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Measure to repeal San Diego's no-fee trash pickup for single-family homes still trailing after Thursday update

San Diego Union-Tribune - 11/11/2022

Early election returns Tuesday night showed similar numbers of voters supporting and rejecting a ballot measure that would end no-fee trash pickup for single-family homes in San Diego.

When voting totals were updated Thursday evening by the county registrar of voters, votes opposed to Measure B led votes in favor by 50.73 percent to 49.27 percent.

The margin — which had been 2,017 when election-night counting concluded Wednesday morning — climbed to 3,600 in the Thursday evening update. Ballots were still being counted.

Two other initiatives — one to allow child care facilities in city recreation centers, and one that would end a city ban on union-friendly project labor agreements — are headed for approval.

Each initiative needs support from a simple majority of voters. Measure B is the trash initiative, Measure D would end a city ban on project labor agreements, and Measure H would allow child care in rec centers.

Former City Councilmember Carl DeMaio, who helped lead the campaign against Measure B, said he was confident that margin against the measure would widen. "We are thrilled with these early results," said DeMaio, contending that liberals more likely to support fee increases tend to make up a larger share of early votes.

City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera, who led the campaign for Measure B, said he was still confident because of polling that showed it passing. But if it fails, he said a close loss is still notable progress.

"For years, this was considered untouchable and you never had a chance, and right now it's a coin flip — and I think that says a lot about how San Diego has shifted," he said.

Supporters say Measure B is all about fairness, stressing that the city's two-tiered trash system forces businesses and residents of apartments and condos to pay private haulers to pick up their trash, while single-family homeowners pay nothing beyond their property taxes.

Critics generally don't dispute that the two-tiered system is unfair but say a better solution would be expanding no-fee service by the city to condos and apartments.

The financial analysis of Measure B in voter guides lists a monthly cost to single-family home residents of $23 to $29. If Measure B ends up getting enough votes for approval, the city will hire a consultant to analyze how much monthly trash bills should be and which services the city should provide.

If Measure B fails, supporters have said they might try again in 2024.

On Measure D, supporters say it is crucial to helping San Diego avoid losing state construction funding, stressing that the city has received more than $800 million in just the last two fiscal years.

Councilmember Raul Campillo, who spearheaded support at City Hall, said its approval would bring more state infrastructure funding to San Diego. "After housing and homelessness, the No. 1 thing we hear about at City Hall is infrastructure," he said. "We're moving past the failed policies of the past decade like the PLA ban."

Opponents stress that San Diego's ban on project labor agreements hasn't cost the city any state funding since it took effect in 2012. The voter-approved ban has a specific exemption for projects where state funding would be at risk.

Project labor agreements are comprehensive deals on major construction projects that determine labor standards and which kinds of workers can perform which kinds of tasks, typically giving preference to unionized workers.

Opponents of Measure D say it doesn't do enough to help Black people, Asian Americans and women land high-paying construction jobs.

Labor leaders spearheading the measure say anti-union contractors are dishonestly using race to fight a measure that threatens profits.

Campillo said using project labor agreements will help city projects get done on time and within budget more often.

Measure H would amend the San Diego city charter to make it legal for city recreation centers to offer child care services.

Supporters say the fit could be ideal, because rec centers are mostly empty during the morning and early afternoon hours when care centers typically operate. Critics say it would give the mayor too much power over parkland use.

Officials have been scrambling to address a shortage of local child care options for city workers and many residents, some of whom can't work due to lack of care.

A comprehensive survey last winter of 1,100 city facilities found that only 72 are viable candidates for child care services and that 42 of those are recreation centers in city parks where child care is not a legal activity.

Staff writers Emily Alvarenga and Roxana Popescu contributed to this report.


1:37 a.m. Nov. 9, 2022:

This story originally appeared in San Diego Union-Tribune.

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