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More than a year ago, District Attorney’s Office investigators executed search warrants as part of a criminal conflict-of-interest probe involving the city’s now former 101 Ash St. landlord and ex-real estate adviser. Yet investigators have yet to get the go-ahead to review records from the 19 devices seized during the October 2021 raids and a Monday order from a Superior Court judge ensures investigators can’t dig in immediately.
The order also ensures, as our Lisa Halverstadt writes, that charges aren’t imminent in the investigation triggered by the revelation that city landlord Cisterra Development paid former adviser Jason Hughes $9.4 million for his work on the city’s 101 Ash and Civic Center Plaza leases.
So what’s behind that order? Concerns about violations of attorney-client privilege.
Halverstadt writes that Superior Court Judge Kenneth K. So ordered the District Attorney’s Office and the computer forensics lab processing data on the devices to hand over records they have deemed not covered by attorney-client privilege to lawyers for Hughes and Cisterra to ensure privileged records aren’t roped into the probe.
A few reminders: The city’s civil conflict-of-interest cases against Hughes are continuing though the city settled with its ex-landlord. Hughes told multiple city officials he wanted to be paid and has said he got their approval – and Cisterra has said it relied on Hughes’ assurances he could be paid. Former city officials have said that they didn’t know Cisterra paid Hughes.
Talks to Continue on City Housing Declaration, Tenant Protections
The San Diego City Council spent Monday discussing a series of potential policies to protect tenants and declare housing a human right. How those policies will move forward is still TBD.
City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera initially hoped councilmembers would vote Monday to approve a resolution co-sponsored by three colleagues declaring housing a human right. But City Attorney Mara Elliott raised concerns about legal implications.
“If we make promises we cannot keep, we will likely be sued,” Elliott said.
The City Council ultimately voted to direct Elliott to draft a resolution based on language in two versions released by Elo-Rivera’s office. It’s unclear how soon a reworked resolution might materialize.
Elo-Rivera also floated a series of proposed tenant protections to try to kickstart discussions about reforms. He called for urgent action to try to “stem the flow of homelessness” and to protect renters he argued deserve the same stability as homeowners.
“I do not want to be a leader in a community where housing stability is reserved for some, where only some can live in and not all and we have to ship in people for service jobs,” Elo-Rivera.
Fellow councilmembers responded by describing the need to balance the concerns of tenants and landlords and on policies that prioritize cracking down on bad actors. They also expressed the need for more feedback and data analysis. Three City Councilmembers said they’d like the proposals to go through the City Council committee process, a step Elo-Rivera had wanted to avoid.
It wasn’t immediately clear how soon Elo-Rivera’s office might return with specific proposals, or if he will honor his colleagues’ wishes to skip the more time-consuming committee process. He said Monday his goal was to gather feedback and work on quickly putting forward reforms based on Council feedback.
“We’ll get to work,” Elo-Rivera said.
Environment Report: Here’s Some Disasters We’re Tracking
This week, our environment reporter wrote about some disaster’s she’s tracking, like a pair of volcanoes in Hawaii that might erupt, taking some indispensable climate science instruments with it.
And, some stuck-in-the mud money to aid in stopping Tijuana sewage from spilling over the border into San Diego. The problem of a stalled Congressional fix to that problem leaked into the recent campaign for California’s 50th district currently held by Rep. Scott Peters.
Sharks are jumping out of the ocean at San Onofre. Our drinking water is evaporating at an alarming rate and more environmental scares.
Stuff You Should Read
- The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that a new analysis of police stop data from four counties, including San Diego, revealed ongoing racial disparities with Black drivers experiencing stops at a higher rate than White drivers. At times, Black drivers in San Diego were stopped at double or triple the rate, when compared to White drivers, under various circumstances.
- There’s more indication that Rep. Mike Levin is in a tight race to retain his seat, which straddles northern San Diego County and southern Orange County, against former San Juan Capistrano Mayor Brian Maryott, with the Washington Post’s report Monday that President Joe Biden will campaign with him in the 49th Congressional District.
- Environmentalists have hoped in recent years that timber-only high-rises could help combat climate change, by replacing GHG-heavy concrete and steel with more sustainable timber, and a group including UCSD is building a test product in Scripps Ranch, which it plans to tear down in a year, KPBS reports.
- Rep. Scott Peters wrote an op-ed about what is being done to fix the wastewater pollution seeping into the Tijuana River Valley and sewage that flows to local beaches.
The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt, MacKenzie Elmer and Andrew Keatts. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.