Morning Report: Rent Relief to Go Unspent Amid Delays, Confusion | Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: Rent Relief to Go Unspent Amid Delays, Confusion

The Vista Alta apartment complex / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Millions of dollars in rent relief programs offered by both the city and the county are now expected to go unspent, as both landlords and tenants who’ve been trying to take advantage of opportunities passed in response to the pandemic say it’s hard to do so.

The websites for the programs are confusing, and rules passed as part of the spending have meant even when applicants are approved, the relief falls short of their needs, tenants and landlords toldMaya Srikrishnan

As of this week, the county has received requests for just over 60 percent of the $107 million it allocated to the program, and has dispersed only $7 million. The city, meanwhile, anticipates spending only $43 million on rent relief, or about half of the $83 million at its disposal. 

Tenants told Srikrishnan about their confusion with the process that led to them getting less out of the program than they could have received with better communication. And landlords expressed their contempt with the expectation that they should take less money due to the pandemic, while other industries aren’t expected to.

The Housing Commission, for its part, blamed state regulations guiding the money.

San Diegans Prefer Outdoor Dining Over Saved Parking

While San Diego is well known for its battles over parking, there seems to be little evidence of backlash over the expansion of outdoor dining, reports KPBS.

The San Diego City Council approved an extension to temporary permits last week that will allow for patio-like seating on parking spaces through July 2022. Restaurant owners in North Park and the Gaslamp Quarter told KPBS the loss of parking has not been an issue. They’re instead seeing increased foot traffic and have the ability to serve more guests. 

That matches what the city’s director of development services told MacKenzie Elmer earlier this month: There have been almost no complaints about lost parking. Elmer reported that although the permits would extend the lifespan of dining in the street, many of the structures currently in place — like those with walls, lights and heating — are actually illegal. City staff said restaurants that want to make their structures permanent will need to go through a more intensive process to bring them up to code. 

That struck despair in the hearts of some Little Italy restaurant owners who built their outdoor dining structures under a plan they thought the city OK’d for at least a few years. The city’s going to start cracking down on code violators come July 13. 

Related: We know not everyone loves the outdoor dining structures that have cropped up across town. We gathered some of the most interesting arguments for and against the structures.

Bills on the Move in Sacramento

Next week marks the so-called House of Origin deadline in the state Legislature, which sounds like the name of a dope scripted television drama but is a less dope procedural deadline for bills to make it out of the house where they originated.

That means lots of bills are on the move in Sacramento, including many we’ve been keeping an eye on. A sampling:

  • Another Gonzalez measure to criminalize wage theft passed the full state Assembly and is headed to the Senate. VOSD’s Jesse Marx and Maya Srikrishnan recently chronicled elected officials’ attempts to address wage theft, an issue that often impacts the region’s most vulnerable workers.
  • The state Senate this week passed Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins’ most high-profile measure this cycle, a bill to allow duplexes and four-plexes on single-family lots.

In Other News

  • Elected officials from across the San Diego region will discuss SANDAG’s $160 billion proposed plan for a new high-speed rail system Friday. Experts largely agree the plan’s long-term success would be reliant on dense urban development around transit stations. (Union-Tribune)
  • After the San Diego City Council approved Tuesday a 20-year agreement with SDG&E to provide energy to city residents, two legal complaints now seek to overturn the deal, the Union-Tribune reports, but the city attorney’s office says the legal basis for the pact is sound. 
  • The portal used by patients to track their health care experience at Scripps Health is up and running again, a month after a ransomware attack knocked the company’s systems offline. (Union-Tribune)
  • Airbnb has informed visitors that they are still banned from hosting parties or other events at rentals through the end of the summer, despite the state’s planned easing of pandemic restrictions next month. (10News)

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

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