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Morning Report: How Zero Tolerance Has Played Out in San Diego So Far

Migrant children peek through the border fence separating the U.S. and Mexico. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

It’s been five months since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new approach to handling people caught crossing the border illegally. Instead of focusing on criminals and repeat offenders, the government now charges virtually everyone suspected of crossing into the United States illegally of a crime.

That’s led to a massive surge in cases, which has created its own set of problems in court and in detention facilities holding those accused of crimes.

For months, VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan has chronicled the many issues that have surfaced under zero tolerance – from prosecutors accidentally charging children in adult court, to people who’ve been ordered released languishing in jail, to accusations of substandard conditions and more.

In a new guide to how zero tolerance has played out in San Diego so far, we identify some of the themes that have emerged from these stories: The volume and speed of cases has led to mistakes that hamper prosecutions, overwhelmed agencies are being accused of depriving people of fundamental rights and prosecutions of other crimes are being put on the back-burner.

The Future of CCAs Is Being Hashed Out in Private

For months, state utility regulators have struggled to craft “exit fees” for customers who stop buying power from the state’s three major power companies and begin buying power from new government-run agencies.

In recent weeks, following a draft plan, power companies and officials representing these government agencies have asked for private meeting after private meeting with staffers at the California Public Utilities Commission, Ry Rivard reports in the latest Environment Report.

These meetings are legal but have been the source of controversy in the past.

One attorney involved in numerous CPUC proceedings said the number of private meetings for this case is unprecedented.

Neighborly Focus Sparks New Fire Station Designs

Fire Station No. 5. / Photo courtesy of Rob Quigley

Hillcrest’s new fire station at University Avenue and Ninth Avenue is almost as flashy as the neighborhood’s glitziest residents. Fire Station No. 5 features bright white outside walls, dramatic sloping roofs and a huge streetside overhang whose underside boldly declares the building’s identity.

VOSD contributor Randy Dotinga talked with local architect Rob Quigley, who’s best known for designing the downtown central library.

Back in the day, I lived right next door to Fire Station No. 5 for 10 years. The building was so forgettable that I honestly can’t remember what it looked like. What did you make of it?

It was the essence of “nobody’s home today.”

One of my complaints about fire station design, even the new ones, is that it looks like nobody’s home even though it might be full of 20 firefighters.

Part of that is a response to the fire station’s function. It’s not a public building in a traditional sense. Unfortunately, architects have interpreted that as a license to make it unfriendly. It’s just not neighborly.

What were some of your goals in designing this building?

It’s double-edged. You don’t want it to be so flamboyant that it’s inappropriate for the seriousness of a fire station, but you don’t want it so anonymous that you don’t know it’s there. It really is a critical part of the community. We wanted it to be have a presence, be a neighbor.

Tell me about the unusual overhang.

We played with the scale of the facade.

It’s only a two-story wood frame building. The idea is to make the building have a presence slightly larger than itself by creating that overhang and simplifying the forms.

It’s not a chest-thumper, but something that would hold up in in the strip architecture of University Avenue. You’ve got a street with a lot of anonymous architecture fighting against each other. That’s why this is white, to give it more of a civic personality.

The overhang also provides additional shade for the upper bedroom windows and a lower courtyard that you cannot see from the street. It’s a barbecue courtyard that’s meant to be more private.

We’ve written about the nifty public art at the striking new fire station No. 2 in Little Italy. What were you hoping to accomplish there?

In both buildings, we added balconies. This adds security to the street. Firefighters can see what’s going on, and they’re up all night long.

In this fire station, we’ve used some special, more transparent glass to enable people to see through the windows and into the fire station apparatus bay, especially in the evening.

You get to see the taxpayer investment in this beautiful equipment when you’re there at the corner of Pacific Highway and Cedar Street. These things cost more than Ferraris, and they should be hidden. That’s the neighborly aspect of it.

There’s a slide in the three-story-tall fire station No. 2 for firefighters to use to quickly get to the ground floor. And there are fire poles too?

We found in our studies that you pick up too much speed if you have a 3-story pole, and it becomes dangerous. So we have one that’s offset. You go down two floors, and then you go down [another pole] to the last story.

What about the slide?

The slide allows you to go down all the way.

Did you go down the slide yourself?

Yes. It’s really a kick!

In Other News

Corrections

  • Our piece on SoccerCity and SDSU officials’ failure to reach a deal on a stadium agreement in Mission Valley mischaracterized a meeting at Kris Michell’s house. The mayor and his chief of staff were not surprised Jack McGrory attended the meeting; it was planned.
  • Our story on a San Diego Unified committee’s report on graduation rates included information in the report the district now says is wrong. Though the report contains the line “Nonetheless, some 28% of all students choose to leave district-managed schools for local charters during their high school years,” the report details elsewhere that the total number of students who leave public high schools for charters is closer to 14 percent.

The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby, and edited by Andrew Keatts.

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