The controversial Plaza de Panama project is on hold. Again.
Philanthropist Irwin Jacobs, who has long championed the Balboa Park makeover, confirmed that the plan to clear cars from the park’s center is unlikely to move forward anytime soon following higher-than-expected construction bids.
“There is an excellent plan for how to proceed, but the costs are a little too high at this point,” Jacobs told Voice of San Diego’s Lisa Halverstadt.
Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who revived the project two years ago, said he remained committed to other improvements in Balboa Park.
Meanwhile, City Councilman Chris Ward, who represents the district that includes the park, said he hopes the city will take a more methodical approach when weighing Balboa Park projects and needs in the future.
San Diego Had Some Dubious Shout-outs in the State of the State Address
From Sara Libby: The good news from Gov. Gavin Newsom’s State of the State address in Sacramento on Tuesday is that the governor definitely is aware San Diego exists. The bad news is that all of his shoutouts to the region were for bad reasons.
In announcing he was scaling back the high-speed rail project, he acknowledged it never would have reached San Diego anyway. He mentioned SDG&E’s credit rating was downgraded. And he singled out San Diego’s hepatitis A crisis as evidence of the need to do more to solve the statewide homelessness crisis.
Notably absent from the governor’s speech: Much talk of climate change, criminal justice or single-payer health care. He did tackle many major issues, though, which brings us to …
Newsom Backs One Water Tunnel Plan, Dealing Blow to Brown Legacy
Former Gov. Jerry Brown last year scrambled to secure a plan to build two water tunnels that would deliver water during heavy rain events from Northern California to Los Angeles and San Diego, fearing his successor would otherwise kill a project his father started some six decades ago.
Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom did just that, announcing the state would instead build a single tunnel that would boast roughly a quarter of the water capacity the elder Brown envisioned.
In a new story, Ry Rivard outlined the project’s long history, the arguments that led to its demise and what officials are watching for now as Newsom pursues his new, smaller vision.
A Busy Day for the County
Meanwhile, in San Diego, on the same day the governor used San Diego’s hepatitis A crisis as a statewide warning on the dangers of the homelessness, county supervisors accepted an award from the California Association of Counties for its response to the 2017 outbreak that left 20 dead and sickened hundreds more. The group’s executive director dubbed the local response “a great example of taking an issue that was a crisis and meeting the needs of the community and doing it in a creative and comprehensive way.”
That’s despite a state audit released in December that panned the county’s response to the 2017 outbreak.
- The county supervisors — four Republicans and one Democrat, remember — also voted Tuesday to sue the federal government over its policy of releasing asylum-seeking families on the streets of San Diego without any resources, rather than connecting them with sponsors or family members, as had been the practice prior to October. (Union-Tribune)
Keeping More Artists in Town
Arts organizations are responsible for the health and well-being of a city’s cultural ecosystem. But there will be nothing to support if there are no artists capable of living here.
Voice contributor Julia Dixon Evans writes this week in the Culture Report that affordable housing was the topic of a recent community forum showcasing one group’s proposal for a new workshop and living space for artists in Sherman Heights.
“I don’t want to hear stories of you moving to Tijuana or Carlsbad or L.A.,” Jonathon Glus, Commission for the Arts and Culture director, told the audience.
Plus: There was exciting news from UCSD’s department of theater and dance this week, when three playwrights were selected for the Humana Festival of New American plays. The works will premiere in March.
In Other News
- The County Office of Education has taken away the Sweetwater Union High School District’s ability to pay its bills after yet another audit found significant financial irregularities at the second largest high school district in the county, the Union-Tribune reported. Earlier this week, VOSD;s Will Huntsberry reported that rank-and-file staffers had identified problems with the district’s books and told their supervisors, only to have their concerns dismissed.
- Former San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman said she will not run for mayor. Though an independent, some conservatives and Republicans hoped she would enter the race, which seems hopeless for anyone but a Democrat in 2020 with Donald Trump atop the ticket. (KUSI)
- It may cost $3 billion to move the train tracks that run along Del Mar’s eroding coast. (Fox 5)
- Planners at SANDAG are looking at five routes to re-align the tracks before the coast gives way. (Union Tribune)
- Ammar Campa-Najjar talks about his last race and the race to come against Rep. Duncan Hunter, the incumbent congressman accused of campaign finance violations who has been stripped of many of his official duties in Washington while he awaits trial. Hunter and his father, also former congressman, smeared Campa-Najjar with personal, misleading and bigoted attacks during the campaign. While votes were still being counted, Campa-Najjar said he ran into Hunter family members. “We developed Stockholm syndrome a little bit with each other,” he said. “When you spend that kind of time together, you can’t help but humanize each other.” (Los Angeles Times)
- There’s a poll going around Facebook asking people who they will vote for in the next election: Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum or a potato — 97 percent went with the potato.
- Sempra Energy, the San Diego-based parent company of San Diego Gas & Electric, continues to sell off its non-utility assets as it focuses on the guaranteed profit utilities usually make. (Union-Tribune)
- 10News told a heart-wrenching story of a 98-year woman whose landlord wanted to evict her. Now, the woman gets to stay in her home – for now.
Today’s Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.