A development project is coming to an eight and a half acre lot at the corner of Euclid Avenue and Hilltop Drive. / Photo by Kinsee Morlan

Civic San Diego was about to close a multi-million dollar deal that would build over 100 low-income homes (and a new brewpub and coffee shop) on a blighted lot in southeastern San Diego.

But one of the last steps in the project’s approval process was stymied Tuesday by a last-minute conflict-of-interest accusation.

The City Council was set Tuesday to finalize the project, but as our Andrew Keatts reports, a letter to the city from the watchdog group San Diegans for Open Government spelled out the allegation that Phil Rath, a Civic San Diego board member, has been a registered lobbyist on behalf of the nonprofit developer Affirmed Housing Group since 2013. Civic San Diego selected Affirmed Housing’s proposal to develop the city-owned property at Hilltop and Euclid, and Rath voted in favor of the decision.

Rath told Keatts he had a financial relationship with Affirmed before joining the Civic board, so there’s no conflict of interest.

The allegations caused Council President Myrtle Cole to reschedule the hearing for early January.

This isn’t the first time people have complained about Civic San Diego’s process behind this development. Last year, I talked to community members and others who thought Civic San Diego’s process to find the best developer should have included a lot more public input since it’s such a crucial project for the Encanto area.

An Architect’s Early Break

Jennifer Luce was just 23 years old when she won a big international competition to design the Center for Innovative Technology in Virginia. She was just two months out of architecture school. More than 500 firms across the world had applied to the same competition. She was up against people three times her age, with decades more experience. And yet, the jury chose Luce’s design, effectively putting her in charge of a multimillion-dollar project.

On a new episode of I Made it in San Diego, Voice of San Diego’s podcast about the region’s businesses and the people behind them, Luce talks about that unexpected break early in her career, and how she has worked to keep the momentum going ever since.

No Investigations of 22 Deaths

In a closed session at its Tuesday meeting, the Citizens Law Enforcement Review Board voted to dismiss 22 investigations involving people who’ve died in county detention facilities or while being taken into custody. (Union-Tribune)

CLERB is the group tasked with investigating in-custody deaths and complaints against county law enforcement.

We told you Monday about how the agency’s staff had recommended dismissing the cases, and how folks like Barbara Attard, who heads a police practices consultancy firm, called the decision “a mess.”

“To just wholesale close cases, I’ve never seen an agency do that,” she told VOSD contributor Kelly Davis.

The Future of Farming: Pot or Homes

Farming is finished, unless those who do it can figure out a new way forward.

Labor, land and water are expensive in regions like San Diego, which is why area farmers are looking to pivot to growing something new: pot or housing.

In his latest North County Report, VOSD contributor Ruarri Serpa looks at the growing trend in farming and explains a future in which new housing developments called  “agri-hoods” could include medians filled with kale instead of grass. Or a future where farms could be filled solely by smokable grass.

Also in this week’s roundup of news from the North: Border-themed art in Oceanside, a new district map in Encinitas and more.

Quick News Hits

The city faces a potential budget shortfall in the next three years. That’s just one of the nuggets of news in the finance officials’ new five-year plan presented to San Diego City Council’s Budget Committee Wednesday. (City News Service)

• San Diego pot entrepreneurs can start submitting applications to open marijuana production facilities in the city starting Thursday. The city learned the hard way that having folks stand in an actual line to submit applications like this isn’t a good idea. The new process involves a randomized lottery and pre-set appointment times. (KPBS)

• By now, you’ve surely heard of the white woman who wanted to open a modern fruteria in Barrio Logan, but balked after a fundraising video she made was mocked by many and provoked a surge of online backlash. I wrote a bit about the backlash to that backlash in the Culture Report, but now the Reader’s got more on the topic.

• CityBeat says these are the best people in San Diego, and Our City Magazine says these are the most powerful people in San Diego (spoiler alert: Our Scott Lewis is one of them).

Want to get in on the affordable housing that just opened in Otay Ranch? Get in line. (Union-Tribune)

• Here’s a story that’s been written and rewritten several times over the years: A North Park artist is the man behind a website that makes money from so-called “murderabilia” – memorbilia from the lives of some of San Diego’s most notorious killers. (NBC 7)

Social San Diego

If you frame a photo just right, it can actually look like it’s fall in San Diego.

Kinsee Morlan was formerly the Engagement Editor at Voice of San Diego and author of the Culture...

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