An encampment in Mission Valley's riverbed on Aug. 22, 2023.
An encampment in the San Diego River on Aug. 22, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

County supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to direct staff to draft an ordinance allowing the county to clear homeless camps in unincorporated areas where there are concerns about fires or other safety hazards.

East County Supervisor Joel Anderson, who pitched the unsafe camping ordinance, said his foremost concern was that fires in homeless camps could fuel large blazes like the 2003 Cedar Fire. The Republican supervisor also called for the county to detail plans to provide more shelter options.

“I have long said that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution when it comes to addressing homelessness and today’s action will help ensure that we do not have another disastrous fire, like the Cedar Fire, due to unsafe camping in our public parks and riverbeds in the unincorporated areas of the County,” Anderson wrote in a statement after Tuesday’s vote.

Anderson’s Democratic colleagues Terra Lawson-Remer and board Chairwoman Nora Vargas both said they appreciated Anderson’s focus on safety concerns and would back his proposal with that aim, plus significant information on plans for the county to expand shelter options and ensure a humane approach that aims to avoid criminalizing homeless residents.

Not on board: Homeless advocates and organizations including the Regional Task Force on Homelessness, the group coordinating the region’s homelessness response, urged supervisors not to proceed. Opponents argued an ordinance would do more to harm than help homeless San Diegans.

What didn’t move forward: Anderson had called for the county to weigh in on a legal battle over an Oregon city’s camping ban and to direct county counsel to file a brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case. County officials clarified Tuesday that a September joint filing by the California State Association of Counties, a statewide organization representing counties including San Diego, calling for the Supreme Court to weigh in reflected their position.

What’s next: County staff will return to county supervisors with a draft unsafe camping ordinance and more details on potential shelter options. A county spokesman suggested that could happen in a couple months.

San Diego Delegation Urges Update to Fed Homeless Funding Formula

Tents in downtown early morning during the Point in Time Count on Jan. 26, 2023.
Tents in downtown early morning during the Point in Time Count on Jan. 26, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

San Diego’s Congressional delegation, led by Rep. Scott Peters, is again asking the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development to change a funding formula that’s long meant San Diego isn’t receiving its fair share of federal money to combat homelessness.

Peters started raising concerns in 2013 when then-Voice of San Diego reporter Kelly Bennett revealed San Diego County had the third-largest homeless population in the nation but received the 18th largest amount of the foremost stream of federal funds doled out to address the problem.

Last year, San Diego reported the eighth largest homeless population in the nation and received about $33 million in federal Continuum of Care funding, the 14th highest amount in the nation.

Peters and fellow Reps. Sara Jacobs, Mike Levin and Juan Vargas sent a Tuesday letter to the HUD secretary asking her to revisit the issue. 

Supes to Dredge Clogged Tijuana River

Young women on horses look at trash that is blocking 3 pipes near Smuggler's Gulch in San Ysidro on Jan. 21, 2023.
Young women horseback riding look at trash that is blocking 3 pipes near Smuggler’s Gulch in San Ysidro on Jan. 21, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted to direct $5.1 million in county dollars and grant funding to dredge the Tijuana River. The goal is to reduce the impacts of river flooding on border communities. The Tijuana River Valley is frequently hit hard when heavy rains come, but the clogged waterways can lead to devastating floods.

In January, residents of San Ysidro experienced the potential devastation firsthand. A deluge of rain swelled the Tijuana River, which then flooded horse ranches along its route to the Pacific Ocean. Cars were left stranded in water, lifeguards had to rescue some residents and ranchers scrambled to move their animals to higher ground and out of areas immersed in knee deep water.

The widespread flooding had ranchers asking why dredging they remember previously being done regularly hadn’t happened in recent years. The lack of dredging created a significant build up of trash and sediment that “created a ramp leading the water straight to (the ranchers’) properties,” environment reporter Mackenzie Elmer wrote at the time.

In the aftermath, ranchers were left to clean debris from their property, tend to injured animals and dump ruined feed and supplies.

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Song of the Week 

Ten Bulls went through something of a transformation in 2019 when the band expanded its lineup and changed its name from Sights & Sages. Still, they retained much of their restrained and dreamy pop sound. In the years since, Ten Bulls has released a full-length and a collection of singles and b-sides that both showcase the band’s intriguing musical dichotomy: its ability to construct delicate and precise indie rock that somehow both beckons a listener in and keeps them at arm’s length. 

Song of the Week, “Virgil”: The first time I heard “Virgil” I couldn’t help but wonder why I was listening to it on my phone and not the radio. It’s a sound that brings to mind both global sensations Alt-J and former local heavyweights Deadphones. (PS: Do you have access to the album Deadphones, formerly Cuckoo Chaos put out?) “Virgil” is overflowing with cosmic auditory swirls, whispered vocals and muted guitar notes. It’s somehow both driving and hushed, almost like a wave perpetually on the verge of cresting before repeatedly dissolving back into the ocean. 

Like what you hear? Catch Ten Bulls at the Ichiban Festival at Wild Seeds Ranch on Saturday. 

Do you have a “Song of the Week” suggestion? Shoot us an email and a sentence or two about why you’ve been bumping this song lately. Friendly reminder: all songs should be by local artists! 

In Other News 

  • After the Padres’ much hyped 2023 season ended in bitter disappointment, the San Francisco Giants have hired away manager Bob Melvin. (Union-Tribune)
  • In July, SANDAG’s CEO Hasan Ikhrata resigned after a turbulent tenure. Now, as the agency has embarked on a broad search for Ikhrata’s replacement, one board member floated the idea of having a pair of co-CEO’s. (inewsource)
  • San Diego has a plan to accelerate the repair of sidewalks: write letters to property owners, waive fees and streamline approvals. (Union-Tribune)
  • The Oceanside Planning Commission unanimously approved plans to build 164 townhomes at a school closed since 2007. (Union-Tribune)
  • The struggling Tri-City Medical center is considering dueling partnership proposals from Sharp and UCSD. (UnionTribune)

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt and Jakob McWhinney. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.

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