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Morning Report: Why Is Bike Sharing a Bust?

City changes tune on properties for homeless, hepatitis A outbreak still stable, homelessness spikes across West Coast, Fat Leonard scandal widens, and fake news spreads about S.D. and Amazon.

Workers install a DecoBike station in the shadow of a building on Market Street downtown. / Photo by Dustin Michelson

Plenty of big cities have successful bike-share programs, designed to provide curbside bicycles to tourists and locals who don’t have — or don’t want to use — their own. San Diego, despite its own bike-share program, is not one of those cities.

So far, the program has been hobbled by low ridership and neighborhood opposition. In a new story, contributor Alon Levy explains why things haven’t gone well for San Diego’s program: First, there’s San Diego’s lack of bike infrastructure. Riders might not choose to bike to work or to explore the city on weekends if they feel unsafe on the roads. But that’s not the only issue. The density and location of the stations is also an issue.

San Diego “can still salvage the system if it installs protected bike lanes and puts in more docks in downtown-adjacent areas such as Hillcrest, but until it does, it can expect weak ridership to continue.”

City Switcheroo on Homeless Housing

Not too long ago, the city declared that it didn’t have any properties that would be suitable for housing the homeless. None, zero, zilch. A spokesperson said that, and an internal city spreadsheet showed that 25 properties were reviewed and rejected.

Then along came the hepatitis A outbreak, which threatened to hurt tourism and business in addition to killing people on the lower rungs of society. Voila! As the U-T reports, the city decided that three properties would work after all.

What happened? The spokesman “did not directly answer questions about how or why the site status changed.”

As Lisa Halverstadt previously reported, Mayor Kevin Faulconer had previously focused on trying to reach consensus on shelter locations before settling on sites. The hepatitis A crisis changed that plan.

There’s more about a plan to house the homeless at the former training facility of the team-that-shall-not-be-named. (Times of S.D.)

A prominent local homeless advocate says it’s time to stop feeding the homeless in parking lots because it doesn’t push them toward change. (U-T)

Hepatitis A Roundup: Still An Emergency

County supervisors have voted to extend the hepatitis A emergency declaration. (City News Service)

The latest hepatitis A statistics continue to suggest that the outbreak has slowed, with 28 new cases over the past two weeks, bringing the total to 544.

Across the West Coast, Homelessness Spikes

San Diego has plenty of company when it comes to rising and ultra-visible homelessness: The problem is plaguing San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, Orange County and more.

“A homeless crisis of unprecedented proportions is rocking the West Coast,” the Associated Press reports, “and its victims are being left behind by the very things that mark the region’s success: soaring housing costs, rock-bottom vacancy rates and a roaring economy that waits for no one.”

A Seattle councilman explains the problem: “I’ve got economically zero unemployment in my city, and I’ve got thousands of homeless people that actually are working and just can’t afford housing.”

Here’s another tidbit that puts the wide problem into perspective: “Since 2015, at least 10 cities or municipal regions in California, Oregon and Washington — and Honolulu, as well — have declared states of emergency due to the rise of homelessness, a designation usually reserved for natural disasters.”

Politics Roundup: Anti-Trump Gov Stumps in Vatican

• Gov. Jerry Brown is in the Vatican on a very political trip. “Addressing a somber gathering of scientists, politicians and religious leaders here, [he] rebuked Trump’s rejection of mainstream climate science as a ‘lie within a lie,’ urging religious establishments to help ‘awaken the world’ to efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Politico reports.

• “Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Monday that the city has repaired 655 miles of roads so far, which is ahead of schedule to meet the goal of 1,000 miles of roads by 2020.” (10News)

• Kris Michell, a longtime city power player who’s becoming a top aide in the mayor’s office, will be vested in the city’s pension program, “a benefit that was closed to most new hires after voters approved a 2012 ballot measure to reform the system,” the U-T reports. She did not respond to questions from the newspaper.

• A loophole in state law is preventing officials from targeting doctors who go out of their way to inappropriately allow parents to stop their kids from getting required vaccinations. (L.A. Times)

Environment Report: Don’t Blame the Brush

The Escondido-based California Chaparral Institute — yes, everything in the world has its own advocacy group — wants you to stop blaming the brush for wildfires. This week’s VOSD Environmental Report leads with efforts to make people like shrubs, or at least to stop blaming it for causing destructive fires.

Plus: A bizarre lawsuit in academia, a lawsuit over polluted waterways, and our Environmental Report scribe remembers snow.

Quick News Hits: Time Keeps on Ticking, Ticking …

 Broadcom made its bid for local tech giant Qualcomm official Monday, offering $130 billion. (Times of S.D.)

• “The ‘Fat Leonard’ corruption investigation has expanded to include more than 60 admirals and hundreds of other U.S. Navy officers under scrutiny for their contacts with a defense contractor in Asia who systematically bribed sailors with sex, liquor and other temptations, according to the Navy,” the Washington Post reports.

Leonard’s real name is Leonard Glenn Francis, and he’s behind bars here awaiting sentencing.

Vox has a helpful explainer about the scandal that includes a quote at a court hearing from a local federal prosecutor on the case: “I ask, when has something like this, bribery of this magnitude, ever happened in this district or in our country’s history? Mr. Francis’s conduct has passed from being merely exceptional to being the stuff of history and legend.”

Pot is going to be pricey thanks to new taxes that kick in next year, the AP reports.

Medicaid, the state health insurance program for the poor, is anything but a comfy free ride. It’s often difficult for patients to find doctors who will accept their taxpayer-funded coverage. Now, there’s news that insurance companies are making a huge bundle off Medicaid, much more than before Obamacare kicked in. “Last year, they made more money than all Medicaid insurers combined in 34 other states with managed care plans,” the L.A. Times says.

 

No, fake-news purveyors, San Diego has NOT prevailed in the bonkers municipal sweepstakes to land the second Amazon headquarters. (Snopes.com)

Our sky-high housing prices make us an unlikely candidate for the headquarters anyway. Still, I’m betting no other contender has an antique gas and steam engine museum with a timepiece museum annex. Take that, Tucson and your shameless saguaro cactus Amazon bribe!

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. He is also immediate past president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

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