101 Ash St. / File photo by Adriana Heldiz

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria’s top staff revealed Wednesday that they planned to begin exclusive negotiations with a La Jolla investor who plans to gut the beleaguered 101 Ash St. tower and retrofit it into almost 400 apartments, at least 25 percent of which would be reserved for low-income residents. 

Reven Capital was the only one to respond to the city’s call for housing proposals for the five-square blocks the city now owns including City Hall downtown. 

The plan: Chad Carpenter, the CEO of Reven, told Voice of San Diego he plans to tear out everything inside of the building, including its major systems, but keep the building standing and turn it into apartments. 

He said his firm has been focused on acquiring distressed office buildings. (Hard to imagine many more distressed than this one.)

“We’ve rebuilt office buildings inside and out and I know exactly what to do to this one,” Carpenter said.  

Office towers are struggling: Carpenter says he has no interest in the politics and previous scandals around the building. He’s just been watching the market as companies adjust to workers who are operating remotely and downsizing. 

“Right now, the asset class that includes office buildings is going through the worst downturn of my career and I have seen several recessions,” he said. “These towers are very expensive to carry just sitting there empty.”

What’s next: City staff will begin negotiations with Carpenter’s firm to get an exact plan including whether the city sells them the land or rents it. Then they will return to the Council with a proposal.

As for the rest of the five square blocks around City Hall, nobody bid on them in this round focused heavily on affordable housing. The city now has much more freedom to make a deal with developers that will require less of the new construction be set aside for low-income residents.

San Diego’s CARE Court Plan

Social workers at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital
File photo by Ariana Drehsler

Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom and other state officials pushed for the creation of what they billed as a transformational new court system to require people with serious mental illnesses to access treatment.

Months later, San Diego County officials are hustling to implement CARE Court ahead of a state-imposed Oct. 1 deadline.

Yet little has been aired publicly about the new initiative – or how many people it might serve.

Our Lisa Halverstadt dug in and found that the county projects that San Diego Superior Court will receive roughly 1,000 petitions a year and that about 250 people with certain psychotic disorders will be deemed eligible for civil court-ordered care, a far cry from the impact implied when state officials first unveiled their proposal last year. It’s not clear how many of those people will be homeless despite state leaders’ focus on that population.

Why it’ll still be a herculean task: The county’s behavioral health system is already struggling to connect people with the right levels of care when they need it due to shortages of both long-term care beds and staffing and longtime inequities tied to behavioral health care. And if the county can’t deliver on pledges to the court, it could face court fines of up to $1,000 a day.

What the county’s doing: With the help of state funds, the county plans to ramp up access to board-and-care facilities it expects CARE Court participants to need. It’s also hiring up to facilitate new tasks tied to CARE Court. The San Diego Superior Court and the county Public Defender’s Office are also working to prepare.

Uncertainty about what’s next: Just over a month before the county is set to implement CARE Court, advocates told Halverstadt they have yet to be briefed on the specifics of how the process will work. Many also have concerns. The president of the San Diego chapter of Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance said she’s concerned CARE Court could be abused and Scripps Health’s behavioral health administrator is concerned the new court system will only exacerbate existing challenges with the system.

Read the full story here. 

North County Report: Update on San Onofre 

File photo by Megan Wood

The San Onofre power plant in Camp Pendleton hasn’t been running for more than a decade, and officials are still working on dismantling it.

So, what’s taking so long? Well, it’s complicated.

Some background: The plant is owned by public utility company Southern California Edison, but it was permanently closed in 2012.

Since then, SoCal Edison has been trying to dismantle, or decommission, it. The problem is there’s nowhere for them to store the nuclear waste that’s still sitting in the San Onofre facility.

That’s because of a federal law that says nuclear waste has to be disposed of in a very specific way a couple thousand feet underground. But the federal government no longer has a designated place to do that.

What now? A few different groups including a congressional caucus, a coalition of cities and counties, SoCal Edison and the Department of Energy are hoping to convince Congress to fix that law and establish a safe and permanent place for the waste.

Until then, there’s an effort to temporarily store it somewhere other than San Onofre.

Read the North County Report here. 

Schools Guide Workshops 

Children participate in an activity at Blossom Valley Elementary School in El Cajon on Nov. 28, 2022.
File photo by Ariana Drehsler

Free info sessions on our Parent’s Guide to San Diego Schools are back. Voice of San Diego Reporters and editors will breakdown the information in the guide on school choice, special programs, and other factors to consider when enrolling your K-12 student. 

Mark your calendars for these upcoming events: 

  • Tuesday, Aug. 29 at San Diego State University’s Basic Needs Center at 8:30 a.m. RSVP here.
  • Wednesday, Aug. 30 at Girl Scouts San Diego Balboa Campus at 5:30 p.m. RSVP here.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 12 at Lawrence Family Jewish Center at 6 p.m. RSVP here.

For more details and to download the Schools Guide for free, click here

 Song of the Week  

Moondaddy, “Angel”: Songwriter Cara Potiker’s previous project Wsprgrl was an infectious electropop affair with touches of gloomy darkwave. The kind of music meant for late-night cigarettes or meandering drives. With her latest project Moondaddy, whose debut album “Poet Lies” dropped on the excellent local label Volar Records on Friday, Potiker ditches the more digital feel for a refreshingly organic and intimate brand of dream pop that channels Cocteau Twins and Beach House. 

The whole album is stellar, so deciding which song to choose was difficult. I landed  on “Angel,” which builds from a sparse and ethereal synth number that perfectly showcases Potiker’s haunting voice to a cathartic sonic swell that wraps you up and doesn’t let go.

Do you have a “Song of the Week” suggestion? Shoot us an email and a sentence or two about why you’ve been bumping this song lately. Friendly reminder: all songs should be by local artists. 

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Scott Lewis, Lisa Halverstadt, Tigist Layne and Jakob McWhinney. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña. 

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