Morning Report: New Council, New Mayor, Same Police Budget Increase

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Morning Report: New Council, New Mayor, Same Police Budget Increase

Mayor Todd Gloria attends a press conference on the deadly crash on B Street in downtown San Diego. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

San Diego has a new Democratic mayor and an 8-1 Democratic advantage on the City Council, but it’s poised to have the same contentious debate over police spending that it had last year.

Mayor Todd Gloria unveiled his new spending plan for the city last week, including a $19 million increase in SDPD’s budget. It’s the 11th consecutive year police spending has increased in the city.

To community activists and criminal justice reformers, it’s deja vu all over again, after the proposal to spend more on cops last year, even as the city had to cut spending elsewhere, drove hundreds of community members to demand the Council instead cut $100 million from SDPD’s budget, in a marathon hearing that dominated city politics amid Black Lives Matter protests following the killing of George Floyd.

In a new story, Andy Keatts looks at the way the debate over police spending is shaping up in a City Hall where a lot has changed, but a lot is still the same.

And the Franchise Fee Goes to …

We still don’t know yet. What we do know is only one company actually bid on the city of San Diego’s profit-churning contract to provide electric and gas service: San Diego Gas and Electric, which has held this exclusive right to provide the city’s power for 100 years.

But if four members of the Council stick to their guns, Gloria might not have the votes to give it to SDG&E. 

Friday marked the second round of bidding on the franchise fee contract. The first round, under former Mayor Kevin Faulconer, only succeeded in attracting one (and the same) bidder as well. But new Mayor Todd Gloria declared SDG&E wasn’t meeting San Diego’s terms and rejected it. 

Instead, Gloria negotiated a five-month contract extension (which ends June 1) with SDG&E while his office put out a new bid: a 20-year contract with an $80 million price tag attached. 

SDG&E offered the city that $80 million, said Vanessa Delgado, who works in the city’s contract’s office and opened the bids over Zoom Friday afternoon. SDG&E also promised not to pass that cost onto ratepayers, which it can normally do with any cost if approved by state regulators.

Here is the electric franchise bid and the gas one. Those bids reveal a lot more about what the company is, and more importantly isn’t, willing to do. For example, SDG&E made some specific exclusions last round

In a press release Friday, Gloria said he’ll “analyze the bids” over the next few days to see if they meet “the City’s needs and standards for climate action, equity and accountability.”
If necessary, I stand ready to enter into negotiations with the bidders with the ultimate goal of presenting final bids to the City Council in the coming weeks.” Gloria’s release states.

After State and City Changes, Building Granny Flats Is Still Hard

Granny flats or ADUs, smaller units built in backyards or elsewhere on existing single-family lots, are a key piece of state and city efforts to boost the housing stock. 

David Alvarez, a former city councilman, backed some of those efforts during his time in office. But when he eventually decided to build two granny flats on his own property, he discovered the process is still far from easy.

In a new essay, Alvarez describes how even with careful planning and preparation, the process has gone sideways. “I still have not received my permit or begun construction,” he writes. But Alvarez is still optimistic: “Do I still think it’s a good idea? Probably.”

In Other News

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

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