Downtown news briefs – October 2018

Posted: October 5th, 2018 | News, Opinion & News | No Comments

Net neutrality

The California Senate voted in support of SB 822 on Aug. 30, signaling a victory for those favoring a return to net neutrality protections. In a wide margin, the state Assembly voted 61-18 in favor of advancing the bill and sent it to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk for review. Brown signed the bill on Sept. 30, which then drew a quick response from the United States Department of Justice in the form of a lawsuit to stop the new law guaranteeing equal and full access to the internet.

The bill would re-establish consumer protections concerning fair use of the internet, which were recently struck down by the Federal Communications Commission and the Trump administration. The state level regulations hold implications for other states who have been eyeing ways to return Obama-era protections against telecom giants such as Comcast and AT&T.

Communication companies have funded lobbying efforts to halt SB 822 after having successfully gutted a similar bill presented to the Assembly. Malicious ad campaigns and targeted robocalls around the state have also been linked to telecom companies acting through astroturf groups.


Fire Department appoints new lifeguard chief

San Diego Fire-Rescue Department (SDFD) Chief Colin Stowell has appointed James Gartland as the new head of the city’s lifeguard division. Gartland has served as interim chief for the past six months and has been a SDFD lifeguard for more than 23 years.

Chief Gartland has high qualifications, being a member of the San Diego All-Hazards Incident Management Team and having chaired the city’s Aquatic Emergency Response Task Force. He also spent 18 months as the regional maritime emergency preparedness manager with the city’s Office of Homeland Security.

“Chief Gartland has a passion for lifeguarding and is a dedicated member of our department and the San Diego community. He has the attributes, skills and experience that make him the best choice to lead the lifeguard division,” said Fire Chief Stowell. Chief Gartland assumed his duties as the permanent chief of the lifeguard division on Sept. 22.


Annette Bening fundraises for SD Promise program

San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) and actress Annette Bening raised over $200,000 at a fundraising event titled “An Evening with Annette Bening” in support of the district’s free tuition program. Four-time Academy Award nominee, two-time Golden Globe winner, and Mesa College alumni Annette Bening attended the sold-out event on Sept. 20. Bening shared her experiences at the community college and promoted the school’s San Diego Promise program, which provides free tuition for first-time students.

“When I went to San Diego Mesa College, it was basically free and now it costs a lot of money and there are a lot of people who want to go to college who can’t afford it,” said Bening.

“So the San Diego Promise program is trying to rectify that. That’s why I’m here, because I care, and I want to give back and I want to say thank you and pass it on to other people who want the same opportunity that I had to go to a good community college.” In recognition for her contributions, SDCCD Chancellor Constance M. Carroll announced that the district will establish the Annette Bening Promise Scholarship to be awarded to a district student who demonstrates academic excellence and a commitment to service.

Approximately 2,200 local students are currently enrolled in the San Diego Promise program for the 2018-19 school year. Chancellor Carroll says the success of the fundraising gala and other fundraising efforts will allow the district to ensure any full-time student who wants to complete a two-year program at City, Mesa, and Miramar College can do so regardless of his/her financial situation.

City votes to continue Bridge Shelter Program

Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer and the City Council announced their approval to extend operating contracts for the cities Bridge Shelter Program. The program’s three shelters, which provide nearly 700 homeless individuals every day with beds, meals, showers, restrooms, 24-hour security, alcohol and substance abuse counseling and job training, aim to act as the in-between to permanent housing.

“We are less than a year into this new Bridge Shelter Program and we can see more clearly now how they are helping and what we can do to make them work even better,” said Mayor Faulconer.

“We all agree that getting those folks into permanent housing is the goal, but we simply don’t have enough affordable housing available. While we wait for those units to be built, these shelters are helping people, caring for them and treating them with respect and dignity as human beings every day,” the mayor continued.

The program has fallen short of expectations, with only 300 individuals yet having found permanent housing through the shelters. The delay comes from the disparity of homeless residents in the shelters who have yet to be matched with a housing resource such as a voucher or subsidy.

Shelters reported statistics expressing the obstacles homeless residents face in trying to find housing, with 54 percent having no source of income and 56 percent reporting some sort of disability. Thirty-four percent of those in bridge shelters reported having some form of mental illness. Organizers hope to use this data to improve care and assistance within the shelters. Staff plan to replace housing navigators with skilled case managers and housing specialists to better align with the specific needs of the populations in each location.

The city’s three bridge shelters are located at:

The parking lot on Father Joe’s Villages campus at 14th and Commercial streets in the East Village, operated by Father Joe’s Villages. Serving families and single women.

The vacant lot in the 2700 block of Sports Arena Boulevard (behind the Goodwill store) in the Midway District, run by the Veterans Village of San Diego. Serves military veterans.

The vacated street at 16th Street and Newton Avenue, operated by Alpha Project. Serves single adults.

San Diego Port joins Green Marine

The Port of San Diego is aiming to strengthen its commitment to the environment by joining environmental certification program, Green Marine. The company creates a framework which makes it possible for port authorities, terminal operators and ship owners to voluntarily reduce their environmental footprint through a comprehensive program that addresses key environmental issues that are common to most ports.

“The Port of San Diego is excited to join the Green Marine program. Our environmental efforts are all aimed at ensuring San Diego Bay remains a vibrant resource and contributes to a remarkable way of life for visitors and residents for generations to come,” said Randa Coniglio, president and CEO of the Port of San Diego.

San Diego joins the Port of Hueneme as the second port in California to participate in Green Marine.

Senate approves historic environmental legislation

The California state Senate recently approved several bills and budget changes with the goal of addressing the state’s environmental impact. State bills that were sent to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown include: SB 901, which addresses the increasing devastation from wildfires by revamping disaster response and preparedness protocols; SB 100, which has already been approved and aims to make California the first economic hub in the world to commit to having 100 percent of all retail sales and electricity procured to serve all government agencies by 2045; and SB 1263, which would direct studies examining the effect of microplastics in sea and drinking water.

“California is at the forefront of a global effort to halt climate change and preserve a healthy, livable environment for future generations. With every step we take, we are improving the air we breathe and the water we drink.” said Senate president pro tempore, Toni Atkins.

In addition, the budget for the year ahead includes avenues of investment in the local environment. The Senate has pledged $1.4 billion in greenhouse gas reduction funds, $334.5 million to promote sales of zero-emission vehicles, and diverted $30 million from Prop. 68 for San Diego’s Pure Water program, an innovative water recycling program.

State will grant diplomas to deported seniors

In a dig at the Trump administration’s attacks on students enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher of the state’s 80th District proposed a bill that would retroactively grant diplomas to deported high school seniors. The bill, AB 3022, passed the Senate and state Assembly in two near-unanimous votes and was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in September.

“These are kids who are being ripped out of school against their will and then sent to countries where they have to restart their lives,” stated Assemblywoman Gonzalez Fletcher.

“We can’t stop the federal government from enforcing asinine immigration policies, but we can make the transition easier for California students who get deported their senior year,” she concluded.

California representative named beer champion

Congressional representative from California’s 52nd District, Scott Peters, has been named the 2018 Beer Champion by the Beer Institute, an organization that champions policies that support brewers and beer importers. The congressman was honored for directing the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate irregularities in aluminum prices which industry leaders say were hurting beer makers and consumers.

“San Diego is home to more than 130 brewhouses and one of the most concentrated regions for craft brewing in the country. It’s how we earned the title ‘Craft Beer Capital of America,’” said Rep. Peters.

—Compiled by Jules Shane

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