The old Palomar Hospital in downtown Escondido will be razed and replaced with a mixed-use apartment and condo project as part of the city’s revitalization efforts. / Photo by Jesse Marx
The old Palomar Hospital in downtown Escondido will be razed and replaced with a mixed-use apartment and condo project as part of the city’s revitalization efforts. / Photo by Jesse Marx

The transformation of the old Palomar Hospital is seen in Escondido as the key to the future growth of the city.

But the new developer that owns the site –14 acres of downtown real estate near transit lines and job centers – plans to build only 450 units, just one third of what’s allowed there.

That’s not unheard of, reports Jesse Marx, but it goes against the grain of region’s politics, which are shifting as California puts increasing pressure on cities to build more.

The city’s director of community development Bill Martin said he’s trying to figure out why Integral Communities, the developer, offered so few units. He said it probably had something to do with the project’s townhomes, “a very marketable type of housing.”

Officials across the county are trying to boost housing availability. In San Diego, the City Council recently chewed out a developer for offering a project that wasn’t dense enough. And San Diego’s mayor this week, in his State of the City address, proposed eliminating height limits near many transit stations — the opening shots in a war that could remake the urban tableau.

  • Speaking of, the Union-Tribune asks the provocative question: “Is San Diego County done building single-family homes?” Kent Aden, senior development manager for HomeFed Corp., the biggest landowner in Otay Ranch, gave a good summary of where things stand countywide: “There’s less and less land, and more and more opposition.”

Cory Briggs Is Running for Mayor, Apparently

Late Wednesday night, attorney Cory Briggs announced on Twitter that he was so disgusted by Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s State of the City speech and especially its promise to remove height limits near transit outside the coast that he would join the 2020 mayor’s race. Sort of.

He actually said that he had expected other elected officials to rail against Faulconer’s proposal, and was shocked when no one had.

“So in the mayor’s race, if nobody else is gonna fight to protect San Diego’s environment and our quality of life, count me in,” he wrote.

We reached out to Briggs to get clarity on whether that meant he was running for mayor, or what he needed to see from another candidate to keep him from getting in.

“It’s in the statement,” he wrote in a text message. “It’s in all my other Tweets. I have nothing to add.”

On Twitter, Briggs told one person who asked where he could donate to his mayoral campaign that it wouldn’t be necessary, because he planned to pay his own way.

Water District Board Members Give Themselves Insurance

The Union-Tribune’s editorial board came out against a South Bay water district board that voted to give itself health insurance.

“Board members with local water agencies — often politicians or politically connected people — don’t always bring a lot of relevant expertise to the job,” the paper opined, after it reported that Sweetwater Authority in Chula Vista voted 6-1 to expand already-existing health insurance coverage to dependents. “They generally meet no more than a few times a month, basically to bless staff recommendations.”

Board member Josie Calderon-Scott, who voted against the benefit expansion, noted her and her fellow board members don’t work full time — “not even part time,” she said, according to the paper.

But Sweetwater isn’t alone, several other local water districts offer some sort of health benefits to board members. According to an analysis by Sweetwater, the others are: Carlsbad, Helix, Lakeside, Olivenhain, Otay, Padre Dam, Rincon del Diablo, Santa Fe Irrigation District, Vallecitos, Vista, Yuima and the Leucadia Wastewater District.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Ry Rivard and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.

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