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Morning Report: Skydiving Building-Turned-Homelessness Center Not Taking Flight Yet

Dozens of flight suits and helmets remain in the shuttered indoor skydiving facility. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s controversial plan to transform a shuttered East Village skydiving center into a housing navigation center for homeless San Diegans is facing a new hurdle.

City Councilman Chris Ward, who represents downtown and leads the City Council’s homelessness committee, says he won’t support moving ahead with the project until the city comes up with an overarching strategy.

Ward told Lisa Halverstadt that he wants to see the city nail down priorities for addressing homelessness – and whether the navigation center concept should be a priority – before he’ll sign off on a proposed contract with nonprofit Family Health Centers of San Diego, which was selected to operate the center.

Ward’s decision follows a hail of concerns from advocates and neighbors about plans for the project and the city’s rush to purchase the skydiving building earlier this year. 

Fellow City Council Democrat Barbara Bry said Tuesday she agrees with Ward.

The mayor’s team isn’t cool with Ward’s timeline – or the idea of waiting for a plan that’s likely months away. A spokesman says Faulconer’s office is pushing for a November City Council vote on the navigation center contract.

Sweetwater Finds $19M in Cuts for Current School Year

The Sweetwater Union High School District, which serves over 40,000 students in the South Bay, is cutting roughly $19 million from its roughly $350 million general fund budget after district officials made budgeting errors. School officials did not say exactly what the cuts will mean for students in the classroom, but it will mean hiring freezes and less money for special education, adult education, textbooks, supplies and teacher training.

Will Huntsberry found that though school officials tried minimize the problems they created, it is extremely rare for a district to miscalculate its budget as badly as Sweetwater Union did in recent months. The last time a budget problem of similar magnitude happened in San Diego County, San Ysidro school district partially lost its autonomy to a county-appointed “fiscal adviser.”

A Space for Makers, Plus a Goodbye

In this week’s Culture Report, Kinsee Morlan talked with a group of artists and designers who are in the midst of turning a large warehouse space in Logan Heights into studios and co-working space.

”Community enables so much more than you can do on your own. … By building this community, that’s what we’re giving to people is the ability for them to be able to come and meet people, learn from them, grow their business and afford to do it,” one member of the group, a woodworker, said.

Speaking of Morlan, this is her last week at VOSD. She’ll be close by, though, producing new podcast projects for KPBS.

Hopefully, when we reboot the Culture Report with a new author, Morlan will be making lots of cool podcasts we can report on in it.

Coronado Mayor: We Spend Too Much on Transit

In an opinion piece, Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey argues that most of us are sitting in traffic each day because local governments are spending too much on public transit and not enough on roads.

“More than 50 percent of local transportation dollars are spent to move just 3.5 percent of commuters,” Bailey, who is also a member of the regional transportation agency, writes.

In particular, he takes on the “much-hyped” trolley line that will connect downtown to University Town Center in La Jolla: “The Mid-Coast project is paid for by a combination of local and federal tax dollars and will end up costing $2.17 billion. Although trolley lines rarely achieve their estimated ridership, even if the predicted 17,000 daily round trips are reached, it would still be cheaper to issue a $125,000 check to each rider today and continue paying them nearly $1,000 a year for the next 30 years, than to build and operate the Mid-Coast trolley line.”

Chargers Patriarch Dies

Alex Spanos, long-time owner of the Chargers football team, died Tuesday morning at age 95.

“One of his most memorable moments was watching the Chargers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers to play in Super Bowl XXIX,” the team said in a statement. “He was equally passionate about the franchise’s impact off the field, implementing many Chargers’ community outreach programs that exist to this day.”

Spanos lived a rags-to-riches story. He was a Republican and a major contributor to the party. Former President George W. Bush, former Gov. Pete Wilson and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader in the U.S. House, all issued statements praising Spanos’ life. Occasionally, because of his Greek heritage, he acted as a go-between for the American and Greek governments.

In a revealing autobiography, he said his ownership of the Chargers was something of a happenstance: According to the book, he missed a chance to buy the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1974, lost a 1976 bid to buy the San Francisco 49ers and passed up a chance to buy the Oakland A’s in 1978. In 1982, he bought a partial stake in the Chargers before he took ownership of the team in 1984.

After he bought the team, he thought about moving to San Diego but his wife Faye told him she’d “rather not” leave Stockton.

Spanos says his wife’s words saved him.

“When fans began booing me in the street and reporters kept hammering at me in the newspapers, I was especially grateful to be able to go home,” he wrote.

In 2017, one of his sons, Dean Spanos, led the Chargers’ move to Los Angeles.

Faye, his wife of nearly 70 years, died in August, the Los Angeles Times reported.

News Roundup

The Morning Report was written by Ry Rivard, and edited by Sara Libby.

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