I was out of the office on vacation in 2016 when we finally published a story we’d been chasing down for a while – explaining the real reason the city installed jagged rocks under an overpass in Sherman Heights to deter homeless people from sleeping there.
A city spokesman said the rocks were installed at the request of residents there. But emails Kelly Davis obtained told another story: “the rocks were part of a larger effort to clean up the area prior to the July 12 All-Star Game.”
I was digging into a dope birthday lunch when someone sent me Deadspin’s take on our piece.
Their headline was “Report: Padres Were Eager for San Diego to Install Jagged Rocks to Keep Homeless People Away From the All Star Game.” The piece dubbed the city’s original explanation for the rocks “bogus.”
That ability to be so totally cutthroat and delightful at the same time is what made Deadspin so special. That story is also a glaring example of why Deadspin’s new owners’ mandate that the site “stick to sports” – prompting the firing of its top editor, followed by mass resignations – is so absurd. Yes, the Padres and the All-Star Game played starring roles in that piece. But at the heart of it was deception by the city’s elected officials, and the massive, intractable homelessness problem that it is politicians’ jobs to address. It was a sports story, and it was a politics story.
The same goes for the drama that’s consumed the city for years – and continues to, even long after the Chargers left: the fate of the stadium formerly known as Qualcomm.
This was Deadspin’s headline after San Diego voters rejected 2016’s Measure C, the ballot measure that would have allowed the team to build a downtown stadium: “San Diego Stands Tall, Tells the Chargers to Fuck Off.” It almost brings a tear to my eye.
As recently as last week, I lamented East Coast journalists’ tendency to write about California and San Diego without really understanding what they were talking about.
But when Deadspin wrote about San Diego, they got us deeply, right down to our rendering-loving core. I’ll leave you with this reaction to the team’s stadium renderings:
“Is that Budweiser AND Toyota signage? Be still my heart! It’s like I’ve died and gone to signage heaven! Of all the stadium amenities out there, branded signage is the one that means the most to me.
And are there terraces? YOU BEST YOUR FUCKING ASS THERE ARE TERRACES.”
What VOSD Learned This Week
The San Diego Cooperative Charter School is in crisis, and one or both of its campuses could be forced to close.
Thomas Jefferson School of Law, meanwhile, has been facing various crises for a while now. Our contributor Lyle Moran got the scoop on how a fight over the school’s ability to accept GI Bill benefits got the attention of the Trump administration.
As the city’s crime lab worked to clear its rape kit backlog, it told analysts to handle the kits in a way that resulted in fewer DNA profiles being uploaded to the federal database CODIS.
It looks like a deal for the Mission Valley stadium land could be imminent, which means this is the last chance the public has to wield real leverage over what gets built.
The county is moving forward with its effort to create a network of behavioral health hubs and mental health crisis units.
Politifest happened! In the Sacramento Report, I recounted the most interesting conversations around SB 50, the measure to spur more home-building near transit. On this week’s podcast, we broke down the biggest moments from the event. And we’ve turned many of the day’s sessions into special podcast episodes: Check out these discussions on California’s housing supply, transit in the West and the debate over the hotel room tax increase.
What I’m Reading
- Prisons were designed for men. Facilities (including one in San Diego) are slowly starting to grapple with better ways to house women prisoners. (Washington Post Magazine)
- Dahlia Lithwick has for years covered the Supreme Court. But since the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, she hasn’t been back – and her piece explaining her reasoning is powerful and devastating. (Slate)
- A private security firm that’s one of the world’s biggest employers hired countless people with violent pasts. What happened next is predictable but still infuriating. (USA Today/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
- The thing about trying to scam a journalist is that they’ll eventually figure it out, and write a story about it – like this one did with a prolific Airbnb scam. (Vice)
Line of the Week
“California has always been a place that seems to be on the edge and running on empty, and maybe the best you can ever say about it is, hey, at least we’re not Florida.” – California Man > Florida Man