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Morning Report: City Hopes Building Can Untangle One Homelessness Problem

1401 Imperial Avenue

Earlier this year, the City Council voted to purchase this former indoor skydiving facility at 1401 Imperial Avenue in hopes of making it the city’s first navigation center for homeless San Diegans. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Contrary to a persistent urban myth, most homeless San Diegans want to get off the street.

In more than two years covering San Diego’s homelessness crisis, I’ve heard from many homeless San Diegans who want help but are overwhelmed by the complex system they must navigate to get it.

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and his team say they’re on it. They have pushed a plan to spend $7 million on a downtown facility to serve as a hub where homeless San Diegans can be linked with housing and services.

But the new project – which could open as soon as July – won’t solve all San Diego’s homelessness woes. The city is hoping a new, brick-and-mortar location will help solve the broken system that makes it so hard for homeless residents to find the help that’s technically available. The new navigation center’s success, then, depends on improving the homeless-serving system that’s struggled to effectively coordinate and quickly move homeless San Diegans into housing.

Toni Atkins Makes History

San Diego Democrat Toni Atkins was sworn in Wednesday as the state Senate’s top leader, becoming both the first woman and first openly gay state legislator to hold the post.

Capital Public Radio reports Atkins is pledging to prioritize health care reforms and housing affordability, a cause she’s pushed throughout her career. The Los Angeles Times sheds light on Atkins’ rise and how  growing up poor in southwestern Virginia shaped her approach to public service.

Atkins made a little news after her swearing in. She promised to push for continued workplace and sexual misconduct reforms at the statehouse.

“True culture change – holding ourselves to a higher standard – requires the active, every day, enlightened participation of every person who works in and around this Capitol,” Atkins said, according to The LA Times.  “And I pledge to you, that will be our mission and our mandate.”

• A new, nonpartisan poll released late Wednesday shows the state’s gubernatorial race is taking shape. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsome, a Democrat, has solidified his position as the frontruner, but San Diego businessman John Cox has moved into second place with the support of 14 percent of likely voters.

If those results hold, it would mean Republicans could avoid the nightmare scenario of having two Democrats advance through the June primary into the November general election. Having no candidate at the top of the ticket could hurt Republicans all the way down the ballot. (Union-Tribune)

What Separates 49th District Dems?

None of the four Democrats vying for outgoing Rep. Darrell Issa’s 49th District seat have held public office, giving voters less intel on what issues they might prioritize in Congress.

Our Jesse Marx is here to help. In this week’s North County Report, Marx shares some takeaways on the candidates’ top priorities. Stay tuned for a similar breakdown on Republican candidates soon.

Also in this week’s North County Report: A rundown on North County cities’ policies on retaining email records – and why access to those records is so crucial.

Good Schools for All, Techie Version

San Diego County needs more home-grown, tech-savvy workers and local schools are trying to help.

Schools countywide have increased computer science curriculum the past several years with the help of teachers like Art Lopez, a computer science teacher at Sweetwater High School and a curriculum specialist for the Sweetwater Union High School District.

Hosts Scott Lewis and Laura Kohn invited Lopez on our latest Good Schools for All podcast to discuss efforts to increase access to computer science classes.

The duo also highlights TechHire San Diego, a San Diego Workforce Partnership program linking underrepresented people in the tech field with local tech jobs.

News Blotter

An autopsy report reveals an inmate at the state prison in Otay Mesa was dead for at least two days last spring before prison staffers realized he’d died.

The Union-Tribune reports prison workers blamed the stench on the facility’s sewer system and that the man’s cellmate, who was serving time for murder, discouraged them from checking on 58-year-old inmate James Acuna.

• Los Angeles police are overhauling their longtime practice of barring public access to police body camera footage. We’ve written about the San Diego Police Department’s policy against turning over the footage except in limited circumstances. (LA Times)

• City Attorney Mara Elliott has sued credit reporting agency Experian over its failure to notify an estimated 250,000 San Diegans that their personal information was in danger. (10 News)

Quick Hits

• The number of flu cases and deaths continues to climb in San Diego County. (City News Service)

• City and county fire officials are looking into whether to establish a regional dispatch center following an outside consultant’s recommendation. (Times of San Diego)

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