An unlicensed cannabis dispensary in Casa de Oro. / Photo by Kinsee Morlan

California regulators are taking aim at unlicensed operators of cannabis businesses throughout the state, with 1,240 cease-and-desist letters fanning out in recent weeks. Jess Marx reports on how about 375 of those warnings have arrived in San Diego-area mailboxes. That’s 375 unlicensed operators, compared to the 24 licensed facilities operating with permission in the city.

“The gap between the number of enforcement letters and the number of licenses suggests the black market still has a significant foothold in San Diego,” Marx writes. The Sheriff’s Department acknowledges that unlicensed operators are opening up at a rate much faster than they can be closed down.

The poster child for enforcement is the popular app Weedmaps, which provides locations of both licensed and unlicensed facilities. State officials want them to de-list unlicensed operators, but Weedmaps says it is working under the same kind of rules as Craigslist and Yelp.

Homeless Storage Facility Vote Scheduled

Lisa Halverstadt spent some part of Thursday offering context about the city’s effort to open a storage facility for homeless people to use. The operation would be located at 20th Street and Commercial St. Concerns about their property often keep people from entering shelters or seeking work.  Also, the mayor is interested in clearing the streets more and right now, homeless people can leave property on sidewalks for days before crews can clear it.

Having a facility like this available could allow for more enforcement and sanitation efforts.

Neighbors, including a private school, are not happy with the plan. The city has promised the facility would be patrolled and cleaned, and patrons wouldn’t line up outside it. But City Councilman David Alvarez implored his colleague, Council President Myrtle Cole not to hold a vote on opening the facility saying there has not been enough public input.

Initially, Cole hesitated but scheduled the vote anyway after city staff outlined how much public outreach there had been.

The vote is Tuesday.

The Learning Curve: DeVos Debacle

The era of Donald Trump and his education secretary Betsy DeVos has polarized the charter school debate to an even greater degree than it had been. Mario Koran writes on how the hottest topic now is school choice, and how it relates to charter schools.

Koran talked to several teachers from charter schools to hear if they’ve noticed a shift in the conversation. One charter school leader told Koran if she heard “there were these schools that could use public money and operate without accountability, that would infuriate me, too. But it’s a huge misperception.”

Koran also checks out the student walk-out phenomenon that took hold this week, and looks into what’s going on with school district elections and teachers unions.

Coronado Bridge Lights: San Diego Explained

The Port of San Diego is a one percent patron of the arts: budgets and projects in the Port’s district must reserve at least one percent of funds for public art. That’s resulted in a multitude of public art installations around the waterfront, but the next big one the Port wants to do is among its most ambitious. Kinsee Morlan and NBC 7’s Monica Dean team up to review the Port’s effort to add dramatic artistic lighting to the Coronado Bridge, and why some are calling for suicide prevention devices to be installed first, in our most recent San Diego Explained.

Hotels Are Not Enough: I Made It in San Diego

In our newest episode of I Made It in San Diego, a podcast about the people behind the region’s businesses, Kinsee Morlan talks with hotelier Elvin Lai about how running a hotel has led to his involvement in several business ventures, city politics and the community. Lai unexpectedly inherited the business when he was only 21, and got hit with a steep learning curve. But that was only the beginning.

CA-49 Primary Raises 16 Candidates

With the filing deadline now passed, 16 people are officially running to replace Darrel Issa in a congressional district that runs from La Jolla north to Dana Point. Eight Republican candidates will face off against four Democrats and four other lesser-known candidates in June, all vying to be one of the top two so they can move on to a showdown in November.

“Democrats are concerned their candidates will split the electorate and fail to finish first or second,” the Union-Tribune’s Joshua Stewart writes. Republicans claim two of their candidates are polling so well that they aren’t concerned about being shut out of November. Democrats, meanwhile, have only been successful at reducing the number of candidates from five to four, so far.

Cop Balks at Arrest Incentives

A San Diego police officer is raising the alarm about an internal program at the department that, since March 1st, has incentivized officers to make more drug arrests. 10 News cites an internal email they obtain which lays out the program, detailing the plan to reward arrests and citations with points, and promising the top point earners the opportunity to work in specialized units.

“It’s completely everything that we are against as law enforcement officers. It’s unethical,” the officer told 10 News. When he objected to the program, the officer says he was discouraged from discussing the issue. A department spokesman told 10 News the email was sent by mistake and the program never implemented, which the officer refutes.

Poway Set to Increase In-Lieu Fees

After a recent City Council meeting in Poway illuminated that the city only charges developers $500 to offset the requirement to include affordable housing in their projects, the city is working on a plan to make the fee “significantly higher,” the Union-Tribune reports.

In 2010, the city council allowed the “in-lieu fee” to drop from the 1993 level of $4,500 down to $500 due to the recession. The fee hasn’t been revised since, mostly due to lack of interest in new development of any type in the city.

Lightning Round

KPBS compares housing affordability in California in the post-World War II era to how it looks today.

inewsource reports on a North County horse rescue that has spent donation money on Weight Watchers and mobile phone spying apps.

KPBS has an animated guide on how to check your own water meter and compare it to your bill to check for accuracy.

Forbes looks into why Amtrack’s Surfliner train, which serves San Diego, is so terribly unreliable.

Oceanside is surveying people on how they feel about maybe having higher sales taxes someday. (Union-Tribune)

University of California’s governing body approved a 3.5 percent tuition hike for out-of-staters, an increase of $978 per year. (KPBS)

San Diego Zoo has become one of two zoos in the United States to take on Tasmanian devils for caretaking. (NBC 7)

It’s that magical time of year again where humans, raccoons and rats all abandon their timeless feud and go out on grunion runs! (Union-Tribune)

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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