Morning Report: San Diego Doubles Its Previous Pledge to Cut Emissions
Mayor Todd Gloria is in Glasgow, where he spoke to world leaders at the United Nations’ 26th Climate Change Conference, this week. Gloria’s message: He’s doubling San Diego’s previous commitment to cut emissions.
Gloria is pledging the city will reach net zero emissions by 2035. (The previous commitment was to cut emissions by only 50 percent by that point.) One of the major ways the city will get there is by electrifying its buildings. In other words, it will stop heating them with natural gas.
Some local unions didn’t like that very much, as they rely heavily on construction and maintenance work related to natural gas heating.
Gloria also took the opportunity during his time on the world stage to announce a proposal that would ban the city from making investments in fossil fuels. That’s a major change from just last month, when the City Council added investments in Chevron and Exxon Mobil to its stock portfolio.
County Makes Changes to Public Comment After Racial Slur
The Board of Supervisors adopted new rules Wednesday that will allow the chair to give speakers shorter time limits and admonish anyone who uses harassing or discriminatory language. The changes also include a number of aspirational commitments for civil discourse.
For months, county meetings have been weird and downright tense, as public commenters appeared in droves to express contempt for vaccine policies and more. Things took an even more hostile turn last week when someone threatened elected officials and directed a racial slur at the top public health officer.
In a statement, board chair Nathan Fletcher said the changes are meant to support a healthy environment moving forward.
A large group of prominent San Diegans, organized by communications strategist Maddy Kilkenny, signed onto a letter pleading with the Board of Supervisors to support efforts to curb hateful comments at meetings. “In any civil society, we must respect one another if we hope to reach any kind of meaningful dialogue,” reads the letter signed by several dozen local leaders.
San Diego’s Surveillance Ordinance Is One Year Old and Still Not Law
It’s been an entire year since the San Diego City Council signed off on a pair of proposals intended to rein in the use and acquisition of surveillance gear and establish a privacy advisory board. The ordinances emerged from a series of tech debacles and were identified by Mayor Todd Gloria as a priority but neither has re-emerged during his time in office.
Last we heard, Gloria’s staff was still preparing for negotiations with the city’s unions behind closed doors.
An event organized by the community groups that make up the Trust SD Coalition, which helped lobby for and write the ordinances, emphasized the delay and focused in part Wednesday on how to apply more pressure on elected officials. Speakers made the case that the ordinances were far from radical — several other cities in California have similar rules in place — and necessary to ensure the public is at least aware of how they might be watched or listened to.
Others, like jean-huy tran, said he found it ironic that volunteers came forward with a solution after city officials had messed up. “A year later, here we are again,” he said. “This is not a responsible way of running government.”
Also in attendance: City Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe and former Council president Georgette Gómez, who offered words of encouragement to the activists. Gómez also recalled how an earlier version of a surveillance ordinance was introduced by city staff almost two years ago. She remembered how frustrated she’d been at the time: “I literally said to my staff I am not going to docket this.”
It never came to that, because the earlier (and narrower) ordinance got spiked at the committee level, clearing the way for the proposals now on the table.
For more on this topic: check out the Politifest panel we hosted last month. Jesse Marx has written extensively about San Diego’s smart streetlights, a network of visual sensors that began as a public planning tool and fell into the exclusive domain of law enforcement in 2020.
In Other News
- An anti-urban-sprawl advocate argues it’s not just electric cars that help slow global warming, but CEQA: the state environmental law signed by Ronald Reagan that allows for development projects to be halted or modified when they don’t meet certain environmental standards. Click here to read the opinion piece.
- Rep. Darrell Issa may be implicated in a federal case against another congressman from Nebraska involving charges of lying to investigators and concealing information about illegal campaign donations. Citing court documents, Salon reported that $30,000 in Issa’s 2014 victory fund actually came from a “foreign billionaire.”
- Another high-ranking city official is out. Mike Hansen, San Diego’s planning director since 2018, has submitted his resignation. In the meantime, the Union-Tribune reports that councilmembers praised independent budget analyst Andrea Tevlin, who’s retiring Friday. Her lieutenant, Jeff Kawar, is picking up Tevlin’s responsibilities on an interim basis.
- KPBS took a look at the economic impact of border restrictions, which were recently lifted. Almost 300 businesses in San Ysidro have permanently shut down and some contend the federal government’s ban on travel unfairly favored large corporations in Tijuana.
- KPBS also reports that a rise in food prices is putting financial pressure on food banks, which have seen an unprecedented need over the pandemic, as Lisa Halverstadt noted in September.
- We told you earlier this week about how San Diego’s parks and recreation department had hundreds of vacancies. San Diego Fire-Rescue is also struggling with staff shortages. “We’ve got an exhausted workforce,” the chief told KPBS.
This Morning Report was written by Will Huntsberry and Jesse Marx, and edited by Megan Wood.