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This week, the City Council was set to finally meet and resolve that pesky short-term rental problem that has paralyzed city leaders for years. But that meeting got canceled when, just days prior, a legal memo issued by City Attorney Mara Elliott’s office inferred the proposals under consideration were illegal. At issue were two proposals on how to deal with short-term rentals, one of which already had support from four Council members. A fifth yes vote was likely. Elliott’s memo caused the Council members to abruptly throw the brakes on the plan, but the city attorney tells VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt that wasn’t the outcome she intended.

“The goal, Elliott said, was to give City Council members legal advice on an array of policy suggestions,” Halverstadt writes. Instead of feeling advised, several Council members told Halverstadt about a bevy of reservations the memo inspired, including legal concerns and feelings that Elliott is trying to stall the proposals.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s office confirmed Thursday it is now working “with the City Council to incorporate its suggestions into the options they’ve already pulled together,” Halverstadt reports.

SANDAG’s New Rules: San Diego Explained

California legislators recently passed a law that overhauls how San Diego’s transit planning agency, SANDAG, approves its projects. The way SANDAG previously voted on items required wide consensus from all cities in the county and ensured that the status quo would be largely maintained. But now, if a large city in the county can drum up support from just a couple of smaller cities, that can be enough to gain approval. Andrew Keatts and NBC 7’s Monica Dean show how a monumental power shift has occurred as a result in our most recent San Diego Explained.

Who Pays for the Big Fires?

Pacific Gas & Electric, the large utility that serves Northern California, is making an argument to state regulators that it shouldn’t be on the hook for the hundreds of millions of dollars the utility estimates it could owe if it is found to be responsible for the horrendous wildfires that recently scorched California. Preliminary reports cast suspicion on whether PG&E’s power lines may have touched off the fires that devastated thousands of homes and killed dozens of people.

The Mercury News reports it’s the exact same argument that San Diego Gas & Electric has been trying to make in court to get out from under massive costs it faces as a result of power lines that touched off three major wildfires in San Diego in 2007.

“After more than a year of hearings and motions, two administrative law judges rejected San Diego Gas & Electric’s request to pass along $397 million in uninsured expenses from the 2007 fires on to its ratepayers,” the paper wrote.

• Another “final” decision on the SDG&E case is scheduled to happen on Nov. 9, after being delayed twice before. (KPBS)

Azano: Dumanis Knew I Wasn’t a U.S. Citizen

In a last-ditch effort to help him avoid jail time, a lawyer for Jose Susumo Azano Matsura claims former District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis knew that Azano wasn’t a U.S. citizen but sought money from him anyway, the Union-Tribune reports.

Azano claims he told Dumanis in a meeting with her and Sheriff Bill Gore that he was a citizen of Mexico, not the U.S. VOSD was the first to report on the meeting between Dumanis, Gore and Azano back in 2014. That meeting was one of many things tying Dumanis to Azano, though Dumanis insisted publicly that she barely knew him.

Lightning Round

A proposal that will be considered next week by the San Diego Housing Commission envisions pulling $6.5 million out of a fund set up to provide permanent housing for the homeless and using it instead to pay for tents to temporarily house the homeless.

 With San Diego schools going to “minimal days” to deal with extreme heat this week, NBC 7 reports that people want to know why an air conditioning project that started in 2014 hasn’t been done yet. We’ve previously noted the  district’s tendency to prioritize new sports stadiums over other projects.

 In La Jolla, enrollment in public schools is down across the board, leaving the schools scrambling. (La Jolla Light)

 The city of San Diego has brought in public relations firms that are working for free to help the city manage how it talks about hepatitis A. (Union-Tribune)

 Next City looks into how California’s affordable housing programs are affecting San Diego.

 A refugee auto-loan program that started in San Diego is doing really great, with default rates way below the average. (Union-Tribune)

 A new San Diego professional soccer team will build a stadium in Oceanside and be ready to play in temporary facilities in 2018. (NBC 7)

 The border wall prototypes are done so it’s clearly time for a bunch of photo ops of Border Patrol honchos pointing at things. (Union-Tribune)

Correction: An earlier version of this post mischaracterized a statement from the mayor’s office regarding discussions on vacation rental policies. The mayor’s spokeswoman said the mayor is working with Council members to incorporate the Council’s suggestions into policy options presented by city staff.

Correction: An earlier version of this post included a line that courts have not been receptive to SDG&E’s rebuttals to the accusation its power lines caused the 2007 fires. Administrative law judges are not the courts necessarily. They advise the Public Utilities Commission. If the PUC makes a decision someone doesn’t like, it could end up in the courts. We removed the line. 

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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