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Residents fill out paperwork at the city’s homeless navigation center in East Village. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz
Residents fill out paperwork at the city’s homeless navigation center in East Village. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

City Councilwoman Barbara Bry has made the city’s troubled acquisition of 101 Ash St. a central piece of her argument that she – not Assemblyman Todd Gloria, who voted to approve the lease-to-own arrangement – should be the city’s next mayor.

Now another controversial city building that Bry voted to in 2018 approve purchasing after a rushed process that also drew allegations of insufficient due diligence is back in the spotlight too.

In a new story, VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt tracks Bry’s votes and statements on the former skydiving center turned housing navigation center, which is again at the center of controversy after the city and nonprofit operator Family Health Centers of San Diego opted to part ways after the agency’s CEO slammed the model her nonprofit aimed to execute.

City housing officials are preparing to propose a revised plan for the building that includes a takeover by the San Diego Housing Commission later this month but the next mayor is likely to hold sway over the building’s use over the long haul.

Gloria, a longtime critic of the navigation center purchase and program model, has pledged to give the project close scrutiny if he’s elected.

Bry is standing by the building and her vote to purchase it, noting that a recent outside appraisal found the building was worth $200,000 more than the city paid for it.

That appraisal was requested by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, which recently concluded the acquisition met federal requirements and that the city’s reliance on block grant funds for the purchase “was a reasonable and eligible cost.”

DeMaio PAC Boosts Bry

Carl DeMaio’s political action committee appears to be spending money to support City Councilwoman Barbara Bry in the San Diego mayoral race. The group sent a text criticizing Assemblyman Todd Gloria, Bry’s opponent, for voting in favor of SB 145, a law recently signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom that addresses the longstanding discrimination of LGBTQ youth in the state’s sex offender registry.

The bill has ignited Republican fury, fueled misinformation and spilled into the San Diego mayor’s race, as VOSD’s Kayla Jimenez pointed out a few weeks ago. Bry has echoed the criticisms Republicans and others made of the bill.

Bry’s campaign made clear on Twitter that she had nothing to do with the text and had no knowledge of it. 

Speaking of the Election …

San Diego County voters have started to receive their mail ballots. Early in-person voting has also kicked off at the Registrar of Voters’ office in Kearny Mesa.

This year every registered voter in San Diego County is going to receive a ballot in the mail, the Union-Tribune reports, because Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order in May aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.

The county has 125 drop-off locations, which you can find using this locator tool on the registrar’s website. You can also track your ballot online at sdvote.com and sign up for notifications about its status.

If you don’t receive your ballot in the mail by Wednesday, Oct. 14, you should call the registrar’s office at (858) 565-5800.

  • Sen. Toni Atkins is facing a challenger who managed to work her way into the November election from being a write-in candidate in the March primary. (Union-Tribune)

Federal Judge Greenlights Ex-Chargers’ Suit Against SDPD

A federal judge is allowing former Chargers player Michael Lee’s civil rights lawsuit against the San Diego Police Department to move forward – and in the process, deemed a city statute against loitering to be unconstitutionally vague.

Lee was standing on a sidewalk outside of a Gaslamp night club when officers told him he had to move. 

U.S. District Judge Thomas Whelan noted that Lee acted calmly and politely throughout the encounter, yet officers slammed him to the ground, breaking his arm in five places.

“The Court finds under Lee’s version of events, a reasonable jury could conclude the officers used excessive force,” Whelan wrote.

One passage in the ruling caught our eye. Body camera footage of the incident, the ruling says, shows that two officers involved in arresting Lee observed him interacting with security guards, came over to the scene and observed: “ “so right now we can cite him … we can cite him for being on the sidewalk.” 

That suggests police were looking for a reason to cite Lee, not punishing a specific act. That type of behavior sounded familiar.

Last month, at least one person cited for using “seditious language” – an offense the city has since taken off the books – said police were looking for an excuse to charge him, and ultimately landed on seditious language.

“They had to consult the senior guy,” Paul Howie told us of his encounter with SDPD officers. “And the senior guy told them, ‘Yeah, that’s seditious language.’ So it definitely didn’t seem like it was a consensus thing. It was more like, ‘We just need to get this guy for something, you know.’”

In Other News

  • South Bay parents are petitioning to push back the reopening of Chula Vista Elementary School District. The superintendent has said the district is likely pushing its return to in-person instruction from the proposed start date of Oct. 26 to the end of the year. (NBC 7)
  • San Diego County remains in the state’s “red tier” – the second-to-worst classification. A new “health equity metric” that calculates test positivity rates for the more disadvantaged census tracts in each county is keeping the county from sliding into the most restrictive state tier. (Union-Tribune)
  • The San Diego Superior Court is mailing out notices this week to people who had court appearances of fine dates from March through mid-September that were delayed due to coronavirus. (City News Service)
  • Al Abdallah, CEO of the Urban League of San Diego County, argues that banning multifamily housing in large swaths of the state perpetuates structural racism in a new op-ed.

The Morning Report was written by Maya Srikrishnan and Lisa Halverstadt, and edited by Sara Libby.

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