The Morning Report
Get the news and information you need to take on the day.
San Diego has a problem: Run-down urban areas seeking new development — apartments, homes, retail and job centers — aren’t getting it. Meanwhile, builders eagerly want to build in more upscale parts of town but often face angry opposition.
Here’s how Councilman David Alvarez put it: “Where development is economically viable, it isn’t politically viable. And where it’s politically viable, it isn’t economically viable.”
What to do? Three council members, all Democrats, have a plan. It revolves around the more than $100 million in “zombie” money that’s due the city from the olden days (pre-2012) of redevelopment. The council members want it to help make struggling neighborhoods more attractive, cut development fees and do other improvements to attract developers. That is, do those things instead of letting the money flow into the city’s general budget that pays for a long list of vital city services.
The prospects for the plan are unclear, but another council member is skeptical that it’s the right way forward.
• In a VOSD commentary, City Council candidate Barbara Bry calls for “a more comprehensive solution” to the city’s affordable housing crisis, one that embraces technology, partnerships, competition, and the sale or lease of city land.
Notably, she bashes Airbnb: “The nonprofit Save San Diego Neighborhoods has estimated that over 6,000 properties in San Diego have been converted into permanent mini-hotels, which is disruptive to communities and needs to stop. Just ask anyone who lives next to one.”
Alvarez: We’re in Big Trouble if Cops Don’t Stay
Councilman Alvarez is warning that crime rates will go up if the city doesn’t figure out how to stop cops from quitting. He’s listed 30 recommendations, including higher pay. (KUSI) For background, check our recent story about one possible approach to getting cops to stay on the job.
• The U-T editorial board may have swung to the left under new ownership, but it’s still watchdogging city spending. In a new editorial, it questions the need for the city to borrow $205 million to improve fire safety: “Where’s the fire?”
Chargers: We’re In It to Build It. Really!
Here’s a message from the Bolts: Never mind what you may have heard or what you assume to be true. The Chargers are moving full-speed ahead on plans to build a downtown stadium and pay for it by jacking up taxes for hotel guests, one of its spokesman insists. “We have no intention of withdrawing our ballot, we’re locked and loaded, we’ve filed our petition, we’ve published it,” downtown player Fred Maas told NBC 7.
He added this: “If you’re a resident and voter in the city of San Diego and you don’t stay in a hotel room in the city of SD, you’ll never pay a dime for this convention center stadium facility we’re proposing downtown.” Of course, the city could feel the pain if high hotel taxes were to away business.
• The U-T’s Kevin Acee, the boosteriest of stadium boosters, has had it. Had. It. I’ll let him explain: “this stadium situation is ridiculous getting drunk on preposterous, stuck in the mud of stupid.”
Yup, there’s definitely some intoxication going on.
Is Uber-for-Ladies on the Way?
Uber takes a licking but keep on… um… picking (up people). OK, never mind. Most of you probably don’t even remember those Timex commercials.
The point is that the company remains popular despite controversies, self-inflicted wounds and attempts by various politicians and cab companies to slow its roll.
Now, a company in Massachusetts is promising to beat Uber at the safety game by limiting drivers to women and customers to women and children. But is this legal? The L.A. Times investigates.
Quick News Hits: What About Col. Court?
• You may have heard about the local transit system’s boneheaded Compass Cards. Now, we’re hearing more about just how bad they are and for how long: “Substandard data security and the outdated payment methods of San Diego’s Compass Card have resulted in scrutiny of the Metropolitan Transit System, the county’s largest public transit operator. But the data security problem dates to the last decade when the Compass Card system was first rolled out by the region’s transportation planning agency, the San Diego Association of Governments,” KPBS reports.
Does it matter if you don’t take buses or trolleys? Well, taxpayers could be on the hook for fraud.
• Advocates want the state to boost its spending on preschool and childcare by $5 billion a year. (L.A. Times)
• San Diego State’s library system is in poor shape, a new report says, stung by a stingy budget amid rising costs for materials, reports the Reader, an eternal nemesis of the university. The library may even lose access to LexisNexis, a news database that’s still crucial for research. (No, you can’t find everything online for free.) Meanwhile, the report notes that spending on SDSU athletics is skyrocketing.
• The National Weather Service is going to STOP YELLING.
• Waiting for hours for a top panel discussion at Comic-Con is a drag. Now, streaming video will finally be available… but it will only be somewhat less of a drag. (Gizmodo)
• Sometimes I am just Too Busy and Too Important to fully read the subject lines of emails. But skimming can be dangerous. Case in point: A message yesterday that seemed to say “Mayor Faulconer to Introduce FY2017 Budget with Major Street.”
Uh-oh. There’s gonna be hell to pay when Admiral Avenue hears that he’s been left out! Oh wait, there’s more to the subject line? It ends with “& Infrastructure Investments”? OK dokey fine. You can stand down, Lt. Lane, Private Place and Capt. Crossing!
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and national president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). Please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.