Morning Report: 25 Years of Water Rate Hikes and More Coming | Voice of San Diego

Morning Report

Morning Report: 25 Years of Water Rate Hikes and More Coming

No good deed goes unpunished, friends.

Even as we’re all using less water, rates have more than doubled for most San Diego County residents over the past quarter-century — and they’re still climbing.

Ry Rivard is zooming in on water rates this week, and in the first of these stories he looks at where things stand for the 24 water agencies around the county: “The city’s rates have risen faster than rates charged by most other water sellers in the county since 1990. But, the rates started relatively low, so city customers these days are now paying about what most other people are.”

Different agencies face different challenges — some represent far-flung customers, so they have to lay and maintain pipes over long distances. Others structure their rates to discourage high water use.

• In an editorial, the Union-Tribune scolds agencies like the Rainbow Municipal Water District that resist merging with other utilities in order to consolidate government functions: “If the overall goal is to better serve customers at lower costs, both of the districts and the commission should put politics aside and work to meet that objective.”

Candidates Sit Down With VOSD

This week, Scott Lewis begins a series of one-on-one podcast conversations with the candidates for San Diego city attorney and the City Council District 1 seat. All have agreed to sit down with him and scheduled a time. First one: Mara Elliot, a deputy city attorney, running to replace her boss. Of all the seven candidates doing the podcast, Elliot’s the one Lewis knows least. So what should they talk about?

You can send your thoughts about Elliot or any of the others to scott@voiceofsandiego.org.

How California’s Climate Push Fell Apart

Over the past few months, Gov. Jerry Brown has preached the importance of addressing climate change to the pope, and has delighted in scolding Republicans like Ben Carson for not taking the problem seriously.

But this week, Brown suffered a huge setback in his own efforts to fight climate change: “At a time when Brown likes to say the eyes of the world are on California, the leaders conceded a major environmental fight a few months before they will attend the United Nations conference on climate change in Paris,” The L.A. Times’ Chris Megerian and Melanie Mason write in a piece that pulls back the curtain on how Brown, Senate leader Kevin de Leon and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins ultimately threw in the towel on a key target.

“In the end, it wasn’t doubts about the global dangers of climate change that scuttled the gasoline target,” they write, “but questions of who would get to pull the strings in Sacramento.”

ICYMI: Lilac Hills Keeps on Rolling

The Lilac Hills development keeps clearing hurdles: On Friday, a split County Planning Commission voted 4-3 to approve the massive housing project in rural Valley Center, the Union-Tribune reports.

As we revealed in an investigation last month, the county’s Department of Planning and Land Use, a rung below the Planning Commission, had earlier rejected the project, saying the 1,700 homes it would bring is out of whack with the county’s general plan, which says growth should happen near transit centers.

The project so far has cleared every obstacle in its way: Fire officials have also expressed serious doubts they’ll be able to service the area (indeed, Lilac Hills is one of several projects being proposed in the back country’s high-risk wildfire areas).

Billionaire Still Covets L.A. Times (and U-T?)

Ken Doctor is the Politico New York analyst who first broke the news that Tribune Publishing had fired the publisher of the L.A. Times and Union-Tribune, Austin Beutner.

Doctor writes now that the CEO of Tribune Publishing is in a staredown with Eli Broad, the philanthropist whose desire to buy the L.A. Times may have led to Beutner’s firing. The Union-Tribune is always an afterthought in these stories.

Doug Manchester has sold the Union-Tribune property to BBL Commercial Real Estate for more than $50 million, the Union-Tribune reports. The newspaper staff will have to negotiate a new lease with BBL or get on out.

Quick News Hits

• If there’s a tie to be made between San Diego and religious crises in the Middle East, Mark Arabo — the self-appointed spokesman for local Iraqi Christians — is usually the one to make it.

Arabo’s latest cause is helping to bring Syrian refugees to San Diego. He and another San Diego lawyer with Syrian roots tell the Union-Tribune they hope to open an orphanage in San Diego County to take in Syrian refugee children.

• UC officials are appealing a San Diego Superior Court ruling that found UC San Diego was unfair to a student who was suspended over sexual misconduct allegations. (L.A. Times)

Our Pleasure and Our Pain

The beach is San Diego’s greatest asset, the reason so many people end up here. But it’s also sometimes the cause of our greatest losses.

This weekend was a somber reminder of that. Sunday morning’s Amber Alert ended with terrible news: A 4-year-old boy drowned in Mission Bay. (NBC San Diego) The body of a young woman was also found in the waters off Point Loma around the same time. (Fox 5) Lifeguards rescued an injured man who jumped from Sunset Cliffs (reminder: that’s still illegal.) (Union-Tribune)

But the ocean can be pretty magical too. Check out this video that made the rounds this weekend of orcas chasing a boat in the waters off of San Diego Bay.

Sara Libby is VOSD’s managing editor. She oversees VOSD’s newsroom and its content. You can reach her at sara.libby@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0526.


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Three Ways You Can Help Free Innocent Men and Women in Prison

California Western School of Law prepares its law students by giving them one-on-one time with field experts and real-world experience. One of the clinical programs students can get involved with is the California Innocence Project.

Through the project, law students and attorneys provide free legal services to men and women in prison. Since 1999, they’ve helped exonerate 18 prisoners that have collectively served more than 150 years behind bars.

One of the people they helped is Michael Hanline, a man who served 36 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. Last year, students and attorneys found secret evidence that helped prove his innocence. Here’s a video of what his first day out of prison was like.

Here are three ways you can help free innocent men and women:

  1. Anything from a DNA test to obtaining legal documents requires money. Support the California Innocence Project.
  2. Volunteer as an expert witness, attorney, investigator or intern.
  3. Follow California Innocence Project Director Justin Brooks on Twitter to stay up-to-date with their projects.

Read about the California Innocence Project on Partner Voices.

Are you an alumnus from California Western School of Law? You don’t want to miss these alumni events!

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