The Newland Sierra property is bounded by I-15 on the east, Deer Springs Road on the south. / Photo by Megan Wood

On March 3, San Diego County voters will be asked whether a developer should be allowed to build 2,135 homes outside Escondido. The Board of Supervisors greenlit the project in 2018, but residents forced it to the 2020 primary ballot. 

In recent weeks, the project’s backers have argued that Newland Sierra would deliver desperately needed housing. And they promised voters that more than 60 percent of the homes in the development would be affordably priced for working professionals. 

An attorney for one of the project’s opponents, in the meantime, called the promise a “PR stunt.” With the election only days away, it’s still not clear whether that promise is truly enforceable by law. If it is enforceable, it may citizens to get together and sue. 

In a new story, Kayla Jimenez explains the contention over the affordability of the homes in the project, and whether the developer’s promises are enforceable under law.

Key to the dispute is what Newland even means when it says its homes will be “affordable.” The developer is basing the project on the San Diego County’s area median income for a family of four, which is $107,000.

Sweetwater Is Considering Hundreds of Layoffs, Other Cuts

Will Huntsberry broke a story about how Sweetwater Union High School District is considering laying off more than 200 employees and shutting down learning centers dedicated to struggling students. 

The district’s financial dilemma began in 2018, when it became suddenly apparent the district had overspent by $30 million in the previous school year. At least some officials knew the overspending was happening, but did nothing to correct it. 

The layoffs could affect teachers as well as credentialed administrators like principals and vice principals. The learning centers are housed within each of its 12 high schools, serving students students who cannot be in regular classrooms for a variety of reasons, including anxiety or behavioral issues. 

A third proposal by district administrators would remove full-time librarians from their positions in the library and push them into roles as full-time classroom teachers. 

The board of trustees will weigh the proposals on Monday.

Politics Roundup

  • Friday was the last day for lawmakers to introduce new bills, so a crush of new measures hit the Capitol. Libby has a roundup in the Sacramento Report. That includes similar but competing efforts by Democratic Sen. Ben Hueso and Senate Republicans that would exempt military retirement pay from state income taxes. 
  • On the weekly podcast show, the crew unravels the asbestos controversy at the former Sempra headquarters on Ash Street downtown that led to the resignation of a top city official. Andy Keatts also interviewed City Councilwoman Monica Montgomery, who chairs the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee, about her biggest priorities for the year. 
  • Local politicos have been pointing to a recent tweet by a D.C.-based political consultant as evidence that a political action committee was improperly coordinating with a San Diego congressional candidate. A former elections official we spoke to disagreed
  • President Donald Trump granted pardons or commuted sentences for 11 people. U-T columnist Michael Smolens asked the 50th Congressional District candidates for their reactions and writes: “The differing views between Republicans Carl DeMaio and Darrell Issa were particularly notable, given much of their campaigns amount to a contest of one-upsmanship over who is most loyal to Trump.”

Bonus Podcast: A Ballot Measure Rundown

California voters in the 2016 general election ballot were asked to weigh in on more than a dozen propositions. Digging into them must have felt like a part-time job. 

The good news is that there’s only a single statewide proposition on the March ballot to wrap your brain around. If you live in San Diego, though, you’re also looking at two countywide measures and two city measures. 

Sara Libby and Jesse Marx explain all five on our latest San Diego Decides podcast

We’ve written quite a bit about these measures and the state proposition, too. Here’s Ashly McGlone on Proposition 13, Jimenez on measures A and B, and Lisa Halverstadt on Measure C

In Other News

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

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