Morning Report: How Marine Detectives Work an Oil Spill

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Morning Report: How Marine Detectives Work an Oil Spill

Illustration by Adriana Heldiz

The Coast Guard recently announced that it is investigating two separate instances of “reported sheens” off the coast in San Diego – rainbow-colored oily messes floating atop the water, one off of Point Loma and one off of San Clemente.

So, uh, how does one investigate an oil sheen?

In a new piece, VOSD’s MacKenzie Elmer set out to understand the process

“It turns out the business of solving who may have dumped something bad into the ocean is much like solving any big crime – it takes good detective work,” she writes.

That includes ocean forensics, if you will: “Marine detectives analyze samples of suspected spills through a mass spectrometer, a relatively old technology that can identify the types of molecules in a sample by blasting it through heat and magnets.”

Plus, photographic evidence: “NOAA satellite analyst Matt Coverdale told me satellites didn’t pick up any good images of the June 19 spill, as far as he could tell. That could have been due to the fact that the satellite, which rotates the Earth, simply didn’t pass over that area or the day was cloudy.”

It’s also possible that there was no bad guy. Sometimes oil spills into the water naturally, when it squeezes through cracks in the ocean floor and makes its way to the surface.

101 Ash, CCP Lenders Are Not Pleased

Last week, the city made bombshell legal moves to back out of its 101 Ash St. and Civic Center Plaza leases and recoup more than $44 million in payments following the revelation that a former “volunteer” real estate consultant who worked on the deals was paid more than $9.4 million.

Lenders who supplied middle-man seller Cisterra Development with upfront cash to make the two lease-to-own deals happen are not pleased by this news.

The unique structure of the deals the city now seeks to void means investors in those leases are now on notice that the city doesn’t plan to pay them rent. Worse, the city wants to claw back rent checks investors have already received. 

City Chief Operating Officer Jay Goldstone confirmed the city is halting rent payments in a Thursday letter to Cisterra and its lenders.

Kyle Gore, managing director of CGA Capital and affiliate CGA Servicing, which is representing the lenders, sent VOSD a stern statement on Friday.

“Withholding the payment of rent on Civic Center Plaza and 101 Ash Street is in violation of terms set forward in the lease and agreed by the city,” Gore wrote. “The lender is reviewing recent legal filings from the city and will consider their claims but will ultimately vigorously pursue any and all remedies in a court of law.”

VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt previously revealed that a trust representing high-powered lenders Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America, Assurity Life Insurance Company and CGA Capital, was demanding to be paid a few weeks after the city decided to halt 101 Ash rent payments last year.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby, and edited by Scott Lewis.

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