Local News

Gloria, Council Dems at Odds on Major Power Decision

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria attends a San Diego Labor Council rally. / Photo by Brittany Cruz-Fejeran

Mayor Todd Gloria is heading toward his first big policy standoff with the City Council, as he and fellow Council Democrats split over how long the city should sign a deal for the right to provide gas and electricity to city residents.

The deal, known as a franchise fee agreement, allows a utility to essentially rent public land so it can build and maintain poles, power lines and gas pipes throughout the city. The city is on a short-term deal with SDG&E now, after former Mayor Kevin Faulconer tried and failed to muscle a new, long-term deal through before he left office last year.

Now, four Council Democrats have signed memos telling Gloria they don’t want the new franchise fee deal to be longer than five years, MacKenzie Elmer reports. The city’s last agreement was 50 years long, and Gloria has already proposed a 20-year agreement.

The four Council Democrats pushing a shorter deal are following a popular movement nationwide, where cities are increasingly doing the same because it gives them more leverage over the utilities.

But if no one changes their mind, Gloria is in a bind: He needs six votes on the Council to strike a deal, not five as with most Council decisions. That means the four Council members pushing a shorter deal, if they stick together, can thwart him from inking the 20-year deal he wants.

But that’s not their only demand. Other ideas that have come out in memos include pushing for a change in how the utility makes its annual payment to the city in a bid to protect ratepayers from footing the bill, and formally studying whether the city should just take over the cost of providing energy itself, which would give the city even more leverage over SDG&E’s role in local energy.

New Oceanside Police Chief Promises Transparency

A new police chief has taken the reins in Oceanside, with department veteran Capt. Fred Armijo winning the job over four external finalists.

Armijo, who had been the interim chief since his predecessor retired, told Kayla Jiminez in this week’s edition of the North County Report that he’s working to change the department’s culture and increase transparency, following concern from communities of color, young people and homeless residents. He said Oceanside residents should not think he’s going to be just like his predecessor.

“And I would just offer people, that’s not who I am,” he said. “I’m a different person. I have different priorities.”

People Not Yet Convicted of Crimes Are Languishing in San Diego Jails

The devastating recent crash in which an allegedly impaired driver killed three homeless residents near San Diego City College drove home several uncomfortable truths about the homelessness crisis in San Diego. But in a new investigation, the Union-Tribune’s Greg Moran highlights another problem exemplified by the crash: The driver of the vehicle wasn’t arraigned until a week after the crash, far longer than the 48 hours required by law. 

“San Diego is one of three still operating under emergency orders issued by Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye which allows arraignments to occur as many as seven business days after someone is arrested and booked into jail,” Moran reports.

And delays can drag on long after arraignment too, ultimately resulting in people who have not yet been convicted of a crime languishing in jail. According to a new CalMatters investigation on delays within the California court system, San Diego has 2324 inmates in county jail who have not yet been sentenced, including 380 who’ve been in jail for more than a year, and 20 who have been in jail for three years or more.

In Other News

  • Californians 50 older are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state expects to receive almost double the amount of doses this month than what was received in March. (NBC 7)
  • San Diego County is looking for residents to join its law enforcement review board. The group makes advisory findings on complaints and recommends policy changes to the sheriff, chief probation officer and Board of Supervisors. (Union-Tribune)
  • Fifty-six percent of California voters oppose the effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom, according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll covered this week by Politico, but San Diego County voters are not so dead set against it, the Union-Tribune found in its own poll with 10 News. Locally, 40 percent of voters said they supported the removal effort, comparable to the statewide figure, but just 35 percent of respondents said they would vote against it. That lower figure is driven by a quarter of local voters remaining undecided.
  • Gina Champion-Cain, the local restaurateur who pleaded guilty to several charges related to “the largest known Ponzi scheme” in San Diego County history, according to prosecutors, was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in federal prison. (City News Service)

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