Morning Report: Council Moves Forward on Homelessness Plan - Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: Council Moves Forward on Homelessness Plan

A sign in San Diego notifying the homeless of an impending sweep.
Signs posted on Harbor Drive in 2015 notify the homeless of an impending sweep. / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

Homeless San Diegans, advocates for them and courts have criticized the city of San Diego’s policing and its reliance on ticketing and arrests to deter homelessness.

Now the new city-funded strategy meant to guide the response to homelessness is driving those concerns home: It suggests that the city and the Metropolitan Transit System swiftly review their policies and consider changes.

As Lisa Halverstadt writes in her latest review of the long plan, many homeless San Diegans and homeless service staff  told consultants they were frustrated with the time they spend resolving city and transit infractions when they could, instead, be looking for housing and jobs.

The plan makes recommendations to address this.

Monday, the City Council reviewed the whole plan and unanimously accepted it.

For review, here’s what the plan says the city should do to make address the homelessness crisis in San Diego.

  • Keely Halsey, the city’s chief of homelessness strategies, noted in statements to Voice of San Diego and before the City Council on Monday that the city is already taking steps to implement the plan, including expanding homeless court access.
  • Before unanimously voting to accept the plan, Council President Georgette Gómez and other City Council members acknowledged the challenges before them, particularly the target to deliver 3,500 new supportive housing units over the next decade.
  • “The way we treat people really needs to change in order for us to properly implement this,” said City Councilwoman Monica Montgomery, noting that she’d like the city to revisit its recently updated ban on living in vehicles.
  • The Council members also lined up behind the plan’s aim to halve street homelessness and end homelessness among veterans and youth in its first three years.

SDSU Made the City an Offer

SDSU
San Diego State University President Adela de la Torre / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Also at the San Diego City Council Monday: SDSU President Adela de la Torre led a team from the university that presented the city with an official offer to purchase 133 acres of land in Mission Valley for $68.2 million along with a bevy of promises the university valued at $150 million in total.

John Kratzer, the CEO of JMI Realty, led the presentation, citing the need for the university to grow to accommodate student demand.

Here’s a copy of the full offer letter. It says the university will construct a 34-acre river park, a football stadium, facilities for educational, research and entrepreneurial programs, along with housing and hotels. It also pledges to build the Fenton Parkway bridge along with other mitigation measures.

More:

  • About 37 percent of the land is actually owned by the city’s water department and the City Council has a fiduciary responsibility to water ratepayers to use those assets wisely to secure water needs.
  • The city attorney will now review the offer and report back to the Council.

Council Dems Will Take a Shot at Overriding Inclusionary Housing Veto

City Council Democrats are set to take a crack at overriding Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s veto of City Council President Georgette Gómez’s proposal to reform the city’s foremost affordable housing mandate on Tuesday.

They’re unlikely to pull together the votes necessary to do it – and the City Council president has given herself a backup plan.

Gómez’s office has already scheduled the consideration of “additional potential amendments” to the so-called inclusionary housing ordinance right after the vote should the City Council override fail.

Gómez’s policy chief Lara Gates said Gómez’s office is eager to make a compromise.

“We’ve been talking with a lot of partners to understand what it would take to have an inclusionary policy be adopted by the majority of the City Council,” Gates said. “We are amenable to revisiting the numbers that we brought forward so on Tuesday we will be considering the veto override and then, as stated in the staff report, we will be hearing other considerations.”

Gómez’s current proposal calls for affordable units built in market-rate projects to serve low-income families making an average of 50 percent of the area median income – or about $53,500 annually for a family of four. In many cases, builders would either make 10 percent of the units in their project affordable to these families or eventually pay $22 a square foot fee to fund affordable housing elsewhere in the city.

City Council Democrat Vivian Moreno, who previously rejected Gómez’s proposal, has said she’d back the policy if it instead encouraged developments to serve families making an average of 60 percent of the median income, the equivalent of $64,200 annually for a family of four.

If Moreno, Gómez and other City Council members cut a deal that tweaks any of the numbers, they won’t be able to instantly approve the measure. They’ll need to order another study to assess the feasibility and potential impact of the proposal – and then schedule a couple more City Council votes.

Governor Kills Email Retention Bill

Gov. Gavin Newsom Sunday vetoed legislation that would have required government agencies to retain emails for two years. Public records laws already require records be kept for two years, at least. But some cities and school districts do not consider emails public records and destroy them in as few as 30 days.

Voice of San Diego and San Diegans for Open Government sued San Diego Unified School District to stop its plan to destroy all emails over a year old. San Diego Unified settled the suit and agreed to keep the emails for two years. But the settlement expires after five years.

“This bill does not strike the appropriate balance between the benefits of greater transparency through the public’s access to public records, and the burdens of a dramatic increase in records-retention requirements, including associated personnel and data-management costs to taxpayer,” the governor wrote in his veto message.

To be clear, public records law already requires that documents be protected for at least two years and longer for specific types. The only dispute is whether emails are public records. Many agencies, like the city of San Diego, consider them records and preserve them.

Border Police Have Their Own Lawlessness Issues

The former Department of Homeland Security official convicted of lying to the FBI by a San Diego jury recently was far from the only DHS officer to have violated the law while tasked with enforcing it.

In fact, it happens often enough that an SDSU sociologist decided to study it, as Maya Srikrishnan reports in this week’s Border Report.

“One of the main implications of the study is that strict border enforcement may even increase corruption,” the sociologist, David Jancsics, said in an SDSU news release. “Organized crime groups will actively target federal border law enforcement to assist with their illicit transport, since bribing agents is less risky than being caught by random inspections.”

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt and Sara Libby, and edited by Scott Lewis.

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