/Morning Report: Where School District Election Reform Stands

Morning Report: Where School District Election Reform Stands

San Diego Unified trustee Richard Barrera / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Between an effort to place a ballot measure before voters in November and an ongoing lawsuit, 2020 could be the year San Diego decides once and for all whether to change the way its school board elections are carried out

Many districts across the county and state have switched to district-only elections, but San Diego Unified has resisted such a switch despite a Grand Jury report recommending it. Currently, school board candidates run in a small subdistrict during the primary, but then must face voters across the whole district — meaning most of the entire city of San Diego — in the general election.

City Council members have indicated they’ll place a potential election reform measure on the November ballot.

“But some worry the ballot measure could be cluttered with other, more controversial issues – such as allowing 16-year olds to vote in school board elections – that would make it more difficult to pass,” Will Huntsberry reports.

“Until we see what’s on the ballot, I absolutely am worried,” City Councilman Chris Cate, who’s supported election reform, told Huntsberry.

School board trustee Richard Barrera, who supports keeping the process the way it is, said he doesn’t think allowing 16-year-olds to vote will be included in a prospective measure, but said there is another switch that could come before voters in November.

“What’s in play is whether we’re gonna have five or seven seats,” said Barrera.

JK, Encinitas Might Not Comply With Housing Law After All

California housing regulators are not messing around.

In a recent letter, the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development concludes that the city of Encinitas is still out of compliance with state housing law and warns that its existing “policies perpetuate segregation on persons in protected classes.”

For years, Encinitas has been unable to get a plan on the books showing where housing at all income levels could go. A judge in late 2018 determined that the problem was a local measure — commonly known as Proposition A — giving residents veto power over major land use changes. To resolve the conflict between state and local laws, the city filed a lawsuit against a group of residents who supported Prop A.

Then the city dragged its feet. Five months after the lawsuit was filed, the city has yet to actually serve the defendants with the complaint, according to the state. 

An official said the city manager was still reviewing the letter. 

It lays out a number of ongoing problems with the city’s approach to housing, including a disagreement over design standards. The city recently deemed a developer’s application incomplete and the state is now asking the city to reconsider that decision. 

The letter also spotlights a safe parking program for homeless residents and urges the city not to give participants from Encinitas or North County preference because that may rise to the level of discrimination.

The Motley Crew That Helped Secure Border Sewage Funding

The Los Angeles Times offers a breakdown of how a bipartisan group of stakeholders came together to get President Donald Trump to include hundreds of millions of dollars to address the border sewage crisis in the new USMCA agreement.

“Democrats in Congress drafted legislation to provide money and legal authority to address the spills, hoping to add it to the trade bill. San Diego’s Republican mayor, Kevin Faulconer, met with the president to plead the case. Environmentalists emphasized the health risks of the pollution, and Border Patrol agents at the Imperial Beach Station made public their complaints of rashes, burning eyes and sore throats,” the Times reports.

The Times notes that the four Democratic members of San Diego’s congressional delegation turned up the pressure on lawmakers all summer to secure money and items in the deal, particularly Rep. Juan Vargas, who Rep. Mike Levin described as “like a dog with a bone” on the issue.

  • In this week’s Border Report Maya Srikrishnan gives a rundown of all the issues that have emerged since the Trump administration began implementing the so-called Remain in Mexico program for asylum-seekers at San Diego’s border.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby and Jesse Marx, and edited by Scott Lewis.