View of a homeless encampment on 16th Street in the East Village on June 9, 2023.
View of a homeless encampment on 16th Street in the East Village on June 9, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

A week ago, we learned that the city of San Diego would join an Oregon city in asking the nation’s top court to weigh in on how cities can enforce homeless encampment bans. Now, more are joining this plea.

Background: The city of Grant Pass in Oregon wants the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on the legality of its camping ban.

The San Diego City Council voted last week to join as an “amicus curiae,” or a “friend of the court.” The city won’t be party to the case. But it can get permission to submit briefs and arguments supporting the city of Grants Pass. 

Now, Gov. Gavin Newsom is doing the same. Here’s the brief his office submitted. And here’s what Newsom had to say: “As California invests billions to address housing and homelessness, the courts have tied the hands of state and local governments that seek to use common sense approaches to clean our streets and provide help for unhoused Californians living in inhumane conditions.”

Fox 5 reports that San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan submitted a brief, too. She wrote: “The questions raised by this case are of paramount importance to local governments … and warrant this Court’s thoughtful attention.”

Related: Voice of San Diego’s Lisa Halverstadt is keeping tabs on how San Diego is enforcing its own camping ban. Read up on the latest here.

Politics Report: The Case for City Attorney

File photo of San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott by Megan Wood

What does the current City Attorney think about an effort to change the elected office’s job responsibilities? We wondered if she had a take, and now, we know.

In a Sept. 20 memo, San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott called it “the largest structural change to City Governance in decades.”

The proposal: The City Council’s Rules Committee is set to discuss whether to put on the ballot a measure that would vastly reshape the role of the city attorney.

Right now, the city attorney not only handles the legal advice, litigation and analysis for city officials, the office also prosecutes criminal misdemeanors in the city. Some people want to change the job.

In the latest Politics Report, Scott Lewis explains the proposal on the table. And he provides some insight, and receipts, on why Elliott’s take is interesting. Read more here.

VOSD Podcast: In the latest episode, our hosts also get into the convo about the City Attorney. And, they recap how a gun sighting at a San Diego school has put one school district’s discipline policy in the hot seat. Listen to the full episode here.

Rep. Scott Peters Pleads for Tijuana River Funding as Shutdown Looms

Tijuana River Valley on Dec. 20, 2022.
Tijuana River Valley on Dec. 20, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

The Congressman whose district includes Coronado testified against proposed Republican spending cuts that he said would hinder urgent work on a broken federal wastewater treatment plant

The plant is key to treating sewage that would otherwise spill into the Tijuana River and the Pacific Ocean just below Imperial Beach. It’s Congress that has to find money to fix that plant in order to then expand it under a treaty the U.S. recently signed with Mexico. 

“We have raw sewage washing up on the shores of Imperial Beach and as it dries people are breathing fecal matter. The beaches in Coronado have been closed for two straight summers because it’s unhealthy,” Peters said. “Meanwhile we have Navy Seals training in that water telling us they are swimming into pieces of feces.”

But the outlook is grim. The Washington Post reported a government shutdown that leaves federal workers and military service members unpaid is nigh. Speaker Kevin McCarthy spent the weekend trying to defuse demands for massive cuts to government spending from ultraconservative members in the House. Lawmakers return Tuesday to try and fund the government by the Sept. 30 deadline. 

At least local Republicans and Democrats seem to agree: County Supervisors Nora Vargas, a Democrat, and Jim Desmond, a Republican, want to vote Tuesday to declare a humanitarian crisis at the border for lack of federal resources. Our Lisa Halverstadt and photographer Ariana Drehsler reported on the thousands of asylum seekers being dropped off on the U.S. side of the border. That left service providers and volunteers scrambling to provide aid and put a strain on city shelters. 

A Big Blowout at a Community Meeting

Young men play basketball in Barrio Logan on Chicano Park Day on April 22, 2023.
File photo of Chicano Park in Barrio Logan. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

A disruption at the Barrio Logan Planning Group meeting last week, caught our managing editor’s attention. The blow-up had nothing to do with the zoning and land-use issues, and everything to do with growing tensions between community members and police.

Andrea Lopez-Villafaña explains what happened when two police officers pushed a teenager to the ground and put another in handcuffs at Chicano Park.

Read the full story here.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña and MacKenzie Elmer.

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