sandag board san diego
A meeting of the SANDAG board of directors. / Photo by Vito Di Stefano

The San Diego Association of Governments has an ambitious plan to solve two big problems at once, but Voice’s Andrew Keatts reports that it may require the seizure of private land.

SANDAG needs a lot to hold all the buses that currently idle on downtown streets while drivers take breaks. Right now portable toilets line certain sidewalks, so the drivers have somewhere to relieve themselves.

The agency is also facing a revenue crunch.

Enter a proposal to grab a full block in downtown San Diego, where staff envisions a layover area for drivers, plus a new high-rise that could house SANDAG’s headquarters plus additional space that could be rented out to other groups.

So what? Eminent domain is a controversial practice, and governments are typically sheepish about using their power to take land that doesn’t belong to them (in exchange for a fair market price). This is new territory for SANDAG and the construction of a downtown high-rise would make it a developer and landlord.
Plenty of SANDAG’s board members think this is a great project and an example of creative, good governance. Others are wary and wonder if there’s a cheaper way to get buses off the street.

The deal could cost $112 million, less than what SANDAG thinks it’ll spend to simply build a bus lot and continue renting space in its current home.

What’s next? SANDAG will hold another hearing on the project Friday. But don’t expect officials to re-open the eminent domain process. Instead, staff will present a list of other options that could be pursued.

One Measure Kept Off Ballot, Another Can Stay for Now

A contingent hoping to force countywide elections to go to a November runoff, similar to a change made to San Diego city elections in 2016, hit a setback: The registrar of voters rejected the signatures intended to qualify the measure for the November ballot.

A state bill passed last year enabled proponents of the change to start collecting signatures. But instead of stipulating that the measure could qualify with 10 percent of the number of people who voted in the previous election, the law stipulates the measure needs 10 percent of all voters – a much higher bar. Gloria is scrambling to fix the legislation retroactively.

Meanwhile, the Superior Court rejected a lawsuit Friday that sought to keep SDSU West’s plan to redevelop the Qualcomm stadium site off the November ballot, reports the Union-Tribune.

Competing redevelopment ballot measures are in the works – one by a group calling itself Friends of SDSU and another by SoccerCity.

Supporters of SoccerCity sued in April, alleging that Friends of SDSU’s name falsely implied that the university endorses that proposal, but a judge disagreed. SoccerCity reps said they plan to appeal the judge’s ruling, the U-T reported.

In May, San Diego filed its own suits against both measures, arguing that each infringed on the authority of the mayor and City Council. The city attorney argued that the forced sale of the property is an administrative act, not a legislative act, and only legislative acts can go to voters.

New State Funds Will Go Toward the Homeless, Students

California approved a $200 billion budget, and plenty of items caught our attention.

  • Efforts to combat homelessness statewide got a one-time boost of $600 million. San Diego County will receive $32 million, about 45 percent of which is going directly to the city of San Diego.
  • Assemblywoman Shirley Weber secured $300 million to help close the achievement gap for low-performing students in public schools.
  • Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher secured $10 million that will go toward distributing diapers to families in need via food banks.

Then there’s money that didn’t make it into the budget: a proposal to staff new Justice Department teams responsible for stopping large-scale illegal operators of marijuana didn’t get funded. Gov. Jerry Brown and lawmakers couldn’t agree on where the $14 million should come from.

In Other News

  • The Union-Tribune examined the fentanyl drug pipeline, and the large role San Diego’s border with Mexico plays in it.
  • Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong’s purchase of the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune is set to be finalized Monday. He wrote a note to readers about his background and his intentions for the papers. (Los Angeles Times)
  • The San Diego City Council is preparing to debate vacation rental regulations again. Over on the podcast, we have a breakdown of what’s being proposed and where some of the major of contention will be.
  • Michael Smolens considers the once-powerful labor leader Mickey Kasparian, whose backing of political candidates seems intensely personal and continues to cause rifts among local unions. (Union-Tribune)


Friday’s Morning Report misidentified Monica Montgomery, the City Council candidate challenging Councilwoman Myrtle Cole, as well as the news outlet that wrote a story about the race; it was inewsource.

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

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