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Morning Report: San Diego County Burns Again

The Lilac Fire burns in North County. / Image courtesy of NBC 7 San Diego

A wildfire that started on Thursday around 11:15 a.m. near Interstate 15 in Bonsall has already burned thousands of acres in San Diego County and remained completely uncontained going into Thursday night. The Union-Tribune reports the fast-moving fire began claiming structures at an alarming rate, driven by severe winds that underlie a severe danger warning that has been forecasted through the weekend. The conditions caused authorities to classify the danger as the color purple, which has never been used in the past, reports Patch. Purple means “extreme” danger; one level higher than red’s “high” danger.

Gov. Jerry Brown has already declared a state of emergency in San Diego County. 211 San Diego, which connects San Diegans with social services, was overwhelmed Thursday as callers flooded the lines looking for help, the Union-Tribune reports. The only death associated with the extreme weather on Thursday night was a man who was struck dead by a falling tree limb in Carlsbad, NBC 7 reports. While many obeyed the mandatory evacuation orders, some humans rushed into the fire zone to rescue horses, according to Mashable.

Wildfire facts change quickly, so below are a list of resources that can be relied on for updated information:

Cal Fire has asked the public to check their Twitter feed for the most up to date information.

North County Fire also releases new information via its Twitter account.

The County of San Diego runs sdcountyemergency.com to communicate up-to-date information in an emergency, including school closures.

San Diego Gas & Electric maintains an outage map describing areas that have been cut off for safety reasons. Nearly 20,000 customers were affected on Thursday night.

Atkins Tapped as Senate Leader

San Diego Sen. Toni Atkins is once again poised to lead a chamber of the California Legislature.

As a member of the state Assembly, Atkins served a term as speaker from 2014-2016. Now, as a member of the state Senate, Atkins appears to have the votes lined up to become Senate president pro tem when the vote to replace termed-out leader Kevin de León takes place in January.

As the L.A. Times notes, Atkins would be the first woman to lead the state Senate, the first openly gay legislator in the position and the first person to lead both the Assembly and the Senate in close to 150 years.

I am humbled by the trust my colleagues have placed in me, and I intend to earn that trust every day by working tirelessly and inclusively to keep California a place of opportunity for everyone,” Atkins said in a statement Thursday.

Border Crossing Winners and Losers

When a second pedestrian crossing opened at the San Ysidro border last year, it was lauded by visitors as a successful way to cut down on waits at the border. The new crossing is called PedWest because it crossed the border to the west of San Ysidro; pedestrians had previously crossed only at a location to the east. Those eastbound crossers were greeted by a bevy of small businesses eager to sell clothes, perfumes and other discount goods. But as PedWest traffic has risen and eastern crossings decline, Maya Srikrishnan reports those small businesses are withering.

Store owners report business is down 50 percent, with little hope of rebounding. One beauty supply shop owner said last year he had three to four employees; this year, he’s down to one.

That’s largely because pedestrians who use PedWest are greeted by outlet malls featuring popular brand names. “Pretty much all retail tenants in the shopping center have seen a double-digit increase in sales since last year,” Srikrishnan writes.

What Do Barrio Loganites Want?

At a recent meeting where San Diego officials approached Barrio Logan communities to ask them what kind of businesses would be acceptable in their neighborhood, many residents were confused and upset. Maria Martinez and Philomena Marino are residents of that neighborhood and have a clear answer for the city: What they want in Barrio Logan is clean air to breathe.

“We know that most people in San Diego don’t have an industrial-scale recycling plant on their street, but in Barrio Logan, it’s common,” Martinez and Marino write. They go on to note that Barrio Logan residents have been fighting for a cleaner environment for so long, their children are now old enough to join the fight.

City planners “know that our air is thick and tastes dirty when we wake up until we go to sleep,” they write. “We want clean air in our community.”

District Attorney Reminds Schools of Sexual Abuse Laws

Following a Voice of San Diego report detailing the stories of sexual misconduct against female students at La Jolla High School, District Attorney Summer Stephan is meeting with superintendents and other school officials to lay down the law. “She had strong words for people considered ‘mandatory reporters’ working in San Diego area schools: They must follow the law,” NBC 7 reports.

School employees are required to call a jurisdictional police agency immediately when a student complains, Stephan said. Calling the school’s campus police doesn’t count. Voice of San Diego’s investigation into the La Jolla High found no records whatsoever of several student complaints.

Lightning Round

Voice of San Diego Podcast Network’s The Kept Faith is talking this week about the fate of the Mission Valley stadium, and the contest between SDSU and the SoccerCity developers.

The San Diego city auditor put the brakes on a request for millions of dollars in IT budget increases after finding the calculations were sloppy. (Union Tribune)

inewsource looks into the plunging numbers of people who are caught at the border trying to cross illegally.

The Union-Tribune rounds up the likely scenarios for what happens if Rep. Duncan Hunter doesn’t win re-election in 2018.

The country continues to look to San Diego for an example of the nexus between housing affordability, homelessness and virus outbreaks. (CBS)

Alpine schools are finally on board for a discussion about creating their own school district. (Times of San Diego)

Oh, the many places Santa Claus will appear in San Diego on his publicity tour. (San Diego Reader)

Correcting the Record

In Wednesday’s story on a new tool San Diego city planners are creating to make sure new community plans comply with the city’s Climate Action Plan, we wrote wrote that the city will no longer “pay any attention at all” to how people commute. That isn’t correct.

What the new tool won’t do is measure how a new community plan changes the way people commute. But how people commute is still part of city planners’ decision-making process. They’ll use the citywide commuting goal for 2035 – when half of people living near transit stations are meant to commute without a car – as a piece of information that helps them determine how many homes and how many jobs they need to allow in each community plan.

And in Wednesday’s Morning Report, we referred to the city’s 2035 commuting goal as a legally binding commitment. That’s actually part of an ongoing legal disagreement between the city and some environmental attorneys and advocates of the plan. The city contends it is only the main goal of halving greenhouse gasses that’s a legal commitment. Others argue that all of the plan’s goals are also legal commitments.

Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. You can email him voice@s3th.com or follow him on Twitter: @loteck.

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