A view of the Bahia Resort Hotel / Photo by Sam Hodgson

Several weeks ago, a federal judge dismissed a case brought by a prominent San Diego hotelier against a pair of unions. Bill Evans, whose family business operates the Bahia Resort, argued that labor leaders had been holding up his project and others for years with bogus environmental complaints.

But what Evans portrayed as anticompetitive behaviors the court said was constitutionally protected speech. That’s politics, man.  

Jesse Marx reports that the hotelier’s attorneys are now attempting to revive the case by making new allegations. Evans accused Mayor Kevin Faulconer of giving a labor leader “veto power” over non-union developments to protect one of his top priorities: a Convention Center expansion. 

An attorney for the union called the allegation dramatic and over the top, and said Evans was dragging others through the mud out of desperation. 

A Faulconer spokesperson declined to comment, but he would not have been the first Republican mayor to recognize San Diego’s shifting politics and adjust his strategy. In 2012, then-Mayor Jerry Sanders agreed to put a labor-friendly person on the Convention Center board in exchange for the unions dropping their environmental complaints. 

Measure C on the March primary ballot asks voters to approve a hotel-tax increase to pay for a Convention Center expansion as well as homelessness and road repair funding. We talked more about it on the podcast.

City Councilman Scott Sherman, the only major Republican candidate in the race to replace Faulconer, is making labor influence at City Hall a campaign issue. He promised GOP activists last week to roll back standards for subsidized housing projects and renegotiate contracts with municipal unions, or go down swinging. 

Speaking of Union Leaders and Big Disputes …

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez previewed changes to AB 5, the law she wrote last year limiting when employers can designate workers as independent contractors. She’s agreed to drop the cap requiring businesses to make any freelancer a part-time or full-time employee if they produce 35 articles or more in a year.

Gonzalez also plans to clarify that an existing exemption in the bill — one allowing businesses to provide services to other businesses — can also apply to individual freelancers.

In the meantime, Republican state Sen. Brian Jones unveiled his own measure that would specifically exempt musicians and music industry professionals, “except where a collective bargaining agreement applies.”

The Los Angeles Times notes in a new profile of Gonzalez that the fight over AB 5 is as much about her as the policy. She’s a former labor organizer, and attorneys for Uber and Postmates, which are suing to stop the law from taking effect, have singled out what they see as her hostility toward the gig economy. 

She responded on Twitter: “Come and get me tech bros. I’m here every single day to take on the plight of workers against big tech.”

San Diego Takes Another Step to Redevelop Sports Arena

San Diego officials last week formally asked developers to submit their proposals to redevelop the Sports Arena and dozens of acres around it, capping a years long process the city launched in hopes of remaking the Midway area into dense housing and a new arena, as the Union-Tribune reported.

In the fall of 2018, the city outlined future development in the area when it adopted a new community plan that made way for 11,000 more homes than were previously allowed to be built there.

That came after the city had already stopped extending leases for private businesses that had been operating on 43 acres of city-owned land, a necessary precursor to eventually putting all the land up for redevelopment.

Those two steps set the city up for its move last week to put out a call for proposals from developers. Now, interested developers can put forward ideas that take advantage of the dramatic increase in homes allowed in the area. Those ideas are expected to come in this summer.

We Don’t Look a Day Over 12

Voice of San Diego turned 15 years old over the weekend. That’s it, that’s the whole section.

Politics Roundup

In Other News

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

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