Camellia Court in Chula Vista / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Last November, police were in the process of stopping a car for a taillight infraction when the driver took off. He eventually led both San Diego County sheriff’s deputies and Border Patrol agents to a home in Chula Vista, where he barricaded himself inside for hours.

After the standoff, authorities alleged that the house was being used as a human smuggling operation — and that they’d stumbled upon it accidentally.

But as Voice’s Adriana Heldiz reports, Chula Vista repeatedly missed their chance over five years. Neighbors called police more than 50 times with complaints ranging from minor nuisance violations to assault and domestic violence.

Peters Meets with Trump While Sherman Pushes Reform

On this week’s podcast, Scott Lewis and Andy Keatts talked to Rep. Scott Peters about immigration and a private meeting that he and 12 other congressional Democrats held with President Donald Trump.

“I think the whole notion of a wall is boring and a waste of money,” Peters said. “I just think it doesn’t really matter what you dress it up like; I think it sends the wrong message.”

Also on the show: Peters acknowledged that he’s considering a mayoral run in 2020.

Joining the podcast by phone, San Diego City Councilman Scott Sherman again made the case for reforming the way Council presidents are appointed. In an op-ed Friday, he laid out his argument for a seniority-based system.

“The reform would encourage a level of cooperation on the Council and curb the heavy influence from outside special interests that are found on both sides of the political spectrum,” he wrote.

After being re-appointed late last year, Council President Myrtle Cole, a Democrat backed by labor leaders, stripped Sherman of his position atop a committee proposing housing affordability reforms. He is literally counting the days until he’s done with his term.

Guns for Gift Cards for Guns

Disturbed by recent news reports, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher is introducing a bill that would prevent gun buyback programs from offering gift cards to places that sell guns. Allowing people to turn in old guns and use the gift card to potentially buy new ones is counterproductive, she argued.

“We’re either trying to get guns off the street or we’re not,” she told Marisa Agha.

Also out of the state Capitol this week, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber joined members of the California Legislative Black Caucus to talk about the housing crisis in African American communities. The caucus may push for legislative solutions and is waiting on recommendations from a group of realtors.

Arts Leader Steps Down

The executive director for the city’s Commission for Arts and Culture, a group that funds local arts nonprofits and manages the city’s public art program, announced Friday morning she was stepping down.

Dana Springs had been in the job since 2014 and has recently been caught between the mayor’s office’s demands for cuts to the commission’s budget and the arts community’s insistence that she hold the line. Morlan breaks it all down.

Marijuana Activists for Fletcher

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is aware of at least 38 illegal dispensaries in its unincorporated communities. Earlier this week, Morlan documented the expensive and ultimately useless efforts to shut down those businesses.

The marijuana industry’s position — echoed in a new op-ed Friday by one of its own — is that the ongoing ban is cruel and misguided because it denies patients in those areas the ability to safely and easily access medicine.

Pot proponents are coming out strongly in support of Nathan Fletcher, a Democrat running for the Board of Supervisor’s District 4 seat. “Fletcher alone can’t repeal the county’s cannabis ban, but his victory would be a start, and his voice could help change the conversation,” writes Jared Sclar, a communications consultant and college student.

Money for Nothing

A new report by San Diego’s independent auditor suggests that the system of handing out economic incentives is a total mess. The auditors were not completely clear on who is getting what breaks, because they aren’t being tracked, as summarized by the Union-Tribune.

City officials disagreed that the number of jobs created was a good measurement of success, although they did agree with eight other recommendations for reform.

Voice’s Lisa Halverstadt put together a handy guide to this topic a few years back, noting that the incentives are supposed to be vetted by the City Council. Officials can refund taxes, waive permit costs and provide bond financing for construction and upgrades.

In Other News

Tech news site the Verge reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, has officially gained access to a nationwide license plate recognition database provided by Vigilant Solutions. The Carlsbad police department, as Ruarri Serpa noted in a recent North County Report, submits the information collected by its own readers to a database managed by the company.

The Medical Examiner’s Office says the number one cause for homeless deaths in 2017 was drug overdoses. The total number of deaths increased over the previous year — not including the hep A outbreak. (inewsource)

A San Diego cop has accused officers in Hemet of physically abusing a suspect, destroying evidence and other acts of corruption. (Union-Tribune)

 Plans to re-do Mission Valley’s Riverwalk golf course will be filed next month. Those plans include a 4,300-unit housing development and a new trolley station. (Union-Tribune)

Top Stories of the Week

1. Illegal Pot Shops Are Opening Faster Than San Diego County Can Shut Them Down

San Diego County has banned pot dispensaries in its unincorporated areas, but sheriff’s deputies can’t enforce the ban because the locations that are shut down keep re-opening. Spring Valley has become the Wild West for illegal pot shops. (Kinsee Morlan)

2. Chadwick out, Michell in as San Diego City Hall COO

Kris Michell has been an influential player in City Hall politics before but her appointment as COO marks a major change for the role, which has generally gone to technocrats rather than political operators. (Scott Lewis)

3. Kristin Gaspar Is the Latest Republican to Seek Issa’s Seat

Congressman Darrell Issa’s sudden announcement not to seek re-election in California’s 49th District set off a frenzy of contenders on the right. Supervisor Kristin Gaspar has jumped in, too. The stage is set to divide GOP loyalties along county lines. (Jesse Marx)

4. A Reader’s Guide to S.D’s Deadly Flu Outbreak

As county deaths set a recent record, the local outbreak is making national news. Drugs are in short supply while overwhelmed hospitals ban visitors and try to cope. But the worst may be over. (Randy Dotinga)

5. Opinion: Can’t Find Housing? Thank the San Diego County Board of Supervisors

If they’re really concerned about the lack of affordable housing, they could reject on Wednesday plans for a proposed strip mall in unincorporated Lakeside. It’s located on a parcel zoned to accommodate moderately priced multi-family homes. (Jack Shu)

For the rest of the list, go here.

Jesse Marx

Jesse Marx is Voice of San Diego's associate editor.

Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.