County officials sputtered over bureaucratic steps for weeks after announcing a plan to deploy hand-washing stations in areas where homeless people congregate in hopes of combating a deadly hepatitis A outbreak plaguing that population.

On Friday, they sprang into action.

I was first to report on a letter from county Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer demanding that the city immediately allow the county to deploy at least 30 hand-washing stations to try to stem an outbreak that’s left 15 dead and infected nearly 380 people.

The city pledged to allow the county to install the temporary stations immediately and to implement sanitation protocols.

And as the Union-Tribune reports, 20 stations had gone up by the end of the day and the county said 20 more were set to be deployed on Saturday.

The county also declared a local health emergency Friday night, a move Mayor Kevin Faulconer had urged in order to pull in state and federal resources to respond to the crisis. Councilman David Alvarez wrote on Twitter that the city still must do more to act.


We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

San Diego’s Metropolitan Transit System is also facing increased pressure to act.

As I wrote earlier this week, two MTS officials raised flags over potential safety and quality-of-life issues when county officials requested the agency consider allowing two hand-washing stations outside one of its East Village facilities.

San Diego City Councilwomen Georgette Gómez, Lorie Zapf and Myrtle Cole fired off a letter to MTS Thursday urging the agency to allow the stations on its properties.

Sac Report: Gov. Brown Comes to Town

Gov. Jerry Brown confessed his sins and talked up his work on criminal justice reform at a Friday forum in San Diego meant to push local employers to hire ex-offenders.

In this week’s action-packed Sacramento Report, VOSD contributor Kelly Davis writes about Brown’s visit while our Maya Srikrishnan offers the latest on Sen. Toni Atkins’ bid to establish a permanent funding source for affordable housing projects.

And Sara Libby offers more context on a blockbuster state Supreme Court ruling that could reshape local political efforts to pass tax hikes.

• Assemblywoman Shirley Weber’s attempt to require school districts to provide detailed reports on how they’re spending money meant to serve vulnerable students died on Friday. As Srikrishnan has reported, that means it’ll likely remain nearly impossible to tell where that money’s going.

VOSD Podcast: The Future of Local Taxes and Lacrosse

So about that blockbuster court ruling.

Our Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts dig into the potential ramifications of the state Supreme Court decision, which many experts believe could mean citizens groups proposing tax hikes only need a simple majority to pass them. That would be a game-changer since many attempts to increase taxes have failed to reach the two-thirds threshold.

Lewis and Keatts also chatted with Steve Govett, president of a new professional lacrosse franchise in San Diego, about how the Chargers’ departure opened up the market for his team’s arrival.

Another Sort of Water War

Our Ry Rivard reported Thursday on the county Water Authority’s surprising attempt to spur water use to cope with an unused supply of water that’s just sitting in pipes. Water Authority General Manager Maureen Stapleton and spokesman Mike Lee are quibbling with that characterization. In a letter, they contend the agency’s not trying to drive up usage but rather, trying to “accommodate changes in water use.”

In other Water Authority news, the Union-Tribune reports the agency on Friday asked a court to throw out a June lawsuit challenging “an untold number of private, unnoticed and unrecorded gatherings”  organized by the agency’s delegates to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

News Nibbles

County pension officials are refusing to reveal how much they’re paying outside lawyers, the Union-Tribune reports.

• Courthouse News Service says former Sen. John Edwards is pushing for a San Diego civil trial to secure settlements for Navy sailors ravaged by cancer and other ailments after a humanitarian mission to Fukushima.

The Port’s looking for someone to manage downtown Seaport Village after the current lease expires next September, the San Diego Business Journal reports.

Top Stories of the Week

These were the top five most popular Voice of San Diego stories for the week of Aug. 25-Sept. 1. View the full top 10 list here.

1. The State Supreme Court Just Changed Everything We Knew About Local Tax Hikes

Many of the local tax increases people have talked about in San Diego just got a lot easier to pass if they’re proposed by a citizens’ group instead of local government. (Scott Lewis)

2. I Made it in San Diego: The Fitness Franchise That Started it All

One fitness franchise helped pave the way for businesses like OrangeTheory and Barry’s Bootcamp, and it started with a woman teaching classes out of rec centers in Oceanside. (Sara Libby)

3. A Pipe Dream to Bring Colorado River Water to San Diego Re-Emerges

In the latest sign of how far local officials might go to become water independent, Water Authority board leaders are asking the agency to study a plan to build a multibillion-dollar pipeline to the Colorado River. (Ry Rivard)

4. Officials Fumbled With Permits, Pilot Project as Deadly Hepatitis Outbreak Surged

In the two months since officials decided to set up hand-washing stations to help combat a deadly hepatitis A outbreak, the county has deployed just two stations – and they’re both miles away from the downtown streets that are essentially ground zero of the outbreak. (Lisa Halverstadt)

5. School Officials Wanted Everyone But Disabled Students to Move Into Gleaming New Campus

The stark differences in facilities proposed for Earl Warren Middle School in Solana Beach felt like blatant discrimination to some parents of students in an adult transition program on campus. Many of them say the problems extend beyond just buildings. (Maya Srikrishnan)

    This article relates to: Morning Report, News

    Written by Lisa Halverstadt

    Lisa writes about San Diego city and county governments. She welcomes story tips and questions. Contact her directly at lisa@vosd.org or 619.325.0528.

    1 comments
    Molly Cook
    Molly Cook

    We're making progress in San Diego.  We now know how many deaths it takes to get city and county officials to take action in a crisis - 15.  15 is the number.  Fifteen. 


    Ten?  Twelve?  Fourteen?  Nope, not good enough.


    Next time a health crisis happens, or a homeless crisis, or any other life-threatening crisis, we can sit on our hands and wait for the numbers to mount up before we expect action.  When they hit the big One-five, something could kick in.  Emergency orders.  Quick responses.  Humane solutions.  But don't expect a damn thing before that. 


    Remember that number - 15.  Fifteen deaths and then we get down to business.


    I hope the city and county officials of San Diego are proud of themselves.  The rest of us are not.