Homes overlook Swami’s Beach in Encinitas. / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle
Homes overlook Swami’s Beach in Encinitas. / Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle

A judge in North County is considering drastic steps in Encinitas, after voters there rejected yet another state-mandated housing plan.

Much of coastal California is opposed to taller, denser development, but California requires cities to prepare for future growth by identifying locations where new housing could conceivably go someday. The most housing-averse city in San Diego County, Encinitas has been unable to do that for years.

One of the biggest obstacles, and the main source of dispute in a courtroom this week, as Jesse Marx reports, is a law in Encinitas that gives locals final say over major land-use changes. Voters rejected Measure U last week and a previous housing plan in 2016.

Attorneys for various tenants and developers are now asking the San Diego Superior Court to temporarily suspend the Encinitas law so that city officials can comply with California rules to draft a housing plan. A judge sounded sympathetic to their request.

One of the leading opponents of compared Measure U which could have lead to 1,500 new units on 15 privately owned sites to attempts after the Civil War to segregate and disenfranchise black people.

Speaking of Housing …

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is pushing for more housing for homeless San Diegans citywide.

Faulconer announced late Tuesday that he has asked each of the city’s nine City Council members to identify at least two potential locations in their districts for supportive housing projects within the next 30 days.

His request follows the City Council’s recent approval of a resolution calling for the city to back at least 140 new permanent supportive housing units in each Council district by 2021.

Holy Smokes, Elections Update!

  • Paul McNamara is now winning the Escondido mayor’s race over incumbent Sam Abed by 237 votes. If McNamara’s lead holds, the Escondido City Council will be majority Democrat.
  • Mike Schaefer, a colorful former San Diego city councilman, has taken the lead over Republican state Sen. Joel Anderson for the Board of Equalization. Schaefer is nearly 8,000 votes ahead now.
  • In the San Diego Community College District race, Sean Elo is still ahead of David Alvarez, an outgoing city councilman. Assemblyman Brian Maienschein is still leading Sunday Gover.

More: Alvarez Dishes

At our Brews and News event last night in Barrio Logan, Alvarez let loose.

  • He announced that he had called Sean Elo to concede the race for a seat on the board of the San Diego Community College District.
  • He said he was unlikely to run for county supervisor in 2020. He’s already raised significant funds for that race (which had made his choice to run for the Community College District curious). When VOSD’s Scott Lewis asked Alvarez to clarify whether he was closer to a one (not running) or a ten (certainly running), Alvarez said he was at a three.
  • He said he had gotten disillusioned with the transactional culture of politics at City Hall and offered a behind-the-scenes look at the deal-making that led to Council president selections.

We’ll grab the transcript from his remarks and share more in the Politics Report and podcast.

Councilwoman Georgette Gomez also came up to take some questions in front of the crowd. She confirmed she was hoping to become Council president.

San Diego City Councilwoman Georgette Gomez addresses the Brews and News crowd with Councilman David Alvarez in the background. / Photo by Scott Lewis

Fire Conditions Are Dangerous in San Diego

Dried-up vegetation, a dearth of autumn rain and hot, dry winds could spell disaster for San Diego’s fire season.

VOSD contributor Diana Leonard asked experts to gauge San Diego’s fire risk and explained (for those of us who weren’t quite sure) exactly what Santa Ana winds are.

What she found: This fall’s rains weren’t enough to stave off the peril associated with the Santa Ana winds — and the situation could worsen in coming years.

The Court of Appeal has rebuffed San Diego Gas & Electric’s latest effort to try to recover $379 million it spent on 2007 wildfire costs from ratepayers, according to the Union-Tribune.

First Groups of Caravan Members Continue to Arrive in Tijuana

Smaller groups of Central Americans fleeing their countries and traveling together through Mexico have been arriving in Tijuana since Sunday.

Since the first group of LGBTQ migrants arrived Sunday, buses with more people have come in the past few days.

Roughly 80 migrants arrived Sunday. More than 300 arrived Monday and another group of over 300 came Tuesday, tweeted KPBS’s Jean Guerrero. And there are more on the way.

More groups from several caravans traveling through Mexico are in various places on the journey, according to the Associated Press. Some are still in Mexico City, some in Sinoloa and Jalisco. There are also reports of smaller groups that have chosen to take the route to Texas’ border.

The influx of migrants is posing a problem for Tijuana, which only had shelter capacity for about 1,400, the Union-Tribune reports. It’s also bringing anxiety to other asylum-seekers who have already been waiting in Tijuana to be processed by U.S. officials.

Military troops and immigration officials closed multiple lanes at the San Ysidro and Otay Mesa Ports of Entry to “harden” the border crossings for the migrants’ arrival.

They’ve also set up near the border at Imperial Beach, as many migrants have gone to the Tijuana side of the fence — some even climbing to the top of it — to see their first glimpse of the United States.

Plaza de Panama Project Scores Legal Wins

The controversial plan to overhaul Balboa Park’s central mesa just notched two more legal victories.

The state Court of Appeal on Tuesday denied Save Our Heritage Organisation’s petition for a rehearing following the court’s decision that the city was not required to conduct more environmental reviews when it revived the project two years ago, as the preservationist group had argued.

And Superior Court Judge Gregory Pollack earlier this month issued a final ruling in the city’s favor in a case San Diegans for Open Government filed challenging the project’s plan to rely on up to $50 million in bonds to finance the project.

Both lawsuits had kept the city from moving forward with the overhaul.

The recent rulings don’t mean the legal battles are over.

Bruce Coons, who leads SOHO, said his group expects to request early next year that the state Supreme Court hear its case.

A spokeswoman for Mayor Kevin Faulconer said San Diegans for Open Government also has until early next year to appeal the ruling in the bond case.

Meanwhile, the city is continuing to lay the groundwork to break ground next year.

The city is set to receive bids from contractors early next month that will help officials and supporters decide whether the project, which aims to clear cars from the park’s center, remains financially feasible.

In Other News

  • SANDAG’s delay in moving forward on a $2.5 million bike infrastructure project in Talmadge especially stings for a Talmadge woman whose husband was fatally injured in a bicycle accident in the area, KBPS reports.
  • The Scripps Institution of Oceanography will set up a network of instruments in Imperial Beach to monitor sea-level rise and predict coastal flooding. A report last year by the California Ocean Protection Council found that sea levels in La Jolla could rise between two and 10 feet by the end of the century. (Times of San Diego, KUSI)
  • Meanwhile, the Union-Tribune reports that researchers at Scripps and Princeton University are walking back scientific findings published last month that showed oceans have been heating up dramatically faster than previously thought as a result of climate change.
  • The U-T also reports that the future of Thrive charter schools are now in question following the San Diego Unified school board’s vote to recommend it be denied for renewal.  Thrive has been caught in the district’s crosshairs before. As VOSD has previously reported, Thrive appealed to the state Board of Education and won in 2014.

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

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