Morning Report: County Tries Again on Climate Plan

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Morning Report: County Tries Again on Climate Plan

The San Diego County Administration Building / Photo by Brittany Cruz-Fejeran

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors has spent years and millions of dollars trying to get a Climate Action Plan that passes legal muster.

On Wednesday, after having its plan tossed out by a court last year, a new Dem-majority Board of Supervisors will begin the process of starting over. 

VOSD’s MacKenzie Elmer takes stock of the effort in a new story. One interesting twist: A judge tossed out the county’s previous plan because of its reliance on a system called carbon offsets, a system that allows developers and others who might do something to pollute the environment to purchase credits that go toward green projects to offset pollution. But the new plan might still include carbon offsets in some way – no one has entirely ruled it out.

There are other solutions on the table, though, as Elmer lays out. The county could incentivize purchases of electric vehicles in some way, and new Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer has proposed creating a so-called carbon mitigation bank.

“In theory, developers could pay a price for their emissions into a kind of county-owned savings account,” Elmer writes. “That money could then be used to purchase a big tract of land for preservation or perhaps rebuilding or repairing land within the county.”

Budget Cuts Are Coming

San Diego leaders are asking city departments to consider potential cuts to help address a projected $124 million deficit for the upcoming budget year.

Lisa Halverstadt reports the budget gap has swelled as the coronavirus pandemic has ravaged the local economy and tax collections. The police and fire department will need to suggest 2 percent in cuts, while other city services like parks and recreation, the library department and the city auditor’s office are being asked to suggest 8 percent cuts to their budget.

While requests to cut costs aren’t new, officials have acknowledged the situation this year is more dire.

“My understanding is in the last couple of years there’s been over 100 and some positions eliminated out of budget – most of them internal – so some of the low-hanging fruit’s probably not there,” said Jay Goldstone, the city’s interim Chief Operating Officer. “We’re putting everything on the table.”

A report from the city’s Independent Budget Analyst’s Office late last year suggested the city  consider using unspent funds, its general fund reserve or even a separate pension reserve fund that was made to help the city if it struggled to pay its annual pension bill. 

Mayor Todd Gloria has until April 15 to deliver his proposed budget to City Council.

MTS Says Contract Officer Won’t Work for System Anymore

A TikTok video that surfaced on Twitter Tuesday shows a security guard later identified as an employee of Allied Universal making a killing gesture with the caption “Fuck San Diego ANTIFA Yall aint shit.” Another video was said to have included a tag referencing a far-right group.

After a student at UC San Diego tagged MTS and said, “I am not comfortable riding the trolley if there’s a chance that I will encounter an armed officer who believes he is taking actions to start a race war,” the agency responded, “this person was a contracted employee with Allied Universal and will no longer work on the MTS system.”

Allied Universal has for years supplied private security guards who accompany MTS code compliance officers on patrols. Its contract had been set to expire this June, but MTS spokesman Rob Schupp told VOSD that the agency has decided to extend its Allied Universal contract through the end of this year to allow the agency to hold in-person meetings during the selection process, gatherings now halted by the pandemic.

The change will also allow whoever MTS hires as its new security chief to play a role in the process. The MTS board is expected to get an update on the security contract at its meeting next Thursday.

In Other News

  • The Board of Supervisors approved a measure to increase enforcement on businesses that are not complying with COVID-19 restrictions. (Fox 5)
  • Police say an unlawful assembly declared last weekend during protests in Pacific Beach applied to counterprotesters only, not Trump supporters. (Union-Tribune)
  • Former San Dego Mayor Kevin Faulconer reacted on Twitter to comments made by California Democrats about the effort to recall Gavin Newsom and said “Team Newsom is using a national tragedy to deflect from his own failures.”

The Morning Report was written by Megan Wood, and edited by Sara Libby.

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