It's been a common refrain: The new restaurants, condos and hotels welcomed amid downtown San Diego's redevelopment have pushed social—service agencies into the area's still-blighted east side—or out of downtown altogether.
Late last month, the board of the Centre City Development Corp., the city's redevelopment overseer, approved a new program to help nonprofit social-service providers rehabilitate their facilities or relocate to more suitable buildings within downtown. Agencies are eligible if they've operated downtown for five years and provide services to downtown's residents and workers. Loans will be limited to half of a project's total cost and can't exceed $1 million except in special circumstances. The program will get $3 million to start.
Under state redevelopment law, CCDC can assist only with building acquisition, rehabilitation and expansion-it can't fund actual services.
Rehabilitating older buildings "is always a forthright redevelopment objective," said CCDC Senior Project Manager John Collum.
Under terms of the loan, Collum said, the recipient agency would agree to certain annual benchmarks (such as the number of clients served). If an agency meets its goal, CCDC has the option of forgiving a loan repayment.
"We're making the agency be very honest and committed to the services that they provide and also insuring that the residents and workers in downtown will have those services available to them," he said.
"These agencies, I think, sometimes get somewhat of a bad rap," Collum added. "If they weren't downtown, the homeless situation would be worse than it is already. They would be sorely missed."
Rich and trashy
A couple of weeks ago, Grace Lowenfeld, the deputy San Diego city attorney working with her boss, Mike Aguirre, on a citywide mandatory-recycling law, presented some numbers to a City Council committee to illustrate how (poorly) San Diego does when it comes to how much trash each resident contributes to a municipal landfill-a number that would decrease if more people recycled.
The data came from a state report that looked at per-capita waste disposal by different California cities. In 2005 (the most recent year for which numbers are available), Del Mar led San Diego County with an average of 20.05 pounds of trash per person, per day, going to a landfill. Imperial Beach had the smallest per-person/per-day number: 3.89 pounds. The U.S. average is 4.5 pounds.
Del Mar happens to be the wealthiest city in the county, where, according to the 2000 census, the average household earned $81,001 a year. Imperial Beach is among the poorest cities in the county, where household incomes average $35,882 according census numbers. Neither city has mandatory-recycling laws, though both, like San Diego provide recycling bins for curbside trash pickup. San Diego is the third largest trash producer in the county (8.4 pounds per person, per day) and Coronado's the second (10.66). Chula Vista and Oceanside, which came in second (5.27) and third (5.51) behind Imperial Beach mandate that citizens recycle.
What does it all mean? A few years ago, a Danish company set up a recycling plant in India, figuring it would make a bundle because of the country's huge population. It didn't. According to a report by the Property and Environmental Resource Center, "Poverty ensures that every bit of a resource is re-used, recycled or otherwise utilized."
I.B.'s certainly no India. But numerous studies have tied waste production to income. It's something to consider next time you must choose between darning a pair of socks or tossing 'em in the trash.
Texas trip costs taxpayers
According to a written agreement between the city of San Diego and the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, city taxpayers have to foot the bill if airport executive Ted Sexton goes on any business trips. The Airport Authority loaned Sexton to the city in April.
Sexton and another city official, Jim Barwick, went to Fort Worth, Texas, in May to propose a solution to the Sunroad Enterprises controversy, in which the developer built an office tower in Kearny Mesa whose height exceeded aviation-safety guidelines. A spokesperson for Mayor Jerry Sanders told CityBeat this week that Sexton's travel costs amounted to $1,060.25 and Barwick's were $1,088.80. The spokesperson said city taxpayers are on the hook for Barwick's expenses but that the Airport Authority would pay for Sexton's trip.
That appears to violate the agreement between the two public agencies, which says the city is responsible for reimbursing the Airport Authority "for all out-of-town travel and other incidental and necessary expenses in the performance of [Sexton's] duties for the city...."
As of press time, the mayor's office hadn't responded to CityBeat's follow-up queries about the agreement.
Meanwhile, an Airport Authority spokesperson initially responded that the agency could justify the trip as airport-land-use business, but she later told CityBeat that the Airport Authority will bill the city for the expense.
Sanders has come under fire for using Sexton on the Sunroad issue after telling the public that he wouldn't. When he announced the Sexton arrangement, he said Sexton's services would come "at no cost" to taxpayers.
Got something to say? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.