Solar development in Imperial County has been very good to the area’s labor unions, but those unions weren’t always so kind to solar developers.

Union ranks in economically depressed Imperial County swelled in recent years, as industrial-scale solar panels took the place of thousands of acres of farmland. The boom came from SDG&E’s efforts to make good on a state mandate to increase the share of renewable energy its customers used.

At the same time solar-related union jobs boomed, one union filed lawsuits on two solar projects alleging they violated the state’s landmark environmental law, CEQA.

And a labor leader with that union admitted to our reporter Lisa Halverstadt that the projects his group sued over didn’t have a so-called project labor agreement with his union. Those are pacts that often mandate local hiring and outline pay and benefits.

Those weren’t the only lawsuits solar developers in Imperial County had to fend off. Last week, Halverstadt wrote about the environmental groups that used the environmental law to attack projects that were meant to make good on the state’s environmental goals.

A new study from UC Berkeley, KPBS reports, found those environmentalists might be on to something. Since most industrial-scale solar projects are far away from the areas they provide energy to, they’re often inefficient and counterproductive. Better, the study says, would be large solar installations on the roofs of existing commercial or industrial property. (Remember, though, regular residential solar installations don’t count toward the state’s renewable goals.)

Help Might Possibly Be On the Way in a Year, Maybe

There’s a non-zero chance that San Diego could get its fair share of federal homelessness funding in a year or so.

Julian Castro, secretary of Housing and Urban Development, visited with Rep. Scott Peters and Mayor Kevin Faulconer Monday and announced the government in 2016 would consider changing how it decides how much homelessness funding each city receives.

San Diego gets far less from HUD than cities with far fewer people living on the streets. HUD’s funding formula hasn’t been changed since the 1970s.

A Peters staffer on Monday credited our 2013 investigation for raising awareness of the issue. We checked in on the fight to modernize the government’s funding formula earlier this year, finding it’s a long slog to make any changes.

Gang Affiliation Holding Steady in San Diego

Crime in San Diego is down, but that hasn’t translated to a decline in gang affiliation in the city, KPBS reports. A new study from the San Diego Association of Governments shows gang membership hasn’t changed much from when the agency first studied the issue in 2008.

There are more than 4,100 gang members in 91 gangs in the city, Megan Burks revealed last year in an overview of the city’s gang issue.

San Diego’s Hottest Industry Keeps Evolving

Ballast Point Brewing Company may soon become the first San Diego brewery to go public. The company filed paperwork Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering worth nearly $173 million. (Fox 5 San Diego)

Local analyst Vince Vasquez, who in recent years has produced annual impact reports on the local craft beer industry, went through the filing and dug up some interesting nuggets he shared on Twitter.

Among them, the company’s revenue growth has been “monstrous,” increasing from $14 million in 2012 to $49 million last year, and it’s on pace to double last year’s figure in 2015. Additionally, its beloved Sculpin IPA and spinoff Sculpin Grapefruit IPA account for more than 50 percent of the company’s total sales. Buying Sculpin stock, which would trade as PINT, would be a bet on the continued growth of IPAs across the country, Vasquez concluded.

The city of San Diego subsidized Ballast Point’s last expansion. But the move to go public for a local brewery is a new first for the industry, and comes just a month after another local player, Saint Archer, was purchased by brewing giant MillerCoors.

Get Your News Links

• The NFL is coming to town. League officials will hold a town hall next week to listen to fans’ concerns about the prospect of the Chargers relocating to Los Angeles. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

• San Diego has tried to position itself as a hub for the nascent drone industry, and federal regulators have decided recreational users need to register their aircraft with the government. (Washington Post)

• A coyote and two house cats have been killed by someone in National City who has taken to setting illegal steel leg hold traps in the area. (Union-Tribune)

• Two local Democratic groups have returned checks to Assemblywoman Toni Atkins’ state Senate campaign, because they were for “bulk purchases” of memberships. The president of the La Jolla Democratic Club said the checks were meant to buy votes for the club’s endorsement. (Union-Tribune)

Andrew Keatts is a former managing editor for projects and investigations at Voice of San Diego.

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