The city of San Diego wants to divert more homeless people away from the criminal justice system and into supportive programs that aid in recovery. To do that, city leaders came up with a program that helps people hooked on drugs and accused of a crime to enter into treatment and shelter.

The program earned a big grant recently.

Now the city needs a place where they can house those who participate in the program. Andrew Keatts reports they have their eye on buying a cheap motel near Imperial Beach. But Councilman David Alvarez and some neighbors are concerned about the project.

Alvarez found a powerful ally: the California Coastal Commission, which has made affordable lodging near beaches a cause. “In a letter, the Coastal Commission said the city could be forced to replace every hotel room it takes off the market,” a hugely expensive endeavor that would essentially scrap the whole plan. City leaders have shrugged off the letter, claiming the project isn’t subject to the commission’s approval.

City Attorney Calls Document Leak “More Than a Crime”

Earlier this week, we talked about the San Diego City Council’s discussion about whether it can declare the land at Qualcomm Stadium “surplus” and see if another government agency — say, San Diego State University — wants to offer it’s own bid to buy it.

The Council conversation on that is set for July 25.

FS Investors, which is proposing SoccerCity,  got its lawyer at the firm Latham & Watkins to analyze the suggestion. The lawyer found “severe legal problems” with the idea that the council can declare the land surplus. His letter cited a memo from San Diego’s city attorney, Mara Elliott. The memo from March had admonished city leaders not to campaign against the measure using city resources.

“It would be considered campaigning for City staff to provide input intended to make a voter initiative more or less appealing to voters or to use City resources to the advantage of the proponent,” read the city attorney’s opinion. The Latham & Watkins attorney made an argument that members of the City Council were doing just that with their effort to draw up another plan for the land.

The city attorney was not pleased to see that FS Investors had seen her memo — later posted by the U-T — which she had marked confidential.

“The person or persons who gave this confidential legal analysis to FS Investors did more than commit a crime. They betrayed the taxpayers of San Diego,” she wrote in a statement released to the press. She went on KPBS to also add that the Latham lawyer should not have even looked at the document and should have sent it back. She threatened to cut the firm out of future city business.

She also demanded the resignations of whomever had leaked the document.

The Learning Curve Is Back

The Learning Curve is back. It’s our weekly newsletter diving into the education questions our readers send us, with a mix of policy with personal stories from the classroom. Now, Maya Srikrishnan picks up the torch, with an eye on covering educational justice and equality issues. “I’m working to ensure that students from low-income neighborhoods, English-learners and students with disabilities have equal access to quality educational opportunities,” Srikrishnan writes.

Police Hiring Woes: San Diego Explained

The San Diego Police Department continues to have a serious problem with staffing. The city’s goal, set five years ago, to increase the number of officers will not be hit. Today, the department has fewer officers even then it did in 2012. SDPD can’t seem to keep up with the constant outflow of its officers, who leave for retirement or move to another police force. Andrew Keatts and NBC 7’s Monica Dean make sense of all the reasons given by SDPD leaders for why they can’t meet their staffing goals in our most recent San Diego Explained.

California GOP Yearns for Faulconer

According to the LA Times, California GOP insiders desperately want Mayor Kevin Faulconer to run for governor in 2018. As it currently sits, Republicans have a couple of candidates who are pursuing the state’s top office, but they are all relatively unknown and may not be able to inspire the support needed to compete in a June primary, much less a November run-off. Faulconer is more well-known, and is viewed as a centrist who can appeal to Democrats.

Faulconer built a successful political career by regularly coming in second.

Balboa Park to Get Hundreds More Trees

City officials and the nonprofit Balboa Park Conservancy teamed Thursday to announce plans to plant 500 new trees in the park over the next two years with the help of a state grant, KPBS reports.

Lisa Halverstadt notes the initiative will support both the Climate Action Plan goal to cover 15 percent of the city with trees by 2020 and the call to replace the hundreds of trees in the park decimated by the drought.

Conservancy CEO Tomas Herrera-Mishler estimated the park lost as many as 1,500 trees the last few years. Many of those trees struggled in the city’s arid climate. Herrera-Mishler said the conservancy and the city are now set to plant new trees better suited for San Diego. The conservancy’s now in the process of completing an inventory of all the park’s trees that will help it better understand what kind of trees thrive in the park and which have struggled, and come up with a strategy to save the trees that exist.

Judge Blocks Gun Law

U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez on Thursday published a ruling excoriating a voter-approved law that would make it illegal to possess a gun magazine that holds more than 10 rounds of ammunition. The Union-Tribune’s Kristina Davis reports the judge wrote the law would likely violate the Second Amendment and would unfairly take private property from individuals. The judge opined that waiting for a final legal decision on the issue “will take too long to offer relief, and because the statute will soon visit irrevocable harm on Plaintiffs and all those similarly situated, a state-wide preliminary injunction is necessary and justified.”

Existing law already prohibits the sale, transfer and import of similar magazines. In 2016 voters passed Proposition 63 clarifying the law that would force owners of the magazines to get rid of them or face punishment. The new law was set to go into effect on Saturday.

Lightning Round

• Local farm favorite Suzie’s Farm, known for its organic produce, education efforts and local integration with restaurants, announced that it has gone out of business. (KPBS)

• The LA Times — via our old friend Liam Dillon — has this nicely written opus chronicling the history of flawed housing policy in California and how its elected leaders have failed to address the crisis.

• San Diego police have a program where stolen “bait” bicycles are tracked to the thief using GPS. They say it’s 100% effective at recovering the bike and results in convictions for nearly every arrest they make. (KPBS)

• Local casino operators taken down in an FBI investigation claim to have had sway over members of the San Diego City Council. (NBC 7)

 Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. You can email him at or follow him on Twitter: @loteck.

Seth Hall

Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. You can reach him at or follow him on Twitter: @loteck.

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