The city is planning on fixing an old library in Logan Heights that has been falling apart for years. Its windows are boarded up, the rails along the stairs are covered in rust and the tarps that once covered the broken roof tiles are torn apart.
San Diego officials plan to reopen it to the public, and the city got state money to do it. But that only goes so far as to cover the shell of the building. Not the inside. And certainly not any sort of programming or future maintenance.
Residents recently chimed in on what the building should become, but that feedback brought up some key questions: what’s feasible in the small space and who has the money to do it?
Voice of San Diego’s Andrea Lopez-Villafaña gets into that in her latest piece. She also notes that this isn’t the first time the city has tried to revamp an old library.
Housing Commission Greenlights Settlement Deal for Hotel Lawsuit
The San Diego Housing Commission voted Friday to recommend that the City Council settle a lawsuit against the broker who helped the city buy a hotel from a company in which he had already made a significant financial investment, but not until after a couple commissioners raised ongoing concerns with the ordeal.
Specifically, there are ongoing concerns over the price the city paid for one of the hotels it bought in 2020, to turn into housing for homeless residents then living in the Convention Center due to the pandemic.
“I’m going to be very limited in what I say here, because I don’t want to stray in public discussion in an issue of litigation,” said Commissioner Ryan Clumpner. “The settlement has a very limited scope, and I have concerns about aspects outside the scope of this settlement that I think require further public explanation before this issue is resolved.”
Four of the commissioners voted to approve the settlement, while Clumpner voted against it and another commissioner abstained. The settlement would force the broker, Jim Neil, to pay back roughly $1 million, covering fees he received in excess of what his contract said he was entitled to for each hotel he helped the city buy, plus the cost of the city attorney’s time working on the case.
Board Chair Mitch Mitchell also expressed concerns with the deal, before voting for the settlement.
In an interview after the meeting, Mitchell said his concerns, which he did not specify at the hearing, were over the process by which the hotel was purchased, and specifically the appraisal that was conducted to support the city’s purchase price.
The city bought two hotels simultaneously in 2020. Neil, though, only made a financial investment in the parent company that sold one of the hotels. The appraisal for that hotel was backdated, pegging the value of the property before the pandemic set in, causing hotel values to plummet amid social distancing and travel restrictions. The appraisal for the other hotel set the value during the summer of 2020, when the city was purchasing it.
That story by Andrew Keatts was first published Saturday in the Politics Report, but you can read it in full through the link above. The rest of the Politics Report this week dug into the region’s controversial plan to charge drivers a fee for every mile they drive, both to relieve congestion and carbon emissions and to generate revenue to pay for regional infrastructure improvements.
Local officials have railed against it – and some have promised to excise the proposal from our long-term transportation plan, to no avail thus far – but the top transportation official in the state told Keatts that some version of a fee like that is an inevitability in California. (He would not commit, however, to whether SANDAG’s 2030 timeline to implement it is reasonable).
- Hungry for more politics? The latest VOSD Podcast episode will take you back in time as host Scott Lewis digs into 18 years’ worth of San Diego political history. Listen to it here.
In Other News
- The Union-Tribune reported over the weekend that the recent violence that hit the city of Tijuana, and its residents, revealed unsettling questions about who actually holds power in the city.
- Check out San Diego State’s new Snapdragon Stadium. (KPBS)
- Working parents are turning to co-working spaces that offer child care all in one. The concept isn’t new, but it certainly has increased in popularity since the COVID-19 pandemic. (Union-Tribune)
- San Diego’s unemployment rate dropped last month with the biggest job gains in tourism and construction. (Union-Tribune)
The Morning Report was written by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña and Andrew Keatts.