The president gives an annual State of the Union address and here in San Diego, the mayor gives a State of the City address.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer is set to give his big annual speech tonight. Like many San Diego mayors before him, he’ll likely reflect on wins in the past year and lay out goals for the rest of his tenure as mayor.
So, where’s the beef, you ask?
Our Andrew Keatts, Lisa Halverstadt, Scott Lewis and Ry Rivard weighed in on the top issues and details they’ll be watching for in tonight’s speech.
Among the items on VOSD’s watch list: plans to address the city’s homeless crisis, the future of the Convention Center and a Faulconer-backed ballot measure aimed at expanding it and the latest on talks between the city and San Diego State University for the Mission Valley stadium site.
Look out for more details on the mayor’s speech in Wednesday’s Morning Report.
Judge Tentatively Rules Against MTS in Long-Running Border Bus Terminal Dispute
Fifteen years ago, MTS spent $1.3 million to seize private property so it could build a nice new terminal for long-distance bus operators in San Ysidro, steps from one of the world’s busiest border crossings. A decade after that, it inked a deal with a private company to build the terminal and generate new revenue for the agency out of the company’s profits.
Now, the terminal is confusing, unsafe and haphazard, according to a Superior Court judge. That’s after the terminal cost twice as much to build as estimated, and has yet to generate $1 in revenue for MTS.
In the meantime, MTS has been stuck in a lawsuit with the neighboring property owner for five years, arguing the owner of a two-story building that’s home to a McDonald’s was trespassing when he installed a door that allowed the public to access the bus station from the building’s second floor. MTS has spent roughly $500,000 fighting the lawsuit, MTS said.
But Judge Katherine Bacal, in a tentative ruling issued on Christmas Eve, sided against MTS, saying its argument didn’t make any sense because the bus terminal is public property.
After ruling against MTS on the merits of the case, Bacal then chastised the public agency and the neighboring property owner, saying the state of the area was self-evidently insufficient and that no one should be proud of how things stand.
MTS has filed a motion asking for changes to the tentative ruling. If it doesn’t succeed, the agency will have to decide whether to appeal, and spend more time and money to preserve the state of a messy, underwhelming bus station accessed by thousands of border-crossers every year.
Burning Questions on Where to Build Homes
Tony Mecham, the county’s fire marshal, has seen some devastating fires in his career.
But as deadlier wildfires coincide with the country’s housing crisis, Mecham finds himself in unfamiliar territory: a political firestorm.
“Because Mecham and his staff need to sign off on new development, he’s also at the center of a major fight over land use in rural areas,” Ry Rivard explains in the latest Environment Report.
Mecham said his job is mostly to follow a black-and-white process about whether a project meets the county fire code, which has been approved by the state. He also said homeowners have a responsibility to make their homes less fire-prone, and cautioned that if certain steps aren’t taken, there could be situations where firefighters won’t protect empty homes.
In Other News
- The New York Times explores how the craft beer world is tackling its diversity problem, and highlights San Diego brewers who are focusing on Mexican lagers and making investments in Tijuana.
- UC San Diego has opened a new emergency unit designed specifically to care for seniors. (Union-Tribune)
- A massive sinkhole opened up on an I-805 offramp to Kearney Villa Road. (10News)
- More than 9,000 immigration court hearings have been canceled in California alone since the beginning of the government shutdown, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.
The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby, Andrew Keatts and Lisa Halverstadt.