The city of Imperial Beach has joined a number of other cities suing the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) challenging the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) numbers. In 2019 the city was assigned 1,375 units by SANDAG.

The city appealed that number which was later reduced to 1,329. That number is broken down with 225 very low income units, 123 low income, 183 moderate and 798 above moderate. The goal is to make sure there is enough housing for all income groups from low to middle. In particular special needs people are categorized as seniors, homeless, women who head a household, households with more than five people and disabled individuals. These are considered the most vulnerable with limited access to affordable housing.

Each of the seven regions and small sub-regions in the state receives RHNA numbers. In San Diego, SANDAG is responsible for receiving the numbers and allocating them to the each city. Cities then have to plan for the units from a land use perspective, although building them is not their responsibility. Based on council discussions, the city believes it cannot accommodate the high RHNA numbers assigned.

City Attorney Jennifer Lyon announced the lawsuit during the regular city council meeting of Oct. 21. Imperial Beach has joined the cities of Coronado, Lemon Grove and Solana Beach in challenging the RHNA numbers allocated to them and is suing SANDAG for failing and disenfranchising San Diego county residents employing a weighted vote over objection of the super majority of the SANDAG board. The suit was filed in Superior Court on Sept. 24. The weighted vote translates to the fact that cities with a bigger population had more votes than smaller cities.

In other business:

Port of San Diego President and CEO Randa Coniglio was recognized for her work with a proclamation. Coniglio, the first female in such a high role at the port is retiring. All the council members praised Coniglio for her work at the port and Councilman Mark West pointed out she is a role model for many women.

Environmental and Natural Resources Director Chris Helmer announced that thanks to infrastructure fixes from the Mexican side, the sewage flow was controlled and beaches were able to be reopened. Daily testing will launch soon and the USMCA meeting identified and prioritized projects and fixes in the Tijuana River at a meeting on Oct. 1. On this topic Mayor Serge Dedina said earlier in the meeting that thanks to the former director of the Mexican sewage agency, Rigo Laborin, the need for water reuse has been emphasized in Mexico. He also said that thanks to Monarch Global Strategies, consultants hired by the city, a number of meetings with the presidents of Mexico and the governor of Baja have been held. Those meetings have led to the Mexican government’s decision to allocate its own money to solve the sewage problem.

The city council authorized an application for Community Development Block Grant CARES Act to purchase and install touchless equipment to protect against the coronavirus and make ADA improvements within city hall, the council chambers and the community room. This funding will offset $238,818 of COVID related expenses by the city. A motion was carried unanimously. Councilman Ed Spriggs was absent.

Assistant Planner Reyna Ayala made a presentation on the city’s Parks and Rec. The city applied for $7.8 million to upgrade Veteran’s Park and build a new Senior Center but was not selected, and will reapply. The city is looking at opportunities for future services and a Survey Monkey is available for residents to express their opinion on recreation needs.

An update on the Nov. 3 elections was presented by City Clerk Jacqui Kelly. She explained that due to the new district based elections only residents in districts 2 and 4 will vote for council seats. The rest of the council will represent the city at large until the election in November 2022 when districts 1 and 3 seats will be up for election. Although voting by mail is recommended there are polling stations for voting in person at South Bay Union School District at 601 Elm Avenue and Sports Park Gym, 425 Imperial Beach Boulevard. A drop off location for mail in ballots is at the Imperial Beach Library. This election residents will vote on Measure I, for a 1 cent increase in sales tax to fund public safety essential city services.

Assistant City Manager Erika Cortez Martinez gave a COVID-19 update. In Imperial Beach the number of positive cases is 697 positive cases and is in the top three in South Bay. She reminded the public that as of Sept. 17 every person in the city must wear a face covering when in a high risk situation. The city has launched a mask on campaign and offered free masks to the community.

The next city council meeting will be held on Nov. 4 at 5 p.m. via live stream on the city website at www.imperialbeachca.gov.

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