For years, sewage from the Tijuana River has washed into the ocean, spreading contamination from Imperial Beach to Coronado. The pollution has led officials to regular beach closures and even sicknesses.
Eighteen local mayors, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors and San Diego’s Democratic Congressional delegates all agree: the Tijuana River sewage crisis is an emergency. The designation could bring more resources to bear on one of the region’s most long standing, and sticky, crises.
Even the branch of the federal government responsible for a long-ailing water treatment plant on the border called for emergency repairs after flooding from Hurricane Hilary caused a 10-hour shutdown.
The consensus is nearly unanimous. Nearly. As our MacKenzie Elmer writes, the one person who doesn’t seem to agree that the crisis qualifies as an emergency is Gov. Gavin Newsom.
San Diego’s Water Prices Are Going Up
San Diego’s City Council voted 5-3 to pass a nearly 20 percent hike in water rates. The hikes will start this December with a 5 percent increase followed by another roughly 5 percent increase in July 2024. There will be another nearly 9 percent increase in January 2025.
City officials have said the rate increase is necessary to stay solvent amidst rising imported water costs, infrastructure upgrades and capital projects like Pure Water sewage-recycling system. Still, the proposal was met with stiff opposition from many community members who attended the meeting, waving signs, and arguing that the steep increase would hurt residents.
“Everything is going up right now, lights, gas, food. You know what’s not going up? My paycheck,” Alejandra Trujillo told CBS 8 through a translator.
Related, sorta: The hike is just one more example of San Diego’s pricey utilities. The region also pays the highest electricity rates in the country.
About that Other City Council Vote
The San Diego City Council voted 6-2 Monday to become a “friend of the court” to the Oregon city of Grants Pass, which wants the Supreme Court to weigh in on a case challenging the legality of the city’s camping ban.
Some people on social media were curious why Councilman Kent Lee voted to join the lawsuit, despite having voted against the camping ban. Councilmembers Monica Montgomery Steppe and Vivian Moreno were opposed, and Council President Sean Elo-Rivera was absent.
So, we asked. Councilmember Kent Lee wrote that he still believes the homelessness crisis will not improve without more shelter. “No court case will ever change our moral obligation to provide shelter to the growing number of San Diegans who suddenly [find] themselves unable to afford housing,” Lee wrote.
“I voted yesterday to join an amicus brief written by the City of Seattle, seeking clarity from the courts on what strategies are and are not constitutional — clarity I believe could help make our local policy discussions more productive as we seek to keep our streets clean and safe while still working to provide adequate shelter,” he continued.
Councilman Lee joined us at a recent live podcast to talk about San Diego’s camping ban. Listen to the full episode here.
Housing at San Diego City College Inching Forward
San Diego City College has long wanted to build housing on the former site of its Child Development Center downtown. It’s been working toward that goal for over a year when they, along with community colleges from every district in the county, received state grants to plan for affordable housing on district-owned land.
Those goals were put into jeopardy by a big change to how the funding for the projects would work, community college officials said. Because of California’s budget shortfall, instead of providing grants, the state would now expect colleges to pass bonds to fund the developments.
Still, despite the state’s rug pull, City College and the San Diego Community College District are moving forward with their housing plans. The district’s board of trustees last week unanimously approved the selection of developer The Michaels Organization to design, manage and construct the housing complex.
The complex is projected to be an 800-unit tower with community kitchens and lounge spaces, a grab-and-go store and a tutoring center. The college aims for rents to be $500 below market rate and says the tower will cater to low-income students, veterans, foster youth and other students in need of housing stability.
In Other News
- San Diego, along with 10 other cities, joined a pilot program meant to help them determine the best areas and mechanisms to move affordable housing forward. (Union-Tribune)
- When the Supreme Court dismantled federal abortion protections, Southern California providers say they saw a sharp uptick in patients. Now, Planned Parenthood workers in San Diego and beyond are unionizing. (CalMatters)
- San Diego councilmembers responded to a series of racist and antisemitic remarks made during public comment period at this week’s City Council meeting. (NBC 7)
The Morning Report was written by Jakob McWhinney. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.