San Diego County Water Authority before meeting in Kearny Mesa on July 27, 2023.
San Diego County Water Authority before meeting in Kearny Mesa on July 27, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Tensions seem to be cooling slightly between the San Diego County Water Authority and those that want to leave it. 

Two small North County farming communities survived a second round of attempts by the Water Authority to wage a legal war against their divorce from the regional water supplier. The board’s disinterest in suing to stop the divorce signals that recent negotiations between the parties may yet end in a deal to get those communities to stay. 

Here’s what happened: The governing board at the Water Authority went into closed session Thursday to decide whether to sue the San Diego Local Agency Formation Commission over its decision to approve the divorce. But the board emerged shortly thereafter with no action – meaning they either didn’t have the votes or the interest from its 24 member water districts to take the divorce to the courts. 

Why they want out: Rainbow Municipal Water District and Fallbrook Public Utilities District are leaving because they want cheaper water, and they plan to break up with San Diego and buy from Riverside instead. The thing left on the to do list to accomplish that is a vote among their respective ratepayers. 

But, wait: That is, if a bill being rushed through the state Legislature doesn’t upend that process. Assemblymember Tasha Boerner, a Democrat from Encinitas, is pushing this bill along with support from the city of San Diego which would add a requirement that the whole county needs to vote on the divorce as well – which would destroy Rainbow and Fallbrook’s chances of leaving. 

Tom Kennedy, Rainbow’s general manager, described the bill as “having a gun pointed at your head at the negotiation table.” If you want to continue to have constructive negotiations with us, Kennedy said, “pull AB 399 off the table.” 

Save this one for the weekend: Last week, our Scott Lewis wrote about why San Diego’s water world is fired up about this divorce, and what it could all mean for the future of the Water Authority. Read his special edition Politics Report newsletter here. 

Note from our managing editor: Lewis is off this week. There won’t be a Politics Report newsletter in your inbox Saturday morning. But if you just can’t live without us this weekend, consider subscribing to Cup of Chisme. That’s my weekly roundup of top stories and exclusive Voice of San Diego newsroom content. – Andrea Lopez-Villafaña 

City Mum on Camping Ban Details

A woman get ready to cross the street with a wagon towards a homeless encampment on National Avenue and 14th Street in the East Village on May 23, 2023.

The homeless camping ban is set to take effect this weekend and the city has yet to reveal where enforcement will start – or exactly when.

Quick review: The ordinance that will become law Saturday bars camping in all public spaces when shelter is available – and in certain locations such as some yet-to-be specified parks and near schools and shelters even when it’s not. Mayor Todd Gloria and police officials have said they intend to initially focus on camps in areas near schools and in parks that, per the ordinance, have a “substantial public health and safety risk.” 

No news: Yet city officials weren’t saying as of late Thursday which parks and school areas police may hit first. They also weren’t saying whether they had put up signs that must go up before the crackdown can begin, or if they developed training materials for police. Our Lisa Halverstadt wrote earlier this month about these and other to-do list items the city needed to tackle before enforcement starts.

What the mayor is saying: In his newsletter this week, Gloria wrote that “addressing homelessness won’t be achieved overnight” and urged patience as the ordinance goes into effect. He also noted that city-funded outreach workers have been educating unsheltered people living in camps near schools and parks that enforcement may begin soon. 

In Other News 

  • CBS 8 reveals that four former executives of the San Diego Association of Realtors are accusing the prominent lobbying group’s ex-CEO of an embezzlement scheme.
  • The Union-Tribune reports that the family of a man who was found dead in a downtown jail cell smeared with feces and food last year has filed suit against the county, Sheriff Kelly Martinez and others alleging negligence.
  • KPBS checked in with an Ocean Beach area food pantry and found that it’s struggling – and so are others like it.
  • A county human relations commissioner has resigned following controversy about antisemitic comments during a meeting last week, Times of San Diego reports.

The Morning Report was written by MacKenzie Elmer and Lisa Halverstadt. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña. 

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