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Tijuana Is Using Drones to Police Neighborhoods  — Voice of San Diego

A view of the Tijuana skyline / Image via Shutterstock

Inspired by Chula Vista’s use of technology, Tijuana is deploying police drones. Officials in both cities believe that drones are an effective tool for law enforcement that can save time and resources, assisting with emergency calls.

But one of the key differences between the two programs is that Tijuana uses drones on occasion to proactively monitor public space in the financial district, tourist zones and elsewhere. 

A similar program on the U.S. side of the border would likely generate controversy. Chula Vista has seen a good deal of pushback over the last couple years. 

Although the two cities are intertwined in many ways, Julia Woock reports, they each have their own laws and cultural conceptions of privacy. At the same time, Tijuana’s program exists without a great deal of public discussion. 

One Mexican human rights attorney told Woock that authorities there have the power to proactively record in public areas under certain limitations, but the technology poses questions that haven’t been tested in the courts. 

Read the full story here. 

Police Oversight Measure Is Heading to Council — Advocates Are Still Hoping for Changes

Thursday, just hours after we published a story about community groups’ frustration with a draft of the ordinance that will implement stronger police oversight in San Diego, a new draft was posted to the city’s website with several changes that addressed many community concerns. But the last-minute changes left the groups with little time to review and digest the updates before a Friday afternoon meeting when the City Council’s Public Services & Livable Neighborhoods Committee would vote on the draft.

Andrea St. Julian, who authored Measure B, the ballot measure that laid the foundation for stronger oversight, said she was “grateful and encouraged by the committee’s willingness to change the proposed ordinance,” but she asked committee members to delay their vote to give the community more time to review the amendments.

One lingering issue is a ban on anyone with a felony on their record from serving on the commission, unless that person can meet a series of requirements that speakers at Friday’s meeting described as having a deterrent effect. The new draft also doesn’t spell out whether commission investigators will have access to police-shooting scenes — something reform advocates say is key to for a thorough investigation — and advocates urged the committee to add stronger wording to the ordinance’s section on access to records.

“The records section needs to be more robust,” said Doug Case, a member of the interim Commission on Police Practices. “We need unfettered access to all records maintained by the city.”

The committee voted to move the draft forward to the full City Council despite the requests for a delay, but promised that many of the issues raised by the public could be ironed out when the commission drafts its standard operating procedures.

Monica Montgomery Steppe, whose office has overseen the writing of the implementation ordinance, said the goal was to create a law “that meets the spirit and intent of Measure B and is also legally permissible under local and state laws.”

As for the felony ban — something councilmembers Raul Campillo, Vivian Moreno and Marni von Wilpert objected to — Montgomery Steppe committed to possibly amending that part of the ordinance, but said the issue needed further exploration.

Image courtesy San Diego State University

Politics Report: SDSU and Labor Are Feuding

Over the weekend, Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts shared some juicy chisme about a feud brewing between San Diego State University and labor unions. 

Lewis and Keatts write in the Politics Report that SDSU sent a sternly worded letter last week from its lawyers to the city of San Diego demanding the city finalize the sale of a small crumb of land left over from the 166 acres the university purchased last year. The school needs the land to complete construction, but the city is unwilling to go forward until SDSU resolves the labor problem.

One labor leader says the university has reneged on promises it made to labor early in the campaign for Measure G, the initiative that mandated the city to sell the land to SDSU. Brigette Browning, the executive secretary treasurer of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council and the longtime leader of Unite HERE, the hotel and service workers union, said they were reassured that the university would take care of the hundreds of workers at Qualcomm Stadium. 

The architect of everything from Measure G to the land sale and now the development, Jack McGrory, said he and the university have made several agreements and offers to Browning and her allies. And now he’s exhausted.

Representatives of the actual university and the actual city have taken a backseat in the dispute, write Lewis and Keatts.

But this is very much in the city’s power to handle. 

Also, the City Council could in the early part of this year reform the city’s community planning group system. It’s something Councilman Joe LaCava has been pushing for with a reform package. 

Read the latest Politics Report here. 

Over on the podcast: The crew talked to Jesse Marx about a month-long sanitation strike and why the workers ended up taking a deal that fell short of what many actually wanted. Sheriff Bill Gore’s decision to retire early also caught our attention because of what it might mean for the upcoming election. (Pssst, there’s a history here of law enforcement officials ducking out early and letting their preferred successor take over and run as an incumbent to victory.) 

Elsewhere in the iron cage: U-T columnist Michael Smolens writes about a political dispute rumbling down coastal North County over sand replenishment. Beaches vital to tourism are threatened by erosion and Oceanside wants to build a handful of beach groins but cities to the south ain’t happy. 

In Other News

  • Chula Vista has hired public relations firm Madaffer Enterprises to help the city develop a task force responsible for overseeing its technology oversight policy. (Union-Tribune)
  • Seventy-three workers received termination letters from San Diego Unified for not complying with its COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Those workers represent less than 1 percent of the district’s employees. (Union-Tribune)
  • The North County Transit District Board recently voted to install fencing along the railroad tracks in Del Mar. Residents are not happy. Some feel it will ruin the view from the bluffs and argue that the issue is about access not safety. (KPBS) 

This Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.