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

The region’s smaller, rural water districts are fed up with San Diego’s big city energy. 

The city of San Diego is doing all it can to prevent two rural water districts from leaving the San Diego County Water Authority. The city has even tapped an assemblymember to stop the detractors.

That power play isn’t sitting well with some. 

MacKenzie Elmer reports that water districts with less say than the city of San Diego in local water decisions have identified a way to change that. They want more voting power and they are hoping to get it by making a deal with that same assemblymember. 

  • Right now, it works like this: The biggest water buyers get the most votes or most appointed directors to the Water Authority’s 36-member board. 

Remember: The districts in Fallbrook and Rainbow don’t want to get their water from San Diego anymore. They want to get it from Riverside. And a commission tasked with overseeing such departures has already said they can do it. A bill introduced by Assemblymember Tasha Boerner, a Democrat from Encinitas, would amend the County Water Authority Act to require voters across San Diego approve any agency’s bid to leave. 

Small, rural districts see this as an opportunity. If you’re cracking the act open … might as well make a few tweaks to the Water Authority’s weighted vote. 

Read the full story here. 

Politics Report: The Thing About Hasan 

Chief Executive Officer Hasan Ikhrata during a SANDAG Board of Directors meeting in downtown on Jan. 27, 2023.

Last year, our Scott Lewis asked Hasan Ikhrata, the CEO of SANDAG, if he would be the CEO of SANDAG in December 2023. He said he didn’t know.

“I hope so,” he told Lewis. “I want that. But, again, I’m not going to lose sleep over that — whether I’m here or not.”

Well, he’s not going to be. Ikhrata announced his resignation last week. Lewis unpacks the leader’s influence on the agency and the big issues he demanded the region face. 

Also in the Politics Report, how outside groups are influencing the race to fill the county supervisor seat vacated by former Supervisor Nathan Fletcher. 

Read the Politics Report here. 

VOSD Podcast: In the latest episode, our hosts get into San Diego’s camping ban, campaign mailers and Ikhrata’s departure. They are also joined by senior investigative reporter Lisa Halverstadt to discuss her latest story on a homeless services provider that’s in hot water. 

Listen to the full episode here. 

Downtown Homeless Count Down Again

A shopping cart with belongings can be seen on Commercial Street in the outskirts of downtown on July 31, 2023.

For a second month in a row, a downtown business group’s monthly homeless census showed a decrease in unsheltered people sleeping downtown and areas just outside it.

The Downtown San Diego Partnership has tallied a 26 percent drop in homelessness since late May. The difference was particularly dramatic late last month in an area on the outskirts of downtown where police cleared homeless camps last month. Less than half the number of people counted during the June count remained in downtown’s outskirts during the late July census. Meanwhile, there was a 27 percent spike in people staying in East Village.

What about the camping ban? Police last week began enforcing the city’s new camping ban and focused initially on Balboa Park. As of last week, the area at the border of Barrio Logan and East Village that they cleared the couple weeks before the new ban was enacted remained clear of tents. A few camping ban signs have gone up in the area since police cleared it. Police said Thursday they are slowly ramping up camping ban enforcement and expect to spend more time in Balboa Park before expanding their efforts elsewhere.

In Other News

  • Bothered at the Border: In a new opinion piece, Coronado resident Laura Wilkinson questions why the same binational financing of the new Otay Mesa II border crossing couldn’t apply to broken wastewater infrastructure causing pollution in the Pacific Ocean. The Mexican Government has been praised for “moving at lightning speed” to construct the border crossing. Why can’t the same be true for the Tijuana River sewage crisis? 
  • Land in San Diego is worth more now than ever before. The Union-Tribune reports the value of all taxable property is worth $727 billion, a 7 percent increase from last year. Shocker. 
  • The San Diego Union Tribune’s former managing editor took over the senior editor role Friday. Lora Cicalo became senior editor after Jeff Light, former editor and publisher of 13 years, stepped down last month. It’s part of a wave of shifts after Alden Global Capital bought the paper from Los Angeles billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, owner of the Los Angeles Times.

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

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