Since 2001, Gary Gallegos has been the executive director at SANDAG, leading that agency through twists and turns of some massive transportation projects, and navigating the fraught politics of trying to raise taxes to pay for those projects. But 2017 will be his last year in that role. Gallegos said on Tuesday he plans to retire by the end of the year. He’s been meaning to retire, he said.
But Gallegos’ announcement to the Union-Tribune editorial board comes while SANDAG is caught in a tornado of troubles, Andrew Keatts writes. Fueled by Voice of San Diego reports, an investigation into SANDAG’s past errors and inaccurate forecasting have revealed dysfunction and possible attempts to deceive the public inside the agency. Additionally, state legislators are working on a new law called AB 805 that would change the power structure on SANDAG’s board and create auditing functions.
All of that is against a backdrop of SANDAG’s failure to convince voters in 2016 to raise taxes, and a successful 2004 tax increase that was meant to fund major infrastructure projects, but which may fall billions of dollars short of what the agency told voters it would raise, due to the agency’s own errors in calculations. Projects promised in that 2004 measure are also far more expensive than SANDAG admitted for many years.
The SANDAG board voted last week to review Gallegos’ performance in an upcoming closed-door session.
Prior to sending an email to SANDAG staff informing them of his decision, Gallegos told the Union-Tribune he plans to retire to a ranch in Colorado.
San Dieguito Disabled Students Kept Out of New Digs
San Dieguito High School district has for years moved from campus to campus its program that serves 18 to 22 year-old students with disabilities. The program is designed to help the young adults transition out of school and into adult life, and the special needs of the program result in frequent relocations. Maya Srikrishnan reports the district recently settled on a new home for the program at a newly remodeled middle school in Solana Beach, but don’t blink, because the program will have to be moved yet again.
That’s because parents of the program’s students found out the district would exclude their kids from using the upgraded facilities in the newly remodeled school. Instead, the program’s students would be taught in two portable classrooms placed at the edge of campus, with much more spartan features.
“They come with something called a ‘sensory’ or ‘calming’ room – a small, locked room where students can be placed to calm them down,” Srikrishan writes. Parents expressed concerns about the sensory rooms’ potential for abuse, and the district has since decided to relocate the program yet again.
Artists Evicted: The Culture Report
Resident artists at the popular Barrio Logan art space The GlasHaus are getting booted from their spaces after a fire inspection of the building turned up worrisome results. No more public events there either, Kinsee Morlan writes. After a warehouse fire in Oakland killed 36 people last year, fire departments began increasing scrutiny of unconventional spaces where artists live and work across the state. GlasHaus was cited and promised to fix its issue, “but public records show that the case has been moved from the city’s code enforcement division to the city attorney’s office,” Morlan writes, which may signal litigation is in the works.
Elsewhere in the culture report: Che Cafe is stayin’ alive, Liberty Station is in want of some artists, and contemplation of whether selfie photographs are ruining local art galleries.
Council Doubles Down On Questionable Law
The San Diego City Council voted last week on a five-to-four split not to repeal a 2008 law that City Attorney Mara Elliott has warned may be indefensible and result in expensive litigation. KPBS’s Andrew Bowen reports the law in question is the 2008 “Child Protection Act” which put severe limitations on where convicted sex offenders can live in San Diego. “The state Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that a similar law covering unincorporated San Diego County was unconstitutional,” Bowen reports.
Despite the warnings from the state Supreme Court and the San Diego city attorney, city councilmembers voted in favor of defending the law, which is already the target of one lawsuit from an organization experienced in getting similar laws in other cities thrown out.
• The San Diego Convention Center’s sails will be replaced and the fire systems and lighting will get upgraded. (Times of San Diego)
• The U-T followed up on our story about the officer who testified against a homeless man only to be proven wrong by a body cam.
• Mayor Faulconer celebrated the EPA’s decision this week to permit the continued operation of the wastewater facility in Point Loma (NBC) for another five years, which we discussed a bit more Tuesday.
• The military is making it clear that it will be shooting down drones that fly over domestic military bases, if they are deemed a security risk. (Union-Tribune)
• Attendance at SeaWorld: still treanding downward. (Union-Tribune)
• Houses built with straw bales in the walls, however, trending upward! (KPBS)
• Sweet new wheelchair access mats have been installed on Imperial Beach. (Union-Tribune)
• The LA Times checks in on how San Diego’s Stone Brewing is faring in its controversial excursion into Germany. Sehr gut!
• A few Metallica fans stopped to mull the merits of in-filling, parking density and the virtues of taking the trolley to Petco. (San Diego Reader)
Among all the ways Moscow is a threat the average San Diegan, this is perhaps the most dire: Moscow Mules sipped from copper mugs may be poisoning you. (Washington Post)
Correction: We removed an incorrect assertion that Mayor Faulconer had achieved only what every other mayor had with regard to securing a permit to continue operating the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. You can email him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @loteck.