View of the H.G. Fenton Company building in Mission Valley on July 3, 2023.
View of the H.G. Fenton Company building in Mission Valley on July 3, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

A couple of months ago, city officials announced plans to purchase and convert three motels into permanent residences for homeless San Diegans. 

They planned to apply for state funds to do it. One of the motels was a 140-room Extended Stay America in Mission Valley Heights. But it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. 

That’s because of a wealthy family’s 100-year-old company, writes Will Huntsberry. 

H.G. Fenton owns much of the land in the area, which is bounded by a covenant that bans subsidized housing. The covenant can be changed, and city officials have asked the company to do it, but company leaders have unequivocally declined. 

“The response was, ‘Absolutely not and we’re gonna do whatever we can to stop it,’” said a lawyer with the San Diego Housing Commission. “They have deep pockets. And we have every reason to believe they were not bluffing.” 

Huntsberry writes that the city is still looking at two other properties. But the denial is going to cost the city beds, “in its ongoing struggle to alleviate the homeless crisis playing out on the city’s streets.”  ​​

Read the full story here. 

  • Mayor Todd Gloria and the Housing Commission announced Friday that the city’s housing agency has officially applied for up to $23 million in state Homekey funds to deliver 75 new units for homeless residents. The Commission is also eyeing applications for two other properties that could supply 269 units.

Politics Report: How County Supes Races Could Shift the Sprawl Debate

In recent years, Democrats on the county Board of Supervisors have been mostly united against development in unincorporated areas not already zoned for housing.

In this week’s Politics Report, Scott Lewis explores how the race to replace former District 4 Supervisor Nathan Fletcher and Republicans’ 2024 bid to unseat Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer could reshape this discussion.

One Democrat is trying to distinguish her candidacy by leaning heavily on the idea of building more housing outside of cities.

This week’s Politics Report is open to all readers. But become a Voice of San Diego member, if you aren’t already, to follow the stakes of local politics as closely as possible.

VOSD Podcast: This week on the VOSD Podcast, hosts Scott Lewis, Andrea Lopez-Villafaña and Jakob McWhinney discuss the details of a robust effort by the Mayor Todd Gloria to reduce tents on the streets and the effects of homelessness in the city. Plus, our team reviews a recent fact check by reporter Will Huntsberry after Gloria claimed shelter capacity has increased by 70 percent under his administration.

Listen to the full episode here. 

San Diego Reps Urge Biden to Declare Sewage Emergency

San Diego Congressional Democrats asked President Joe Biden to declare a federal emergency over sewage spilling into San Diego from Tijuana on Friday. 

Rep. Scott Peters, backed by Democratic colleagues in the House of Representatives, introduced an amendment to the military spending bill citing sewage spills into the Pacific Ocean, contaminating waters used for training U.S. Navy SEALS.

Background: Voice of San Diego first reported that a treatment plant run by the federal government is basically broken. The costs to fix it will eat up almost half the money Congress gave the border region in 2020 to build something new that would stop more sewage. Instead, San Diego finds itself playing catch-up after years of deferred maintenance on the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Imperial Beach, the U.S. city closest to the border, was first to declare a state of emergency. The County of San Diego followed shortly thereafter, urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to do the same.

But the problem of sewage spilling from broken Mexican infrastructure into the border-crossing Tijuana River has been ongoing for decades. A wastewater treatment plant in Tijuana is also broken, and the main reason why beaches are routinely closed in South Bay. 

A different pollution problem making sea mammals crazy sick: There’s a bloom of toxic algae going up the coast of California and it’s making sea lions behave badly and sickening them and dolphins and other sea life.

According to the LA Times, the algae is causing seizures and suffering in the animals. “It’s not like they’re attacking — they’re in a comatose state and if they’re spooked or bump into something, they may bite,” one scientist told the paper. The algae is caused by fertilizer runoff and the severity is blamed on intense runoff after winter storms.

Border Report: It’s A Big Weekend for Tijuana’s Culture Scene 

A sculpture in a min-park built over a former municipal jail in downtown Tijuana. It was torn down years ago to make way for a park.
A sculpture in a min-park built over a former municipal jail in downtown Tijuana. It was torn down years ago to make way for a park. / Photo by Estefany Maya for Tijuana Design Week

Voice contributor Sandra Dibble has pulled together a list of must-see cultural events in Tijuana this summer for the Border Report. 

She explains that most of them almost didn’t happen because of scarce funding, but sponsors and donations helped the organizations pull through. 

The events include a design week, a book fair and Tijuana’s opera festival. 

Read the Border Report here

In Other News 

  • In a new op-ed, the founder of the San Diego Schools and Parent Association education advocacy groups argues that San Diego Unified School District is bypassing tough conversations about budget cuts as students struggle and the district board approves pay raises. (Voice of San Diego)
  • The Union-Tribune broke the news Friday that San Diego State decided against departing the Mountain West Conference ahead of a key deadline. But Mountain West is not playing ball. The U-T reported over the weekend that the conference is insisting that SDSU already left and that it owes a lot of money. Now, lawyers are getting involved. Read the latest here. 
  • NBC 7 reports that Fifth Avenue from Broadway to K Street in Gaslamp Quarter is now car-free from noon to 2 a.m. 
  • CBS 8 reports that the Ocean Beach Pier was back open this weekend, just in time for 4th of July festivities. OB put on a first: A drone light show
  • Times of San Diego wrote about Gloria and Councilman Joe LaCava’s outcry about what they described as “criminal vandalism” of flexible traffic-calming posts installed along Diamond Street in Pacific Beach. The city has already reinstalled the posts.

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.

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