Morning Report: Another Year of Racially Disproportionate Police Encounters | Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: Another Year of Racially Disproportionate Police Encounters

Police officers block off Fourth Avenue in downtown San Diego amid protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

This year has been exceptional in many ways but, most unfortunately, not in the treatment of Black Americans by police. 

The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis spurred protests across the country, including in San Diego where officers are more likely to ticket Black people for myriad charges. That’s true for seditious language violations, an unconstitutional law Voice of San Diego uncovered and City Council subsequently wiped from the books. 

It’s true for riding the trolley without a ticket, searches during a vehicle stop (even though Black people were less likely to be found with contraband) and for violating stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Our Sara Libby broke down the data behind the realities Black San Diegans face in these and more scenarios, like the fact that 70 percent of those arrested during racial justice protests in a span of three days this Spring were people of color. 

The San Diego Police Department appears to be sitting on its own review of police stop data requested back in September of 2019. The department said the results should be in by 2021 and promised not to “shy away from these conversations.” 

2020 in Photos: A Years’ Worth of Changes Each Month

Voice of San Diego’s best in photojournalism is a little different this year — not surprisingly. We’re walking you through it with a photo from each month to convey just how dramatically our region changed in 2020. 

It began with Megan Wood’s ride along during an annual in-person count of San Diego’s homeless population, which in 2020 exceeded 7,600.

As the shadow of COVID-19 began to envelop the land, Adriana Heldiz reached farmworkers struggling to support their families through the first throes of the pandemic economy.

Then hundreds of cots appeared in the city’s Convention Center as San Diego tried to shelter and contain the virus among the homeless population. 

Restaurants feed customers through plexi glass. Racial justice protests spill into the streets, masks over mouths chanting “Black Lives Matter.” Parents protest virtual school and more. 

Mayor Gloria Reaches Six-Month Extension With SDG&E

Mayor Todd Gloria says he’s reached an agreement with San Diego Gas and Electric, the city’s power provider, to extend their contract six months beyond its expiration date on Jan. 17, according to a news release.

The city’s spent a year trying to get multiple power companies to bid on one of San Diego’s most lucrative contracts, called the franchise fee agreement. But only SDG&E actually bid on the contract put out by the prior mayor, Kevin Faulconer. 

Gloria and the city attorney determined earlier this month that bid didn’t meet the city’s minimum standards, and decided instead to seek an extension with SDG&E while he figures out what direction the city should take next. He needs two-thirds of the City Council to agree to the contract extension, which would end June 1.

The Council plans to hold a special meeting Wednesday to decide.

The mayor’s office and city did not respond to a request by Voice of San Diego for a copy of the proposed contract extension. 

San Dieguito Backs Off Plans to Reopen

San Dieguito Union High School District had been pushing forward with plans to open in-person learning part-time Jan. 4 and then expand it later in the month. As our Kayla Jimenez found when she surveyed how North County schools were handling backlash from both teachers and parents for the plans to (or not to) open, San Dieguito was unique in the criticism it was getting.

District leaders had even received a letter from the county public health officer, Dr. Wilma Wooten, asking them to stay closed. The teachers union sued and now, the district’s trustees have decided not to reopen until at least Jan. 26 and the union dropped its lawsuit.

In Other News

  • An ICE oversight report on the Otay Mesa Detention Center found eight formal deficiencies at the private facility, including problems involving medical care provided to immigration detainees there. (Union-Tribune)
  • San Diego’s eastern mountains got snow Monday night causing closures on off-ramps along Interstate 8. (NBC 7)
  • San Diego’s home prices are the third-highest in the nation rising 11.6 percent, the highest in more than six years. (Union Tribune)
  • The state formally extended the regional stay-at-home order Tuesday, as expected, as ICU capacity in the region is still at 0 percent. (The region would have to have at least 15 percent available ICU beds to reopen.) (City News Service)
  • Newly-elected San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria met virtually with Tijuana’s Mayor Arturo González Cruz, whose father died of COVID-19 on Christmas Day. (Union Tribune)
  • Twenty five gyms have sued San Diego County to be allowed to operate indoors despite the pandemic. (NBC 7 San Diego)
  • The San Diego City Council this month voted to clarify that its “living wage ordinance” applies to workers on any city contract of any kind. The wage increased to $16.30 an hour this year, above the minimum wage for employers in the city, but ambiguities about certain types of contracts had created controversies that created the potential for litigation. (Union-Tribune) 

And finally: The plight of two men to build a large hotel complex on property behind the Convention Center on San Diego’s bayfront has hit its latest, perhaps fatal, snag. The Port Commission voted overwhelmingly to reject the project’s environmental impact report, a move the Union-Tribune has deduced to mean it will not proceed. The pair, Ray Carpenter and Art Engel, still hold the lease from the port for several more years. The land, which once hosted Carpenter’s heavy dredging equipment and other machinery, right now hosts superyachts and other accoutrements of harbor life.

City of San Diego leaders have long worked to get ahold of the Carpenter and Engel’s lease so they could expand the Convention Center on to that land. But the millions in taxpayer dollars paid to Carpenter and Engel has done nothing to achieve that. It’s not clear what would happen if a court determines voters did pass the Convention Center expansion tax on March’s ballot.

While this may be a mortal would to Carpenter and Engel’s plans for their lease, which the port would have had to extend by approving the hotel, this saga cannot and will not end. It’s one of those stories of civic life that we will pass on to our children and theirs for decades.

Corrections

A story yesterday on new research into cliff erosion misstated the age of coastal rock in Del Mar, the name of state Sen. Pat Bates’ spokesman, and the specific regulatory change sought in a seawall construction bill Bates is pursuing.

The Morning Report was written by MacKenzie Elmer, and edited by Andrew Keatts and Scott Lewis.

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