San Diego Housing Commission CEO Rick Gentry / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Housing Commission chief Rick Gentry abruptly submitted his resignation to city officials on Tuesday after more than a decade leading the city housing agency.

Our Andrew Keatts broke the news that Gentry revealed via a memo to the City Council and housing commissioners that he plans to leave his post at the end of March.

Gentry’s unexpected announcement comes amid increasing scrutiny of the agency the longtime housing official has led since 2008. This month the City Council voted to create a committee tasked with reforming the agency. Councilmembers also made a first-time request to review Gentry’s performance behind closed doors rather than have housing commissioners lead the way.

The commission and Gentry have also faced scrutiny over its purchases and oversight of two hotels it has converted into homeless housing, including the blockbuster revelation first reported by Keatts that a broker it hired to find hotels and negotiate acquisitions made a significant financial investment in the company that sold one of the hotels.

In a Tuesday interview, Gentry said he had been considering a departure from the Housing Commission over the last few months and ultimately decided he should move on as the City Council begins its reform process.

“I needed to either leave here at the beginning, or after it’s concluded, but not in the middle of it,” Gentry said. “It will let the Council look at what they want the Commission to be, and who they want to replace me. I’d hope they finish the work before selecting someone, but that’s not my decision.” 

Read more about Gentry’s departure here.

Frustrations Grow Over Student Mask Mandate

As more parents protest mask requirements in schools, more district leaders are speaking out about what they describe as an unfair onslaught from families who oppose a continuing state mandate districts have no control over.

The Union-Tribune dug into the dispute and obtained a letter Poway Unified Superintendent Marian Kim-Phelps sent to state leaders Friday that sums up the frustration.

“Our already-taxed teachers and administrators should not and cannot be the mask police. Students should not and cannot be excluded from their education,” Kim-Phelps wrote. “The angst and conflict over masks have become an extreme distraction at our schools.”

Carlsbad Unified’s superintendent, meanwhile, told the U-T that school staff have been put in “a very difficult position” due to misconceptions that they can disregard the state mask requirements without consequence.

In August, state Public Health Officer Tomás Aragón warned school leaders they could face “significant legal, financial and other risks” if they fail to enforce the mandate.

Nevertheless, the Rancho Santa Fe School District on Monday decided it was done enforcing the mask mandate. Its school board voted 3-2 to make masks optional for students.

In Other News

  • Despite efforts to draw more Black students in recent years, Cal State San Marcos’ Black student population has remained around 3 percent. Now, the Union-Tribune reports, the university has agreed to guarantee admissions for qualified Black students and to provide support programs for those students.
  • Another week, another story about surging San Diego home prices. Times of San Diego reports that local home prices increased 26 percent in 2021 and just under 2 percent in December.
  • 10 News reports that there were no public updates from city officials Tuesday after an hours-long closed-door City Council briefing on a trio of lawsuits tied to the city’s 101 Ash St. debacle.
  • City officials are dialing back a proposal to raise fees for police services at special events following blowback from nonprofits, the Union-Tribune reports. The city will instead gradually increase fees.

This Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt. It was edited by Megan Wood.

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