The gateway arch at Vista Village Drive and Santa Fe Avenue in downtown Vista. / Photo by Tigist Layne
The Vista City Council on Tuesday couldn’t agree on who will be their representative on the regional transportation agency’s board, so they decided not to choose anyone. / File photo by Tigist Layne

Vista City Council is hitting a snag when it comes to homeless solutions – but councilmembers want to fix it, our Tigist Layne reports.

The council recently learned that – despite contributing more money to shelter space than any other North County city to a shelter network – many of its homeless residents are being turned away from shelters. 

A report by city staff showed Vista’s homeless outreach team referred 87 people to shelter, but only 37 of those referred received a bed. 

The problem: Vista kicks $200,000 per year into a communal fund for North County cities that provides money for shelters in the area. That gets Vista some priority in shelter space, but not enough, according to the city report. 

The fix: City Councilmembers were so alarmed to learn of the referral gap they held an emergency meeting Tuesday. Mayor John Franklin said he thinks they should aim to open a new, low-barrier shelter by Jan. 1. He also suggested that the city declare an emergency to speed up the process.

Read the full story here. 

Another shelter update: The San Diego Housing Commission said late Wednesday that it is again allowing newcomers into three city-backed shelters where intakes were paused amid a spike in Covid cases.

City Bus Board Considers Credit Card Tap-to-Pay

A PRONTO scanner for reloadable cards can be seen at 12th and Imperial Avenue trolley station on May 1, 2023.
Photo by Ariana Drehsler

The Metropolitan Transit System board votes Thursday on whether to add credit card tapping capabilities to its buses and trolleys. 

Voice of San Diego wrote back in May that MTS struggled to convince riders they should validate tickets through an app-based fare system called Pronto. Riders complained the Pronto system is difficult to use and easy to avoid, especially on trolley platforms if MTS security isn’t checking ticket validation.

A huge delta exists between the number of riders on San Diego public transit versus the amount of tickets actually purchased and validated, according to MTS data. Adding the credit card tap system is expected to cost an additional $1.2 million, according to MTS records. But transit advocates hope adding credit card tapping would alleviate some of the financial toll absorbed by MTS. 

A Radical New Approach to a College Degree

Grades? In-person lectures? Who needs ‘em. 

Southwestern College is pioneering a new type of competency-based degree, reports Jakob McWhinney in his newsletter, The Learning Curve. (Sign up here.)

The degree, in this case, will be Automotive Technology. And students won’t necessarily have to attend a single class to get it. Instead, they’ll have to pass a series of competency-based, hands-on exams. 

This isn’t just better for students who need more flexibility, said one professor. It’s also just better. Those who earn the degree “demonstrate that they have a practical application of that knowledge, not just that they can choose the best answer from a multiple-choice test,” the professor said. 

The new degree could debut as early as fall 2024. Southwestern is one of eight community colleges across the state chosen to develop a competency-based degree. 

Read his full newsletter here.

Police Training on Camping Ban Still in Works

Mercedes Ortega (left) moves some of her belongings from Commercial and 15th Street to another location in the outskirts of downtown on July 31, 2023.
Photo by Ariana Drehsler

More than a month after San Diego police began enforcing the city’s homeless camping ban, the city has yet to finalize a written guide for officers on how to enforce the new law.

A police captain told the City Council in June the department would create such a document to teach its officers how to correctly enforce the ordinance. Our Lisa Halverstadt has repeatedly requested the document, but city staff have said it doesn’t yet exist.

City spokeswoman Ashley Bailey said a draft training bulletin is now going through a city approval process. She said the department has concluded it should issue the bulletin before officers throughout the city enforce the new law.

For now, Bailey said, that means only officers in the department’s Neighborhood Policing Division who focus on homelessness-related issues are enforcing the law. 

Read the full story here. 

Related: Chula Vista is considering a camping ban similar to San Diego’s and asking residents to weigh in. (CBS 8)

A Santee School Shooter Approaches His Parole Hearing

In 2001, the deadliest school shooting in San Diego’s history happened at Santana High School. A 15-year-old gunman killed two and wounded 13 others. 

New California laws mean the shooter is now coming up for parole – a fact that was unknown to many survivors, until they were approached by CBS 8. 

In a new and fascinating story, CBS 8 reporters spoke to survivors, juvenile justice advocates and the shooter himself. 

CBS 8 spoke to the mother of one of the people who died that day.

“It’s not fair because [my son] will never get that chance. I’m just so surprised,” the mother said. “[The killer] should never have that chance. It’s not like I am not a forgiving person but he took my son and he took my son’s future from him.”

Read the full story here

In Other News 

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

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