Civic Center Plaza / Photo by Adriana Heldizer K

Lenders behind the city’s Civic Center Plaza lease on Tuesday made a formal legal move to evict the city and hundreds of employees in the building just a few weeks after the city decided against making its July rent payment.

Lisa Halverstadt broke the news that lenders who facilitated the city’s downtown lease filed an unlawful detainer action on Tuesday, creating uncertainty for more than a dozen city departments and about 850 employees who work in the high rise.

The city opted to stop paying rent this month in the wake of its own legal actions to try to void the Civic Center Plaza and 101 Ash St. leases. The city is seeking to end those leases after the revelation that its landlord Cisterra Development paid real estate consultant Jason Hughes more than $9 million for his work on the two deals, payments that attorneys for the city allege amount to a conflict of interest since state law bars city officials and even contractors from benefiting from deals they broker in their official capacity.

It’s unclear how the situation will play out.

After the city is physically served with the lenders’ lawsuit and summons, it will have five days to respond. If either side requests a trial, state law typically requires one be held within 20 days, but two experts told Halverstadt that the case – and any eventual eviction – could take months to resolve.

City Pulls New ShotSpotter Contract (for Now)

San Diego officials were all set Tuesday to debate a new contract with the gunshot detection company ShotSpotter but pulled it at the last minute. Council President Jen Campbell said the proposal was being “returned to staff for more oversight” and “we will take [it] up later.”

It’s not immediately clear how the proposal will change or when it will re-emerge, but Tuesday’s actions suggest that Council members view the technology — located predominantly in Black neighborhoods — with skepticism. Now in the fifth and final year of the original contract, the project never went through the City Council.

SDPD has long argued that ShotSpotter will help reduce gun violence and speed up the city’s emergency response. In a staff report to the City Council, Police Chief David Nisleit argued that “ShotSpotter’s actionable intelligence can then be used to prevent future crimes by positioning law enforcement when and where crime is likely to occur.”

For years, though, news articles and independent studies have raised doubt about ShotSpotter’s accuracy claims and called into question its cost. Last year, Voice of San Diego reviewed dispatch records and found evidence that false alarms were more common than the company’s marketing materials show.

Worse, Motherboard reported earlier this week that ShotSpotter’s algorithm initially identified a loud noise as a firework explosion in Chicago, but analysts manually reclassified it as a gunshot and moved its location one mile away — to where police had identified a murder suspect’s car. Court documents suggest the company frequently modifies alerts at the request of police departments, “some of which appear to be grasping for evidence that supports their narrative of events,” Motherboard wrote.

In a recent op-ed, two members of the Trust SD Coalition argued that ShotSpotter is a recipe for disaster and that officials should focus their time and resources on proven gun violence reduction strategies rather than build out the surveillance state.

Mayor Todd Gloria responds… his communications director, Jen Lebron, said officials intend to bring the proposal back to City Council, citing an increase in gun violence across the city. “The ShotSpotter item was returned to staff in order to evaluate further amendments to the contract, including potentially expanding the use of this public safety tool to other Council Districts and, at the request of the Councilmember, removing this technology from Council District Four,” she wrote.

What’s Standing Between San Diego and an MLS Team

San Diego has two professional outdoor soccer teams (and an indoor professional team), and a pro women’s team coming in 2022. But Major League Soccer still hasn’t set up shop here, despite continuing to show interest.

There are obstacles (namely, lack of a known ownership group willing to put up the steep price for an expansion team), but officials at San Diego State University confirmed to our Devin Whatley that they’ve been in active discussions with the league, as they construct a new football stadium that could serve as a new team’s home. 

Disruption Ends Lincoln Town Hall Early

Weeks ago, San Diego Unified Trustee Sharon Whitehurst-Payne took issue with a letter Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe had sent the district, asking for questions about the direction of Lincoln High School. Whitehurst-Payne said Montgomery-Steppe owed the students, staff and families of the school an apology. That never came, but Montgomery-Steppe, the city representative for the area where Lincoln is located, and Whitehurst-Payne eventually scheduled a town hall to discuss leadership at the school, a forum that ended prematurely Monday night when a couple who had previously sued the district disrupted the event, leading to the panelists being escorted to their cars prematurely, the Union-Tribune reported.

We put together an explainer of the tensions between Whitehurst-Payne and Montgomery Steppe over Lincoln High.

In Other News

  • The California State University system announced Tuesday that it will require vaccinations of students and staff who pursue in-person classes in the fall, following in the footsteps of the University of California system. (City News Service)
  • The Holiday Bowl can now be played at Petco Park, after the City Council voted Tuesday to amend its agreement with the Padres that had prohibited football from being played in the ballpark. (City News Service)
  • San Diego home prices are the second hottest in the nation, and are now 25 percent above where they were a year ago. (Union-Tribune)
  • UC San Diego Health is reporting a data breach it says affected some employee email accounts. (NBC 7)
  • A 2,000-plus seat open air amphitheater is coming to UC San Diego, thanks to a $10 million donation to the university. (Union-Tribune)

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt, Jesse Marx and Andrew Keatts, and edited by Sara Libby.

Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.