A garden statue of an eagle remains standing after the Lilac Fire hit homes in Fallbrook. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

East County homeowners are starting to have more trouble finding fire insurance.

Ry Rivard explains how the insurance industry seems to be adapting to the spate of catastrophic fires that have struck California in recent years: They’re dropping some homeowners, declining to write new policies and raising rates for people in high-risk areas.

This all frustrates homeowners, especially those who are getting dropped by their long-time insurer.

So far, though, insurance industry officials and regulators don’t believe there’s a crisis, in part because California has a backstop fire insurance plan offered by the California FAIR Plan Association, which is seeing more interest from homeowners who have trouble finding insurance elsewhere.

Bob Soto, an insurance agent in Alpine, said he’s heard that most major insurers are pulling back or won’t write policies for new customers. He’s advising people to begin thinking about insurance before they put an offer down on a home. He’s also among those who wonder how an insurer’s pricing may affect the affordability of new homes that developers are planning to build in high-risk areas.

“They are going to have to think about that, because it doesn’t do you much good to build if they aren’t going to sell,” Soto said.

Margaret Hunter Drops the ‘Not’ From Her ‘Not Guilty’ Plea

It’s official: Rep. Duncan Hunter’s wife has flipped on him.

Margaret Hunter, who was indicted along with her husband last year, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in federal court Thursday, admitting she had spent thousands of dollars from her husband’s campaign account on personal expenses over a number of years, as the Union-Tribune reported. She now faces up to five years in prison, and the remaining counts against her will be dropped at sentencing.

That’s because Margaret Hunter has been cooperating with federal prosecutors in the case against her husband for months, according to a 22-page agreement she signed. Margaret Hunter was also a paid treasurer for Duncan Hunter’s campaigns.

In a statement issued after his wife’s plea, Duncan Hunter said it was “obvious that the Department of Justice went after her to get to me for political reasons,” NBC 7 San Diego reported.

  • In 2017, in the midst of two years of investigative coverage that eventually culminated in Duncan Hunter’s indictment, the Union-Tribune reported that the Hunters had used campaign funds to, among other things, fly their pet bunny across the country. The other paw dropped Thursday, as we finally learned the bunny’s name. He is called Eggburt.

San Diego Is Building Far Fewer Homes This Year

Production of new homes in San Diego County has plummeted in the first months of 2019, according to a new report by the Union-Tribune.

In the first three months of the year, there were 58 percent fewer permits for new homes issued than in the same stretch a year earlier; that crash was led by apartments, where new permits fell 70 percent from a year ago. San Diego’s home production fell the most out of the seven counties surveyed by the Real Estate Research Council of Southern California.

The steep decline coincides with a renewed push from local elected officials to remove regulations in an effort to spur more homebuilding, and a new pledge from elected officials on SANDAG’s board to build far more homes over the next 10 years.

Meanwhile, a state bill that sought to make it dramatically easier for developers to build more homes near transit, jobs and good schools was abruptly shelved last month.

In Other News

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

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