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Roundtable: City Council District 1, Mayor’s Race, SDG&E vs. Ratepayers, Abandoned Property

Matt Hall, a columnist for U-T San Diego, talks to KPBS about SDG&E's application to the California Public Utilities Commission for approval of a “wildfire expense balancing account.”

GUESTS:

Katie Orr, KPBS News

Matthew Hall, U-T San Diego

Andrew Keatts, San Diego Daily Transcript

Transcript

District 1, Mayor's Race: The San Diego City Council District 1 race is, at this point, a toss-up.

The winner of the ostensibly non-partisan race will determine whether the City Council is majority Democrat or Republican, although neither candidate sees himself or herself as particularly partisan.

Republican challenger Ray Ellis was endorsed by City Councilman and mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio and got more votes than the incumbent, Democrat Sherri Lightner, in the June primary. Lightner has offended some unions, but says she is not concerned and that her "special interest" is the community. Both supported Proposition B for pension reform.

In the race for mayor, the LGBT community is not having an easy time figuring out whom to support. Will it be openly gay candidate DeMaio, with whom the community has been at odds, or Congressman Bob Filner, whose policies many in the LGBT community are comfortable with?

Finally, a majority of the Movement to the Middle, a group of local business executives who endorsed independent candidate and state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher for mayor in June, has decided to vote for DeMaio.

SDG&E vs. Ratepayers: SDG&E has applied to the California Public Utilities Commission for approval of a “wildfire expense balancing account.”

This would pass off costs related to the 2007 wildfires not covered by SDG&E's liability insurance to its customers. The wildfires, which were at least partly caused by the utility’s power lines, killed two people and destroyed more than 1,300 homes.

The utility estimated last month that it could be liable for as much as $2.3 billion in claims and legal fees. Only $1.1 billion is covered by liability insurance.

Some believe that if SDG&E is not required to pay for its mistakes, it won’t be concerned enough about prevention. SDG&E says it doesn’t have the option of selectively raising rates or simply not serving people who live in high risk areas, so it needs to add a few dollars each month to all ratepayers’ bills to cover its uninsured liability.

(Story continues below video.)

Andrew Keatts, a reporter for The San Diego Daily Transcript, talks to KPBS about changing the code to define abandoned buildings.

This Property is Abandoned: The city of San Diego will find it easier to punish owners of blighted and abandoned properties because the definition of such properties has been expanded.

The City Council was unanimous about changing the code to define abandoned buildings as including those that are boarded-up and those under notice of default. Previously, a building must have had code or nuisance violations to be declared abandoned.

A realtors’ group spoke against the measure, saying it would burden underwater homeowners trying to remain in their houses. But council members said the penalties applied only to vacant structures. One of the best known of such buildings is the old Pernicano’s restaurant on 6th and University avenues, which has been boarded up for decades.

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