Friday, September 29, 2017

[San Diego County] North County Report: NCTD in No Sprint to Address Some Grand Jury Recs

Between me and a fellow passenger at a Sprinter station this morning, we racked up over a dozen attempts at getting the ticket machines to accept our credit cards. Neither of us could pay our fare.
That experience reminded me that North County Transit District was the subject of two Grand Jury reports: one finding that the Sprinter’s ticket machines don’t work as often, or as well, as they’re reported to work, and the other finding that the agency provides only limited space for disabled riders.
At issue, the Grand Jury found, was that NCTD met only minimal state and federal standards for riders with disabilities on its Sprinter trains, which often meant that people with wheelchairs had to jostle for space with people who had bikes. The report recommended providing separate space for bike storage, and removing some seats to create additional area for disabled riders.
NCTD responded at the end of August, saying the Grand Jury needs to show more proof that there’s a problem.
“Over the course of the last fiscal year, NCTD has received a total of seven customer complaints related to concerns about alleged unsafe interactions or issues between bicycles and wheelchairs,” the agency wrote. “NCTD believes that the small number of complaints indicates that this is not a pervasive problem and is likely episodic and tied primarily to special events and heavy passenger loads when operating one versus two coupled SPRINTER trains.”
The agency would not modify cars, add signage and security cameras because the recommendations were not feasible or warranted, the response continued.
“NCTD will take steps to ensure SPRINTER Train Conductors focus more on the shared-space area during trips to ensure unsafe conditions do not arise,” it said.
The second report the Grand Jury produced found that the Sprinter’s ticket machines were failing more often than reported, and weren’t being fixed in a timely manner, causing people to miss trains or board without tickets.
To that, NCTD said: They are 16-year old machines that SANDAG put in place, and we’re working with San Diego Metropolitan Transit System to get a new system, but the existing ones aren’t as bad as you say.
A lot of the issue surrounds the use of credit cards at the machines.
NCTD says it has graphics and a video online showing how to get the machines to accept cards, and that it’s working on updating the software to reduce card-read errors. It agreed that the vendor who repairs the machines does not work all the hours the Sprinter operates, so there may be broken machines when the trains are running. It also said, though, that issues surrounding credit cards not being read are user errors, not technical ones.
Now, credit card machines are pretty ubiquitous these days, and I have worked in restaurants and have swiped thousands of credit cards. If an agency’s reader operates uniquely among its kind and requires a video showing people how to use it, maybe the problem is the reader, and not the user.
September 27, 2017
Voice of San Diego
By Ruarri Serpa

[Sacramento County] HFPD directors approve response to Grand Jury again

At its regular meeting on Thursday, Sept. 21, the Herald Fire Protection District (HFPD) Board of Directors approved three revised policies, district objectives and goals revisions, and a response to a Sacramento County Grand Jury report, along with handling other monthly business items. Reporting on the response to the grand jury report is in blue.
Board members voted 4-0, Director George Vander Dussen was absent, to approve revisions to policies 2135, Firefighter Cell Phone Use; 2141, Use of Tobacco Products; and Policy 2200, Heat Illness Protection Program. Although no significant changes were made on the three policies, according to Director Heidi Braziel who sits on the Policy Committee, the three revised policies have updated terminology, such as changing “cell phone” to “mobile device”.
“Instead of just being cell phones, people have watches, tablets and all sorts of other communication [devices], so it’s really just cleaning it up and making it more clear,” Braziel said during the meeting.
Other minor changes included changing “firefighter” to “district personnel” to encompass all those serving in the district.
Directors also approved a response to the 2016-2017 Sacramento Grand Jury Report issued in July of this year.
The 2016 Grand Jury members decided to do a follow-up report on the initial report issued in 2014, where that grand jury found the district out of compliance in several areas and issued recommendations.
In the new report, Grand Jury members acknowledged that the district has made improvements, but still had a few recommendations for the current board.
“Many of the issues identified by the grand jury stemmed from the constant turnover of key personnel,” the report said. “Factions and infighting within the board and in the community at large were the root causes of several of these issues. In the intervening years, there has continued to be turnover but, slowly, things have changed and the district seems to be on the right track. The current board of directors has done much to restore community confidence in the governance of the district.”
The Grand Jury did issue three “findings” and therefore three “recommendations” directed to the district, and one finding and one recommendation for LAFCo, mainly admonishing LAFCo to complete a Municipal Service Review of the district that the original Grand Jury recommended and has yet to take place.
For HFPD, Finding 1 acknowledged the progress the district has made in improving safety of its volunteers and recommended the district maintain those efforts.
Finding 2 addressed the outstanding annual audits that needed to be completed and recommended that the district expedite that process.
Finding 3 stated “additional work needs to be done to address the district’s financial vulnerabilities, especially in paying funds owed to CalPERS.” The Grand Jury recommended that the district should have a specific fund to pay any outstanding debts, especially those funds owed to CalPERS, which the district severed ties with in January 2017.
HFPD Chairperson Lindsey Liebig, along with district personnel, drafted the response to the Grand Jury.
In the response, Liebig reported that Richardson & Company, the district’s independent auditing company, began the audit for FY 2010-2011 and FY 2011-2012.
“We expect those to be finalized in October 2017,” the response said. “District staff has begun preparations for the remaining audits of FY 2012-2013 through FY 2015-2016 with a goal to begin those in the spring of 2018. The completion of these remaining audits will remain a top priority of the district, and we will continue to strive to meet our internal completion deadline of Dec. 31, 2018. With each audit costing approximately $7,000, these audits are also subject to budgetary restrictions.”
Addressing Recommendation 3, that the district should set aside specific funds to pay outstanding debts, the response clarifies that the district currently only has one outstanding debt, that of the recent purchase of a new command vehicle, where a lease payment is due in 2018.
“All outstanding debts that were found by district staff or auditors have been paid, including all payments requested thus far from CalPERS,” the response said.
The response addressed the CalPERS situation further, stating that after the final dissolution with the retirement program January 2017, CalPERS indicated that they would provide the district with a final potential unfunded liability or surplus within 4-6 weeks.
“The district did not receive any contact from CalPERS regarding this matter until Aug. 28,” the response stated.
However, that correspondence did not provide a final number.
“To date, the district has still not received a final valuation on the potential unfunded liability or surplus from CalPERS. In each written communication the district has received from CalPERS, they have indicated that there could be a potential unfunded liability or a potential surplus of funds. Therefore, the district has chosen to budget neutrally for CalPERS until we receive the final valuation.”
The response indicated that the district found it important to equip personnel and apparatus with appropriate safety equipment, ensuring compliance with OSHA, at an expense of approximately $20,000 per volunteer. With an influx of much needed volunteers, the district chose to spend a large sum of its contingency budget on those expenses.
“We chose to prioritize the safety of our volunteers and community members, over setting aside those funds to address our contract dissolution with CalPERS,” the response said.
Indicating that the district’s budget is $665,000, the response said directors had to make tough choices.
“This slim budget provides for the basic needs of the district, and the board chose at this time not to delegate funds away from volunteer pay, training and education, fire apparatus maintenance, and other areas of safety concern, in order to create a fund for CalPERS, when we had no indication when that might be provided,” the response said.
The response also reported that, as soon as the district receives a final valuation, it will “realign” the budget “to balance the needs of the district and our community members, along with settling any unfunded liability with CalPERS. It has not been our intent to ignore our ongoing contract termination in any way; rather, it has been a conscious effort to utilize our limited resources where it is most needed, and that is protecting the safety of our volunteers and community, which we were commended for in Finding #1.”
Directors approved the response 4-0.
September 27, 2017
The Galt Herald
By Bonnie Rodriguez

[San Bernardino County] In rebuff to Grand Jury, Apple Valley Unified School District won’t refund tow fees

APPLE VALLEY — Under fire for its past towing activity, the school district here will not refund vehicle fees collected over two fiscal years. Instead, district officials this week offered a restrained but firm rebuff to suggestions school police had acted beyond their authority.
Apple Valley Unified School District school police towed over 700 vehicles between mid-2014 and 2016, pumping nearly $54,000 in fees into the district’s general fund in the process, AVUSD’s attorney previously confirmed.
The enforcement was sharply criticized by a San Bernardino County Civil Grand Jury, concluding that school police had no jurisdiction to charge vehicle release fees, “in many cases ... did not have authority to stop, cite and tow vehicles” and operated outside their dominion.
Among a series of recommendations, jurors suggested the school district refund vehicle release fees, a $120 cost borne by the driver before retrieving the vehicle, because such fees may only be charged by a city, county or state agency.
In its formal response to the jury Monday, forwarded to the Daily Press by the district’s legal counsel Tuesday, the district was steadfast that courts have long recognized school districts as agencies of the state, and said the district is also granted broad authority under California Education Code.
“In summary, the District’s vehicle release fee is legally authorized, reasonable, and comparable to fees of other school district police departments,” read the letter, authored by Superintendent Thomas Hoegerman.
Hoegerman, too, questioned the accuracy of the jury’s data on other districts’ tow activity that was ultimately parlayed to paint AVUSD’s as far excessive by comparison.
The district also said it was able to account for all 727 vehicles towed, disputing that more than 500 were inexplicable, after cross-checking with the sole towing company the district used until December (it now rotates three).
District officials also refused another Grand Jury recommendation: to provide restitution for owners whose vehicle was lien sold when it was towed by school police and they couldn’t pay subsequent tow and storage fees.
Based on typical such fees, the amount of refunds could have run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The school district said it would, however, individually examine claims it receives regarding towing and storage fees.
In the official response to the jury, the district sought to define school police jurisdiction — a key interpretation it ultimately believed the jury had mistranslated.
According to the district, its boundaries extend 203 square miles, include 15 campuses and approximately 700 bus stops, providing school police with a wide net in which to oversee vehicle activity that it deems could threaten school safety.
On another point of contention — the issuance of citations seemingly inconsequential to student safety, such as for lacking insurance or not wearing a seat belt — the district offered this explanation: The citations did not reflect the reasons the motorists were stopped.
In fact, vehicles were often stopped, the district claimed, for unsafe driving.
“Without evidence of the specific circumstances that led an officer to stop a motorist and issue a citation, perhaps for the lowest level offense with the lowest fine,” the response said, “the finding that ... officers issued most citations in the absence of an immediate threat to persons or property is unfounded and misleading.”
But the district, on the heels of its own investigation and taking into account the Grand Jury probe, said it has also enacted policy shifts or vowed to make certain changes: Notifications to vehicle owners by school police dispatchers and records clerks will be more robust and unregistered drivers may contact the registered owner to retrieve a vehicle before it’s towed.
The district also said it will seek out vendors within 60 days to provide tow services and then require the companies to maintain computerized records for all vehicles towed at AVUSD’s direction.
September 26, 2017
Victorville Daily Press
By Shea Johnson

[San Francisco City and County] Efforts to keep police guns out of dangerous hands fail with SF killing

Blog note: this article references a Marin County grand jury report on the subject.
The killing of Kate Steinle on a San Francisco pier in July 2015 shook the law enforcement community when investigators traced the pistol that took her life to a federal ranger. Four days earlier, he had returned to his parked car in the city’s downtown to find a window smashed and the weapon gone.
Over the next seven months, at least seven other guns were snatched from law enforcement officers’ vehicles in the Bay Area, and the rash prompted some chiefs and sheriffs to tighten policies on how officers secure guns, whether off-duty or on.
State legislators sought to punish cops who leave firearms vulnerable to car burglars. San Francisco supervisors took up the issue, as did Marin County’s civil grand jury.
But two years later, after criminals allegedly stole a gun from the personal car of a San Francisco officer and used it to kill a young man in the Mission District, critics say the push for changes fell short. The thefts keep happening, with devastating consequences. And though police have made some reforms, the efforts have been uneven.
Some departments bought officers lockboxes that can be fastened to the interior of their vehicles, providing stronger security, but many others have not.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors considered making it a misdemeanor — punishable by up to six months in jail — for off-duty officers to leave a gun unsecured in a car. But they ultimately voted to exempt San Francisco officers and deputies and apply the measure to everyone else, as long as the police and sheriff’s departments enforced internal policies.
The civil grand jury in Marin County, in a report released in May 2016, said just one police agency there had toughened policies on gun storage in vehicles since Steinle’s death on Pier 14, and that most agencies did not use lockboxes.
“The Grand Jury believes that the best policy is for law enforcement never to leave a firearm in a vehicle,” the report said. “Short of that, lockboxes should be installed in every department vehicle and policies should state specifically how firearms are to be secured.”
The problem persists as vehicle break-ins rise in some Bay Area cities. Victims reported 17,970 car burglaries in San Francisco through the end of July, or about 85 a day, up 28 percent from the same period in 2016.
Still, information about the theft of police guns is scarce: Local, state and federal authorities do not publish figures on how often it happens, and police agencies do not typically reveal whether or how they punish employees who lose guns in violation of internal policies, because of California laws that keep officer discipline private.
Law enforcement critics say police — now more than ever — should know better than to leave guns unsecured in vehicles and must be held to a higher standard.
“You know what is out there, and you know what is happening every day,” said attorney Frank Pitre, who is representing Steinle’s family in a lawsuit against the Bureau of Land Management. He also represents the family of Antonio Ramos, who was shot in September 2015 while painting a mural in Oakland by an attacker who used a gun stolen from the rented car of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent.
“Criminals are just looking for opportunities,” Pitre said, “and you’re giving them a gold mine when you allow them to steal a weapon they wouldn’t have otherwise.”
Some police officers and advocates, though, say there’s no simple solution to stopping the thefts. They say officers obliged to carry guns are victims of the same scourge of home and car burglaries as civilian gun owners. According to federal gun regulators, 1.4 million firearms were reported stolen in the six-year period from 2005 to 2010.
“The bigger problem is how do we address this rampant crime problem?” said attorney Alison Berry Wilkinson, who represents Bay Area law enforcement officers. “Everything from cell phones to water bottles to guns, any item left in a car is subject to being stolen right now. The reality is police officers are no less vulnerable to that than any other segment of the population.”
She said that even in cases where officers put guns in lockboxes that are welded to vehicles, “People can rip out entire pieces of equipment from a car. I know officers who have gone to great lengths to make sure they have secured their weapon, and still, criminals with blowtorches and crowbars are able to remove it from the vehicle.”
Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Sgt. Richard Glennon noted that officers who travel with guns can’t take them in places where they are prohibited, such as post offices, or sporting events where a police presence is needed but guns are not.
For this reason, his boss, Sheriff Laurie Smith, purchased 750 special gun safes for her deputies’ personal vehicles last year.
“We haven’t had any weapons taken since then,” Glennon said.
Complicating the problem, some police officials said, is that thieves sometimes target officers, knowing they carry valuable weapons.
Sgt. Ray Kelly of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office said he had heard of cases in which crooks followed officers and other people home from gun ranges and then burglarized their homes. In 2013, thieves in Richmond poisoned two dogs at the home of a city K-9 officer before stealing two handguns and three long guns.
But in the mind of state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, the officers’ unique position only heightens their responsibility. And in some cases, he said, the “irresponsible behavior” is clear.
“A carpenter has a tool belt that carries his tools all day and he doesn’t think much about it when he tosses it in his car, but there’s a major difference between a gun and a hammer,” Hill said. “It becomes a custom that they follow, but they need to wake up to the fact these are dangerous weapons, especially in the wrong hands, and when they are stolen, they invariably wind up in the wrong hands.”
After the Pier 14 killing, the senator wrote a law that, as of Jan. 1, requires that officers who aren’t carrying out official duties secure a gun in a vehicle’s locked trunk or in a locked container out of view. A violation is an infraction punishable by a fine up to $1,000. The law considered in San Francisco would have been tougher, if the police and sheriff’s departments had not been exempted.
Those agencies did enact internal policies, though they differ slightly from each other.
The sheriff’s policy requires deputies who must leave a gun in an unattended car to stow it in a lockbox fastened to any part of the interior, as long as it’s out of view. The police force’s policy mandates that officers secure a gun in a vehicle’s locked trunk for a “short period of time” at most, and never overnight. If the vehicle lacks a trunk, the gun must be in a lockbox affixed to the interior, out of view.
It’s not clear whether Hill’s state law could apply to the recent San Francisco case, in which officials said a silver revolver and ammunition were stolen from a car that belonged to city Officer Marvin Cabuntala. Three days later, on Aug. 15, the gun was used in the killing of 23-year-old Abel Enrique Esquivel Jr. Three young men have been charged with murder.
Police officials would not elaborate on the circumstances of the theft, but said internal affairs is looking into the officer’s actions and could discipline him if he violated department rules. Cabuntala did not know his vehicle had been broken into until after the shooting, the police union said, suggesting that he did not follow the restriction on stowing a gun overnight.
The gun thefts that have plagued Bay Area officers in recent years have been spread among a number of agencies. In January, an FBI agent reported that a thief had stolen a submachine gun out of his parked car in Contra Costa County. The agency would not say how it had been secured.
Last weekend, it happened again: A newly hired San Francisco sheriff’s deputy left his service pistol unsecured in a parked rental car in the city in violation of department policy, officials said, allowing a thief to break in and take it. The deputy, who was still on probation, was fired.
Pitre, the Steinle family attorney, said that as laws and policies change to force responsible gun ownership, agencies must hold officers accountable when they fail to do their part.
“Until you really have a significant consequence such as termination of employment or suspension for a significant period of time,” he said, “only then are you going to get people who are going to think twice about leaving a gun unattended in a vehicle.”
September 24, 2017
San Francisco Chronicle
By Vivian Ho

[San Diego County] Critics say response was lackluster as 'man-made' hepatitis crisis grew in San Diego

Blog note: this article, along with several previously posted articles, references many grand jury reports addressing the subject.
Three people were dead by the time San Diego County public health officials organized street teams to offer vaccinations against hepatitis A. It was early May and 80 cases had been confirmed since November, with 66 patients hospitalized.
Epidemiologists had first identified the rash of hepatitis A two months earlier.
Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county public health officer, put off declaring a local emergency until September, when 14 deaths were recorded and the patient rolls of mostly homeless people and illegal-drug users surpassed 350.
The same day, a Friday morning three weeks ago, Mayor Kevin Faulconer issued his first public statement on what has exploded into the the nation’s biggest hepatitis A outbreak in years.
Faulconer’s news release from Sept. 1 announced that free vaccinations at the downtown library would be given out the third Tuesday of each month. He pledged to bleach-clean streets and sidewalks to help contain the infectious disease, although he said that would take time.
The San Diego mayor also deferred responsibility for the outbreak to San Diego County.
“The city continues to stand ready to support the county’s Health and Human Services Agency in its plans to provide vaccination, sanitation and education to San Diegans as we battle this outbreak,” Faulconer said. “We must continue to work collaboratively to stop this crisis and save lives.”
Leaders from the city and county watched while the casualties piled up.
Last week, at a joint news conference, officials from both agencies warned that more lives are at risk, and the crisis may persist into spring. They pushed the death toll to 16 and said nearly 450 cases were confirmed. Two other fatalities were suspected hepatitis A cases.
The stepped-up attention that the outbreak has received in recent weeks is welcome news to activists and medical experts.
But many see the crisis as the inevitable result of San Diego officials’ longstanding failure to deal with problems besetting the homeless community and working-poor families. They point to local government’s lackadaisical response to the outbreak as a prime example.
“This whole crisis is man-made,” said Michael McConnell, a La Jolla coin dealer and advocate for homeless residents. “The response is certainly much too late, based on when they knew they had a serious problem. Even today, all they’ve done is the most easy stuff. They have taken zero bold action.”
By bold action, McConnell meant opening more public bathrooms in East Village, the downtown community hardest-hit by hepatitis A. He pointed to foot-dragging in setting up hand-washing stations and a broader failure to confront homelessness or solve the affordable housing crisis.
“The city has failed in the worst possible way,” McConnell said. “The city and the county have failed in the worst possible way.”
Local officials say they have done a responsible job under difficult circumstances.
They notified clinics as early as March 10 and launched an awareness campaign. By April they organized vaccinations at shelters and churches where homeless people congregate. They consulted with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for help and guidance.
“No one with the county of San Diego dragged their feet,” county spokesman Michael Workman said. “This at-risk population is a major challenge to waging a vaccination campaign.”
Workman said many people vulnerable to hepatitis A — homeless people and illegal drug abusers in particular — fear or do not trust government authorities, even nurses offering vaccine.
“You have to go in to the alleyways and underpass encampments to make contact with all who do not frequent shelters,” he said.
Mayoral spokesman Craig Gustafson said Faulconer has committed to attacking homelessness as strongly as he has to expanding the convention center or luring professional soccer to San Diego.
“In January’s State of the City address, Mayor Faulconer declared the homeless crisis the city’s No. 1 social service priority,” Gustafson said. “He then proposed a ballot measure that would have created an annual dedicated funding stream of $10 million for homeless services, which the council majority voted against.”
The public health threat now confronting city and county officials was predicted long ago.
Political leaders were warned repeatedly that an outbreak like the hepatitis A crisis might happen if they did not deal more forcefully with housing, sanitation and other basic functions of local government. Critics say little to nothing was done and, in some cases, government policies and practices made things worse.
Hepatitis A has been almost entirely preventable since 1995, when federal regulators approved a newly developed vaccine for widespread use.
The disease that regularly infected tens of thousands of people a year was all but wiped out within two decades. In 2015, the most recent year for which federal data are available, 1,390 cases were reported in the United States, 179 of those in California.
Critical to fighting the communicable disease is proper sanitation and access to bathrooms — two things San Diego repeatedly has been called out for lacking.
Two years ago, the county grand jury warned San Diego it needed more public toilets downtown. The city agreed with the finding but did not act because “there are competing needs for limited funds.”
Instead, the mayor and council president said the issue required further study. They even rejected the jury’s proposal to add signs alerting people to places they could relieve themselves.
“There is currently no funding identified in Fiscal Year 2016 to install or maintain signage specifically for public restrooms,” they wrote.
An earlier grand jury said the Sheriff’s Department should do more to protect the health of jail inmates, many of whom are on and off the streets where the homeless gather. In 2013, the citizens panel criticized the county for failing to provide regular screenings and immunizations, including for hepatitis A.
“Public health and correctional professionals now recognize the significance of including incarcerated populations in community-based disease prevention and control strategies,” the jury wrote in bold letters.
County Chief Administrative Officer Helen Robbins-Meyer and Sheriff Bill Gore disagreed with the findings and rejected the recommendations.
“The San Diego Sheriff’s Department is in compliance with applicable standards, which are found in Title 15 of the California Code or Regulations,” they wrote. “Immunizations that are currently offered to jail inmates are consistent with other county jails.”
Sheriff’s spokesman Ryan Keim said last week that there is no correlation between the department’s response and the current hepatitis A outbreak.
“The grand jury report and CDC guidelines did not recommend hepatitis A vaccine to all inmates, and subsequently would not likely have made an impact on the current hepatitis A outbreak,” he said in a statement.
Keim said the department studied the jail population in recent weeks to see which inmates were at greatest risk for hepatitis A and recommended vaccinations, which are voluntary. They persuaded more than 2,300 detainees to get treated.
So far, 21 inmates have been diagnosed with hepatitis A, including five people who contracted the sickness while in custody.
Tackling the outbreak has been especially difficult because the virus is transmitted person-to-person rather than by a common food source, like a restaurant worker, that could be identified and contained.
The infectious period stretches from 15 to 50 days. That means symptoms — fever, nausea, jaundice — may not show up for weeks, or at all. People may not know they are infected.
Beyond access to bathrooms, the underlying cause of the hepatitis A outbreak is an affordable housing crisis that has bedeviled the city for 15-plus years.
In January, the Regional Task Force on the Homeless counted 5,621 unsheltered people in San Diego, a 14 percent increase over 2016.
The downtown homeless population swelled 27 percent over the same period, to nearly 1,300 people. Many of them camp in tents or makeshift shelters on city streets, and become the subject of enforcement by San Diego police. Near-daily sweeps have pushed more homeless people into fewer spaces, which exacerbates sanitation problems.
“The reason the outbreak has spread so rapidly is because homeless are living in more concentrated areas,” said Dr. Jeffrey Norris, the St. Vincent De Paul medical director who has been managing the charity’s response to the public health threat. “They often have to defecate in their tent, or next to their tent, and that exposes their neighbors on the street. Hygiene becomes incredibly difficulty.”
San Diego banned plastic grocery bags last year, taking away a manageable alternative to defecating outside a bathroom. County health workers are now handing out thousands of “hygiene kits” that include plastic bags.
Historically, the city has struggled to adopt policies that promote affordable housing and aid homeless residents. Year after year, the mayor and council discuss solutions but fail to adopt more than incremental changes.
Sometimes public officials undermine the very communities they are supposed to help.
The city Housing Commission, for example, allowed more than 10,000 hotel rooms and other affordable units to be removed from the housing stock between 2010 and 2016, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported last year.
The lost housing is roughly equal to the number of new dwellings the agency created since 1979. The commission spent billions of tax dollars in recent years; its 2017 budget is $368 million.
Months after being elected mayor, Faulconer closed out a years-old program that used large tents to shelter hundreds of homeless people through cold winter months. He said he was focusing on a “housing first” model successfully implemented in other cities.
Earlier this month, Faulconer announced he would accept help from two businessmen who raised $1.5 million in private funding to reopen the tents.
“We are in a crisis that calls for action,” he said at a Sept. 13 news conference.
Jim Lovell is executive director of the Third Avenue Charitable Organization, a small nonprofit that provides meals and medical checkups to needy people in downtown San Diego.
One of his biggest worries, Lovell said, is that better-off residents will blame poor people for the deadly health threat that may have been avoided with smarter government.
“We’re still talking about urination and defecation as if it’s a problem caused by homeless people,” he said. “You can’t just have people outside, not provide facilities and expect all to be well.”
September 23, 2017
The San Diego Union-Tribune
By Jeff McDonald

[San Diego County] Mayor Seeks Solutions To Hepatitis A Outbreak, Dismisses Blame

Blog note: this article references multiple grand jury reports.
As the City of San Diego prepares to install 19 more handwashing stations and eight more public restrooms to tackle a hepatitis A outbreak that has killed 16 people and infected 444 countywide, Mayor Kevin Faulconer is saying the city’s response to the growing crisis has been immediate.
About half of those cases have occurred in the City of San Diego. The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Thursday that multiple grand jury reports have warned the city that more public bathrooms were needed downtown to avoid unsanitary conditions, but officials variously said the projects would be too costly, require additional security or that the suggestions deserved more study.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said the city acted immediately when they recently put up handwashing stations and opened up more restrooms. He said he is not thinking about the past.
“It’s all about, we have a situation, we have a crisis. I'm not going to be looking backward,” he said. “We need to solve this and come together as a community, and that’s the message that we've been talking about."
San Diego County medical officials said there are many factors that play into the hepatitis A crisis, and there are other places in the country that are facing a similar challenge.
“I am frankly surprised that we did not have this happen sooner,” said San Diego County Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nick Yphantides. “So, you know, it is part of the reflection of the complexity of the environmental, biological factors that are at play in this situation.”
Mayor Kevin Faulconer said the city's focus right now is vaccinating at-risk populations such as the homeless and illicit drug users. More than 250 people received shots against hepatitis A at a clinic in downtown San Diego Thursday. More than 22,000 people have been vaccinated in the county since the outbreak.
Mayor Faulconer and Dr. Yphantides joined KPBS Midday Edition’s Maureen Cavanaugh on Friday to discuss the city's response to the hepatitis A outbreak:
MC: Mr. Mayor, this week, you announced a new vaccination, sanitation and education program targeting the hepatitis A outbreak. What else do you think the city can do to try to stop this outbreak?
Faulconer: It is a partnership, Maureen. To be here with Dr. Nick, it is all about getting that word out, and you hit the nail on the head. Vaccination first and foremost primarily, and particularly and our message today has been very clear. On that at-risk population, which is primarily homeless and illicit drug users and so the more that we are vaccinating that group, which I said is our at-risk population, that has been our sole focus on not only the outreach that we had yesterday at city hall but the work that we are doing. The city and the county with our public health nurses, with our homeless outreach team, going out to the streets, going the canyons to get those people that need the vaccination the most, to get them vaccinated. That is incredibly important. And at the same time, getting the word out. If you are a healthy adult in San Diego, we want you washing your hands. Warm soap and water, as Dr. Nick has said over and over and over. And then taking additional steps obviously, in some of our at-risk areas, sanitation street power washing, hand stations. We just left a SANDAG meeting, Dr. Nick and I. This outbreak that started in El Cajon is in virtually every city in the county — most acute, in part of San Diego. So, it is a collective effort on education, but most importantly stressing that vaccination to that at-risk group: homeless and illicit drug users.
MC: You know Dr. Nick, San Diego City staff said yesterday that more hand washing stations are set to go up today. There are plans for eight more public bathrooms in the city on Monday. What are your estimates for how many more of these need to be installed?
Yphantides: This is an unprecedented situation, so we do not have the reference point of anybody else who has gone through this kind of a thing of being able to say here is the specific X, Y, Z number. What we are doing is a very comprehensive scientific approach of mapping where are the individuals, and as the basis of where those individuals are, then making sure that they have access to the hand washing and toiletry that they need. So, I cannot today, Maureen, give you a specific number. But, I can give you a commitment that that evaluation is ongoing both at the city and county level. And again, to echo Mayor Faulconer’s comments, while so much of the attention is in downtown San Diego, we are dealing with these issues throughout our region.
MC: Now Mayor Faulconer, you announced last week that you will be setting up three large tent shelters in the near future including showers, bathrooms, and security. This was an idea that was pushed by business leaders Peter Seidler and Dan Shea for Months. And they are donating $1.5 million for the project. What is the role of San Diego’s business community in helping address this outbreak?
Faulconer: It has been a great partnership. And I am glad you mentioned Peter Seidler and Dan Shea. And in fact working closely with them. First, looking for an indoor facility, as I said when we announced this, you are never going to find the perfect location. You might have seen in the newspaper today some pushback on the sites we did announce. And I said, we have to do this. We have to get people off the streets into a secure, sanitary environment, where they can get the services they need, the wrap around service, often times, mental health and substance abuse. So, yes we are moving forward on a significant presence with three different locations: one down on 16th and Newton, one at St. Vincent DePaul, one out in the Midway District, primarily focused on our veteran population. But, you know, we are looking right now close to 700 and probably more as we add people who are going to be able to get off the streets in these. And to see, Maureen, to see the commitment from the business community saying, "look the government can do their part, needs to do their part." But, to see local business leaders saying we are going to help too, I am hoping that this is going to grow because the challenge is so big and I cannot say enough about, as I said before, Peter Seidler and Dan Shea, that is the type of leadership that we want in the business community, that I am fostering, that says: We are all in this together. This is our city, these are our neighbors, and let’s take the right action.
MC: Mayor Faulconer, what about the critique from councilman David Alvarez and others that three months until December, that is when the first tent is going to open, is too long to wait to get these tents up? And some other sanitary shelter options should be found?
Faulconer: Well you know I am not spending my time listening to critique’s, Maureen. Especially from some folks like that, who have not been very helpful when it comes to homeless issues. And you read some of that today. We are looking forward on what do we need to do now, to get people off the street now.
MC:< Right, so now, not in December. What are you looking at?
Faulconer: So part of one of the things we are looking at is safe zones. Where we are going to encourage folks to get off the street, you know, in addition to the shelters we have. But, also, it is important to note, St. Vincent DePaul’s, Alpha Projects, we are driving folks into some of those beds now because they do have some capacity. And part of our message is we have some spots, we want to use them. But, we also need and why we are moving forward on the tents in the sprung structures the need is so much greater. And so as you will hear more, we are going to move forward on some of these safer zones that I think is going to be a big help, but again, the determination, the commitment, I should say, not the determination, is we need to get people off the street in bigger numbers.
MC: Mayor do you think this outbreak was either preventable or foreseeable? Four grand jury reports warned city leaders that more public restrooms were needed downtown. One report explicitly warned that an outbreak of illness caused by such unsanitary conditions could resort in liability to this city.
Faulconer: I will tell you this. Anytime we are doing homeless services, you are always going to get pushback from people. And the fact that we have said: no, we are acting immediately on the hand washing stations, the restrooms that we have put in, opening up the restrooms that we have had. Like I said, some that are now 24/7. It is all about, we have a situation, a crisis, I am not going to be looking backward. We need to solve this and come together as a community and that is the message that we have been talking about. I will leave it to Dr. Nick as to the genesis and the origins.
Yphantides: Yeah, you know, based on the long incubation period and so forth, I will just answer tightly that there is an unprecedented challenge that we are facing here, and there are biological reasons that it took several months for us to be able to track when this started, and so on and so forth. With confidence that we were on top of it in monitoring things as we always do. Hepatitis A constantly occurs, but most of the cases historically were from people coming from outside of the country. Whether or not this could have been prevented, again in hindsight I think there are so many factors that go into this and so many places in our country that are facing similar challenges that we have had. To be honest with you Maureen and some other outlets and contexts that I have had this question asked, I am frankly surprised that we didn't have this happen sooner. So, you know, it is part of the reflection of the complexity of the environmental, biological factors that are at play in this situation.
MC: Mr. Mayor I know you are in the heart of this right now and your concern is to stop this outbreak. But I wonder if some conversations have been going down in city hall about what liability the city might have for the people who contracted this disease and the people’s families who died?
Faulconer: I can say unequivocally, our conversations are all about how we can get people the help that they need right now. Not looking backward. Bringing everybody together in an unprecedented fashion. The city, the county, our medical professionals at the county, and from our standpoint, our team. We had AMR, our fire rescue out there yesterday on vaccinations. The whole team was doing it on sanitation. This is an all hands on deck effort, Maureen, and rightfully so. Because as I mentioned at the beginning, this is our community, this is our county, these are our people, and we need to take care of each other and make sure we are getting people the support and the services that they need. And as mayor, that is my sole focus, one hundred percent sole focus right now.
MC: Mayor Faulconer, I know that you do not want to look back and that you are in the middle of this crisis right now, but just humor me for a moment if you would. Homeless advocate said at the time that San Diego’s decision to close emergency tent shelters would not work because there weren’t enough permanent beds for the homeless. When those emergency tents were permanently closed, we began to see a dramatic increase in the number of people living on the streets. Homeless advocates were screaming about this. Do you see that now as one of the reasons for this hepatitis A outbreak?
Faulconer: And we are not looking back, Maureen. You know, when we went to the permanent indoor shelter, was that a better idea than the six-month winter shelter? Absolutely. Because the idea was let’s get more people the beds and the services, not just for a couple of months during the winter, but year round. What we have clearly seen is that as that need grows, we need to do more. And as you and I have talked about absolutely, when you look at long-term, we need permanent supportive housing. I mean, that cuts across all of this and so on the backend of that, we could talk a lot on obviously the things we are trying to do to get that and have those permanent income streams. That is incredibly important, and so the shelters that we are going to move forward because we need to. That is incredibly going to be helpful. But, ultimately, we need permanent supportive housing to get people not just off the street for a few months, but to transition. But I will tell you, talking with good folks like Bob McElroy of Alpha Project, who has done this, and once you get people into the shelter environment, then you are able to transition them. And that is what we want. We want you to be safe; we want you to be healthy. We want you to get back into the work environment and give them the support that they need. That is what San Diego is all about and that is why this is all hands on deck. To not only just tackle this for the foreseeable next months, but longer term as well. And one of the reasons, for example, why I felt so strongly, as you know, we have talked before, the measure to not only expand our convention center, but to raise those dollars for a permanent supportive, for homeless funds that we don’t have at the city. We don’t have a dedicated fund. The city council chose to put that off. I think that was the wrong decision. But, we will get it on because we need dedicated homeless funding and that is something that I feel very, very passionately about.
MC: I have been speaking with San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and with San Diego County Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nick Yphantides. Thank you Gentleman.
Faulconer: Thank you, Maureen.
Yphantides: Thank you.
September 22, 2017
By Maureen Cavanaugh, Michael Lipkin

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Santa Cruz County syringe program denies lack of transparency

SANTA CRUZ >> Santa Cruz County officials denied a grand jury report’s assertions that a needle-exchange program lacks transparency and limits public access to services.
The response was issued in August amid an opioid epidemic feeding demand for clean syringes and fueling concerns about methods to protect the public from hazardous waste.
The grand jury report, published in June, cited an increase of littered syringes and an apparent unwillingness to consider public comments for the county’s Syringe Services Program.
The grand jury report also claimed the program’s one-to-one needle policy is flawed because discarded needles are not counted by hand. At a recent Santa Cruz City Council meeting, Councilwoman Richelle Noroyan and Vice Mayor David Terrazas questioned whether current practices ensure an equal exchange of clean and used needles.
Officials at the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency, which operates the program, said the service promotes safe disposal of syringes.
County staff observe the process and review the number of needles clients received during prior visits, Health Services Agency officials said.
“Asking staff or clients to physically count and handle syringes would place staff at risk and (would) be in violation of one of the primary goals of the program, which is to prevent the spread of infectious disease,” Health Services Agency officials said.
The service has not increased the number of needles littered in Santa Cruz County, Health Services Agency officials said.
“Research has found that syringes obtained from syringe-service programs are more likely to be safely disposed than syringes obtained from other sources,” Health Services Agency officials said. “And syringes are more likely to be safely disposed in cities with syringe service programs compared to those without.”
Clients can receive up to 15 syringes during the initial visit, according to the grand jury report. A health officer reviews each case to determine the number of needles that can be distributed during subsequent visits, according to the policy. No more than 15 needles can be distributed during subsequent visits.
In 2013, the county took over the service previously known as the Syringe Access Program. A group of volunteers formed the program in 1989 to curb the spread of HIV and hepatitis C with a needle-exchange program in a building on Pacific Avenue, where counseling, treatment and free condoms were offered, according to the grand jury report.
The report contends that the program doesn’t host public meetings, has no avenue for dialogue and its advisory group lacks members from the general public.
Santa Cruz County spokesman Jason Hoppin said increasing demand for the service is a result of its accessibility. The program’s web page also provides updated data about clients and needles exchanged.
“We’ve held several public meetings, and we’ve given dozens upon dozens of media interviews since taking over the program in 2013, in response to criticism of the prior needle-exchange program,” Hoppin said. “While we’re always willing to look at ways to better engage the community, the idea that we haven’t been communicative doesn’t hold water.”
The grand jury has legal authority to examine any elements of special districts, and city and county governments, according to court records. The grand jury’s findings are meant to improve government operations.
The grand jury report also stressed the need to have members of the general public on the advisory board.
Health Services Agency officials said the program has an advisory group of law enforcement and probation officers, pharmacy representatives and doctors to “mitigate any unintended consequences of operating a Syringe Services Program.”
The program’s next phase will broaden the advisory group’s membership to include residents and people impacted by addiction, Health Services Agency officials said.
The county agreed that one the facilities, at 1080 Emeline Ave., is too small — a dilemma for most Health Services Agency departments.
Another exchange site is at 1430 Freedom Blvd., Suite D in Watsonville.
Despite the grand jury report’s claim there is a lack of organized needle cleanups among multiple agencies, Health Services Agency officials said three county agencies have been working together to protect the public against such hazardous waste through regular beach and park cleanups.
“The issue will be added to a future agenda of the Syringe Services Program Advisory Group to discuss and analyze options for future cleanup efforts and multi-jurisdictional collaborations,” Health Services Agency officials said.
September 22, 2017
Santa Cruz Sentinel
By Michael Todd

[Alameda County] Opinion: Public being shut out of land-use decisions in Oakland

Oakland’s public has had no voice in the disposition of its public lands. Decisions have been made by the City Council behind closed doors.
The 2016-17 Alameda County Grand Jury, which investigated the process, made this clear. It stated, “This conduct precluded participation by the public in determining the best use of city-owned property and selection of developers.”
The grand jury report and articles in the June 20 East Bay Times and other publications are worth reading.
Focus was on three projects, known as 1911 Telegraph, 2100 Telegraph and the 12th Street Remainder Parcel.
The right project at 1911 Telegraph, property located at the corner of 19th Street and Telegraph Avenue, could be a catalyst for increased energy in uptown. This site across the street from both the Fox Theater and the Floral Depot wants to have a significant setback on Telegraph to create a public plaza, the Fox Plaza. Restaurants can spill onto it and people can mingle both day and night.
Great cities with Mediterranean climates like ours have such public outdoor rooms. Think Spain and Italy.
The developer would maintain the public plaza. It will increase the value of any building sitting behind it, be it a hotel or residential or both. And the city can negotiate the price for the land so it is feasible for significant affordable housing.
And there is another public parcel at 19th Street and San Pablo Avenue that could be used to make Uptown super attractive not only for more families but office workers filling Uptown Station. It is now blight, that is, a surface parking lot. Instead, it could fill a real need — a space for active recreation for children and adults.
Currently, students at the School for the Arts go to Snow Park to play Frisbee for exercise. But where do children who live Uptown go?
The General Plan’s Open Space Conservation and Recreation element proposes “a local-serving park acreage standard of 4 acres per 1,000 residents,” seems to have been ignored.
The excuse for not creating new parks is the cost of land. Well, the city already owns that parcel.
Uptown would then have three kinds of public spaces, the quiet contemplative get-away-from-it-all one now existing, an active work-up-a sweat one, and a social meet-you-there public square.
For this placemaking to be realized, the public needs to get involved in a robust public process. It should include more than the neighborhood because Uptown belongs to everyone. And the city needs to listen.
A great example of this was the grass-roots effort in 2001 triggered by then-Mayor Jerry Brown advocating for a cathedral to be built on public land on Lake Merritt.
There was such an outcry that a group calling itself Coalition of Advocates for Lake Merritt formed to work on an alternative. Well-attended, lively meetings with pro bono input from five architects developed a plan that restructured the southern end of Lake Merritt. It created more park space and venues, and changed the 12-lane portion of 12th Street, “the world’s shortest freeway,” into a six-lane boulevard.
The city recognized it as a great public project and funded it thru Measure D. Now known as the Lake Merritt Boulevard Park and Amphitheater, it is there for all to enjoy. And a new cathedral now graces Oakland on Lake Merritt on private land.
This clearly illustrates that if Oakland’s many talented people are engaged in land-use decisions, great projects can transform neighborhoods. Why does the city dismiss its residents by hiding behind closed doors?
September 21, 2017
East Bay Times
By Joyce Roy, retired architect and Oakland resident

[San Diego County] San Diego officials were warned about restroom shortage repeatedly before hepatitis outbreak

As San Diego officials scramble to stop a deadly hepatitis A outbreak linked to a lack of downtown public restrooms, they can’t say they weren’t warned.
A U-T Watchdog review of public records found that since 2000, four grand jury reports attempted to steer attention to the risks posed by human waste on city streets and a shortage of toilets available for use by the city’s growing homeless population.
One such report, filed in 2010, explicitly warned that an outbreak of illness caused by such unsanitary conditions “could result in liability to the city.”
Each of the reports called on the city to either add more all-hours, publicly available restrooms or bolster its street cleaning regimen to ensure the public would not be exposed to human waste.
Health officials say such exposure helped fuel San Diego’s growing outbreak, which has left 16 people dead and more than 300 who required hospitalization. Since November, San Diego has seen 444 hepatitis A cases — as many as the combined total reported by California, Texas and New York in all of 2015, the most recent year for which statewide data is available.
This month, San Diego undertook both grand jury-recommended steps in earnest — new bathrooms and street cleaning — after the outbreak garnered international media attention. Adding two new restrooms brought downtown San Diego to a new total of 21.
The 19-member grand jury is a civil watchdog panel that investigates certain aspects of local government and citizen complaints. It does not do criminal investigations.
City responses to two past jury reports, filed in 2005 and 2015, both cited security concerns and budget constraints among the hurdles posed by building new restrooms. New toilets, officials said, can be a magnet for criminal activity. They estimated the cost to install restrooms at $250,000, with annual operating cost estimates ranging from $65,000 to $400,000.
In 2005, the grand jury made a recommendation that the city “provide more public restrooms in the downtown area.”
The city responded, “The recommendation will not be implemented at this time due to the financial challenges of the city. The city does not have the resources to execute a project of this magnitude.”
Ronne Froman, city manager at the time, told grand jurors that corporate sponsorships were explored, but “corporations interested in spending these types of dollars with the city are not keen on the idea of associating their brand identity with toilets.”
Signage recommended by grand jurors to make restrooms more accessible was also rejected. Froman said advertising public toilets could not be done without amending city rules limiting signs placed in the public realm.
A spokeswoman said the city has since added some signs to mark the way to existing restrooms.
City Council members in 2015 said they needed more time to analyze a grand jury recommendation that asked the city to come up with a budget and a plan for adding 24-hour toilets.
They partially disagreed with jurors’ determination that existing restrooms were often unsanitary and hard to find, and emphasized potentially expensive and time-consuming challenges to building new ones.
“There are several challenges that require further analysis to providing additional 24-hour accessible public restrooms in downtown San Diego,” the mayor and council members wrote in a response signed by then-Council President Sherri Lightner. “First, various types of projects, including public restrooms, compete for limited capital funding. There are also challenges to finding suitable locations where public restrooms can be installed from both an engineering and public safety perspective.
“From an engineering perspective, installation of a public restroom requires access to adequate capacity of existing water, sewer and utility lines. If public restrooms are not adequately secured, they can become sites of criminal activity, and therefore require additional police oversight.”
Officials this past March — the same month the county determined hepatitis A had reached outbreak proportions — declined to further analyze the grand jury’s 2015 call for a plan to add toilets. A response to the recommendation presented by David Graham, the city’s deputy chief operating officer, said the city already has community plans that include public restrooms. The response goes on to say that Civic San Diego, the city-owned nonprofit planning agency, encourages efforts to provide public restrooms “when there are opportunities to work with private developers.”
Officials said efforts to build the costly facilities were hamstrung by the loss of downtown development-generated tax dollars once collected by the city’s redevelopment agency. That agency disappeared, alongside 400 others, under a 2012 state law that banished all of California’s former blight-fighting agencies.
The U-T in January reported that since the shutdown of the agency, some $68.6 million former redevelopment dollars had made their way into San Diego’s general fund. That’s enough to add and maintain 104 new restrooms under the city’s own top-end cost estimates — or roughly five times the number of of public restrooms currently available downtown.
Today, officials say money is no object in facing the crisis surrounding hepatitis A, which is spread when when people ingest even tiny amounts of contaminated fecal matter. Last week, they announced the addition of the two new bathroom sites and expanded hours at 14 Balboa Park restrooms.
Critics say the city should have acted sooner to try and prevent the outbreak.
“Anybody working with the homeless could’ve told you this was going to happen,” said Anne Rios, executive director of San Diego homeless advocacy group Think Dignity and a longtime advocate for adding more downtown restrooms.“I think part of it is the city doesn’t want to acknowledge that our homeless problem is as bad as it is.”
Mayor Kevin Faulconer served on the City Council from January 2006 to March 2014, when he was sworn in as mayor. For much of his council tenure, his district included downtown San Diego. Approached after a Tuesday morning news conference, Mayor Kevin Faulconer did not directly answer questions about San Diego’s earlier inaction.
He said the city had worked closely with county officials to open the restrooms announced last week. The two-term mayor said joint efforts to add the toilets started “primarily” after the county directed the city, in an Aug. 31 memo, to immediately expand access to public restrooms and wash stations within city limits.
“I think we’ve always had public restrooms,” he said. “We’ve had numerous public restrooms.”
Stacey LoMedico, the city’s assistant chief operating officer and the point person charged with rolling out the city’s new restrooms, said the city did not need the county’s directive to move forward with the additional facilities.
In retrospect, she said, it’s possible she could have done more to add long-sought downtown bathrooms prior to the hepatitis outbreak.
“I can sit here and say ‘shoulda, coulda,woulda,’” LoMedico added, “but I’m looking forward.”
LoMedico said she didn’t know off-hand how many public restrooms the city had built since grand jurors’ first published their concerns about the issue in 2005.
That 12-year-old report picked up on concerns published one year earlier, when grand jurors said San Diego had too long ignored the fact that its streets were being used as toilets.
The jurors’ latest report, published in 2015, reviewed calls for new restrooms downtown dating back to October 2000, when a City Council advisory committee asked the city to immediately start work on a program to install public toilets throughout downtown, “as has been done by many other U.S. and European cities.”
The 2015 report echoed that recommendation, before lamenting that it took five years for city officials to add two public restrooms first funded in 2010. Both of those facilities, known as Portland Loos, were plagued by cost overruns. The first was removed in July 2015, less than a year after it was installed, amid crime and vandalism concerns.
Spokeswoman Katie Keach said the city has added, and kept, four other downtown bathroom sites since 2010. She said four other sites, largely located in parks planned for downtown and the East Village, are expected to open by 2020.
Dr. Nick Yphantides, the county’s chief medical officer, predicted at a Tuesday news conference that San Diego’s hepatitis outbreak would risk more lives and last another six months, or perhaps longer.
  • October 2000: The East Village Redevelopment Homeless Advisory committee -- a temporary panel of dozens of downtown homeless advocates and business leaders -- found only two public restrooms available for the use of street people downtown. The committee, created to advise the city on homeless displacement issues, said that has “inevitably resulted in urination and defecation in public areas.”
  • June 2004: Members of a San Diego County grand jury seek additional street cleaning efforts, pointing to sidewalks “littered with human and animal waste, dirt, and refuse.”
  • September 2005: Grand jurors, at a previous grand jury’s request, urge the city to add public toilets, citing the “inconvenient locations and less-than-attractive conditions of the two existing 24-hour public toilets.”
  • May 2010: Grand jurors add to calls for cleaner streets and more bathrooms, in part to reduce “fecal deposits and urine odors in the downtown and East Village.”
  • May 2015: A grand jury report finds San Diego’s need for public restrooms has been an issue “for more than decade.”
The San Diego Union-Tribune
September 20, 2017
By James DeHaven