The San Diego Union-Tribune building in downtown San Diego on July 10, 2023.
The San Diego Union-Tribune building in downtown San Diego on July 10, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Patrick Soon-Shiong, the owner and publisher of the LA Times and San Diego Union-Tribune announced Monday that he and his family were selling the Union-Tribune to MediaNews Group owned by Alden Global Capital. 

Alden is known for severe cost-cutting measures but is one of the few groups willing to buy newspapers nationwide and one analyst told us it hasn’t cut jobs as much as some owners.

But U-T reporters immediately posted on Twitter the notices they received that cutbacks were coming. 

The LA Times last month announced it would restructure its operations and lay off dozens of employees. No similar announcement at the U-T was conspicuous. Now it appears management may have been waiting for the deal to close. 

“No different than the changes announced last month at the Los Angeles Times last month, the U-T will also need to make some difficult staffing decisions as we assume management. Reductions will be necessary to offset the slowdown in revenues as economic headwinds continue to impact the media industry,” read the memo sent from the new ownership to staff. 

Our Will Huntsberry and Scott Lewis collected what we know about the deal and history of the Union-Tribune into this story. 

Boundary Refs on Water Divorce: It’s OK to See Other Water Districts 

Teresa Morse sticks her hand under the faucet in her bathroom in Golden Hill on March 10, 2023. Morse says it can take several minutes to get warm water.
Teresa Morse sticks her hand under the faucet in her bathroom in Golden Hill on March 10, 2023. Morse says it can take several minutes to get warm water. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

San Diego’s boundary referees on Monday decided that two North County farming communities can divorce the San Diego County Water Authority and buy cheaper water elsewhere.

This controversial breakup heated up recently with powerful politicians from San Diego, Los Angeles and even the state Legislature jumping in to defeat the move.

A Water District Smackdown: In the latest Environment Report, MacKenzie Elmer lays out all the forces at play. Read the newsletter here. 

A majority of the Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO, board members led by Republican Supervisor Jim Desmond, agreed there was nothing in state or local law preventing the departures of the Rainbow Municipal Water District and the Fallbrook Public Utility District. 

A Bitter Separation: The Water Authority, backed by San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria’s administration, said Rainbow and Fallbrook are leaving the other 22 water districts on the hook for their share in growing water costs, an estimated $200 million. Staff at LAFCO say the price tag is more like $66 million minus some infrastructure the Water Authority never built for those two communities. 

The vote was 5 to 3 with Supervisor Joel Anderson, the deputy mayor of Solana Beach, Kristi Becker, and San Diego Councilmember Stephen Whitburn voting against the divorce. 

What’s Next: The divorce isn’t final until residents in both departing water districts approve it as well, however. And the Water Authority has already suggested it’s exploring legal action against the LAFCO decision. 

Lawyer Repping Homeless Residents to Run for City Council

San Diego City Councilmembers during a meeting.
San Diego City Councilmembers during a meeting on Jan. 10, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

A homeless advocate and pro-bono attorney who has been one of Mayor Todd Gloria’s most vocal opponents plans to seek the downtown City Council seat Gloria once held.

North Park resident Coleen Cusack announced Tuesday that she wants to unseat District 3 City Councilman Stephen Whitburn, a fellow Democrat who now represents central city neighborhoods.

Cusack said others encouraged her to run after Whitburn announced the homeless camping ban the City Council narrowly approved in June. Cusack has spoken out against the ordinance at City Hall and on social media and has also said she’ll fight it in court once the city cracks down on unsheltered clients she represents pro-bono.

Long Odds: Ousting an incumbent isn’t easy in San Diego. Many San Diegans have pushed Whitburn and Gloria to clear more homeless camps, a reality that speaks to often polarizing views about how the city should address its foremost crisis.

Read the full story here.

In Other News 

  • CBS 8 obtained city permits showing the city’s new safe sleep site for unsheltered people at a maintenance yard in Golden Hill must close by the end of the year.
  • Downtown San Diego business owners say they are fed up with the city’s response to the homeless crisis. Several spoke with the Union-Tribune about how their businesses have suffered because of growing encampments and violent interactions on the sidewalk. Last month, these business owners announced their plan to seek damages from the city. 
  • The United States Postal Service is seeing a high demand for passport appointments, so it’s hosting several passport fairs on Saturday. Fox 5 has a list of locations and times. 
  • It’s more expensive to rent in San Diego than in San Francisco on average according to a new report. (10 News) 
  • And because San Diego is so expensive, many families are struggling. This is especially true for military families, San Diego Magazine reports.

The Morning Report was written by Scott Lewis, Will Huntsberry, MacKenzie Elmer and Lisa Halverstadt. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña and Scott Lewis. 

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