The Chula Vista City Council
A June 2021 meeting of the Chula Vista City Council / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Getting permits to operate cannabis dispensaries in Chula Vista is already “arbitrary and capricious,” according to companies operating within the growing industry. But as Voice of San Diego contributor Jackie Bryant breaks down in a new story, a court ruling in a case over a particularly thorny permit discrepancy could make the whole thing even more confusing.

Caligrown, a cannabis company, sued the city over its rejected permit request, and appellate judges in July sided with the company, arguing the city failed to follow its own process when it rejected their application.

Now, the city has to keep the company in the running for one of its limited permit opportunities, but there’s one problem: the city has already issued all the permits its rules say can operate in the part of the city the company applied for. One politically connected company that got a permit to operate there didn’t even apply for that area.

“They didn’t follow their own rules,” said David Demian, Caligrown’s attorney. “The legal system is holding the city accountable to follow its duly enacted ordinance, and its duly adopted, publicly adopted, and published regulations. It’s just not certain what can or will happen next.” 

It’s unclear how the city will comply with the ruling – it could increase the number of cannabis companies it allows to operate, or it could rescind existing licenses. The city is exploring its options.

Read the story in its entirety here. 

Ex-COO Says She Didn’t Order Deletion of Ash Records

Two months after the City Attorney’s Office accused her of ordering 101 Ash St. records to be deleted, the city’s former top bureaucrat disputed those allegations under oath.

In a July 21 deposition, former city Chief Operating Officer Kris testified that the May 11 letter was “inaccurate” and politically motivated, according to a draft transcript obtained by Voice’s Lisa Halverstadt.

City Attorney Mara Elliott said it sent the letter after San Diego police revealed Michell in 2020 directed the city’s IT department to erase cell phone and computer records related to the two buildings.

Halverstadt reports that Michell denied directing the deletion of any digital records but said she did ask an assistant to shred some copies of investigative memos about 101 Ash.

Michell and her attorney were adamant in a subsequent interview with Voice that she only disposed of documents she understood could be purged per city policy.

Read more here.

ICYMI: Last week Halverstadt broke down other revelations from Michell’s July 21 deposition, including the former city executive’s testimony that she gave a physical copy of what was purportedly a confidential legal analysis to lawyer Cory Briggs, who was then a candidate for city attorney, as she mulled becoming a whistleblower.

San Diego County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Politics Report: Sacramento Could Give San Diego a New Public Agency

It’s a big week for a bill that’s been overlooked in the legislature, but which could bring a big change to local public affairs. State Sen. Ben Hueso’s SB 1105, championed locally by County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer, would create a new, countywide agency focused on low-income housing, but first it needs to pass through the vaunted “suspense file” on Thursday.

Andrew Keatts and Scott Lewis broke down the bill in this week’s Politics Report. Basically, Hueso and Lawson-Remer are pushing for a new agency, led by a board composed of members of the San Diego Association of Governments, that would have the power to put new tax measures before voters to build low-income housing. The agency could also borrow money by issuing bonds, and use the local revenue to compete for state and federal grant money dedicated to housing.

“This would put us on level field to compete for state funding, by giving us a chance to generate local revenue,” Lawson-Remer said. “Without local revenue we can’t compete for state dollars, and we’ll fall even further behind.”

The bill has some high-profile supporters, like Mayor Todd Gloria and the San Diego County Building Construction Trades Council. But it’s also got opponents in the California Building Industry Association and, notably, the San Diego Housing Federation, the local organization of low-income housing developers, who aren’t sold that the region needs to tackle its housing crisis.

““We weren’t tapped to craft it, and if we had been, and we sat down with a chalkboard to say ‘what do we need to do in San Diego County to create more affordable housing, the creation of a new agency would not appear on our chalkboard,” said Stephen Russell, president and CEO of the Housing Federation.

Read the full Politics Report, available to members only, here.

Rock Out With Your Pod Out

The city of San Diego has decided the Sports Arena be demolished and a new arena should arise.

And the three bidders who want to take over the redevelopment of that spot want to build a new one. The lead bidder, Midway Rising, wants to make a big new arena.

But an important caveat with this project is the city’s decision not to subsidize the project.

And as VOSD podcast host Scott Lewis found in his new story, bidders decided the way to pay for the crazy expense of such a project is not sports. It’s concerts.

Enter: The San Diego Rock arena?!

In our new podcast, we discuss the current state of that major redevelopment project. Plus: OMG those Padres, the “how about nah” campaign and more dirty water politics

See the full show here. Subscribe where you vibe.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Andrew Keatts, Lisa Halverstadt and Nate John. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafana.

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