Sprinklers can be seen over a field in Imperial Valley on Oct. 10, 2023.
Sprinklers can be seen over a field in Imperial Valley on Oct. 10, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

An astonishing amount of rain and snow obliterated California’s drought. Now there’s so much water to go around, some of the biggest water sellers are working on a deal to use less from the hurting Colorado River. 

San Diego proposed to sell back some of its more expensive Colorado River supplies it buys from Imperial Valley under a deal that’s currently forming. That helps the Colorado River’s largest user- the Imperial Irrigation District – to bank more water behind Hoover Dam and meet its promise to the federal government to use less from the drought-stricken watershed.

San Diego would then turn around and buy that same amount of water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California – which is flush right now with supplies from the Sierra Nevada mountains. That water is cheaper and San Diego should be able to use the savings to smooth out ever-rising rates.

Seems like a win-win-win for the state. But it would only be temporary, even if all the parties sign off. Drought will surely rear its ugly head once more but for now it’s clear what compromise a water surplus can bring. 

Read the full story here. 

Cardenas Siblings Plead Not Guilty  

Chula Vista Councilwoman Andrea Cardenas and her brother, Jesus Cardenas, who served as San Diego Councilman Stephen Whitburn’s chief of staff until earlier this year, pleaded not guilty to fraud and money laundering charges Thursday during their first court appearance.

The charges: District Attorney Summer Stephan is charging the siblings with multiple felony counts for allegedly defrauding a Covid relief program. Read more about the charges here. 

The council seat: Chula Vista Mayor John McCann and Councilman Jose Preciado called on the councilwoman to resign earlier this week. Andrea’s attorney told reporters Thursday that she does not plan to leave her seat. (Union-Tribune) 

Homeless Shelters Continuing to Serve Migrants

Asylum seekers dropped at off near the Iris Avenue Trolley Station in Otay Mesa on Sept. 14, 2023. After being dropped off, some were trying to figure out how they could reach out to friends and family to meet them or be picked up.
Asylum seekers dropped at off near the Iris Avenue Trolley Station in Otay Mesa on Sept. 14, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

In the aftermath of a burst of abrupt drop-offs, some migrants are continuing to stay in the city’s homeless shelters.

Early Thursday, nonprofit Alpha Project reported 85 migrants – many of them from Venezuela – were staying in three of its city-funded shelters. It’s unclear how many migrants are staying in other city shelters. The San Diego Housing Commission doesn’t track the immigration status of people referred to shelters it oversees.

But PATH, a nonprofit that helps operate the city’s Homelessness Response Center, where homeless San Diegans seek shelter and other services, reports that about 100 migrants sought shelter in both August and September. In October, PATH said 63 asylum-seekers sought shelter and 11 accessed it. The nonprofit also linked migrants with other resources.

The challenge: Paul Armstrong of the San Diego Rescue Mission said the nonprofit’s Bankers Hill shelter has taken in asylum-seekers stuck in San Diego because they don’t have sponsors. It’s now temporarily housing several migrants. While most asylum seekers swiftly leave San Diego to connect with sponsors, Armstrong said those who don’t have sponsors often need shelter longer, meaning there are fewer beds available for others seeking them.

“Since these are tougher cases, they gum up the shelter system,” Armstrong said.

Though Armstrong said the Rescue Mission hasn’t seen a recent spike in asylum-seekers, he said the roadblocks it’s faced helping migrants without sponsors led him to request a Thursday meeting with the Housing Commission and three migrant-serving nonprofits.

After the meeting, Armstrong said he hopes policymakers will discuss solutions.

Related: The Union-Tribune has an update on a new site where, with the help of $3 million from the county, aid groups are linking migrants with services and transportation before they head elsewhere – at least for now.

Housing Agency Isn’t Checking That Rent Hikes Are Legal

Daniel Palmer, 61, a tenant of North Park Towers in North Park on March 15, 2022. Palmer has a Section 8 voucher but has seen an 86 percent rent increase. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler for Voice of San Diego

When landlords of Section 8 voucher holders want to raise rents, the city’s housing agency has to sign off before they can proceed. But an inewsource investigation found that the San Diego Housing Commission isn’t checking to ensure proposed rent increases follow the state’s rent cap law.

Now the commission, which says it hasn’t been equipped to ensure rent hikes follow state law, faces a lawsuit urging a halt to its “practice of approving and subsidizing illegal rent increases” and to force it to “recover all public funds illegally paid to private landlords.”

The agency told inewsource it’s still trying to figure out how to address the rent cap law that took effect in 2020 and recently decided to develop and finalize plans to do so.

But here’s the rub: As our Lisa Halverstadt revealed last year, some landlords have seized on a legal gray area in the state law capping rent increases at 10 percent (or 5 percent plus inflation). The 2019 state law states that housing that is rent restricted per an agreement with a government agency isn’t covered – and at least some landlords have read the law to suggest that Section 8 tenants aren’t covered. Attorney General Rob Bonta this summer informed housing authorities that Section 8 tenants are covered and that they should be ensuring rent hikes don’t exceed the cap.

In Other News 

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

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1 Comment

  1. The UCSF homelessness study (conducted between October 2021 and November 2022) us used as THE metric for homelessness in California, including San Diego. But the increasng number of migrants seeking housing in local shelters serving the homeless strongly suggests that the substantial increases in immigration since mid-2023 are likely changing the demographics of the unhoused across the state and certainly in San Diego. In the perennial situation in San Diego where there is more demand than supply for shelter, how do local agencies for the homeless set their priorities?

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