The Morning Report
Get the news and information you need to take on the day.
The battle over perhaps the most contentious plot of land in San Diego is looking more like it will finally end with the death of the decade-long push for a Convention Center expansion at its current location.
Our Scott Lewis unravels the latest twist in the long drama over Fifth Avenue Landing, a strip of land sandwiched between the Convention Center and the San Diego Bay.
Seven years ago, Convention Center leaders and the city of San Diego decided they wanted the land for the expansion of the Convention Center. Clients like Comic-Con International have been asking for more space.
City officials worked to make the expansion a reality, but a lawsuit derailed the plan’s funding. A deadline to get the project done passed, and the land switched hands.
The state of California owns the land, the Port of San Diego is the landlord, and two businessmen, Ray Carpenter and Art Engel, hold the lease at Fifth Avenue Landing.
Lewis talked with Carpenter about his next moves and his reaction to the city’s maneuvering.
Earlier this month, Carpenter and Engel presented plans for a new hotel. But while Convention Center leaders seem to have finally given up on their existing expansion plan, they aren’t ready to wave any white flags yet. A few are still pushing for some kind of new Convention Center expansion at Fifth Avenue Landing.
Ideas have been floated for seizing the land, building a smaller Convention Center expansion or slipping the expansion under Carpenter and Engel’s new hotel.
“This, of course, did not sit well with the Fifth Avenue Landing guys,” Lewis writes of those ideas. “The city had the chance to build an expansion and did not.”
Chargers ‘As Good as Gone’ Come January
After an NFL meeting over the weekend, Chargers owner Dean Spanos sounds like a man with both feet out the door.
In its latest entry in a series of articles citing anonymous NFL ownership sources, CBS Sports says Spanos has no choice but to move to Los Angeles.
“He’s as good as gone,” one source told CBS. “He basically told us that he has no choice.”
• The U-T’s Dan McSwain outlines all the obstacles still standing in the way of coaxing the Chargers to take the city up on its offer of building a new stadium on the Qualcomm Stadium site. Chief among those challenges: a lack of political will.
“A deal is quite possible, if only San Diego had sufficiently talented dealmakers,” McSwain writes.
Following the November rejection of Measure C, our Scott Lewis similarly outlined all the stuff standing in the way of a new stadium deal — other roadblocks include the fact that the public roundly rejected the idea of public financing, and uncertainty over the timeline.
Body Cams for El Cajon Police
El Cajon police began wearing body cameras last month. The U-T reports on the training and policies related to the new 87 chest-mounted cameras officers are now sporting.
Calls for for justice and reform have continued to flood the El Cajon Police Department after the fatal police shooting of Alfred Olango in September. Body cams are often viewed as a transparency tool, but in practice, police departments often keep an iron-clad grip on the videos. Bills in Sacramento to standardize body camera policies have failed after objections from police unions.
• After Olango’s shooting, VOSD’s Sara Libby put together a useful explainer on what we know about when an officer can legally shoot someone, how the district attorney handles the release of videos and what happens to officers who’ve shot and killed people.
Weekend News Roundup
• It’s cute and corny, that Christmas classic “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas,” and locals will likely be tickled to learn that its creator, Gayla Peevey, lives in La Mesa. Peevey, by the way, actually did get a hippo for Christmas at one point. (Associated Press)
• VOSD’s Scott Lewis is an atheist but he celebrates Christmas anyway. He explained why on Medium: “I’m one of the people they are marketing to when they make movies disassociating Christmas from Christ,” he said.
• Illegal and prescription drugs killed more people in San Diego last year than ever. (U-T)
• In a new lawsuit, a former United Food and Commercial Workers Union employee claims she was fired due to gender discrimination and political retaliation. The union called the complaint “meritless.” (NBC 7 San Diego)
• Another lawsuit, this one filed by an employee of the North County Transit District, alleges that officers at the Oceanside rail station were often focused on sex instead of security. (U-T)
• National City Fire Department announced new efforts to more quickly reach residents in the northeastern neighborhoods of the city, an area that had seen slower response times. (The Star News)
• In the wake of an uproar over removing big ficus trees downtown, the city of Encinitas will hire an arborist to help take better care of city trees. (U-T)
• As someone who turns 35 Tuesday and now routinely plucks grey hairs from my scalp, I’m glad to learn of the local efforts to stop and even reverse the aging process. (U-T)
This Tree Is So San Diego
Padres fans know what this guy wants for Christmas, but I’m not sure even Santa could help deliver it.