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The city of San Diego appears set to move things forward on two fronts in the conversation about the future of Midway and the Sports Arena land.
As early as Monday, city staff who report to Mayor Todd Gloria will release a report recommending three of the five bids by different groups to build housing, parks and a new or refurbished arena move forward. It’s all ahead of what could be a big meeting of the City Council’s Land Use and Housing Committee April 21.
Voice of San Diego could not confirm which groups city staff will recommend to move forward. And staff’s move would be just a recommendation. The City Council could ignore it and allow all the bids to progress or some other combination.
City staff told us, as the process began, not to expect a normal selection process based on some kind of independent scoring system. They’d be running it instead closely hueing to the guidelines outlined in the state’s Surplus Land Act. You may remember that was the law that derailed the last bidding process for this land after the state determined that the previous mayor and his staff had not followed the law. The Surplus Land Act requires cities to prioritize housing and affordable housing whenever they take public land and lease or sell it to developers.
There are two main considerations for the land: Affordable housing and a sports complex.
“This is the first time we’re going through this, and I think, the first time anyone in the state is going through new guidelines at this scale. So since the administration before us made a big misstep, we’re going out of our way to do things right,” said Penny Maus, the city’s director of real estate and airport management.
Also, November vote envisioned: None of the proposals are actually legal right now because the city’s 30-foot height limit on construction projects west of Interstate 5 is still in effect. The 2020 Measure E vote, which removed the height limit, was successfully challenged by community members who oppose a redevelopment that exceeds the height limit. A judge agreed with them that the city failed to adequately study the impact the development would have on views.
Councilman Chris Cate, who along with Councilwoman Jen Campbell first advanced the measure that became Measure E, sent a memo asking that the City Council put forward another measure on the November ballot to do it again, but this time with the environmental impact report updated.
City staff had held out the possibility that the judge’s ruling could be overturned. But Cate said that’s not possible.
“Consequently the only avenue toward eliminating the height limit for this area is to have voters once again approve a ballot measure,” he said, asking that it go on the November 2022 ballot. The proposal will go to the Rules Committee and, if successful there, on to the full Council.
COVID-19 Hospitalizations Reach Post-Delta Low
Hospitalizations for COVID-19 in San Diego County are as low as they’ve been since last summer, before the Delta variant arrived, according to the latest numbers.
As of Tuesday, 125 patients were in the hospital for COVID-19. 30 of them were in the ICU. The last time hospitalization numbers dipped below 200 was in late March 2021, with numbers picking back up in July.
Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, tweeted Thursday, however, that test positivity rates nationwide are beginning to increase. The latest numbers show a 7-day average rate of 3.5 percent, up from 2.8 percent the week prior.
Health officials in San Diego County this week reported a 7-day average positive rate of 3.2 percent.
- UC San Diego is taking part in a national clinical trial to test combinations of vaccines that target variants, including Beta, Delta and Omicron. (Union-Tribune)
In Other News
- The number of Ukrainian refugees in Tijuana seeking asylum at the U.S. Border has doubled in the last week, Reuters reports.
- SANDAG officials are facing scrutiny from an internal auditor and inewsource over officials there using agency credit cards for work-related dinners in San Diego and Washington, DC.
- A new study from US San Diego researchers found California’s environmental regulations disproportionately protect White, non-Hispanic people, even though air pollution disproportionately affects Asian and Hispanic communities. (City News Service)
- Lawyers for Jason Hughes, the real estate broker who publicly described himself as a volunteer real estate advisor for the city who last year acknowledged he received $9.4 million from outside parties for two lease-to-own deals he helped negotiate with the city, are accusing city officials of refusing to turn over internal emails as part of lawsuits related to the 101 Ash Street debacle, and are asking a judge to compel the release of the records, the Union-Tribune reports.
- Diesel prices are through the roof, and while residents can try to drive less to avoid car trips, just about everything consumers pay for is getting more expensive because of diesel costs. (Union-Tribune)
- City officials earlier this week apologized to Mira Mesa residents for a new street design that was meant to accommodate both cyclists and drivers, but mystified many residents because it seemed to force cars and cyclists into head-on interactions in a one-lane alignment, as NBC 7 reported. But the station now reports that the street concept is headed elsewhere in the city, too, with Point Loma residents surprised to see it coming their way.
- In the latest updated vote count for the Assembly District 80 special election, Georgette Gómez pulled out a slight lead of 150 votes over her former ally and friend David Alvarez. There were about 40,000 votes cast. It doesn’t matter much, except for bragging rights. They will both advance to a runoff election in June. They will also have to run against each other on that same ballot for the new term, which will cover a newly redesigned district and new voters.
Clarification: The article, “Sidewalk Vendor Law in North County Are Forcing Vendors to Rethink Their Livelihoods,” has been updated to reflect that the city of Carlsbad gives warnings to vendors and has not issued any citations or fines to date.
This Morning Report was written by Scott Lewis, Andrew Keatts and Megan Wood.