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Morning Report: No, Not All Homeless People Are Drug Addicts

A homeless woman pours water into a bowl for her dogs. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

In an interview with Fox 5 San Diego, El Cajon Mayor Bill Well claimed nearly all homelessness is tied to drug or alcohol abuse.

Our Lisa Halverstadt dug into Wells’ claim for our latest Fact Check.

Claims like Wells’, Halverstadt writes, can impact policy discussions: “Statistics like those Wells’ cited can give residents and elected officials ammunition to blame homeless people for their predicaments and provide cover for not exploring solutions that may be costly or controversial.”

After reviewing several studies and surveys and talking with national experts on homelessness, “the consensus was clear,” Halverstadt writes. “Wells’ claim that nearly all homelessness is linked to alcohol or drug addiction is false.”

Wells, however, said his experience as a registered nurse with a doctorate in psychology who’s worked in emergency rooms, has convinced him that the statistics are wrong.

“I think a lot of these figures are politically motivated,” Wells said.

Obscure State Agency Is Making Big Decisions for SD Ratepayers

You may not know what the California Public Utilities Commission is, but the state agency is making some important decisions that could affect how much you pay for power and gas.

VOSD’s Ry Rivard explains what CPUC is, and our big cases currently in its pipeline that could impact San Diegans’ wallets.

The most heated case is San Diego Gas & Electric’s request to raise electric rates by $379 million – money it would use to reimburse itself for damages it helped cause during the 2007 fires. SDG&E’s parent company, Sempra, has indicated it might take CPUC to court if it doesn’t get what it wants, and some ratepayers think CPUC should be abolished if it rules in SDG&E’s favor.

Rivard also tackles the pipeline safety and reliability project, the 2019 general rate case and so-called “exit fees,” money that would be used to reimburse SDG&E for already-purchased power if customers decide to start buying electricity from someone other than the local power company.

 

Riding Silly Videos to Internet Stardom

This video of a dude dressed up as a Tetris block that runs around trying to fit itself on phone booths and other urban nooks and crannies across San Diego is funny. But is it funny enough to have spurred a successful online business?

The short answer is yes. You can hear all about it in a new episode of I Made it in San Diego, Voice of San Diego’s podcast about the region’s businesses and the people behind them.

Rocco Botte, Derrick Acosta and Shawn Chatfield talk about how they turned their funny internet videos into Mega64, a successful online business with thousands of fans worldwide.

Opinion: City Attorney Playing Politics With Vacation Rentals

Through some weighty memos released by the city attorney’s office this year – one that declared short-term vacation rentals illegal in San Diego, and another that raised legal concerns about proposed regulations – City Attorney Mara Elliott has planted herself firmly at the forefront of the city’s raging short-term vacation rental debate.

In a new VOSD op-ed, Jonah Mechanic writes that Elliott is biased against vacation rentals, and is using her power to unfairly advocate for strict regulations or even an all-out ban.

“The facts all add up to one thing: Elliott does not want short-term rentals in our city, and she is not afraid to abuse her power as city attorney to get what she wants,” Mechanic writes.

Legal Weed Haze Hangs in North County

Proposition 64 cleared the way for legalized recreational marijuana in California, but left it up to municipalities to decide how, or even if, they want to legalize it.

In his latest North County Report, VOSD contributor Ruarri Serpa checks in on how cities in North County are handling their cannabis regulations and finds that there isn’t a lot of clarity just yet. If the various city councils don’t move to either regulate or ban the industry, citizen’s initiatives loom in the background and are placing additional pressure on elected leaders to get something done before Prop. 64 goes into effect next year.

Also in our roundup of news from the north: The race to unseat Rep. Darrell Issa gets heated, Poway voters reject an effort to develop the StoneRidge Country Club and more.

Speaking of pot laws, in an op-ed for Times of San Diego, a Lemon Grove resident and local business owner criticized cannabis advocates’ tactics as they attempt to gather signatures for a special election on medical marijuana dispensaries in the city. Earlier this week, a judge ordered thousands of the signatures gathered so far to be thrown out. (NBC7)

Program for Frequent 911 Callers Ends

A program launched to help frequent 911 callers find services they need has ended.

The program worked to hep unclog excessive 911 callers from the city’s emergency system, but NBC 7 reports that it is “no longer operating due to staffing challenges facing the city of San Diego’s ambulance service provider, AMR.”

The Union-Tribune explained more about the 911 emergency system’s “super users” in a 2015 series.

Quick News Hits

• The president of the local building industry trade association calls President Donald Trump and the GOP’s proposed tax plan “bad news for new projects” in a blog post on the group’s website.

• Proclamations honoring individuals or organizations seem like a relatively harmless tradition, but a new lawsuit filed against the city claims a policy not allowing people to comment on proclamations until after they’re announced violates a state open meetings law. (Union-Tribune)

• The New York Times gives us the best look at the eight border wall prototypes that I’ve seen so far.

• San Diego State University professors, lecturers and other staffers voted overwhelmingly to retire the Aztec mascot. The vote doesn’t mean that the mascot will actually be retired, and students voted to keep the mascot earlier this year. (Union-Tribune)

CityBeat details former Councilwoman Donna Frye’s lawsuit against the city related to her effort to obtain city documents.

Why are the sewage contamination signs up again in the South Bay? Because it rained a little in Tijuana Tuesday, which overwhelmed the city’s wastewater system that’s supposed to prevent pollution from reaching the South Bay. (Union-Tribune)

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