2021 taught us the Housing Commission needs reform – Voice of San Diego

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The San Diego Housing Commission building in downtown. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

The San Diego Housing Commission began 2021 after a victory.

The city’s social housing agency had just bought two hotels and turned them into lodgings for former homeless people, who moved in in December in their new digs. In the affordable housing world, the city’s decision to buy the hotels and bring in new residents was not only swift, it was meteoric.

But at the start of 2021, the good feelings gave way to a series of controversies over these same hotels.

The agency spent the rest of the year postpone the reform conversations arising from these controversies.

The broker who helped the commission buy the hotels had invested heavily in the seller, before negotiating the purchase, an arrangement which the commission’s lawyer said was illegal. Quickly, the commission’s board of directors and city council criticized the agency for the way it responded to the problem and for how they were prevented from communicating with each other about it. Eventually, the city attorney implemented new requirements for agency staff, based on a dispute with his legal advisor.

Months later, we reported that at least 10 hotel residents had died on the property or due to incidents at the hotels. Again, the commission’s board and board immediately criticized agency staff when they learned of the deaths only after Voice of San Diego began reporting on them.

Council Chairman Sean Elo-Rivera and City Councilor Chris Cate have spearheaded the council in making changes to the agency’s legal structure and the city’s accountability role towards it. These efforts progressed in 2021, but are expected to fully materialize in the new year.

The thought that he would spend so much time in 2021 working on agency reform, Cate said, never crossed his mind a year ago.

“There has to be a catalyst for this stuff,” he said.

Elo-Rivera said he is delighted the city is making changes to an agency tasked with providing low-income housing in a city in need.

“Governance work is not always glamorous, but if not done well, the big, bold things we want to do will fall on their face for lack of a solid foundation,” he said. .

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Big day of politics: setting up of the South Bay duel?

David Alvarez, former San Diego city councilor and mayoral candidate, announced in a video he was going to present himself to the Assembly. This, in itself, is not that surprising. (Although he told us in a recent San Diego 101 podcast that he had no plans to take the plunge.)

What makes it interesting is that the district is currently represented by MP Lorena Gonzalez, which you may have heard is a big deal. In fact, it’s a new neighborhood. Gonzalez represents Assembly District 80, which covered much of South Bay and his home in City Heights.

The new Assembly District 80 will be entirely in South Bay: it covers Chula Vista, National City and extends to Barrio Logan. This does not include Gonzalez’s house. It has happened to a lot of lawmakers. They have been “double layered” with other sitting lawmakers. In this case, MP Akilah Weber and Gonzalez now live in the same neighborhood.

But there are others: As we deal with all the implications of it all, former San Diego City Council President Georgette Gómez has announced that she would like to run for the seat if and when Gonzalez is out.

“Recently I called my MP @Lorenasgonzalez to respectfully ask for her approval to replace her whenever she no longer represents # AD80. I would be honored to one day continue her legacy in this neighborhood when she is finished, ”she said. wrote.

Gómez and Alvarez have worked together and have been close allies and friends in the past. So, are they now heading for an epic contest? Well, there are others who might want to run for that seat, including National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis or Imperial Beach City Councilor Paloma Aguirre. But for now it is …

… Until Gonzalez: She is battling breast cancer and related complications and has made it clear that this is her priority at the moment.

But the powerful California Federation of Labor recently voted to take over as executive if and when its current leader, Art Pulaski, the secretary-treasurer, resigns. He’s not planning on doing it, so… yeah, we don’t really understand this one.

As far as we know, she is running for re-election and has not said otherwise. But she could run against Weber for the new 79th Assembly District or she could move into the new 80th in South Bay. Or, if she accepted the job at the Federation of Labor, she would have to leave the assembly.

And … Dems approves Myers for the sheriff

The San Diego County Democratic Party backed Dave Myers in the sheriff race. Myers is a former Deputy Sheriff who ran against current Sheriff Bill Gore.

Supporters of No. 2 Gore, Deputy Sheriff Kelly Martinez had hoped to prevent the party from supporting the race. Leading Democrats including Pro Senate Speaker Tem Toni Atkins, Congresswoman Lorena Gonzalez, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, County Supervisory Board Chairman Nathan Fletcher and U.S. Representative Juan Vargas had tried to thwart the competition. for Martinez by approving it when she announced for the race. It was a big step – Martinez had only recently become a Democrat. Only Vargas would explain to us why he had made such an urgent decision: he said it was because he thought Myers was “unleashed”.

But Myers’ support among party insiders and progressive activists is very strong. It has new San Diego City Council chairman Sean Elo-Rivera, City Councilor Monica Montgomery and others among his supporters.

“I am more than delighted that he received the [Democratic Party] approval tonight! It’s time for a real change, not to dress up ”, wrote Genevieve Jones-Wright, lawyer and leading advocate for criminal justice reform.

Barrios agrees to pay an ethics penalty

Kelvin Barrios, candidate for San Diego city council, appears at Golden Hall on election night. / Photo by Megan Wood

Former city council candidate Kelvin Barrios agreed to settle a complaint with the San Diego City Ethics Commission and pay a fine of $ 5,000, according to the reader.

For a week in 2019, Barrios worked for both Workers’ Local 89 and then council president Georgette Gómez. But he didn’t disclose overlapping income until Voice of San Diego asked him about it in the closing months of the 2020 election.

Civil servants are prohibited from being paid by an outside entity while they are also on the city clock and from working on issues with potential future employers.

At that point, Barrios’ professional life had come under scrutiny in response to a Union-Tribune report revealing that the District Attorney’s Public Integrity Unit was investigate it.

Harassed by a number of complaints, Barrios ended up suspend his campaign after Gómez and others dropped their support. Sean Elo-Rivera, now Chairman of the Board, won the seat.

Other news

  • Mathew Packard, former vice president of the Housing Innovations Department at the San Diego Housing Commission, writes in a new editorial that the city should consider an independent panel of citizens and experts who can ensure that city council receives the information it needs to assess performance and maintain accountability in housing and homelessness. “We need a new leadership, a force driven by a mission and a goal, not motivated by the political future and the maintenance of public office,” he writes. Read his full argument here.
  • inewsource spoke to the city’s first director of actions and what she’s been focusing on since arriving on board this summer.
  • City News Service reports that the city will launch up to four months of work on the Ocean Beach pier in January to repair damage sustained in January.
  • Mayor Todd Gloria on Tuesday signed the update to Barrio Logan’s community plan into law years after an earlier attempt to update the plan was put back to the ballot and repealed, City News Service reported.
  • NBC 7 reports that the University of California system will switch to online courses for at least the first two weeks of January over fears of the spread of the Omicron variant.
  • San Diego health systems told 10 News they were prepared to deal with an expected spike in hospitalizations for COVID after the holidays.
  • Fox 5 reports that garbage is piling up outside apartments and businesses as more than 250 Republic Services sanitation workers continue to strike.

This morning report was written by Andrew Keatts, Jesse Marx and Lisa Halverstadt. It was edited by Megan Wood.

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