The City Council met this week for nearly seven hours to consider a broad ban on short-term vacation rentals, like Airbnb. The council rejected the ban because only two council members supported it — Council President Sherri Lightner and Lorie Zapf.
In this week’s podcast, Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts dissect the odd, failed political gambit and take a closer look at the neighborhood discontent that drove Lightner and Zapf. They more broadly wonder what Lightner has done with her time as council president.
They also talk with local pollster John Nienstedt, of Competitive Edge Research & Communication, to learn a bit more about what to expect on Election Day.
Chargers Get Ready for a Court Battle
“The Chargers Football Company is one potential beneficiary of Measure C …” is how the amicus brief starts that the Chargers want to submit to the California Supreme Court as the justices consider whether initiatives to raise taxes should only require a simple majority of the vote, not two thirds. Of course any football team with $650 million could apply to play in the new convadium. If the initative reserved that privilege for the Chargers, well, that would be illegal.
Despite that, the Chargers have decided they have a good shot to get the nod if Measure C passes. And, yes, the legal filing means the team is getting ready to make a frenzied legal push should Measure C get more than 50 percent of the vote. Team officials have said repeatedly they assume they need two-thirds of the vote but now it’s clear they are going to dig in if they get less.
They would have to act fast, however, and keep the city from declaring that Measure C failed if it got less than two thirds of the vote. The city attorney previously opined that it would need two thirds but begged the California Supreme Court to clarify it as soon as possible.
— Scott Lewis
Sacramento Report: Two More Years, Say Two-Year Colleges
California community colleges, which traditionally offered only two-year degrees, now offer handful of four-year programs, thanks to a 2014 bill backed by San Diego state Sen. Marty Block.
This week, Block held a hearing at San Diego City College to examine the possibility of allowing community colleges to offer even more four year degrees. In this week’s roundup of state political news, Sara Libby reports on this effort and how it might help California close the huge gap between the number of bachelor’s degrees produced in the state and the number the workforce demands.
Santee Mayor Randy Voepel looks like he’s heading to Sacramento as an assemblyman. Our old pal Liam Dillon recounts Voepel’s history of outrageous statements and antics, like the time he told Voice of San Diego he doesn’t believe in funding efforts to end homelessness, and that global warming is good. Just to be clear, Voepel still believes it’s good because, “Most of the Muslim nations are in the hot areas of the world.” As, of course, is California, most of which remains in a drought that may be tied to climate change. The mayor attracted some national attention for his remarks.
Hunter Home Loan to Pay Back Campaign
U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter took out a home loan to repay about $50,000 to his campaign, according to the Union-Tribune. Hunter used campaign money to pay for “oral surgery, a garage door, private school, gas, groceries, fast food, his children’s private school tuition and lunches and other expenses,” according to a series of stories by the newspaper’s Morgan Cook. In sum, Hunter was taking money from campaign donors to pay for things he now has to borrow money to afford.
Hunter once blamed the color of his credit cards for some of the expenditures.
In Other News
• Curbed Los Angeles long look at the water problems facing Borrego Springs, the community in far East County. Borrego Springs is not connected to the San Diego County Water Authority’s system, which provides water to most of the county’s population centers, including the city of San Diego. Instead Borrego Springs relies on groundwater, which is being depleted because the community is bringing more water out of the ground than is going back into it.
• SeaWorld’s new orca attraction gets California Coastal Commission OK, the Union-Tribune reports. The company has been trying to adjust its business model now that it can no longer breed orcas or make them perform.
• A port commissioner had to check with port attorneys about whether a new contract his public relations firm had gotten created any conflict. Bob Nelson has a new firm that got a gig with the Taxpayers Association. As we reported Monday, the Taxpayers Association got a late donation from a hotel industry group to try to kill Measures C and D. That Taxpayers Association turned to Nelson’s firm to deploy it. So now the U-T says Nelson may have a problem as he makes many decisions about hotels as a port commissioner. Nelson had this to say about the story when he shared it on Twitter.
• District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis released details and videos of three police-involved shootings. (NBC San Diego)
• The leaks of emails from Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager shed a little light on one of San Diego’s political power couples. In one, we see former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher saying Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez would make a good campaign surrogate for Clinton. Fletcher and Gonzalez are now officially dating, though at the time the email was sent, Fletcher simply called her “one of my closest friends.” (Union Tribune)
• Where’s San Diego? It’s where Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson will make his final campaign stop on Monday. (Fox 5)
The Week’s Top Stories
These were the five most popular Voice of San Diego stories for the week of Oct. 29-Nov. 4. Click here to see the full top 10.
1. The Ultimate Guide to the Local Ballot Measures
Can’t tell Measure E from Measure L? We’ve got you covered. (Voice of San Diego)
2. San Diego Unified’s Highly Touted Grad Rate Excluded Thousands of Students
More than 11,000 students began school as freshmen in San Diego Unified in 2012, and just under 6,000 met graduation requirements in 2016. Yet the district proudly touts a 92 percent graduation rate for the class of 2016. The fact that thousands of students left district schools factored heavily into San Diego Unified’s graduation rate. (Mario Koran)
3. Fact Check: Is Sherri Lightner Really Proposing a Ban on Airbnb?
Short-term rental giant Airbnb claims a City Council proposal would make short-term rentals illegal in residential areas. (Lisa Halverstadt)
4. Opinion: Few Thriving Downtowns Include a Stadium — for Good Reason
East Village envisions a future filled with arts and innovation, mixed-use residential, office and commercial development – a plan whose street-smart scale precludes a space-eating football stadium. (Lawrence A. Herzog)
5. Opinion: Vote as a Citizen, Not as a Fan
If you support Measure C, you are putting your fandom ahead of reality, and that’s an extremely scary place to be. (Dallas McLaughlin)