Mishele Stead's in her backyard in Golden Hill on July 17, 2023.
Mishele Stead's in her backyard in Golden Hill on July 17, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Two Golden Hill neighbors are being evicted. 

That’s because the duplex owner wants to replace it with a 108-unit complex that will include some mandated affordable units. It could alleviate the city’s housing crisis, but it’s bad for Mishele Stead and Pamela Peterson. 

Voice of San Diego contributor Kathryn Gray writes that it appears that the two women will be collateral damage in the city’s quest for more housing. A whole set of evolving and untested laws actually offer them more protection than existed a few years ago, Gray writes. 

But there’s an important wrinkle to the story, one that the San Diego City Council will discuss at today’s meeting. It’s a proposed change coming from Mayor Todd Gloria that would allow developers to build mandated affordable units off-site.

Read the full story here. 

Politics Report: A Conflict, a Councilman and Cannabis 

Councilmember Stephen Whitburn for District 3 during a meeting for the Informational Update on Civic Center Revitalization Project. (District 3.) in downtown on Oct. 17, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler
Councilman Stephen Whitburn for District 3 during a meeting in downtown on Oct. 17, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

In 2021 and early 2022, San Diego Councilman Stephen Whiburn pushed to loosen regulations on cannabis retailers with a surprising urgency. He wanted the city to allow retailers to be located closer to churches, playgrounds, libraries, child care facilities, schools and homes. 

He pushed hard, but couldn’t make it happen. 

So, why does it matter? The Politics Report writes that at the same time, his chief of staff, Jesus Cardenas, had income and deep connections to the industry. He’s now accused of claiming cannabis employees as his own for a PPP loan. 

Scott Lewis gets into Whitburn’s efforts to loosen rules, and his chief of staff’s conflict in the latest Politics Report. The councilman’s office declined to comment on Cardenas. 

It’s a fascinating story. Read the Politics Report here. 

The Farmers Who Water Thirsty Alfalfa 

A bird sits on alfalfa in Imperial Valley on Oct. 10, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler
A bird sits on alfalfa in Imperial Valley on Oct. 10, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Alfalfa is one needy crop in Imperial Valley. It requires a lot of water to grow, so it is often a controversial legume to grow during drought. But farmers keep growing it to feed livestock.

Last week, our MacKenzie Elmer wrote about how critics on the Colorado River — the West’s main water source — love to hate alfalfa, generically known as hay, because it uses so much water. Still, it’s Imperial Valley’s second-largest crop generating more than $269 million in 2022. Humans might not eat it, but it’s behind so many of the food products we consume. (Read Elmer’s piece here.

ProPublica and the Desert Sun in a new investigation revealed that 20 farming families in Imperial Valley consume much of the Colorado River Water that goes to the region. One farmer family in particular uses more water than the whole city of Las Vegas. What are they watering? Hay to feed livestock. 

ICYMI: There’s a deal brewing between major southern California water agencies to generate more water supplies in the West. Read the story here.  Pro tip: Subscribe to Elmer’s Environment Report here to keep up on all things environment. 

Department Shake Up at City Hall 

The Union-Tribune reported late last week that the city is consolidating two of its departments. 

The Department of Real Estate and Airport Management will merge with the Economic Development Department. Christina Bibler, the city’s Economic Development director, will supervise all operations. 

Officials say the move is intended to, “streamline City operations and improve the efficiency of the City’s real estate portfolio.” 

A big change: Penny Maus, who has overseen the city’s real estate holdings for more than two years, no longer works for the city. She had been overseeing the redevelopment of the sports arena. 

VOSD Podcast: Who’s Really Staffing San Diego’s Biggest Venues 

Senior investigative reporter Will Huntsberry joined our podcast hosts on the latest episode to talk about his latest investigation. He found that at least three charities are paying supposed volunteers under the table to staff concession stands at some of the region’s biggest venues, like Petco Park. 

Listen to the full episode here. And read the investigation here. 

In Other News 

  • The latest Cup of Chisme sums up our latest investigation and stories to read to start your week. Don’t miss the chisme, read it here
  • Opinion: Seth Hall, co-founder of San Diego Privacy, argues in a new op-ed that San Diego’s City Council needs to consider several questions as it considers a contract for streetlight surveillance today. Read it here. 
  • San Diego has acquired more than $1 billion in budget deficits for the next five years with one of the biggest causes being the salaries of city employees. (SDUT)
  • Another San Diego migrant center is finding itself at risk for closing down. The center is being run by South Bay Community Services and says that its county provided funding could run out by mid-december. (CBS8) 
  • For our pop-culture fans, Sir Patrick Stewart, best known for his roles in Star Trek and X-Men will be coming to Balboa theater next month to discuss his new book. (Times of San Diego)

The Morning Report was written by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña, MacKenzie Elmer and Hannah Ramirez. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña and Scott Lewis. 

Correction: This post has been updated to correct that the City Council meeting is on Monday.

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