Member Coffee Recap: What Shape Will San Diego Take?

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Member Coffee Recap: What Shape Will San Diego Take?

Google Fiber, Civic San Diego, CEQA and Cory Briggs were among the subjects discussed at this month’s Member Coffee meeting.

Each month, VOSD editors, reporters and staff travel to different locations in San Diego County to discuss the issues. Hosted by CEO Scott Lewis, our Member Coffee events provide an environment for our readers to share their thoughts and ideas about San Diego, and give us feedback on our coverage. On Thursday, we hosted October’s Member Coffee at the San Diego Foundation in Point Loma. This is a recap of that conversation. To learn more about Voice of San Diego member benefits, please click here.


Google has been slowly building infrastructure to support its super fast Google Fiber network. So far, the internet giant’s implemented the service in just a handful of urban neighborhoods across the country.

The company announced last month that San Diego is on a short list of places it’s considering as good candidates for being a future home to Google Fiber. So what are our city leaders doing to help seal the deal and ensure San Diegans will someday get to surf the web at the fastest speed in existence?

One member at this month’s meeting really wanted to know. Scott Lewis said he’s interested in the topic, too.

“I would love to dig into what the barriers and challenges are,” Lewis said. “There’s significant pressure on the mayor to accept the proposal and help it get implemented.”

Civic San Diego’s Hazy Horizon

Earlier this month, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would’ve given the City Council more oversight over Civic San Diego, the nonprofit tasked with regulating development downtown.

Going forward, Lewis said it’ll be interesting to see whether Civic San Diego, which rose from the ashes of Brown’s death blow to the state’s redevelopment program, will actually expand its reach from downtown to southeastern San Diego – something that’s been in the works since last year.

Civic has also announced plans to build its own investment fund that would help seed projects and build new public-private partnerships.

Does the Council want to delegate even more development authority to group? That remains unclear.

What is certain, said one member familiar with the organization, is that Civic San Diego has become much more than just a successor organization formed solely to handle the projects still in the pipeline when redevelopment got squashed.

What Cory Briggs Wants for San Diego

Attorney Cory Briggs was a guest on our podcast last week. He explained the complicated initiative he’s trying to get on the June 2016 ballot, but even then it took Lewis some time to really understand it.

In short, Briggs, one of the people who helped bring down Mayor Bob Filner and typically a huge thorn in the side of city leaders, said he has an idea that would solve all of the San Diego’s major problems. By raising the hotel room tax, he said the city could keep the Chargers in town by building a new downtown stadium, expand the convention center and raise money for promoting tourism.

“What he’s trying to do is make everybody happy,” Lewis said.

“But what’s in it for Briggs?” one member asked.

The discussion led to talk of CEQA, or the California Environmental Quality Act, which VOSD has been covering a lot lately. Briggs uses the law to sue projects he thinks aren’t good for the environment. Of course, CEQA makes Briggs lots of money, too, but he’s not the only one using the state’s premier environmental law in strange ways.

Lewis told members to be sure to read Lisa Halverstadt’s recent coverage of “environmental groups suing environment project with an environment law and not getting any environmental benefit.”

Moving on Down, Republicans’ War on Media and Lilac Hills

Here are a few other interesting tidbits you missed at this month’s meeting:

• Voice of San Diego is moving downtown. Lewis announced that VOSD is moving its headquarters to a new office in January.

• Members were stoked on Andrew Keatts and Maya Srikrishnan’s reporting on Lilac Hills Ranch, the controversial development in Vista that would require county supervisors to shirk the county’s new, expensive general plan.

• Republican presidential candidates have a cantankerous relationship with the media. Talk of this week’s debate led us down the future-of-journalism wormhole wherein managing editor Sara Libby reminded us that Buzzfeed is more than just cat videos and Lewis said the biggest challenge for a local nonprofit media outlet like VOSD isn’t the vitriol coming from politicians, it’s convincing  people that journalism is a nonprofit as worthy of supporting as all the other nonprofits out there.

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