Palomar Health in Escondido on Oct. 25, 2022.
Palomar Health in Escondido on Oct. 25, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Palomar Health rolled out a new terms of use agreement on its website a few weeks ago that limits how the public can access its site.

The public health care district operates Palomar Medical Centers in Escondido and Poway. Visitors of its website now must agree to an almost 3,000-word set of rules in order to access it. But if users reject the agreement, they can’t enter the site at all.

It includes sections about collecting users’ personal information, restricting users’ ability to copy or share documents and materials from the website and more.

Our North County reporter Tigist Layne checked the websites of 75 other public health care districts in the state, and Palomar Health is the only one with a terms of use agreement to access its website.

One expert explained to Layne how the agreement conflicts with public access laws. Public health care districts are special districts that are governed by a board of directors elected by the public. Unlike other hospitals, they have to follow state laws that govern public records and public access.

Read the full story here.

We’re Diving into the Water Wars

A view of Lake Mead on Jan. 31, 2023. The largest reservoir on the Colorado River has reached dangerously low levels due to prolonged drought and overuse. / Photo by Joseph Griffin for Voice of San Diego
A view of Lake Mead on Jan. 31, 2023. The largest reservoir on the Colorado River has reached dangerously low levels due to prolonged drought and overuse. / Photo by Joseph Griffin for Voice of San Diego

There’s no better place to get nerdy about water than at Politifest 2023. 

Our environment reporter MacKenzie Elmer has been closely following some of the spiciest disagreements and fights among the largest water players in the west. Will two farming community water districts leave the San Diego County Water Authority? How has the biggest water deal in California’s history worked out? What are cities doing to stop their beaches from disappearing

We will get into that and more at Politifest 2023. Elmer breaks down some of the panels she’s excited to watch in her latest Environment Report. See one you like? Get your tickets here

Read the Environment Report here. 

Ready or Not, CARE Court Is Coming to San Diego

Trash can be seen of what is left from a homeless encampment underneath a freeway on Commercial Street on May 18, 2023.
File photo of trash underneath a freeway on Commercial Street on May 18, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

In just a couple of weeks, San Diego will be one of the first counties in California to launch CARE Court, a new system that will make it easier to compel people with serious mental health illnesses into treatment.

Two San Diego residents familiar with involuntarily psychiatric treatment, shared their stories with the Union-Tribune. One details how forced treatment saved his life and another describes it as “one of the most violating experiences of his life.”

Novel, New and Bold: In a new interview with 60 Minutes, Gov. Gavin Newsom touts CARE Court as a “novel, new and bold” way to address the mental illness crisis in California. According to the 60 Minutes report, one in four homeless people in California has a serious mental illness, and Newsom says CARE Court will address that.

People referred to CARE Court for a severe mental illness will be evaluated, and if they have an untreated psychotic disorder, a judge can order a treatment plan that includes medication, therapy and a place to live.

But here’s where it gets controversial: If someone refuses treatment, a judge could refer them for conservatorship, which would strip them of their rights and force them to get treatment.

Newsom, though, said CARE Court is the answer to getting thousands of people permanently off the streets. But as our Lisa Halverstadt reports, 250 people are projected to qualify for the program each year in San Diego County, and it’s unclear what percentage will be homeless.

Related: County officials have until October to roll out CARE Court, and Halverstadt reports that the county’s biggest challenges will be coming up with treatment and housing.

San Diego already faces a severe shortage of long-term care options for behavioral health patients, a problem that has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Now, CARE Court is expected to put even more pressure on the clogged system.

Read that story here.

In Other News

  • The city of La Mesa on Oct. 10 will consider purchasing cameras that scan license plates on cars. The Union-Tribune has more details on how the cameras work, and how police officials plan to use them, if approved. 
  • The SANDAG board voted on Friday to eliminate the controversial per-mile driving fee from consideration in the 2025 Regional Plan and all future regional plans. The road user charge, also referred to as a “mileage tax,” was being considered as a possible financing mechanism for SANDAG’s Regional Transportation Plan, and a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the region. (Union-Tribune)
  • A new app will let people rent private bathrooms in San Diego by connecting users to nearby hosts. These hosts rent out their bathrooms and other spaces in their homes for 15 minute blocks. (ABC 10) Related: Voice of San Diego has previously reported about a lack of public restroom access in downtown San Diego that is especially impacting homeless residents. Research by SDSU found that less than half of the city’s permanent restroom facilities could be considered “truly open access.” (Voice of San Diego) 

The Morning Report was written by Tigist Layne and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña. 

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