By Craig Benedetto & Marshall Anderson, Legislative Advocates
MONTGOMERY-STEPPE, RECHERT TO FACE OFF IN COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS RUNOFF
In the special election for the vacant County Board of Supervisors, District 4, seat Democrat Monica Montgomery-Steppe holds a double-digit lead over all other candidates. While not enough to secure the majority required for an outright win (50%+1), Montgomery-Steppe will advance in a November run-off election against Republican Amy Reichert. Reichert's lead has expanded in recent days leading the third-place challenger, Janessa Goldbeck, to concede. The county registrar of voters has 30 days to certify the results. Up to date results can be found HERE.
COST OF SERVICE STUDY MAY PROMPT WATER RATE INCREASE
The City of San Diego is proposing changes to water rates based on a recently completed cost of service study that evaluated future revenue requirements. According to the study, there won't be sufficient revenue for water services in fiscal years 2024 and 2025 without a rate increase. Proposed changes could include a 10.2% water rate increase effective December 1, 2023, and up to 8.7% on January 1, 2025. The Public Utilities Department is expected to hold several public hearings on these proposed rate increases prior to them being considered by the San Diego City Council. To RSVP, please go to the City’s webpage on the subject HERE.
RENT CONTROL MEASURE QUALIFIES FOR 2024 BALLOT
The “Justice For Renters Act” has qualified for the November 2024 statewide ballot in CA. The measure aims to overturn the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act of 1995, which restricts rent control for properties built after February 1995, and single-family homes and condos. This marks the third attempt to pass a measure granting cities and counties the authority to establish rent control. To read more, click HERE.
APPELLATE COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF CONVENTION CENTER EXPANSION, ISSUES REMAIN
An appellate court has ruled in favor of San Diego's Measure C, affirming that the city had the right to declare a 2020 ballot measure successful with a simple majority vote, overturning a prior Superior Court decision. The measure aimed to raise the Tourism Occupancy Tax to fund the convention center expansion project, raise revenue for homelessness initiatives, and fund infrastructure improvements. The measure was initially thought to have failed due to its barely missing the two-thirds majority requirement (65.24%). While positive, the court has left open the possibility of further challenges due to alleged government involvement. The focus is on whether such involvement constitutes "substantial control," blurring the line between citizens' initiatives and government actions for revenue measures, which subjects them to two-thirds majorities. Additional delays are expected as the trial court aims to clarify the situation.
SPACES AS PLACES PROGRAM APPROVED BY CA COASTAL COMMISSION
The City of San Diego’s “Spaces as Places” program, which replaces the City’s temporary outdoor dining permit program, was approved by the California Coastal Commission on August 10th. Many of the restaurants that were asking for the program to be made permanent are in the Coastal Zone, which made this approval important. The Spaces as Places program offers a menu of options for applicants to permit creative outdoor areas for dining, walking, biking, public art, education, entertainment, and other activities. The City will issue a ministerial Coastal Development Permit for locations in the Coastal Zone. Applicants awaiting the Coastal Commission’s certification of the regulations will not need to amend their Spaces as Places applications. City staff will consolidate the Coastal Development Permit with the required Right-of-Way or Building Permit for coastal Spaces as Places projects. To learn more, please CLICK HERE.
CHULA VISTA EXPLORING ENCAMPMENT BAN
Following in the steps of San Diego and Poway, Chula Vista is considering enacting its own ban on tent encampments. During a recent City Council meeting, concerns arose regarding an increase in homeless individuals within city limits. Direction was subsequently provided to staff to look into encampment policies before bringing an item forward for a vote.
KEY LAW ENFORCEMENT TOOL APPROVED BY CITY COUNCIL
The San Diego Police Department's ‘Smart Streetlight’ (7-2) and automated license plate reader (6-3) proposals were approved in separate votes this month. SDPD will now be allowed to install 500 cameras equipped with license plate reader technology across the city, specifically in high-crime and heavily trafficked corridors. The devices are viewed as critical tools to help apprehend criminals and gather evidence. Click HERE to learn more.
CHULA VISTA CITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES CONTRACTOR TRANSPARENCY ORDINANCE, PLA REQUIREMENT
The City of Chula Vista City Council discussed several measures Tuesday evening, including a Contractor Transparency policy, citywide project labor agreement requirement, and traffic control worker wage policy. The city council, made up of four Democrats, wholeheartedly endorsed each proposal, pressing staff to return with fully developed contractor transparency and traffic control wage policies in September, despite pushback from staff given the short turnaround to develop language and concerns over a similar traffic control worker ordinance in another jurisdiction currently facing litigation. The citywide project labor agreement requirement is less clear on timing; though, staff indicated that it would return by the end of the year. Council directed staff to draft a PLA ordinance that focuses only on city-initiated (public) projects, projects on city land, and residential developments utilizing city funds. A blanket PLA for private projects and labor peace agreement provisions for ongoing operations are not currently under consideration. Staff’s presentation may be found HERE. You can read the staff report HERE.
PLANNING COMMISSION APPROVES MAYOR GLORIA’S HOUSING ACTION PLAN 2.0, SB10 IMPLEMENTATION TO BE WORKSHOPPED FURTHER
The San Diego Planning Commission voted unanimously to support Mayor Gloria’s Housing Action Plan 2.0, which includes provisions that would loosen rules for housing developments built on public land and underutilized commercial areas, incentives for the construction of single room occupancy hotels, and an elimination of parking requirements, among other actions. The Planning Commission recommended that Senate Bill 10 implementation be tabled for working group review before going to city council for vote. SB10 gives local municipalities the ability to allow for higher density in single family neighborhoods by allowing up to 10 units (depending on square footage) per lot in areas near transit. The remaining elements of the plan will now move to the Land Use and Housing Committee before going to full City Council for consideration. The City Council could elect to move forward with SB10 implementation if desired; though, the Mayor has indicated that it will not be included as part of staff’s recommendation for the broader package at this time. The Mayor’s Housing Action Plan 2.0 can be found HERE.
SANDAG CHIEF EXECUTIVE ANNOUNCES DEPARTURE
Hasan Ikhrata, the executive director of the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), has submitted his resignation, which will take effect on December 29. His departure comes after five years of leading the transportation agency. Ikhrata's departure raises uncertainty about the future of the long-range regional transportation plan, which involves an expansion of rail systems, tunnels, and new transit stations, along with highway improvements and the potential implementation of a per-mile fee for drivers. San Diego's future transportation is likely to require tax increases to fund the envisioned projects.
THIRD PARTY DETERMINES MAIENSCHEIN IS ELIGIBLE TO RUN
The City of San Diego’s third-party legal counsel has determined that Assemblymember Brian Maienschein is eligible to run for city attorney. His opponent, Deputy City Attorney Heather Ferbert, had raised questions about his qualification, arguing that a candidate must have 10 years of experience practicing law, not just being a member of the state bar. The third party’s review concluded, however, that Maienschein meets all city charter requirements and may seek the office.
PROPONENTS PUSH MEASURE THAT WOULD DIVIDE SAN DIEGO CITY ATTORNEY POWERS
Critics of the San Diego city attorney structure, who claim legal advice is influenced by politics, are proposing a 2024 ballot measure that would divide the role into two parts: one for criminal cases and another for civil matters. The civil side, handling litigation and advising city officials, would become a hired position appointed by the City Council instead of being elected. The criminal side, prosecuting misdemeanors, would continue to be elected. Supporters argue that elected city attorneys' political ambitions and ideology can influence their work, while opponents believe the lawyer handling civil matters should be answerable to voters rather than the City Council to maintain public accountability.
POWAY APPOINTS NEW COUNCILMEMBER
Anita Edmondson has been appointed to the Poway City Council to fill the vacancy left by former District 2 Councilmember Barry Leonard. Edmondson, a 24-year resident of the district, was sworn into office on August 1 and will serve through November 2024. The council voted unanimously to appoint her out of a pool of eight candidates. Edmondson previously served with the Green Valley Civic Association and the Poway Chamber of Commerce.
NATIONAL CITY SELECTS INTERIM CITY MANAGER
National City has appointed Benjamin Martinez as interim city manager following the unexpected death of a longtime employee who was recently promoted to the position. Martinez will assume the role as the city conducts a larger search for a permanent city manager using an outside recruiting firm.
NCTD EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR TO RETIRE
North County Transit District (NCTD) Executive Director, Matthew Tucker, has announced his retirement after almost 15 years with the agency. Tucker is known for steering NCTD through financial challenges, including a projected $80 million five-year deficit when he joined in 2008. The NCTD board is expected to develop recommendations for interim and permanent replacements in the days ahead.