Morning Report: Progressives’ Bold Housing Policy Goal Gets Scaled Back
For months, San Diego progressives have been on a mission to force developers to include affordable housing in their projects rather than pay to avoid it.
City Council President Georgette Gómez responded to the calls for updates to the city’s so-called inclusionary housing policy with a pledge to pursue a bold update to the policy.
But as Lisa Halverstadt reports, the update Gómez just proposed – and a Council committee approved Wednesday – was far less radical than expected. It made only a minor tweak to mandated on-site affordable units but nearly doubled the charge for developers who choose to pay up instead. And neither builders nor Gómez’s allies on the left are enthusiastic about the proposal.
Gómez told Halverstadt her shift on the policy reflected data and conversations she had with stakeholders over the past year.
The bottom line, Gómez said, is that an inclusionary update won’t be successful unless it can produce more affordable housing units – an outcome she wasn’t convinced was possible with her initial policy goals.
The Coast News Is Nervously Watching State Independent Contractor Bill
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s bill intended to limit when businesses can classify workers as independent contractors will get a hearing Thursday in front of her Appropriations Committee.
Because the bill could make freelancing of all kinds difficult — if not illegal under certain circumstances — AB 5 has caught the attention of media outlets that regularly pay outside reporters and photographers. Among those that are anxiously following the discussion is the Coast News, which relies almost entirely on freelancers and is one of the few remaining sources of reliable information in North County.
Associate publisher Chris Kydd told Jesse Marx that while he agrees certain workers need greater protections and benefits, he treats his people fairly while trying to keep a small business afloat. Forcing him to replace his half-dozen freelancers with a couple staff reporters would likely translate into fewer stories.
He and others argue that the newspaper industry is deserving of an exemption in Gonzalez’s bill because it serves a special function in a democracy.
At the same time, Gonzalez has the support of SAG-AFTRA, a union representing the journalists at KPBS. She has called the misclassification of workers in various industries a form of “wage theft” and said she’s trying to be mindful of how her bill could hurt “workers who truly act like small businesses.”
Responding to our story on Twitter, Gonzalez said she doesn’t support a blanket exemption for the newspaper industry, but “will work on seeing if we can construct a definition of a real freelancer.”
Briggs Out of Mayors Race That He Was Definitely, Completely in
Lawyer Cory Briggs told the San Diego Reader that he’s ending his campaign for mayor after realizing “how much better I am at practicing law than politics.”
Briggs announced his candidacy in January in response to Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s proposal to allow taller developments near major transit stations and loosen parking requirements to help spur affordable housing. Contending that the proposal would ruin neighborhoods, Briggs had been looking to tap into the anti-density sentiment coming from local communities.
Now that he’s out of the mayor’s race, Briggs can focus his complete attention on trying to change City Hall through the courts. If elected, the Union-Tribune noted, Briggs would have been required to recuse himself from the cases he’d already filed against the city.
Assemblyman Todd Gloria, City Councilwoman Barbara Bry and activist Tasha Williamson are still in the running.
Most Crime Is Down in the County, With a Few Exceptions
The San Diego Association of Governments released a report Wednesday with 2018 crime statistics in the county, comparing it to the past 39 years’ worth of crime data. The report found that 2018’s crime rate was the fourth lowest in the roughly four decades analyzed. Here are some other takeaways:
- There were 87 homicides in 2018, up slightly from 2017.
- The number of rapes reported to law enforcement regionally increased by 6 percent.
- All property crimes were down with the exemption of larceny – and particularly bike thefts – which increased.
- The number of violent crimes against seniors increased again in 2018, with an 11 percent jump from 2017.
- The number of hate crimes overall are down. Most of the motivations of hate crimes committed are race-based and black San Diegans were the most frequent target.
Feds Want Military to Construct Migrant Tents at Border
The Department of Homeland Security has drawn up plans to expand the military’s role on the U.S.-Mexico border by requesting that U.S. troops build “temporary facilities” at six locations to house up to 7,500 detained migrant adults.
ABC News reports that the Pentagon would “loan and erect” the tents in support of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The request comes after officials shifted $1.5 billion to a counter-drug account that will be used to construct about 80 miles of border wall.
DHS also announced Wednesday that it had issued another waiver to expedite 15 miles of border wall projects in the San Diego and Imperial counties — exempting itself from the normal environmental review process. As Maya Srikrishnan reported in March, environmental groups have sued the federal government over previous waivers.
In Other News
- The North Park Planning Group is recommending fully protected bike lanes along 30th Street with the removal of all on-street parking from Howard Avenue to Juniper Street. KPBS reporter Andrew Bowen captured the discussion.
- An urban planner is running for San Diego City Council District 5, which includes suburban-y neighborhoods like Scripps Ranch, on a YIMBY platform that would de-emphasize cars and parking and prioritize transit-oriented development. (CityBeat)
- San Diego approved a new law prohibiting homeless people from sleeping in their vehicles after the previous one was thrown out by a judge. (Union-Tribune)
- University of California San Diego officials blocked attempts to notify women in an HIV research study about a breach of their confidential data. (inewsource)
- Various estimates put the number of Americans living in Rosarito to save money between 12,000 and 15,000, and the number is reportedly increasing, especially among those under the age of 50 who commute to San Diego. (10News)
The Morning Report was written by Maya Srikrishnan and Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.
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