The Morning Report
Get the news and information you need to take on the day.
The San Diego City Council yesterday decided to delay deciding whether to do a study that will help it decide whether downtown should extend its life as a redevelopment area.
It was a truly decisive moment if you couldn’t already tell. (Here’s the background on what they were hashing out.)
Basically, downtown builders have benefited for years from the redevelopment distinction, which keeps tax dollars from downtown in downtown and away from other parts of the city, county and state. Extending downtown’s life as one of these special districts would help it raise more money for its many dreamed-of projects, including a new Chargers stadium.
But that money has to come from somewhere and council members yesterday, somewhat surprisingly, expressed a lot of concern about the cost to their own neighborhoods’ parks and plans. As our story lays out, the Mayor’s Office is working to sell them on the main theory: Invest in this stuff downtown, and it will generate so much in hotel and sales taxes that you won’t even notice what you had to sacrifice.
What do you think about that?
- You might have other more pressing concerns right now like housing and employment. New numbers out yesterday show again that the rally in local home prices is continuing. But the federal tax credit meant to get first-time homebuyers — and those who haven’t owned a home in a while — off the fence and into the market is expiring. Combined with lingering concern about the health of the economy and interest rates, it is still a difficult market to get a read on.
- The schoobrary is one step closer to reality. Yesterday, the San Diego Unified school board agreed to a lease with the city that will give it two floors in the new main library downtown if it indeed is completed. The school district is using money from a bond measure passed in 2008. The school they put there has yet to be conceived but it will have to be a charter high school.
- Board member John Lee Evans voted against the lease — joining colleague John de Beck — because of concerns that other priorities in that measure were being pushed down the list while this one protected. Here’s background on the lease and a video explainer of how the whole project has survived years of struggles.
Next up in the schoobrary saga: City officials expect to receive the first cost update on the project since 2005, a key moment in the project’s life.
- And in other school news, the district also decided to no longer require students to actually take the advanced placement tests in their advanced placement classes in order to get the higher grades that come with AP classes. So students even if they get a B in the class and don’t take the AP test, they will get the equivalent of an A out of it. It’s a cost-cutting move as the district couldn’t require students to take the test without also paying for it.
- The website Muckety is reporting that San Diego’s own “master of disaster,” Mark Fabiani, has been hired by Goldman Sachs to help the firm deal with the unfolding public relations and legal disaster it’s facing. I hadn’t heard that nickname for Fabiani but, as a counsel to Al Gore, Bill Clinton and the Chargers, he has justifiably earned his reputation for helping big shots deal with sticky situations.
- The Union-Tribune catches us up on the latest in the city’s timid push toward regulating medical marijuana dispensaries. A City Council committee will consider a series of recommendations from a task force. We explained the heart of the controversy in this video piece.
- The U-T also updates us on the push to keep Comic-Con in town. The tourism marketing district, that shadow government of hoteliers funded by a 2 percent fee on top of the city’s hotel-room tax, has decided to provide money to help Comic-Con shuttle attendees during the event. A decision from Comic-Con’s board about whether to stay in San Diego for three more years beyond 2012 is expected soon.
- San Diego CityBeat explores how potentially awkward it is for local judges to try to raise money for their reelection campaigns.
- Two area congressmen had some interesting things to say about illegal immigration in the last few days. U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter on Saturday told a Tea Party gathering that he supports deporting the children of illegal immigrants — even if they are U.S. citizens by birth. The North County Times confirmed his quote and, though the Constitution seems to be clear that anyone born in the country gets citizenship, Hunter said it should take more to be a citizen. And U.S. Rep. Brian Bilbray, responding to questions about Arizona’s new immigration law — which gives police the mandate to check the residency status of anyone they might suspect of not having proper documents — said law enforcement can tell if someone is here illegally by the clothes they wear and how they act among many factors.
I’m trying to decide whether, under this theory, a mariachi band is in trouble. On the one hand, it’s pretty clear they are acting and dressing in a distinctly Mexican way.
On the other hand, they’re so charming!
— SCOTT LEWIS