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We’ve been talking about expanding San Diego’s Convention Center for seven years now, and last week Mayor Kevin Faulconer came to the same conclusion as the guy two mayors ago did: It should be on the waterfront attached to the existing one.
Faulconer based his decision on a consultant report that said the region would get more events and money from a contiguous expansion. The whole thing was seen as a vital reboot to the expansion effort as it heads to a potential public vote for a major tax hike next year to fund it.
Now, as our Ashly McGlone reports, that consultant report might have a big downside for expansion boosters. Because the report concluded the city would also benefit – just not as much – from an expanded center that was based a few blocks away, there might be legal consequences:
California’s environmental laws require officials peddling big projects to seek out ways to remove or lessen the negative effects. Projects on the coast are extra sensitive, but special exceptions are made when no viable alternatives exist.
The attorney challenging the expansion says the consultant’s report shows that a split Convention Center is, indeed, viable.
All of the Bills in Sacramento
Friday was the last day for bills to get passed in Sacramento in the current legislative session so, like all deadlines, a flurry of activity led up to the end.
Some of the last-minute bills that made the cut and are awaiting Gov. Jerry Brown’s final say:
• A major and controversial aid-in-dying bill that would allow doctors to prescribe end-of-life drugs to terminally ill patients.
• A bill from San Diego Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez that would automatically enroll eligible voters when they get their drivers’ license.
Our Sara Libby in the Sacramento Report (with an assist from Andy Keatts) ran down other bills of local interest that passed this week. One is going to make it easier for SANDAG to build a bus terminal and office space near Little Italy. Another protects homeowners who install synthetic turf from their HOAs.
Libby found most interesting a group of very unlikely bedfellows in conservative state Sen. Joel Anderson, liberal Sen. Mark Leno, the ACLU of California and the San Diego police union. They all came together to back a successful bill to require a warrant for police to access emails and other digital information.
Podcast: Lots of News in Beertown U.S.A.
This week’s podcast guest was Bart Watson, economist for the Brewers Association, and he talked about how the major national interest in craft beer led to local brewer’s Saint Archer’s sale to bad beer behemoth MillerCoors.
The Saint Archer sale wasn’t the only big beer stuff to break Friday. San Diego’s best known local brewery, Stone Brewing, announced that its co-founder Greg Koch is stepping down as CEO. Koch is a huge name in the craft beer industry and quite the character. From our 2013 profile:
Koch, a 1987 University of Southern California grad, is the mouthpiece for Stone and its line of strong beers, with names like Sublimely Self-Righteous Ale and Arrogant Bastard Ale. Their bold personality is in him and his in them. They don’t advertise. Customers find Stone, not the reverse.
Koch, his beers, their branding, all implicitly proclaim: We aren’t afraid to piss you off. “You can’t be afraid to fire a customer,” he says.
Koch will be taking on a new title of executive chairman for the company.
Chargers Deadline Passes With a Whimper
Remember how Sept. 11 was supposed to be a big day for the Chargers stadium? Well, as was clear pretty much from the beginning, the Chargers had no interest in engaging with the mayor on his stadium plan and the deadline to get a special election on the calendar in January came and went.
What does this mean? There won’t be an election until next June at the earliest – and that’s if there’s a team interested in San Diego by then. The next stadium date to watch is early next month, when NFL owners gather to talk about Los Angeles.
The Jacobs Plan Is Back-er
There’s another big decision now on the mayor’s plate thanks to a state Supreme Court move Friday. The court declined to take up Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs’ plan to remake Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama. The original $45 million plan, which Jacobs was going to pay for, was scrapped when a lower court said it violated city laws. But now the appellate court ruling saying the project is fine will be the final word.
Last month, a spokesman for the mayor told us Faulconer was waiting on final legal resolution to see if he would revive the effort. Now we have it.
Cops in Other Cities Release Videos, Policing Still Happens
Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman has doubled, tripled and quadrupled down on her decision not to publicly release footage from officer body-worn cameras, saying that doing so would violate people’s due process. She also is fighting the release of private security camera footage of an officer-involved shooting that killed an unarmed, mentally ill man in April.
But we’ve learned that other places have no such qualms, even sometimes when the video is embarrassing. In Seattle, police put virtually all of their videos on YouTube using a blurring technique to address privacy concerns. The New York Police Department Friday released a video of an officer tackling former tennis star James Blake, which has sparked all sorts of protest.
On Monday, San Diego’s City Council is scheduled to discuss the motion from us and other media outlets to unseal the April police shooting video.
Our attorney also wrote a blistering response in court Friday to the police’s argument that the video should be kept sealed.
Fletch’s Prez Pic Sparks Speculation
Nathan Fletcher got to sit next to POTUS this week, and a few pics he’ll probably treasure. But it provoked some local political operatives — Jason Roe and Ryan Clumpner, the head of the Lincoln Club, to speculate that Fletcher would be running for Rep. Scott Peters’ congressional seat, as they say they’ve heard. Mickey Kasparian and other labor leaders have made their displeasure with Peters known, as well as their determination to seek an alternative to the Democrat.
Fletcher, however, said he saw those tweets from Peters’ apartment in D.C.
“The only people who believe this nonsense are the Republican kids whose obsession with me, while misguided, is flattering,” he said. “I’m fully supportive of Scott and I’m not running.”
• Pioneering local black politician Leon Williams ate lunch Thursday at a downtown hotel that refused to serve him in 1941. Williams was celebrating the launch of a new biography.
• A city investigation into a local towing company on campaign finance allegations is moving forward. We highlighted the company and others in an investigation this week.
Most Read Stories of the Week
These were our top stories of the week:
Check out the rest in our post.