John Carroll a resident who lives in the San Pasqual neighborhood in Escondido on Sept 25, 2022. Carroll says he can’t sit in his backyard because he can hear the constant gunfire.
John Carroll, a resident who lives in Escondido, on a trail near his neighborhood on Sept. 25, 2022. Carroll has complained for years about the sounds of gunshots coming from the property owned by the Freedom Fighters. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

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A property north of Escondido has drawn complaints from nearby neighbors for years who say they constantly hear shooting coming from the area, disturbing the quiet suburb and causing fear of a potential fire hazard.

The 22-acre property is owned by the Freedom Fighters Foundation who say they aren’t breaking any rules – the county does allow shooting in the area, but only for the property owners and their friends and family. Organized and commercial shooting events with large groups are not allowed because the property doesn’t fit requirements to be a public shooting range.

However, neighbors say they regularly see large groups going to the range to shoot. They also say social media posts and the organization’s website paint a picture of more than just a shooting range for friends and family.

Residents have asked county officials to investigate, but so far, the organization has only gotten in trouble with the county’s planning department for various code compliance violations including clearing more than three acres of land without following the legal protocols to do so. 

After being told to reverse the clearing, the Freedom Fighters applied for permits to become a plant nursery. That was three years ago, and no plant nursery yet.

Read the full story here.

Newsom Vetoes $100 Million for Tijuana and New Rivers

The Tijuana River flows throughout the U.S.-Mexico border region in San Diego. / File photo by Adriana Heldiz

Gov. Gavin Newsom this month vetoed a bill that would have sent $100 million to the state water resources, half of which would have gone toward cleaning up the pollution-blighted Tijuana River. Days later, another pipe broke in Mexico and sent a total of 145 million gallons of untreated water across the border via the river, triggering more beach closures in South Bay.

Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina is pissed.

“It was a very clear ‘eff you’ from the governor to all of us,” Dedina said of the veto. “Our lifeguards are completely demoralized and feel like they’ve been abandoned by the state of California.”

In his letter explaining the veto, Newsom said California is facing lower-than-expected revenues to start the fiscal year and the state already gave $35 million to address the Tijuana and New River from in the last two years that hasn’t been spent. 

David Gibson, executive officer of the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board, confirmed half of that $35 million would go toward the Tijuana River watershed projects, but he said some of those projects need more money than the state budget allocations can cover.

The U.S. federal government and Mexico are together putting in over $470 million to double an international wastewater treatment plant’s capabilities of handling more sewage flows instead of pollution making its way into the river itself. But that money is already dedicated to a list of other projects determined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Tentative Ruling Calls for Continued City Legal Battle Vs. Ex-Real Estate Adviser

San Diego Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor has tentatively batted back an attempt by lawyers for ex-city real estate adviser Jason Hughes to halt the city’s conflict-of-interest cases against him via summary judgment.

City Hall was rocked last year by the public revelation that the city’s 101 Ash and Civic Center Plaza landlord paid Hughes, who in 2013 volunteered to advise on city real estate issues, $9.4 million for his work on the leases.

Attorneys for the city have argued the city only learned of the payments to Hughes amid litigation last year and that they have a strong conflict-of-interest case against him.

Hughes’ attorney had argued Hughes – who did not have a formal contract with the city – was not covered by state conflict-of-interest law, Government Code Section 1090. He also argued a four-year statute of limitations had lapsed and noted that Hughes’ statements to multiple city officials about seeking payment put the city on notice and could have triggered further investigation.

Taylor tentatively ruled that there are triable issues of fact on when the city did or should have discovered the alleged conflict-of-interest, the nature of Hughes’ role with the city and whether the real estate guru reasonably believed he didn’t need to “subordinate his financial interests’ to the public’s.”

Taylor will hear arguments from attorneys for Hughes and the city at 1:30 p.m. Friday before issuing his final ruling. The cases are for now set to go to trial in January.

In Other News

  • Nearly thirty percent of San Diego County, almost 1 million people, could not afford food at some point this spring, according to a new report by the San Diego Hunger Coalition. (Union-Tribune)
  • The federal government will send $110 million to the San Diego International Airport over the next ten years to help pay for the redevelopment of its Terminal 1. The grant would account for about three percent of the $3.4 billion project. (Union-Tribune)
  • City and county officials will hold a joint meeting next week to discuss their hopes of making way for some 10,000 homes for low-income residents on public land by 2030, which County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher told KPBS was “an aggressive goal” that would be hard to meet. The city of San Diego alone has estimated that it needs 44,880 homes for low income residents by the end of 2029.
  • The Navy’s trial against one of its own in the fire that destroyed the USS Bonhomme Richard in San Diego’s port, and caused massive air pollution issues for neighboring Logan Heights, awaits the Navy judge’s determination. (KPBS) 
  • Thursday marks the deadline for the California Public Utilities Commission to deliver new rules on solar grid connection fees and the value of the renewable energy sold back to the grid. (KPBS)
  • Dave Myers, who ran unsuccessfully for sheriff earlier this year, endorsed his former rival, John Hemmerling. In his endorsement for Times of San Diego, Myers said Hemmerling told him that he was forced by his former boss, City Attorney Mara Elliott, to write a legal threat to journalist Dorian Hargrove over leaks he had received related to the 101 Ash Street scandal. Last year, Hemmerling defended and explained the letter to our Scott Lewis.

The Morning Report was written by Tigist Layne, MacKenzie Elmer, Lisa Halverstadt and Andrew Keatts. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.

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