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One of the 26 city buildings inside Arts District Liberty Station. / Photo by Kinsee Morlan

Many artists with studios in Arts District Liberty Station say the high rents mean only artists who are affluent enough not to worry about selling art can afford to set up shop inside the city-owned arts district.

The lack of diversity across the arts district campus is a criticism echoed by a state panel that recently observed the arts district, and declined to name it an official state cultural destination. Balboa Park, Barrio Logan and a section of Oceanside made the cut, but Arts District Liberty Station didn’t. The panelists expressed concerns about the lack of artists and communities of color.

“Visitorship seems low and not very diverse for the area – does not seem to be culturally diverse or activated,” wrote one panelist.

Why this matters: Arts District Liberty Station is housed in 26 city-owned buildings. The city and the master developer of the former Naval Training Center promised San Diegans a regional arts and culture district as part of the deal to develop the public property. Tenants at the arts district have long complained about high rents at Arts District Liberty Station, and now they’re also clamoring for more of a say in how the arts district develops. San Diego residents should also be interested in a status update when it comes to the cultural district they were promised.

What’s next: Inspired by a panel discussion last year on disappearing arts spaces across San Diego, the NTC Foundation recently announced a new plan to build more affordable art studios on its campus. Perhaps the project will work to attract younger, more diverse artists.

All Eyes on the Border

If there’s one theme about the border that still holds true, it’s that national policies are focused on division – the wall, fights over tariffs, etc. – while locals are focused on unifying San Diego and Tijuana even further – think bridges to the airport and other infrastructure.

A new study drives this home. Its participants spoke of eventually moving the area divided by an international boundary toward a singular neighborhood, which would include breweries, wineries and other small businesses where border-crossers could linger, the Union-Tribune reports.

Big Votes at City Council and Port Commission Today

The San Diego City Council and Port Commission will both vote Tuesday on whether to pay a couple of guys who hold the lease on the Fifth Avenue Landing $5 million immediately and more than $28 million more should supporters persuade voters to expand the Convention Center with an increase in hotel taxes.

Should the initiative fail, the partners who now hold the lease can keep the $5 million and then continue pursuing construction of the hotel they have planned for the site. That would end the hopes of expanding the Convention Center as it has been imagined for several years.

Here’s the mayor’s fact sheet on the deal.

We have followed it for years. The city could have had the lease which is for state land for $12.5 million plus interest years ago. But it simply stopped making payments and the partnership foreclosed on the lease and began pursuing the hotel vision.

Activist Investors Target Sempra

A pair of activist investors wants to shake things up at Sempra Energy, the parent company of San Diego Gas & Electric.

In his bi-weekly roundup of environmental news, VOSD’s Ry Rivard reports that two investment funds announced Monday they had bought about 5 percent of Sempra and want to restructure the company by replacing members of the its board and selling off subsidiaries.

Also in the Environment Report: The state budget includes cash for San Diego’s wastewater recycling project, coal could be making a federally driven comeback and more.

San Diego County’s Jail Deaths Make Headlines Again

San Diego County Jail has a shockingly high suicide rate compared with California’s 10 largest jails.

A new Pacific Standard story details what a recent report and private lawsuits allege is serious negligence among San Diego County staff and officials toward inmates with mental illnesses. The county, though, has a report of its own that found its jail does not have a suicide problem.

VOSD contributor Kelly Davis has been writing for years about inmate deaths. Most recently she revealed a new Grand Jury report that questions a decision by the watchdog group that monitors county law enforcement to dismiss 22 investigations involving people who’d died in jail or during the arrest process.

What County Workers Expect of Nathan Fletcher

From Scott Lewis: On Wednesday morning, members of the Invest in San Diego families coalition will give county supervisors an earful. The coalition of activist groups is upset the supervisors did not schedule an evening budget hearing this year to make it easier for people to attend.

The group is led in part by SEIU, Local 221, the union that represents most county workers. It wouldn’t be a bad bet to assume Nathan Fletcher will be there with them. The candidate for county supervisor owes his performance in the runoff to the support he got from unions, including SEIU.

I finally got a chance to ask SEIU’s David Garcias what he expects from Fletcher should that translate to a win. He said he wants to see the priorities and services of the county expand, and he wants to see a new office for immigrant services, as Fletcher has proposed.

Garcias said that the county has been led for too long by Republicans, but I asked him about the term of Dave Roberts, a Democrat who lasted four years until 2016.

“Anything he tried to do, they would stop. They’d punish him for trying to be too inclusive. We needed someone who will stand up. Nathan will have the experience to push back,” Garcias said.

In Other News

  • In a new op-ed, attorney Matt Strabone, who ran for San Diego County assessor-recorder-clerk, says there are some lessons to be gleaned from the recent election. His main takeaway: The conventional wisdom that Democrats don’t vote in midterm primaries chiefly holds true, but if a primary race gets enough press coverage, Democratic voters will indeed show up.
  • At a recurring homelessness symposium, city leaders announced plans for two new programs aimed at helping homeless people. One would allow people who sleep in their cars to legally park in downtown lots, and another is a new jobs programs for people in a temporary housing. (Union-Tribune)

    The San Diego Community College District announced it would start offering two years of community college tuition free to all first-time, full time, recent high school graduates from San Diego County. The first year’s tuition will be funded by state money, through a state bill signed into law last year, while the second year will be underwritten by district fundraising. (10News)
  • A Salk Institute professor under investigation for sexual harassment has resigned. (Union-Tribune)


In our story on a Chula Vista High School teacher who was found to have harassed female students, we misidentified that teacher, Anthony Atienza, as a current employee of Christian Youth Theater. His contract there ended June 6.

The Morning Report was written and compiled by Maya Srikrishnan and Kinsee Morlan, and edited by Sara Libby.

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