A wheelchair near an encampment on April 15, 2024 in Escondido. / Ariana Drehsler for Planetcob

Friday, as expected, the U.S Supreme Court ruled the Constitution allows the city of Grants Pass, Ore. to enforce a no-camping ban on public property regardless of the availability of shelter. Grants Pass gave violators fines even for first-time offenses.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria had wanted this decision. Last year I wrote about his and others’ hopes this would happen. District Attorney Summer Stephan, for example, had said a ruling like this was crucial to allow local agencies to deal with a long list of societal woes including drugs, deaths, violence and public health concerns.

But it was never clear exactly what the ruling would change.

I asked Gloria about it when I interviewed him a couple weeks ago.

Me: What would you think will change if the Supreme Court says you have more latitude to clear encampments as people think they will?

Mayor Gloria: “Well, I do think that our experience with unsafe camping ordinance has shown that when we've told people, ‘you can't be here, but you can go to the safe sleeping site,’ and when they say yes to that, their experience of life is better. They have access to hygiene, they have access to services, things improve. More ability to have, I think, those positive reinforcements to go there is good. I've also, Scott, I've talked to, I can't tell you how many folks who are either currently or formerly homeless who mentioned that it was that moment of truth in the back of a squad car in front of a judge that got them to accept rehab, that got them to, to have that moment of clarity that sometimes is evasive.”

After the ruling, Gloria’s director of communications, Rachel Laing, said the city is not changing anything about its enforcement approach. Our Lisa Halverstadt is working on a piece about what it all means.

The ruling: The court ruled that Grants Pass was not criminalizing homelessness – and thus violating the Constitution’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment — because the city’s law applies to anyone, regardless of status.

“It makes no difference whether the charged defendant is currently a person experiencing homelessness, a backpacker on vacation, or a student who abandons his dorm room to camp out in protest on the lawn of a municipal building,” reads the ruling.

It went on: “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal their bread.”

I’m kidding. That second one is that quote from poet Anatole France. It just hits.

ACA 10 Replaces ACA 1

Last week, I wrote about Sacramento lawmakers worries about ACA 1, the measure they had put on the November ballot that would make it easier to pass local special taxes for infrastructure projects and affordable housing. It included any special tax, from sales taxes to parcel taxes to property taxes. Right now, special taxes for specific projects or plans that governments put on ballots must get support from more than two-thirds of voters.

ACA 1 would have made it possible for them to pass with just more than 55 percent of voters.

It wasn’t polling well, however, so they wanted to change it and they had a week to do it. It wasn’t clear they would be able to.

It turns out, dear readers, they were.

Enter ACA 10: Super majorities in both chambers of the state Legislature passed ACA 10 to change ACA 1. Now, voters in November will decide on a much narrower measure. ACA 10 will allow local governments to ask voters to approve bonds to build things, including housing. Then they could raise property taxes to pay them off all with just more than 55 percent of voter support.

Essentially, it would be exactly what school districts are now able to do. San Diego Unified School District, for example, has raised property taxes and borrowed billions in bonds several times over the last 25 years. Now, if ACA 10 passes in November, the city, county, SANDAG etc could also do it.

Why it matters here: I'm going to take a guess that this kills the plan to raise a stormwater tax for the city of San Diego. Supporters had hoped that ACA 10 would pass simultaneously and allow a stormwater tax to pass with support from just 55 percent of voters.

It was going to be a tax on the amount of impermeable land someone owned in San Diego. Now, ACA 10 only allows a 55 percent threshold for property taxes on the value of the home to rise to pay off a bond.

‘Badly Shaken’ — Biden Panic in San Diego

I did not watch the presidential debate Thursday but I woke up Friday to The New York Times’ extraordinary insistence that it was so bad for President Biden, he needed to let someone else run for president. It was the theme of The Daily podcast. It was the subject of several columns and the message of the opinion podcast.

The paper really threw everything it had at the message. Here’s a news analysis about what would happen if Biden steps away from the race, really the only option around.

Two local takes: Christine Forester has been well connected with the national Democratic Party for decades. She was one of the top fundraisers for former President Barack Obama and she would probably be my first call if I were trying to get ahold of someone like Obama.

Here was her reaction to the debate, as sent to her influential list:

We cannot sugarcoat the outcome of last night’s debate. It was a disaster. At the podium on the left was a convicted criminal, an inveterate liar who honed his mendacious skills over decades of diligent practice. At the other podium was a man whose decisions and accomplishments single him out as one of our very best presidents. That said, he had a very bad night that left all of us badly shaken.

Let us give Joe Biden an opportunity to be part of the solution. Let us pause just long enough to give him time to watch a rerun of the debate and assess his performance. Let us hear what he has to say and how he will say it, not at private fundraisers, but by accepting to talk publicly on various media platforms. Let us give him a few days to tell us what he wants to do, and how/if we can help move forward to a win as losing to the would-be dictator is not an option.

That’s not an explicit call for him to give way to a better candidate but it’s not exactly an expression of confidence that things are on track.

U.S. Rep. Sara Jacobs didn’t appear to share the concern or desire to replace Biden on the ticket. She posted a simple message on X: “joe biden for president.”


This water stuff is huge: I wrote about the San Diego angle in the downfall of the general manager of the Metropolitan Water District. He was struggling to manage a massive structural budget deficit. It’s so bad that one of his priorities was to re-imagine the agency’s entire business model. They ended up passing a rate hike on all the agencies that buy MWD water and increasing the property tax we all pay (they can do that without a vote).

One of the agencies that buys that water is our San Diego County Water Authority. This week, the Water Authority started debating an 18 percent increase in rates for the agencies that buy its water. MacKenzie Elmer’s story of how they got here is good.

What happened: They punted. The representatives of the city of San Diego on the Water Authority board wanted to see a much smaller increase but they were unwilling to push it through without more deliberation.

Coastal Commission strikes back: Last week, our Deborah Sullivan Brennan wrote about the clash between housing advocates and the California Coastal Commission. The state’s Housing Density Bonus Law, allows developers to add more units than normally permitted in exchange for including affordable housing. Alvarez’ bill, AB 2560, would exempt those Density Bonus projects from Coastal Act protections.

But the U-T’s Michael Smolens wrote this week about how Alvarez’s bill is changing. The Senate’s Natural Resources and Water Committee took out that exemption.

“Further, the panel added language to require all California cities to update their coastal land-use plans to take into account multiple-unit developments that use the state’s density-bonus law. That statute allows for larger projects in return for a percentage of deed-restricted units for lower-income residents.”

And those land-use plans, of course, must go through the Coastal Commission for approval.

If you like Padres baseball: Watch this breakdown of the battle this week with the Nationals.

Trying a thing: If you’ve made it here, you are a real one. I’m going to do an occasional mailbag feature for you real ones. Send any question you may have (about anything) to scott@planetcob.com or send just simply anything you would like me to react to and I’ll do an occasional roundup of them. Please send something or I’ll make them up so it doesn’t look like I don’t have any readers.

If you have any feedback or ideas for the Politics Report send them to scott@planetcob.com.

Scott Lewis oversees Planetcob’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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  1. The fake quote got me. It sure sounded like Neil “fantástico!” Gorsuch to me.

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