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A couple weeks ago, we noticed five oddities with the bizarrely rushed extension of a hotel’s lease on city land. The deal was expedited through the City Council right before a new mayor and councilmembers took their seats.
Reporter Andrew Keatts pointed out that reason for the rush we were given didn’t hold up well.
After his coverage, a civic group threatened a lawsuit and now the city attorney is recommending the City Council re-open the deal and take another look.
The influential insider who got the extension for his hotel did not know about the city attorney’s recommendation when we called him.
Stay tuned on this one.
Three Ways the City Has Changed
Pensions are dead. Sort of. Hotels know how to work city government. And the city started to care about its streets.
Check out Liam Dillon’s three ways the city has changed over the last several years and what to look for in 2013.
What We Learned This Week
The school district botched a land sale: The San Diego Unified school board tried to plug a budget hole by selling some land. It agreed to sell the land. It got more than it anticipated at auction, but then when it came time to accept the bid, the school board balked. Months of staff work was wasted and the process will begin again — that is, if the board decides it indeed wants to sell the land, again. The whole thing is an illustration of how desperate the district was for cash and how dysfunctional it remains.
• Ramona’s school district is also having some trouble paying its bills.
Why City Hall’s fourth floor is empty: Mayor Bob Filner is obsessed with one floor of City Hall as a symbol of what he’ll change in the city. He’s going to bring back the Planning Department, he says, and it will be more glorious and effective at smart growth than ever. We explain why the floor is empty and what that has to do with planning and development services, which are not the same thing at all.
Redevelopment really did end: We knew that, right? Well, yes, but we weren’t quite sure exactly what it would mean for dozens of projects worth more than $4 billion in the city of San Diego. Now we have more clarity.
City Heights Kids Getting Some Notice
For many months, youth in City Heights have been working to get attention and it looks like it is working.
Videos, events, a City Council candidates debate, branding and tours have helped a group of youth get major momentum on a skate park dream. This has not been an easy project to get off the ground.
• Meanwhile, in Oceanside, a skate park is rising.
Your Comments of the Week
Our most read piece of the week, by great measure, was the exchange of emails between newly homeless Liz Hirsch and our writer Kelly Bennett.
And a remark about them leads our list of top comments of the week.
Filner Criticized for Halting Transit-Friendly Project
The best description I’ve ever heard of how Mayor Filner operates: With every dilemma, Filner looks for the David and the Goliath and then he sides with the David. This sounds noble, but it’s not always clear who really is David and who’s really Goliath.
Case in point, the mayor is taking some flak for his decision to abruptly stop construction on University Avenue. The project is supported by many of the smart-growth, transportation advocates Filner wooed but opposed by some businesses and residents.
The Reader followed up on the complaints.
Quick News Hits
• The man who lost the use of his legs after a palm tree fell on him has been award $7.6 million by a jury who determined that city cutbacks on tree maintenance were at fault. Count that as an unwise cost savings effort.
• An appeals court has OK’d the Boy Scouts leases in San Diego.
• Atlantic Cities covered a local gun buy-back. You might recognize the photographer.
• Moody’s cut the credit rating on pension obligation bonds Orange County is selling.
Quote of the Week
“It’s like selling your grandma’s jewelry to pay the rent. Probably this will go down as one of the most boneheaded things this district has ever done”
— Scott Barnett, San Diego Unified school board member, on the district’s decision to sell land to balance its books this year.
I’m Scott Lewis, the CEO of Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you’d like at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.325.0527 and follow me on Twitter (it’s a blast!):
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Disclosure: Voice of San Diego members and supporters may be mentioned or have a stake in the stories we cover. For a complete list of our contributors, click here.