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Morning Report: Airport Authority on the Chopping Block

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher / Photo by Sam Hodgson

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher has made a habit of proposing bills in Sacramento that would make big changes in San Diego.

She’s at it again. Late Wednesday, I broke the news of her newest bill: she wants to fold the regional Airport Authority into the Port of San Diego.

The airport actually used to be under the port’s umbrella. That changed in 2003, with state legislation creating a new agency dedicated only to the airport. Gonzalez Fletcher’s bill would essentially reset the situation.

The airport has a roughly $250 million annual budget, which would head back to port control — though that would still be subject to Federal Aviation Authority rules stipulating the money be spent on airport-related expenditures.

Gonzalez Fletcher said it’s simple: the airport is a regional asset dealing with regional issues that are better addressed by a regional agency with a broad mandate.

It’s the third time she’s proposed big changes at the state level to a local agency. In 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed her bill to revamp Civic San Diego. Last year he signed her bill to reform SANDAG, while the agency was overcome by scandal.

“This is different than SANDAG,” Gonzalez Fletcher said. “I don’t detest the Airport Authority. This is about what’s best for regional planning.”

The airport’s chair, meanwhile, thinks it’s all misguided, and that the airport is already thinking regionally.

City Hall Still Can’t Figure Out Short-Term Vacation Rentals

Late last year, San Diego’s City Council failed to pass regulations for vacation rentals like Airbnb. The failure didn’t just follow a grueling 10-hour hearing; it also followed three years of other failed efforts. Councilman Chris Cate declared the debacle proof that the Council can’t govern.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer then said he’d finally get involved. In January, he told us he’d “get something on the books here within the next two months.”

As Lisa Halverstadt reports, things still aren’t moving very fast.

The mayor’s office says it wants a Council vote in April. The Council President, meanwhile, says whatever goes forward needs to start at the council’s committee for housing, but nothing is scheduled for its March meeting.

And one big item that killed a potential compromise last year is still in limbo. Councilman David Alvarez says his yes vote depends on establishing a rental fee to boost affordable housing. Setting that fee requires a study that representative from the Housing Commission said could get started soon. Once they do, it could take 10 weeks to finish.

Making It as a Defense Contractor

The defense contractor Redhorse Corporation started 10 years ago with a $50,000 small business loan. By 2016 it had revenue of $57 million and was one of the country’s 1,000 fastest-growing companies.

In the latest episode of I Made It in San Diego, our podcast on success stories from local businesses, Scott Lewis talks to the company’s CEO, David Inmon.

“We made it, but now we’ve got to sustain it,” said. “We’re no longer a small business and that changes the calculus quite a bit, particularly in the federal market space.”

North County Report: A Long-Held GOP Assembly Seat Turns Purple

All eyes in North County politics are on the race to replace Rep. Darrell Issa in the 49th District. But that race itself has opened the door for another competitive seat.

The 76th Assembly District has been safely red for years. But Assemblyman Rocky Chavez has vacated the seat to run in CA-49 and the opening has Democrats thinking of a pick up.

Three Democrats and six Republicans are running in the June primary for the right to move into November, as Ruarri Suerpa covers in this week’s North County Report.

Also covered this week: the weekend debacle where Democrats tried and failed to clarify their side of CA-49, refurbishments coming to downtown Del Mar, a no growth group runs into disclosure trouble in Oceanside and more.

In Other News

• A gas leak disrupted much of the city’s urban core yesterday after construction crews accidentally cut through a gas line in Mission Valley, prompting evacuation orders and freeway closures. (KPBS)

• A site in New Mexico could be on its way to storing nuclear waste. That’s good news for groups who’ve been trying in vain to rid San Onofre beach of the burden. (KPBS)

• Gov. Jerry Brown accused Attorney General Jeff Sessions of lying and trying to appease the president, after Sessions laid out his reasons for suing the state policies he claims represent a refusal to comply with federal immigration law. (Associated Press)

• The White House confirmed Wednesday that President Trump is on his way to San Diego next week to take a look at a few skinny slabs of concrete… ahem, I mean “border wall prototypes.” (City News Service)

We tried to figure out how many of the city’s elected Republicans are eager to appear with the president, and the leader of their party, once he’s here. Turns out they aren’t all that amped on it.

• Broadcom is trying to ease the federal government’s fears over its hostile takeover attempt of Qualcomm. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

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