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When the city of San Diego builds big public projects – stuff like water treatment plants or fire stations – it’s required to spend two percent of that money on an accompanying art project.

It’s a policy meant to ensure the city has high-quality art that’s accessible outside of the galleries and museums.

But as Kinsee Morlan reveals, there’s an odd element to the policy: the art needs to exist at the same location as the project. For stuff like water treatment plants, where security concerns mean the public can’t visit the location, it also means the public can’t see the public art they’re paying for.

Unless.

In a new story, Morlan has uncovered reason to believe the city’s interpretation of the issue is wrong. San Francisco faced the same issue and recently concluded they could actually take the money and use it on art pieces that were more accessible.

At least for now, though, San Diego isn’t making any moves to change things up. In fact, the person in charge of public art for the city says it’s a fine idea to pay for public art at places the public is restricted from visiting.

Todd Gloria Looks Back and Ahead

Todd Gloria wore a lot of hats at the city in the last eight years: councilman for the District 3, Council president, interim mayor.

He joined the podcast this week for an exit interview on his time at City Hall. He reflected on some of the things he’s proudest of, like raising the city’s minimum wage, spearheading the city’s climate action plan and getting new community plans passed in most of his district; and some of his regrets, like an ambitious policy agenda as Council president that eventually persuaded the Council’s Republicans to unseat him.

He also spoke candidly about his feud with former Mayor Bob Filner, who came to power and tried to bully him for not following his combative political lead.

But Gloria’s on his way out of town, ready to be sworn in as Assemblyman for the 78th District.

• He also spoke this week with Ry Rivard for the Sacramento Report about what he’s eager to take on in Sacramento. He expects to keep on with the stuff he spent most of his time on in the city – transportation, housing and the environment – but is also ready to get involved in new areas like health care and education.

• Councilman-elect Chris Ward is getting ready to take over for Gloria in the District 3 and the U-T has a new profile on the guy who has spent years in government, as state Sen. Marty Block’s chief of staff, and who holds a master’s in public policy and urban planning from Harvard. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

ACLU Comes After San Diego Immigration Issues

The American Civil Liberties Union is calling for the Department of Homeland Security to end its contracts with private detention centers for immigration enforcement, including the Otay Mesa Detention Center. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

Meanwhile, the ACLU last year filed a lawsuit against Escondido for its refusal to permit a shelter for unauthorized immigrant children.

That lawsuit is moving forward, and lawyers for both sides told U-T reporter J. Harry Jones this week that the case could turn on whether or not the shelter is considered a group home, or a detention center.

The city says the facility would be considered more like a jail or a prison, which means it isn’t protected by fair housing law. The ACLU, though, says the rejection had nothing to do with land-use concerns, and was instead motivated by anti-immigrant sentiments that run afoul of the 1969 Fair Housing Act.

In Other News

• The Regional Airport Authority is losing the only president and CEO it’s ever had. Thella Bowens is retiring in March after 21 years leading the agency, during which she helped expand its operating budget from $97 million to $234 million. (KPBS)

• Mission Beach has been swatting away a fly problem for years. It bugs residents each summer when flies overwhelm the community, but they’ve never hatched a real solution. Now, community leaders hope property owners will pay for a second day of trash pick-up, which could zap the problem. (Sorry) (San Diego Union-Tribune)

Most Read Stories of the Week

Here’s a list of our Top 10 most read stories of the week. Below are the first five of them:

1. Liquor Licenses Have Become Gold in Pacific Beach, Causing Fights Among Tenants and Landlords
A de facto cap on new liquor licenses in Pacific Beach has made the ones that exist extremely valuable. They’re selling for as $1 million and are having a dramatic effect on property values and tenant-landlord relationships. (Jonah Valdez)

2. The Demise of Beachtown BBQ and the Fight for Liquor Permits in PB
In May of this year, owners of a Pacific Beach restaurant decided to rebrand their business, changing its name. By October, the restaurant faced an eviction notice. But the name-change row might have been just a side drama. The closure is another consequence of the skyrocketing value of liquor licenses in Pacific Beach. (Jonah Valdez)

3. SANDAG Nears Deal to Develop Clairemont Trolley Station Site After Threatening to Seize Property
Protea Properties is optimistic it’s reached a deal with SANDAG to build roughly 40 condos, retail space and commuter parking for a new trolley station on three and a half acres at Clairemont Drive, on the new $2.1 billion Mid-Coast Trolley line set to open in 2021. The agency had held the threat of eminent domain over the developer’s head for months. (Andrew Keatts)

4. Homelessness Is Exploding Downtown: What We Know (and Don’t) About Why
By all measures, homelessness is spiking and tent cities downtown are proliferating. (Lisa Halverstadt)

5. What Gaspar’s Win Means for the County Board of Supervisors
The Board of Supervisors will again be composed entirely of Republicans. Supervisor-elect Kristin Gaspar’s stances on housing and growth were difficult to discern. While mayor of Encinitas, she opposed many developments but she was also supported in the campaign by many builders. Democrats still believe a majority on the board is in the offing. (Maya Srikrishnan)

Andrew Keatts

I'm Andrew Keatts, a managing editor for projects and investigations at Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at andrew.keatts@voiceofsandiego.org...

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