Vanessa Graziano at Motel 6 in Carlsbad on June 5, 2023.
Vanessa Graziano at motel in Carlsbad on June 5, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Vanessa Graziano is a well-known homeless advocate in North County. Her story is also no secret. Graziano was once a meth addict living on the street, who had lost custody of her children. 

Around 2015, Graziano managed to get clean. As she began to rebuild her life, Graziano found purpose in helping others. She eventually started a nonprofit that not only provided food and resources to homeless people, but also shelter in motels across North County. 

Recently that work as a homeless advocate nearly drove Graziano back into homelessness herself, reporter Tigist Layne reveals in a new story.

During the height of the pandemic, Graziano essentially became a one-woman shelter provider. She raised money for people to stay in motel rooms across North County – and particularly in Oceanside, where there was no permanent shelter.

Graziano didn’t pay herself at all in the beginning. And when she finally did start pulling a salary, she could barely make ends meet. Graziano ultimately had to make a difficult decision about her nonprofit. At the same time, an unexpected opportunity also came her way.  

Read the full story here. 

Mission Hills Library Is Keeping Its Historic Designation 

The San Diego City Council has decided that a 63-year-old library in Mission Hills is, in fact, historic. This will at least hinder if not make it impossible to turn the property into housing.

Tuesday’s hearing was scheduled after Clint Daniels, the chair of nonprofit Circulate San Diego, appealed the historic designation on several factual and procedural grounds. City staff disagreed. But Daniels also asked the Council to reconsider the vacant property’s long-term potential use.

How we got here: As KPBS reported in 2020, then-Mayor Kevin Faulconer wanted to redevelop the city-owned site into permanent supportive housing. Residents did not share the mayor’s vision. Instead, the group Mission Hills Heritage applied for historic designation and got it.

As Jesse Marx wrote last month, critics contend that the city’s historic resources have been weaponized to block new homes while showering tax breaks on the owners.

Preservationists have countered that historic designation doesn’t prevent redevelopment — creative engineers and architects could incorporate the library into something new.

The latter of these two arguments won out. Councilman Stephen Whitburn, who represents Mission Hills, said he looks forward to future discussions about the site’s use. He voted, alongside four other Council members, in favor of upholding the library’s historic status. 

SDSU’s Mountain West Breakup Is Getting Messy

Students walk in font of the Fowler Athletics Center at San Diego State University in the College Area on September 12, 2022.
Students walk in font of the Fowler Athletics Center at San Diego State University in the College Area on September 12, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

San Diego State’s sports ascendancy (and shiny new stadium) have long inspired rumors it would soon divorce the Mountain West Conference. And this week, the breakup got ugly

The university was up against a June 30 deadline to declare it was leaving the conference, so last week, it sent a letter to the Mountain West outlining its intentions to eventually call it quits. It also asked for flexibility when it came to exit terms. SDSU has said it didn’t mean for this to be the real breakup, just a notification of its long term intent. But the Mountain West took it as final. Despite some additional back and forth, the conference has refused to budge.

What was at stake: Some real money. If SDSU left the Mountain West after June 30, the standard $17 million separation fee would have doubled. University officials have already said they can’t afford that sum. But now that all may be a moot point, as the Mountain West has seemingly kicked SDSU to the curb.

Here’s the catch: SDSU has long flirted with the PAC-12, a conference whose sports success has brought with it more lucrative media deals. But SDSU hasn’t actually received an official invitation to join the PAC-12. The conference is mired in complex negotiations surrounding a new media rights deal, and may not be able to extend an invitation until the deal is finalized, which may not be soon.

So now, the university is in an unenviable bind. Its new flame has not yet extended a hand, but the old beau has shut the door. What’s out there in the wilderness for SDSU is unclear.

In Other News 

The Morning Report was written by Will Huntsberry, Jesse Marx, Jakob McWhinney and Kathryn Gray. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña and Scott Lewis.

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