Qualcomm time bomb
As the clock continues to tick on super-secret talks between San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer and the California University System over turning over the city-owned stadium formerly known as Qualcomm to San Diego State, a newly-released audit has cast a pall over the university’s integrity. “Under a 2015 bond, San Diego State took on nearly $900,000 in annual debt payments to finance a 300-space parking facility in a housing and retail development,” says the June 20 report by California State Auditor Elaine Howle regarding SDSU’s high-end commercial redevelopment featuring Trader Joe’s, Verizon, Eureka! and a bevy of other tenants. Said a May 2017 SDSU news release, the parking garage “is intended for the general public with paid hourly parking and validation from participating businesses in South Campus Plaza. SDSU parking permits will not be valid in the South Campus Plaza parking structure.” Notes Howle’s audit: “Although students who purchase semester parking permits are not eligible to park within the new facility, the campus is using those students’ parking permit fees to make its debt payments related to the facility’s construction.”
The report goes on to blast the school for misrepresenting student parking demand in order to justify the commercial center’s parking charges. “San Diego State’s transportation management plan indicates that although campus-wide student parking was below practical capacity, some facilities were completely full during peak times.” In addition, auditors charge that university went out of its way to hide closed-door development wheeling and dealing from students, the public, and local transit authorities. “Although state law requires alternate transportation committees to consult with students and local government officials, not all campuses required their committees to include representatives from these groups,” says the document. “In practice, San Diego State generally has only parking and administrative staff serving on its committee.”
The school broke the law by failing to consult with city officials about burgeoning traffic and parking loads, per the audit. The secrecy has bled over into the wrangling for a sweetheart deal on the city-owned Mission Valley stadium acreage, with CSU refusing to release details of its lobbying arrangement with the high-dollar downtown law and influence peddling firm of Sheppard Mullin.
Water billing drips
Following a storm of complaints about irregular billing by San Diego city water staffers, Interim City Auditor Kyle Elser has issued a blistering take on customer service by the Public Utilities Department and its complaint call center. “During the 12-month period of June 2018 to May 29, 2019, the Call Center’s average time in the queue was almost 5 minutes,” says the audit released June 4. The “informal goal” is 2 minutes. “The goal is to keep the average time in the queue as low as possible to minimize the number of callers who hang up before receiving resolution to their issue or to minimize the number of frustrated customers that are less likely to cooperate or communicate effectively with [call center workers].”
Auditors found that call center employees may be biasing surveys intended to gauge their performance by “disproportionately offering the survey to customers who are more likely to have favorable responses.” Says the report, “Our review of customer satisfaction data for one week in October 2018 showed overall favorable customer satisfaction results. However, the Call Center may not capture true customer sentiment, including the opinions of those with less than favorable experiences.” The survey “is not offered in multiple languages, thereby limiting participation from non-English speakers.” In addition, “We found that Call Center management inconsistently monitors” those who answer the phones. “We found that while Call Center Supervisors are informally required to review six calls per [employee] on a biweekly basis, this has not been consistently practiced.”
Paperwork was also found to be insufficient. “We observed that the call monitoring sheet does not include if the [Call Center Representative] was able to resolve the customer’s reason for calling, an important component of first call resolution.”...Lobbyist and YIMBY Democrat Rachel Laing is back with another political fundraiser, joining Democratic County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher for a June 18 bash to raise cash for Olga Diaz. The Escondido city councilwoman is taking on fellow Democrat Terra Lawson-Remer and Republican Kristin Gaspar for Gaspar’s Third District seat on the board of supervisors in next year’s March primary.