latest for all readers. Our work is only possible because of our members. Support our work by becoming a member today.

More politics: The city of San Diego’s largest labor union has endorsed Heather Ferbert in the race for City Attorney. It’s a big boost to her campaign, the Union-Tribune reports. Ferbert is running against Assemblyman Brian Maienchein.

VOSD Podcast: Mailers aren’t just annoying inbox filler that most people toss. They are also windows into the electorate’s needs, wants and priorities — at least that’s what experts think. 

In the latest episode, our pod hosts discuss what the mailers being sent out on behalf of the candidates to replace former County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher tell us about the race. 

Host Scott Lewis explains that, “mailers are like the core concentrate of local politics. If you boil down politics, you’re left with mailer content.” 

The crew also shares more info on who is leaving the Union-Tribune. And the great water wars. 

Listen to the full podcast here. Or wherever you get your pods. 

The Latest on City Shelter Openings and Closures    

Beds at the Old Central Library that is now a shelter for women in downtown on Jan. 26, 2023. The new shelter has 36 beds and is being operated by NAMI San Diego. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler
Beds at the Old Central Library on Jan. 26, 2023. / File photo by Ariana Drehsler

City housing commissioners voted unanimously Friday to approve a $2.3 million contract with nonprofit Alpha Project to operate a family shelter at a former Travelodge motel in Barrio Logan.

Mayor Todd Gloria’s office announced in February that the city was leasing the motel and that it would initially serve families staying at the city’s Golden Hall shelter. The city expected to move those families into the motel within a couple months. Now, after a series of delays, Housing Commission officials expect families now staying at Golden Hall to move into the motel by the second week of August.

Alpha Project CEO Bob McElroy said his team is excited and working to quickly ramp up to serve families.

“We’re gonna make sure they have the best opportunity to succeed,” McElroy said.

Reminder: The city plans to shutter the Golden Hall shelter by the end of the year. It’s now got a plan to relocate families and transition-aged youth staying at the City Hall complex. It has yet to announce where it will relocate 324 beds for homeless men.

Another Shelter Closes: The old Central Library shelter for unsheltered women is officially closed until at least January. A shelter staffer shared his thoughts Friday after securing a temporary home for the final shelter resident he needed to help relocate.

ICYMI: Gloria announced earlier this month that the 36-bed shelter was shutting down due to permit restrictions from the city’s fire marshal limiting the old library’s use for 180 days within a given year. The city for now plans to reopen the shelter in six months once it’s able to secure a new 180-day permit.

More Closures to Come: The city still must find new locations to replace 720 shelter beds – including those at the old library and the first floor of Golden Hall – by the end of 2024 and as we’ve previously reported, the success of the homeless camping ban set to take effect later this month will rest on the city’s ability to deliver more shelter options.

Chula Vista Wants to Buy a Motel to House Homeless Residents

The Chula Vista City Council tomorrow will vote on a proposal to purchase, and convert, a 31-room motel on Walnut Avenue into permanent supportive housing for now-homeless residents. 

The proposal would require several funding streams. That includes competing for up to $7 million from the State of California Homekey Program. And tapping into federal emergency rental assistance ($66,000) and recovery funds ($7 million). 

Interesting note: According to a staff report, the city would earmark an additional $6 million from its federal recovery funds for the project ($13 total from that bucket) if the state passes Chula Vista for Homekey funds. That suggests Chula Vista would move forward with the motel purchase and rehabilitation anyways. 

Chula Vista is one of two cities in the county vying for Homekey dollars. 

The latest Cup of Chisme has more on what other cities in the county are doing. Read it here. 

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña and Lisa Halverstadt. 

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