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Sacramento Report: Encinitas Will Take Part in Newsom’s ‘Candid Conversation’ on Housing

Fights over SB 1421 are ramping up in and out of court, local lawmakers introduced a slate of new bills this week and more in our weekly roundup of news from Sacramento.

Homes overlook San Elijo Lagoon / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

Ever since Gov. Gavin Newsom announced he was suing the city of Huntington Beach for failing to meet its housing targets, housing advocates and political watchers have wondered who, if anyone, might be next.

The governor said in his State of the State address this week that he doesn’t intend to file suit against each and every city that is out of compliance. In San Diego, of course, all eyes are on Encinitas – one of the most housing-averse cities in the state, which is currently tied up in a court mess over a local no-growth measure that has prevented the city from passing a housing plan.

“Some cities are trying, like Clovis. But others are not, like Wheatland, Huntington Park and Montebello,” Newsom said in the address. “I am inviting these cities’ leaders to sit down next week for a candid conversation. I don’t intend to file suit against all 47, but I’m not going to preside over neglect and denial. These cities need to summon the political courage to build their fair share of housing.”

Encinitas Mayor Catherine Blakespear confirmed to VOSD she’ll be at the meeting.

Before the address, I asked Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath, who represents Encinitas and who has dealt with the housing plan headache for years as a member of the City Council and planning commission, whether she was worried the city would find itself on the wrong end of a lawsuit from Newsom’s administration.

“I’m hoping he would look at the facts of the case and realize that it was not the lack of the will of the planning commission or the council that led to this result,” she said.

Prop. A, the 2013 measure that gave Encinitas residents veto power over zoning changes, “is just a challenge that most other cities don’t face. And so, you know, I hope they would look at the entire legal situation. And it’s very different than say, a Huntington Beach, or other cities that choose not to comply.”

VOSD in Sac Takeaways

Despite the governor’s big speech, clearly the big Sacramento news this week was that Scott Lewis and I took a trip to the Capitol, which you can hear more details on in this week’s VOSD Podcast.

A few takeaways:

  • Sacramento insiders really, really (really, really, really) want people to know not to touch the bronzed bear statue, aka “bacteria bear” outside the governor’s office.
  • The Capitol building itself is incredibly hard to navigate. Some lawmakers told us they still get lost regularly. We certainly did. That’s why there’s a $755 million plan in the works to completely revamp a major section of it. “How do you make a people’s house welcoming to all Californians and overcoming some of these design issues?” Assemblyman Ken Cooley asked last year during a discussion of the overhaul.
  • Newsom has already acknowledged San Diego’s existence seemingly more than Gov. Jerry Brown ever did – yet his shout-outs to the region in Tuesday’s State of the State address were not all that flattering. He noted high-speed rail will likely never reach it, flagged SDG&E’s credit rating being downgraded and highlighted the hepatitis A crisis as evidence of the need to act urgently to address homelessness.

The Week in SB 1421 Fights

A couple months into the year, courts are being flooded with litigation over SB 1421, the law opening up police misconduct records. Police agencies are arguing the law doesn’t cover records created before Jan. 1 – VOSD is joining with other media outlets throughout San Diego to challenge that contention. This week, the First Amendment Coalition sued the California attorney general’s office for what it says is a failure to force departments to comply with the law. (Disclosure: My husband works for the attorney general’s office.)

But a separate rift over implementation of the law has opened up, outside of the courts – though it may head there eventually.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department has told Voice of San Diego that we must pay nearly $250,000 in order to obtain the records we’ve sought – and the bill is set to go up as it processes more of our requests.

KPBS reported this week that it, too, has been quoted an obscene amount of money in order for the department to comply with the law – more than $350,000.

As the New York Times notes, the legal precedent the department is relying on to charge for the records is itself under review.

Equal Pay for Sports Prizes and Other New Bills

Boerner Horvath announced a bill this week that would require equal prize money for men and women athletes competing on state property.

AB 467 comes after a decision last year by the California Coastal Commission to require the men-only Mavericks Challenge surf event in Half Moon Bay to create a women’s division in 2019 as a condition for using the public beach. The California State Lands Commission also ruled it would only lease the beach for the competition if women were guaranteed the same prize compensation as men.

All beaches in California are considered public property, and are administered by the state.

“We’re codifying this 2018 decision by the (State) Lands Commission and the California Coastal Commission that says on public lands, when you have to pull a permit, you have to offer pay equity and compensation prizes for men and women,” Boerner Horvath said at a press conference in Cardiff. “It’s really that simple.”

San Diego Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez attended the event, and said the bill will expand the gender wage gap argument beyond the traditional workplace.

“For the last few years, we in California have really tried to take on these issues of equal pay in the workplace,” she said. “But so often when we’re doing that, we think traditional workplaces, and we don’t think of kind of outside those lines. And so when we’re talking about the sports industry, those are outside those lines.”

The bill currently has no opposition.

“I would like to see somebody make that argument in the committee,” Boerner Horvath said of potential objections to the bill.

AB 467 would only apply to competitions on state-owned recreational property, and wouldn’t affect sports played in venues that are privately owned, or owned by other public agencies.

Will Fritz

Other bills announced this week include:

  • Gonzalez unveiled several measures this week, including a bill that would make it a crime to seize a worker’s immigration documents for the purpose of engaging in human trafficking, a bill to empower janitorial workers to serve as peer educators on sexual harassment issues and a bill requiring the governing boards of school districts, charter schools and community college districts to provide six weeks of paid maternity leave.
  • Assemblyman Todd Gloria announced a bill that would require schools to provide annual professional development training and information on resources available to LGBTQ students.
  • A bill by Sen. Pat Bates would require medical examiners to test for drugs in vehicle fatalities.

Golden State News

Jesse Marx contributed to this report.

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