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Morning Report: SANDAG Is Betting On Technology That Doesn’t Exist Yet

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Hasan Ikhrata, SANDAG’s executive director, has not been shy since he came to town last year.

In addition to upending the agency’s long-term transportation plan and acknowledging that it’s tax-funded infrastructure program was short on money, he’s also promised to reinvent the region’s transit system with hyperloops, self-driving cars and tunnels build with new, cheaper technology.

All of those options are based on technology that has not yet been implemented as part of a regional transportation system anywhere. Yet we could soon be getting details on Ikhrata’s big ideas for the emerging technology, as the agency prepares to release the framework for its new, vision for transportation in the region through 2050.

In the meantime, SANDAG invited representatives for a hyperloop company and a self-driving car company to brief its board on what they’re working on. Even those representatives acknowledged there are major logistical and planning hurdles that need to be overcome before either one of them is a fixture in local mobility.

Another transportation expert we interviewed argued that we already have clear answers on what needs to be done to lower emissions to combat climate change, and it needs to happen now. As long as that’s the case, he said, public agencies shouldn’t waste their planning resources on proprietary technology that has not yet proven effective.

Four Prisoners Have Died in Local Jails in Six Weeks

A string of four deaths in San Diego jails over less than six weeks has again spurred questions about care provided to prisoners in county jails.

In The Guardian, freelance writer Kelly Davis chronicles the four recent deaths as well as the county’s long-running struggle to prevent jail suicides and provide needed medical treatment.

Over the last decade, Davis reports, 135 prisoners have died in county jails and a majority of them have struggled with serious mental illnesses.

Meanwhile, despite more than a dozen lawsuits and more than $7 million in legal payouts, critics say there have been few reforms to prevent future jail deaths.  

Culture Report: Spotlighting the Underground

Did you know San Diego History Center is home to one of the largest photography archives in the nation?

In this week’s Culture Report, VOSD contributor Julia Dixon Evans drops that surprising Balboa Park factoid and writes about the museum’s new exhibit focused on the punk, skate and hip-hop culture of the ‘70s and ‘80s. The six-month exhibit will boast everything from a photo of a very young Tony Hawk to skateboard decks and breakdancing videos.

Also in this week’s arts and culture roundup: details on exhibits and showcases spanning from Chula Vista to Escondido and suggestions on flower-covered spring trails to check out.

Treated Sewage Is Already on Tap

Another wave of news about the city’s Pure Water recycling project, which will allow the city to purify sewage before it flows through city taps, has set off yet another wave of disgust about the practice.

But as VOSD’s Megan Wood reports, this isn’t a new concept for San Diego.

The Colorado River and Sacramento Delta, now the city’s two main sources of water, already get treated discharge from sewage plants and farms.

The city envisions that its multibillion-dollar Pure Water project will supply a third of the city’s drinking water by 2035.

Third Safe Parking Lot to Open

The city will soon open a third parking lot to allow homeless San Diegans sleeping in vehicles to park overnight and avoid tickets.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced Tuesday that the city will welcome up to 80 RVs or 200 cars in a lot near the San Diego County Credit Union Stadium in Mission Valley within 45 days. This will be the third city-supported safe parking lot run by nonprofit Jewish Family Service, which offer onsite aid, but will be the first to welcome people staying in RVs. The mayor said the city will use state grant funds to bankroll the expansion.

The mayor’s announcement came ahead of a Wednesday City Council committee hearing where city officials will propose a new ban on people living in cars and RVs – a population that has gotten more attention in the wake of a City Council vote to overturn a previous law barring so-called vehicle habitation. Residents, especially in beach communities, have since complained about an influx of people living in vehicles since the city halted enforcement.

The city’s safe parking lots are unlikely to accommodate the volume of homeless San Diegans living in vehicles.

Last year, the Regional Task Force on the Homeless estimated during its homeless census that more than 500 homeless San Diegans were living in vehicles in the city alone – a number that did not include people living in RVs.

In Other News

  • Qualcomm and Apple reached a surprise settlement Tuesday amid a two-year court battle. The deal, which quickly bolstered the local company’s stock prices, reportedly includes a six-year license agreement for use of the San Diego telecom giant’s intellectual property. (Union-Tribune)
  • The yet-to-be-dissolved Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District has stashed $374,000 from the district’s bank accounts in a trust fund while the battle over its future plays out in court. (Times of San Diego)
  • The San Ysidro school board has finally appointed six people to serve on its bond oversight committee nearly three years after a blistering grand jury report urged that move. (Union-Tribune)

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.

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