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San Diego County broke ground this week on a new assessor/recorder/county clerk building in Santee.

I know this because a press release invited me to “commemorate this monumental architectural milestone.”

I already knew, though, that San Diego County loves to build buildings. The idea that county supervisors love to build buildings – and that they stockpile money that allows them to pay cash for those buildings, at the expense of services for the vulnerable people they serve – has been at the center of a growing chorus of criticism for more than a year.

That criticism has so riled Supervisor Ron Roberts that he last week threw a petulant and embarrassing tantrum during a board meeting when the director of the city’s homeless choir made polite and restrained remarks suggesting the county could do more to help the homeless.

One of the people who’s suggested the county could do more to take on homelessness is San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

But Faulconer, too, is in the midst of pursuing a building-centric solution to homelessness. The city acted with uncharacteristic swiftness to purchase a shuttered skydiving facility that it wants to turn into a hub for homeless services – instead of actual housing for the homeless.

The city decided against conducting its own appraisal for the building, and paid $7 million for it.

Before that happened, Deacon Jim Vargas of Father Joe’s Villages toured the building and concluded that whoever ultimately took it over would have a lot of work on their hands – on account of it’s a skydiving center.

“My reaction was, wow, this is gonna take a lot of work to convert to anything that we can use,” Vargas told Lisa Halverstadt. “It has two gigantic silos in the middle of the first floor. It was made to be a skydiving center.”

The idea that buildings can solve a great deal of problems is not just the domain of Republican leaders.

San Diego Unified’s school board, led entirely by union-backed trustees, is pushing another multimillion-dollar school bond that they say would go to repair crumbling facilities and building new ones. They’re promising to build the same projects they promised in the last two multimillion-dollar bond measures. A great deal of the spending from the last bond measure has gone toward building stadiums – something school leaders did not play up during the campaign to get it passed.

A couple years ago, during an event with Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, Scott Lewis asked her about the plan to tear down and rebuild one school in particular, Memorial Prep. Weber was wary of that plan – and her explanation for why could apply not just to that school but to the entire approach of building our way out of our region’s most pressing problems.

“If building new schools was the key, we’d have found that key and opened that door. That’s not the answer,” she said. “People will come where excellence is.”

What VOSD Learned This Week

Whoa, San Diego might actually do a big thing: Mayor Kevin Faulconer is proposing a CCA, or a government-run power agency. Don’t let the acronyms and policy fool you: This is a big deal. We created this handy FAQ about how it will work and what will happen next.


In order to balance out the universe, San Diego also this week rescinded the vacation rental regulations it passed just a few months ago.


SoccerCity, if it passes, would also be a big thing for San Diego. Andrew Keatts set out to determine how legally enforceable some of SoccerCity backers’ most enticing promises are. The verdict: It’s unclear. But they’re probably enforceable. Maybe.


Chula Vista Police Department leaders spent months organizing a private fundraiser during business hours, including soliciting donations from people who had business before the city.


Maya Srikrishnan has been tracking what happened to members of the migrant caravan that arrived at the border in April. She told the story of three women who were pregnant when they were detained by immigration authorities and who were treated so badly they’re now raising funds to help other pregnant women still in detention. And she explained what’s likely to happen to the latest caravan of migrants currently making their way north.


This is a clear, concise breakdown of the candidates and issues in the race for state superintendent. And over at the state Bureau of Cannabis Control, regulators are hoping new rules will force silent pot investors to be more open about their involvement in marijuana businesses.

What I’m Reading

Line of the Week

“Avenatti and Trump have taken opposite approaches to hair loss, and perhaps it says everything or nothing about the contrast between the two men that one constructed the world’s most aggressive comb-over while the other eliminated the issue entirely.” – Your weekly reminder that Molly Ball is the best political writer in America.

Sara Libby

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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