Photo courtesy of Studio E Architects

Look around San Diego and you’ll find plenty of cranes and construction crews. It might not feel like the region has stopped building new homes, but the numbers speak for themselves.

For decades, officials have failed to keep pace with the rate of population growth. Housing experts debate whether the true shortage of units is 60,000 or 140,000.

In a new piece, Andrew Keatts explains why housing has emerged as the dominant political fight in San Diego and much of coastal California. The dire situation in which the region finds itself did not arrive overnight.

Homebuilding has dragged since the 1990s, as available land began to disappear. It’s cheaper for developers to build mass tract homes on a mesa than take an existing piece of land in an urban environment and build up.

The situation was only made worse by the Great Recession. Between foreclosures and short sales, low-cost homes began hitting the market, but regular San Diegans weren’t purchasing those properties. Investors did, and they flipped the homes for significant profit.

None of this would be a problem if the region had stopped growing alongside that slowdown in construction. But the region keeps adding jobs — and people — even as it produces fewer places for those people to sleep at night.

Small Agencies’ Divorce From Water Authority Could Get Messy

Two rural water districts are looking to cut their ties in San Diego County and start buying cheaper water in Riverside. In other words, the Fallbrook Public Utility District and the Rainbow Municipal Water District want a divorce

These types of separations are rare, Ry Rivard reports, and the San Diego County Water Authority isn’t going to just let that happen to them. In late August, the Water Authority set aside $1 million to hire a law firm to defend itself. 

The agency is notoriously aggressive in court, though its track record lately hasn’t been great. 

Last year, it tried to interfere with the delivery of water to five local Indian tribes that had been fighting for the water for 50 years. There was a one-time hit to the Water Authority’s bottom line of about $2 million.

Speaking of which … water rates are going up again.

Why We’re Wary of San Diego Unified’s Misconduct Records

In response to a public records request that reporter Ashly McGlone filed nearly two years ago, San Diego Unified School District has produced 10 cases of sexual misconduct that occurred over a 10-year period

But during much of that same period, the district reported 45 teachers to a statewide agency that handles educator misconduct. Consider us skeptical. 

The size of the discrepancy and the size of the district’s workforce, as well as previous failures to provide misconduct records by the district, all raise concerns that district officials are withholding documents the public is legally entitled to. 

Much smaller districts produced a much higher proportion of cases. For instance, the Grossmont Union High School District employs about 1,000 teachers — a sixth of what San Diego Unified employs — and that district gave us 26 cases.

Politics Roundup

  • Rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft have joined forces with the meal delivery app DoorDash to stop Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s most high-profile bill this session. AB 5 would codify a recent court ruling into law and limit the instances that employers can classify workers as independent contractors.“Billionaires who say they can’t pay minimum wages to their workers say they will spend tens of millions to avoid labor laws,” Gonzalez tweeted. “Just pay your damn workers!” AB 5 passed a key committee hurdle Friday, with some substantial amendments, and will advance to the full state Senate.
  • Over on the podcast, we reviewed the latest dust-ups in the San Diego mayoral race. City Councilwoman Barbara Bry has been touting her vision for Balboa Park, elevating it as a matter “critical” importance in the next election. We also interviewed the first Latina mayor of National City, Alejandra Sotelo-Solis, and talked about equitable housing development. 
  • The Union-Tribune has an update on Republican efforts to hold on to one of their two City Council seats

With Top Editor Gone, CityBeat Is About to Change

CityBeat’s Seth Combs announced that after roughly 15 years at the alternative weekly — and three years as its editor in chief — he’d been fired by its new owner. He tweeted that the Arizona-based Times Media Group was making changes both editorially and financially.

Where the newspaper goes from here is unclear. The Times Media Group purchased CityBeat this summer as part of a group of alt weeklies and magazines.

Combs told the Times of San Diego that CityBeat is not likely to be a left of center publication anymore. 

“They are much more conservative in every aspect,” he said, referring to Times Media Group. “They want to do editorial that is much more safe and much more mainstream.”

The company’s president has signaled that CityBeat would have less control over its operations than under the previous owner. 

All along, Combs said, his goal had been to give alternative voices a platform and feature stories that weren’t likely to appear in larger outlets. “I think we did that for the most part,” he said on Twitter. “I love CityBeat so much, but it’s over in more ways than one.”

In Other News

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

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