This post has been updated.
Wanna rent out a bed from your home in San Diego using the website Airbnb? Or maybe a whole room, or even your whole house? The city of San Diego recently came down hard on one Airbnb landlord, so our Lisa Halverstadt got down to brass tacks and tried to figure out what rules Airbnb hosts need to follow to stay within the law’s boundaries. “Basically, it’s complicated,” Halverstadt reports. There’s a tax on beds rented out, yes, and another business tax on property.
But that’s the easy stuff. Rules for different size rentals vary. For example, if you want to rent a room in your house out, you should get a bed-and-breakfast permit.
“The city acknowledges that it hasn’t handed out a bed and breakfast permit in about a decade,” Halverstadt notes. Airbnb currently lists 453 “entire place” rentals available in the first week of March in San Diego.
Why Azano Risked It
If you were a Mexican businessman, already wealthy from your dealings in secretive spy gear with the Mexican government, why would you risk it all to get involved in San Diego politics?
That’s the question our Liam Dillon set out to answer about Jose Susumo Azano Matsura, a man who fit that profile and put it all on the line by allegedly donating large sums of money to San Diego politicians — a crime for foreign citizens.
Azano hopped around, meeting with multiple officials in San Diego. Prosecutors have said he might have wanted to develop along the bay. But Dillon lays out one of the central findings from our investigation: The meetings were likely Azano’s “last, desperate moves in a bitter fight with one of San Diego’s largest companies: Sempra Energy,” Dillon writes.
Fallbrook Ordered to Pay Ex-Employee $1M
Two juries have now heard the case of Elaine Allyn, who used to be the IT director for Fallbrook Union Elementary School District. The first case ended in a mistrial, but the second came to a dramatic end Thursday, Ashly McGlone reports.
The jury ordered the district to pay Allyn more than $1 million for retaliating against her after she was asked to delete district emails and objected.
“I can’t express the emotion I am feeling,” Allyn told us. “This is not only for me but, for all the people at the Fallbrook Union Elementary School District, former and present employees that are going through the awful treatment that this administration is giving them.”
Prop 47’s Side Effects
When Proposition 47 passed in November of 2014, voters chose to scale down certain non-violent crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. NBC 7 reported that one side effect of the law wasn’t widely predicted: DNA evidence is now being collected for fewer people arrested for the downgraded crimes. “With less DNA in the system, investigators say it makes it harder to solve older crimes,” not to mention future violent crimes that may involve misdemeanor convicts, NBC 7 wrote.
The ballot system is notorious for inflicting unintended consequences. And, thanks to laws limiting how law makers can change laws won by ballot, these side-effects aren’t easy to fix. Voters may have to take up a fix to the law with yet another ballot initiative, if such a fix could even earn a spot in an election.
Some good news, though: The New York Times looks at criminals who were released from California prisons after another scale-back measure in 2012, and found very few of them land back in prison.
‘Open’ Lawyer Prefers Secrecy
The story of activist attorney Cory Briggs took another turn on Thursday when the city attorney’s office, in an uncharacteristically enthusiastic effort to promptly respond to a Public Records Act request, rushed to court to try to get some relevant confidential documents “unsealed.” inewsource, which is reporting the story, was at the hearing where Briggs also found himself in the unusual position of arguing against releasing documents. Briggs heads the organization San Diegans for Open Government, which often argues in favor of filling Public Records Act requests.
SeaWorld Struggles Continue
SeaWorld reported continued decreasing numbers Thursday in the face of continued fallout from “Blackfish,” the documentary that pans the park’s treatment of its orcas. “The company said it was attempting to cut about $50 million by the end of this year,” NBC 7 reports.
The success or failure of SeaWorld hits San Diegans directly in the wallet, we reported last year. As part of its lease with the city, the company pays more when business booms. This isn’t theoretical; on Wednesday, a City Council committee hearing on budget issues noted a “$1.2 million decrease in the transfer of Mission Bay rent and concession revenue to Park Improvement Funds primarily due to low attendance at Sea World.”
• Crime numbers in San Diego continue to fall precipitously. (U-T San Diego)
• Mayor Faulconer wants to move ahead with a ban on single-use plastic bags in San Diego, despite their contested ban in the state.
• Three executives of a local company in the business of “flipping” houses pleaded guilty Thursday in a case where one of their workers died after being sent on to an aerial lift to trim trees, despite being unlicensed for that work. The business did not carry workers’ compensation insurance, which is illegal. (NBC 7)
• A man videotaped deliberately driving his car through a crowd of “Zombie Walk” participants in downtown San Diego will face felony charges. (NBC 7)
• The Times of San Diego tallies up how much U-T San Diego publisher Doug Manchester has given to charity.
• The U-T broke down what the top public expenditures in San Diego are costing each taxpayer per year. (UT)
• The Department of Homeland Security might shut down on Friday. Times of San Diego touches on how it might impact San Diegans.
• Last year’s failed effort to expand the Convention Center racked up an $11 million bill.
Llamas Take to Streets
It was a strange day on the internet Thursday, and not because people were widely arguing about the color of a dress. The strangest contribution was the harrowing story of two escaped llamas on the llam in Phoenix. Helicopter video captured, for 18 minutes, what was instantly dubbed “llamapalooza,” as authorities and citizens chased the pair of animals around the city streets of Phoenix. The U-T did its best to capture the magic.
In our modern age of technology, a bunch of people swinging rope lassos above their heads were what finally brought the llamas to heel and what returned America to productivity.
Correction: An earlier version of this post said a bed-and-breakfast permit was required in order to rent out an entire home. It’s required for renting out individual rooms within a home.
Update: This post has been updated to better reflect the content of a Times of San Diego story about Doug Manchester’s charitable donations.