Axios San Diego

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Monday's back. Week after week. Pattern never changes. But thanks for starting your day with us!

  • Today's weather: Coast — Sunny with highs in the mid-60s. Inland — Sunshine with highs near 70.

ğŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios San Diego member Bruce Hartman!

Situational awareness: UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla released a message Sunday to university staff and students calling for the on-campus, pro-Palestine encampment to disperse, saying its growth since Friday poses safety and security concerns. The Triton, a student-run publication, is running a live blog on the encampment.

Today's newsletter is 835 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Seeking a full fix to border sewage plant

Imperial Beach was closed most of 2023 due to cross-border sewage. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Congress in March allocated $100 million to start updating a decrepit San Ysidro wastewater plant that dumps sewage into the Pacific Ocean. Now, a congressional group is asking for funding to finish the job.

Why it matters: Federal officials and their Mexican counterparts are making progress on the intractable cross-border sewage crisis, but without more resources, the environmental injustice will continue.

Driving the news: A bipartisan group of 10 House members — eight from California and Texas — sent a letter to House Appropriations Committee leaders requesting next year's spending bill include $278 million for the International Boundary and Water Commission's (IBWC) construction budget.

  • The money would fund agency needs beyond the failing sewer plant, like building levees and dams in El Paso, Texas and repairing another wastewater facility in Nogales, Arizona.

What they're saying: Applying $200 million of the funding to the San Ysidro plant would complete fixes and upgrades at the border facility, Rep. Scott Peters' (D-San Diego) office said, based on previous discussions with IBWC officials.

  • San Diego Democratic U.S. Reps. Sara Jacobs, Mike Levin and Juan Vargas signed on, but Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Escondido) abstained. Issa previously demanded that IBWC further explain the plant's cost overruns and maintenance issues.

State of play: The South Bay treatment facility is ostensibly equipped to treat 25 million gallons per day of sewage from Tijuana; however, Voice of San Diego reported last year the plant had fallen into undisclosed disrepair and couldn't operate at that level, violating the Clean Water Act.

  • IBWC officials discovered that failure while preparing to spend a $300 million, 2020 congressional allocation meant to double the plant's capacity to 50 million gallons of sewage per day.

Flashback: President Biden signed a spending package last month that included $100 million for the repair work, after he had requested $310 million.

  • The IBWC last year told San Diego's Regional Water Control Board the total cost for repairs and upgrades to the facility had ballooned to more than $900 million.

Zoom out: In January, Mexico broke ground on repairs to a treatment plant in Punta Bandera, from which tides carry sewage north to San Diego beaches during the summer months.

Full story

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Illustration: Andrew Caress/Axios

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2. 👷 San Diego's "true" unemployment rate

A bar chart showing the U.S. metro areas with the highest and lowest True Rate of Unemployment in 2023. The measure shows the share of the U.S. labor force that is functionally unemployed (seeking but unable to find a full-time job, is unemployed or is employed in a position earning less than a living wage).
Note: Note: Share of the U.S. labor force that is functionally unemployed (seeking but unable to find a full-time job, is unemployed or is employed in a position earning less than a living wage); Data: Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity; Chart: Axios Visuals

San Diego's true unemployment rate last year was 22.4%, compared to its official rate of 4.4%, according to a study from the Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity.

Why it matters: The new dataset highlights the true spectrum of inequality in major metro areas, capturing anyone who wants but cannot find a full-time job with a living wage.

Big picture: San Diego is below the nationwide true unemployment level of 23% but above fast-growing metro areas like Denver (15.5%), Nashville, Tennessee (16.3%) and Dallas (19.8%).

How it works: The think tank's proprietary system measures everyone in a metro's workforce who is looking for a job working 35+ hours per week and earning more than $25,000 per year but can't find one.

  • The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, meanwhile, excludes from its unemployment rate anyone who has stopped looking for work or who has a gig earning relatively little per week.
  • The two figures tend to trend alongside each other.

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3. The Lineup: Catch up on San Diego news

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

📚 Library advocates say proposed cuts to programs offered by the city's library system would hit hardest in lower-income communities. (KPBS)

Mexican officials said the three surfers — including one San Diego resident — whose bodies were believed to be discovered in a well in Baja, California were killed after confronting thieves trying to steal their truck tires. (NBC 7)

🛤️ Democratic state Sen. Catherine Blakespear says the coastal railroad connecting San Diego to Los Angeles is clearly at a climate crossroads, as multiple agencies attempt to relocate tracks away from danger caused by coastal erosion. (Union-Tribune)

4. Padres make another big trade, bring in All-Star Arraez

Luis Arraez joined the Padres after a Friday trade with the Florida Marlins. Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Padres swung their third major trade since the end of last season on Friday, and their new addition wasted no time making an impression.

Why it matters: Acquiring two-time batting champion Luis Arraez from the Florida Marlins reinforces that the Padres plan to contend this year, even as they've slashed payroll from last season.

Driving the news: The Padres received the All-Star second baseman in exchange for three prospects and right-handed reliever Woo-Suk Go.

  • Dillon Head, the Padres' first-round pick last season, highlights the package headed to Miami.
  • Minor leaguer Nathan Martorella found out he was traded to the Marlins while he was on second base.

Catch up quick: Arraez made his debut Saturday night at rival Arizona, leading off and serving as designated hitter while going four-for-six at the plate with a double, RBI and two runs scored as the Padres won their fourth straight.

What he's saying: "This is baseball. This is what I love. This is what I enjoy every day — especially today," Arraez said after Saturday's 13-1 win.

Yes, but: The Diamondbacks returned the favor Sunday, winning 11-4.

  • Arraez played second base Sunday and went one-for-five at the plate.

The big picture: The Padres took two out of three from Arizona, pushing their record to 18-19.

Our picks:

🥍 Andy is mourning the end of the Seals' playoff run.

👩‍💻 Kate is back at the work grind today.

This newsletter was edited by Ross Terrell and copy edited by James Gilzow.