Photo by Sam Hodgson

The powerful head of the San Diego County Water Authority is being investigated for harassing one of her own board members, and spreading a nasty rumor about an employee of another water agency, the Metropolitan Water District.

The Water Authority board member, Tom Kennedy, wrote an account of the incident to the Metropolitan Water District’s lawyers. In it, he said Water Authority head Maureen Stapleton was inebriated at a reception in Sacramento and accused him of having an affair with a Metropolitan employee, and showed around on her phone photos of the Metropolitan employee that appeared on a website that accuses people of adultery.

Kennedy and the Metropolitan employee, Meena Westford, say no affair took place, and there’s no evidence to suggest anything happened. Kennedy has asked for an investigation into the incident, and Westford told VOSD: “I am shocked and both professionally and personally offended that [Stapleton] would attempt to harm my reputation and credibility in this way.”

The two agencies have been at odds for years, costing rate-payers millions of dollars in legal fees.

The incident suggests that the long-standing rivalry has now devolved into personal attacks that have little or nothing to do with ensuring San Diego has plenty of affordable water.

City and Homeless Advocates Reach a New Deal

A homeless woman pours water into a bowl for her dogs. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

From Lisa Halverstadt: San Diego will only be mandated to give homeless San Diegans three hours’ notice – down from 72 hours – before conducting sweeps of homeless camps, under the terms of a new settlement.

The nonprofit Isaiah Project and the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties sued the city in 2009 to stop public employees from seizing and destroying property during sidewalk clean-ups. The original settlement required the city to set up a storage facility where unattended property could be held after sweeps – which it did, in March.

An attorney who negotiated the settlement told me it won’t go into effect until the new homeless storage center opens and that the new sweep notification rules will be phased in.

Politics Roundup: Sanctuary, SANDAG and Sacramento

Escondido Mayor Sam Abed’s told President Donald Trump last week that “the narrative that sanctuary city will allow more immigrants to report crime is fake news.” Abed’s remarks stand in stark contrast to what San Diego law enforcement leaders have said about how they deal with immigrant communities.

There’s also research on the subject: UCSD professor Tom Wong found that undocumented immigrants in San Diego County are 61 percent less likely to report crimes if they believe local police agencies are working with ICE.

Over at the Union-Tribune, columnist Michael Smolens contrasts Abed and other anti-sanctuary politicians with San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who seems to be searching for a middle road and is “suggesting the pragmatic thing to do would be to stay away from the matter altogether.”

Meanwhile, Assemblyman Rocky Chavez is taking a biting ad against him, released by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, in stride. The ad knocks Chavez for votes in which he joined Democrats in the Legislature.

But Chavez told Voice managing editor Sara Libby that he’ll continue working with Democrats and considered the attack “a badge of honor.” He said more than 10 of his Democratic colleagues in Sacramento have reached out to apologize.

Over in the Politics Report, SANDAG is restarting its search for a new executive director and hopes to have a candidate by September – more than a year after the previous one resigned. We revealed last year that the agency under Gary Gallegos had failed to disclose a series of major problems related to its sales-tax funded transportation program.

The Sex Work Debate Continues

California Western School of Law professor I. India Thusi appeared on the VOSD podcast to talk about why she believes lumping voluntary sex work with involuntary sex trafficking can be a dangerous and costly practice. Overly broad initiatives, she argued, divert valuable resources and keep voluntary sex workers from seeking safer working conditions.

Interim District Attorney Summer Stephan, who’s running for election on June 5, has highlighted her work combating sex trafficking and previously told us that she didn’t see a meaningful distinction between sex trafficking and sex work, or prostitution.

What’s on Deck for Monday

  • Monday is the last day to register to vote for the June 5 primary. The registrar’s office will be open until 8 p.m., or you can complete forms online anytime before midnight. May 29 is the deadline to apply to vote by mail.
  • The Carlsbad City Council on Monday will weigh whether to get involved in the Trump lawsuit against California’s sanctuary policies.
  • Also on Monday, the San Diego City Council will consider a policy intended to shrink the resource gap between the city’s library branches between neighborhoods. The city would match 50 percent of any private donations and place the other 50 percent in an account to be distributed equitably, the U-T reports.
  • District attorney candidate Genevieve Jones-Wright will be doing a Reddit AMA on Monday morning.

In Other News

This House Is Not a Home

From Randy Dotinga: What the heck is that?

If you ever find yourself driving northwest on San Dieguito Road just past Camino Del Sur in the Black Mountain Ranch neighborhood, take a gander up and to the left. You’ll see a adobe-style house with peculiar tiny second-story windows. “Looks like Irving Gill designed a prison,” says one local wag who knows her architectural history.

The Black Mountain Ranch house / Photo by Randy Dotinga

But this house isn’t designed to keep people in. In fact, it’s designed to keep people out. There’s an imposing fence around it, and you’ll get hustled away by security for the Santaluz gated community if you park nearby and try to peer at the house through binoculars. (Never mind how I know this.)

So is some fancy-pants millionaire living there in isolation, peering peevishly at the traffic on the road below? Nope. As the multicolored hazardous-material warning sign on the front gate suggests, this building isn’t exactly the healthiest place to hide from prying eyes.

And since this is Santaluz, there really should be a golf cart out front. There isn’t.

Turns out that this house isn’t a home at all. It’s entirely bogus, a front to hide cellular antennas that serve an area where cell reception had previously been tricky.

A reader alerted me to the house’s existence after I reported that the strange structure now being constructed in North Park next to the 805 freeway is a fake “water tower” that will house cellular equipment.

According to a 2014 application by Verizon to the city, the 1,568-square-foot “faux house” in Black Mountain Ranch is designed to hide 15 panel antennas, a 2-foot-diameter microwave dish (in the chimney!), an emergency generator with a 210-gallon diesel fuel tank and other equipment.

The design, as a planning consultant told a community planning group, is “fauxdobe” – fake adobe. The house, it seems, is fake in more ways than one. On the bright side, you couldn’t ask for quieter neighbors.

The Morning Report was written by Jesse Marx and edited by Sara Libby.

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