101 Ash St. / File photo by Adriana Heldiz

The City Council is set to make a pivotal decision today in its years-long 101 Ash St. debacle.

Mayor Todd Gloria and other top city officials are pushing the City Council to settle with the city’s landlord at 101 Ash and nearby Civic Center Plaza and lenders who provided upfront cash to facilitate the lease-to-own deals. 

City Attorney Mara Elliott isn’t on board and is urging the City Council to reject it. If the City Council signs off, the city will essentially pay off its 101 Ash and Civic Center leases this summer while Cisterra would pay back its 101 Ash profits. Lenders would also waive penalties tied to paying debts early.

We have team coverage on this for you to consider:

First up: Our Lisa Halverstadt dug into the details of the proposed settlement, the arguments for and against it as well as the various factors the city is weighing as it seeks to move past at least some of the legal challenges surrounding the building.

As Halverstadt writes, Gloria and others argue the settlement will give the city more immediate control of its real estate future while Elliott is adamant it could hamper rather than help the city emerge from the dumpster fire. It will not, however, automatically halt a slew of other legal cases surrounding 101 Ash.

Quick refresher: The city has poured more than $60 million into 101 Ash St. since it acquired the building in 2017. It occupied the high rise for just a few weeks before rushing to evacuate city employees in early 2020 after a series of asbestos violations. Since then, there have been many bombshells, including the revelation that the city’s landlord paid Jason Hughes, who had been publicly portrayed as a city real estate adviser, $9.4 million for his work on the city’s 101 Ash and Civic Center Plaza leases. 

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria announced the details of a proposed settlement in a legal battle involving 101 Ash St. and Civic Center Plaza. He was joined by city staff, Council President Sean Elo-Rivera and Councilman Chris Cate, at City Hall on Monday, June 20, 2022. / Photo by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña

Insidery: In the Politics Report this week, Andrew Keatts and Scott Lewis grab onto a couple statements the mayor and his staff made that may point to the real reason they’re ready to settle: They really want the buildings. Even winning the lawsuit may mean they don’t get the buildings. 

(Also in the Politics Report: We got ahold of emails between state officials, city employees and the developer of an affordable housing project in Pacific Beach that reveal how hard the state had to push to get the city to realize the 30-foot construction height limit along the coast does not take precedent over the state’s density bonus law. In other words, it appears this isn’t the first group of developers who have thought about the fact that state law may supersede city height limits – even ones voters put in place. OK, back to 101 Ash …)

For those who prefer to listen: Keatts, Lewis and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña broke down the settlement and their thoughts in this week’s podcast. Lopez also spoke with Lisa Halverstadt about her story last week chronicling the struggles of a family that became homeless during COVID and just couldn’t catch a break despite finding work. 

And that family could have really used this next bit of news:

Mayor Proposes Expanding Mission Valley Safe Parking Hours

Natalie Raschke talks with her daughter Lulu Raschke, 4, as she looks for personal items she wants to take with them while visiting their confiscated RV in a tow yard in Chula Vista in early April. / Photo by Peggy Peattie for Voice of San Diego

The City Council is set to vote Monday on a contract with nonprofit Jewish Family Service to continue its safe parking programs and provide around-the-clock access at its Mission Valley lot.

The city now has two safe lots in Kearny Mesa and one in Mission Valley that can accommodate RVs. 

Mayor Todd Gloria announced Friday that he’s proposing a $1.4 million contract that includes $440,000 to allow the Mission Valley lot to remain open 24 hours a day. Now people who park in the JFS lots must leave by 7 a.m. each day.

“Creating 24-hour access to safe parking will help folks whose work and family schedules aren’t well-aligned with the current hours of operation, enabling them to not only park in a safe place but also access supportive services and get on a path to housing,” Gloria wrote in a release.

Click here to read more about Gloria’s proposal. 

‘Sup with Covid

The COVID case rates have been fluctuating for a while. Just as the numbers appear to be dipping, they rose again last week.

San Diego County reported more than 1,600 positive tests for two days straight. There were also 10 new deaths and 24 new hospitalizations over a four-day period. Voice intern Catherine Allen took a closer look at the numbers and found stark differences depending on if someone’s vaccinated and boosted. 

Public health data shows that about 84 percent of eligible county residents are fully vaccinated and nearly 95 percent have gotten at least one dose. Only 57 percent of eligible people, however, are boosted, and that’s putting the wider county at greater risk of reinfection and new variants. 

  • As of Friday, intakes were paused at three city-funded homeless shelters downtown due to a spike in COVID cases that’s also affecting the broader community. Shelters affected are PATH’s shelter and Father Joe’s Villages first floor Golden Hall and Paul Mirabile Center shelters.

In Other News 

  • San Diegans spent the weekend protesting the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Thousands marched down the streets of downtown on Friday decrying the court’s ruling to strip away constitutional protections for abortions. The protests held locally were some of many held across the state. (Union-Tribune) 
  • San Dieguito Union High School District held a special meeting Sunday and unanimously voted to terminate Superintendent Cheryl Ward “without cause.” Tina Douglas made the announcement to student families in an email and said she would be serving as interim superintendent for one year. The district has had months of tumult through the pandemic, redistricting, tensions between staff and board and then controversial comments Ward made about why students of Asian descent were succeeding. 
  • California and other states are assessing the ramifications of last week’s Supreme Court decision, which struck down “good cause” requirements for a concealed carry permit. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said it will “evaluate this decision and what it means” for the region. (Union-Tribune) 
  • The beer consolidation continues. Stone Brewing will be acquired by Japanese brewer Sapporo in a deal valued at roughly $165 million. (Union-Tribune) 

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt, Jesse Marx and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña. It was edited by Scott Lewis. 

Join the Conversation

1 Comment

  1. What ever happened to the police officers that cited religious protection from testing for covid?

Leave a comment

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.