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Our daily roundup of San Diego’s most important stories (Monday-Friday)
The political horse race is in full swing in California’s 49th congressional district, a race thrown wide open in January when Rep. Darrell Issa announced he wouldn’t seek reelection. Jesse Marx and Andrew Keatts report that a boatload of Democrats are vying for the front-runner position even as Republican-backed polls show two Republicans topping a recent poll. That’s got Democrats worried about a top-two general election runoff bereft of any Democrats at all, as they all split the party’s votes.
Not helping matters was a recent change of residential address by candidate Doug Applegate, which signaled to insiders that he might be planning to bail on the 49th race and run instead for county supervisor, to replace termed-out Supervisor Bill Horn in the 5th District. Days before he changed his registration, an influential local union created a committee to support him in the county race, if he had opted to jump into it.
But as it turned out, his change of address missed the deadline to jump into the county supervisor race.
At a meeting of the California Democratic Party in January, candidate Mike Levin walked away with the popular vote, with previous Issa-opponent Applegate in second place. But nobody got enough votes for an outright endorsement.
• Meanwhile, Democrat Sara Jacobs is taking heat after telling an audience member she wasn’t a “crusty old Marine,” a choice of words she later apologized for. (Union-Tribune)
Recently we came to the rescue of San Diego parents looking for help with picking a school when we released our Parent’s Guide to Public Schools. In our latest episode of Good Schools For All, Scott Lewis and Laura Kohn dig into the guide, arming parents with even more information they need to pick out the right school.
Lilac Ranch Hills is back in the news as the county supervisors once again take up a developer’s proposal to build the community that voters shot down in 2016. They still want to build 1,700 homes in an area zoned for 100 homes, so that main point hasn’t changed. But the developers claim there have been some changes, KPBS’s Allison St. John reports. “Now it’s carbon neutral, all the homes are zero net energy, we’re doing off-site road improvements, a new fire station or a remodeled fire station, and a new school,” the project manager said.
For now the project’s environmental impact is under review and the public can comment on it until April 9th. “The County’s Planning Department said the project could come before the supervisors for a vote in early 2019,” St. John writes. That would mean two supervisors elected this year would help decide its fate.
• Take a walk down memory lane with our extensive investigation of the project from last time its developers pushed for its approval. Here was our first story in that months-long investigation, which outlined the developers’ refusal to take ‘no’ for an answer.
The federal government thinks it’s a good idea to calculate the cost of housing based on zip-codes, instead of based on averages over an entire region, so it invited San Diego to switch to zip-code based calculations that would help people in the Section 8 housing program find homes in more affluent neighborhoods. But the organization that oversees the program for San Diego has declined that offer, KPBS’s Claire Trageser reports. Instead, “the San Diego Housing Commission divided neighborhoods into three tiers with a different voucher amount for each tier.” That’ll boost the amount of financial assistance for some people, but not by as much as the federal system would have, and probably not enough to unlock access to expensive neighborhoods.
The commission’s CEO Rick Gentry, who made the call to shun the federal system, said the it was too complicated and also said he worried the zip code system could end up lowering the amount of assistance for people who choose to stay in low-income neighborhoods.
San Diego’s Public Utilities Department is again admitting they got it wrong and will refund customers who had to pay to have their water meters tested, after it was revealed the testing equipment they were using was “borderline obsolete.” It’s another setback for public trust in the agency as it tries to figure out why customers throughout San Diego have complained about sudden spikes in their water bills. San Diego’s city auditor has taken up the question but may still be months away from issuing a report.
When asked recently by Politico about alleged improper spending of campaign dollars, Rep. Duncan Hunter told them to look at where the spending happened and to note that it was happening somewhere else while he was in Washington D.C., implying that it was his wife who was actually committing the crime. So, the Union-Tribune’s Morgan Cook followed Hunter’s advice, comparing purchases that have been deemed improper with content shared via Hunter’s social media posts. A comparison of the timelines “shows that Hunter was regularly present, with his family, when improper campaign spending happened,” Cook reports.
That includes vacations to Idaho, Hawaii, and Italy as well as purchases at various spas and at Disneyland. In some cases, Hunter had admitted wrongdoing and reimbursed the campaign, but not in all cases.
• Hunter responded to the allegations in an interview with 10 News on Thursday claiming a liberal media slant and advocating for giving school teachers guns.
• San Diego Police raided a church that uses cannabis as a sacrament, and now face a $1.1 million claim as a result of the raid. (Times of San Diego)
• The San Ysidro School District will repay at least $2.6 million to the state government thanks to inaccurate accounting of student attendance. (Union-Tribune)
• If you’re trying to open up a cannabis business, good luck finding commercial real estate. The industry isn’t very friendly to cannabusiness yet. (Our City SD)
• The San Diego City Council is not ready to even study the possibility of a starting a city-owned internet service to compete with private businesses and close the digital divide. (Times of San Diego)
• Ace Parking says ride-hailing companies like Uber and Lyft are cutting deeply into the parking lot business. (Union-Tribune)
• Tony Mendoza resigned from the California Senate on Thursday, saying he didn’t want to cooperate with what he labeled a “farcical investigation” into a series of sexual misconduct allegations. (LA Times)
• President Trump is thinking about pulling Border Patrol and Immigration Enforcement out of California so that he can watch the state turn into “crime nest like you’ve never seen” and so that he can watch California beg him to send the agencies back in. (KPBS)