SAN DIEGO: City Council Orders Development of Needle Exchange Program
The San Diego City Council voted Monday 6-2 to declare a "public health emergency," and directed the city manager to convene a task force to develop a pilot needle exchange program, the San Diego Union Tribune reports. Several council members indicated that although the county has not declared a state of emergency, the city "needs to take a leadership role." Council member Harry Mathis said, "These are issues I think we have a responsibility for." The program, if granted final approval, will be subsidized by the Alliance Healthcare Foundation, which could spend up to $750,000 on the program, according to AHF spokesperson Stephanie Casenza. The Union-Tribune speculates, however, that it is "unlikely ... that a majority of the current council will be in office to see through any such program" as "[f]ive new council members, including a new mayor, will be sworn in Dec. 4." Opponents of the program, including Police Chief David Bejarano, believe the program will increase crime and drug addiction in San Diego. County Supervisor Dianne Jacob has previously noted that if it were necessary to declare a state of emergency, the county would have done so (Rother, San Diego Union Tribune, 10/17).