I’m going to break one of my rules, and quote “Anchorman” regarding something happening in San Diego.

That escalated quickly.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced a series of budget cuts Friday aimed at the districts represented by Council members who earlier this week stymied his wishes to hold a special election in November.

In a veto statement that reinstated money to fund a special election for two major projects he supports – raising hotel taxes to expand the Convention Center, and approving the SoccerCity project in Mission Valley – he also cut money from the Democratic Council members who oppose the election.

He slashed the office and discretionary budgets for Councilman Chris Ward and Councilwoman Barbara Bry. He killed implementation funding for a renewable energy project proposed by Councilwoman Georgette Gomez. He canceled funding to repair the roof of a community center in Councilman David Alvarez’s district.

Faulconer also maintained increased spending on overtime for police officers to address the department’s chronic understaffing issue. He also added money to police recruiting and retention efforts, spent more to plant trees throughout the city, and added money to non-personnel police spending and homelessness diversion programs.


We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

“Several city councilmembers, who have publicly supported the convention center expansion, fixing our streets and helping the homeless, are being squeezed by their political backers to kill these ballot measures. I urge them to vote their conscience, use this restored funding to call a special election and let the public have the final say,” Faulconer said in a statement.

I went over the implications of the move, and other big issues to watch come Monday.

For one thing, the mayor made a series of uncommonly adversarial moves this week to keep his special election alive, but there’s a good chance they won’t amount to anything. He still needs one more vote to actually schedule the special election he has funded, and Council President Myrtle Cole said she plans to stick by her colleagues whose budgets were cut.

For another, SoccerCity won’t actually be on the agenda in any official way Monday, but chances are its fate will be decided with the Council’s vote. If the City Council doesn’t schedule a special election, then it would only be able to approve SoccerCity outright, which is unlikely, or schedule it for the next city election. The City Council won’t decide that until a week from Monday.

OK, that’s all. On to other news.

Enviros Say County Is Stacking the Deck for One Development

San Diego County has spent years writing a plan to protect habitat and threatened species in North County. It’s supposed to outline where developers can and can’t build things, and leave the specific details of any proposed project to a vote by the County Board of Supervisors.

But the most recent draft of that plan specifically includes the boundaries of one controversial project near San Marcos that hasn’t been approved yet, alongside a half dozen projects that have been.

As Ry Rivard wrote in a new story, a group of environmentalists recently sent Supervisor Dianne Jacob a letter arguing the county was in essence attempting to give the project the presumption it was approved before it was actually approved.

“By putting it into the draft plan, it stacks the deck in favor of the developer, without a public interest reason for doing so,” said Dan Silver, the head of the Endangered Habitats League.

The planning director for the county says it’ll be clear why it included certain projects when it releases a final draft.

Sacramento Report: Bills in the Capitol That Only Matter to San Diego

Generally speaking, legislation approved in Sacramento applies to all California residents.

But a handful of bills from local legislators really only matter in San Diego County. Sara Libby rounded them up and updated their status in the latest Sacramento Report.

The highest-profile one is Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher’s proposal to reform the voting and governance structure at SANDAG. Others include Assemblyman Todd Gloria’s bill to change how we hold countywide elections, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber’s bill to remake San Diego’s redistricting commission and Sen. Ben Hueso’s bill to upgrade safety features on the Coronado Bridge.

This week’s Capitol dispatch also goes over the effects of underfunding the state’s foster care system, and a handful of ballot measures the state passed in November that are now facing uncertainty over how they should be implemented.

VOSD Podcast: Measure L Caught Us by Surprise

Scott Lewis is out of town, so Libby joined me to co-host this week’s podcast. We broke down a crazy week at City Hall – see above – and welcomed two guests related to the madness.

Michael McConnell is a local homelessness advocate who paid for his own poll to see how a hotel tax hike that ignored the Convention Center and spent all the new money on homelessness would do with voters. His results suggested voters share his priorities, and like it more than Faulconer’s proposal. Naturally, backers of the mayor’s plan have taken issue with the poll. We got into all that, and what he thinks the poll suggests for his preference, putting up a homelessness-specific measure in 2018.

We were also joined by Andrea Guerrero, executive director of Alliance San Diego, the community organizing group that put Measures K and L on San Diego’s ballot last year. Together, they meant city officials should be elected and major city initiatives decided during general elections, when turnout is highest.

Last fall, we focused far more on Measure K than we did on Measure L. But as the mayor pushed for his special election, it’s Measure L that the Democratic opposition has rallied behind, just seven months after its passage.

Opinion: Convention Center Expansion Only Helps a Few

In an op-ed, local pastor John Auther argues that San Diegans need to drop the pretense that expanding the Convention Center helps the whole city.

In the face of the city’s homeless crisis, he says, it’s time to acknowledge that it’s good for the tourism industry, and that’s it. Rather than generating revenue that can help the homeless, it’ll create economic conditions that cause developers to build more hotels, attractions and restaurants that will make housing unaffordable and displace the people who live in it now, putting a further strain on people near the bottom of the income ladder who are likeliest to become homeless.

In Other News

A mentally ill man who killed his parents in their Sunset Cliffs home three years ago was sentenced Friday to 100 years in prison. (Union-Tribune)

The San Diego Water Authority has been holding certain meetings in private for years. The agency this week asserted, after weeks of coverage by the U-T, that those meetings between delegates to a regional water agency are legal and necessary. (Union-Tribune)

I joined KPBS’s Roundtable on Friday to discuss what’s been a crazy week in San Diego politics. During the discussion, though, I made an error. I said the SoccerCity initiative voids if San Diego isn’t awarded an MLS team. That’s not right: The property reverts back to the city, if the city wishes, if the developers don’t build a stadium within seven years, according to a city attorney memo on the initiative.

    This article relates to: Morning Report, News

    Written by Andrew Keatts

    I'm Andrew Keatts, a reporter for Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at andrew.keatts@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0529.

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