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VOSD Podcast: The Council President Showdown

In this week’s podcast, Andrew Keatts and Scott Lewis talk about the vote-wrangling between Councilman David Alvarez and Councilwoman Myrtle Cole to become the next Council president. Also: A determined new coalition says it wants to solve the region’s affordable housing crisis.

Three new San Diego City Council members will be inaugurated next week. The new Council’s first big decision will be a tense one: Who will be the next City Council president?

In this week’s podcast, hosts Andrew Keatts and Scott Lewis talk about the behind-the-scenes vote wrangling between Councilman David Alvarez and Councilwoman Myrtle Cole to become the next leader and the interesting split it’s caused among two of the city’s most powerful progressive institutions.

The San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council is backing Alvarez, while the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council just announced its support for Cole. Lewis and Keatts dig deep into why the groups are divided and why it matters.

Taking a Stab at Solving San Diego’s Biggest Problem

The affordable housing crisis is one of the San Diego region’s gnarliest problems, but that’s not stopping one new coalition.

Mary Lydon, the former executive director of the local Urban Land Institute chapter, is part of a new project called Housing You Matters, a group of urban planners, environmentalists and community leaders who have ambitious plans to first understand the housing problem, and then roll out recommendations for policy changes or other possible answers to the growing problem.

Lydon joined the podcast to discuss the group’s goals and its strategy.

“There’s no doubt that we’re growing,” she said. “Our populations are growing. We all have children. Where are they going to live? The great opportunities now are in the big cities … so we have to figure out how to accommodate that. But here in the state of California, we have some constraints.”

Lydon said the city’s Climate Action Plan is one local policy that’s caused more restraints when it comes to building affordable housing.

She also said her group is currently focusing on the “low-hanging fruit” of affordable housing by looking at how to spur more development next to public transportation. Transit-oriented development is something regional leaders have agreed San Diego needs more of, so she said her group is studying the barriers that might be keeping it from actually happening.

Hero of the Week

San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith announced a new pilot program meant to better serve people who are frequently arrested for low-level crimes, cycling in and out of local jails and using up city resources with little results in terms of recidivism. The San Diego Misdemeanants At-Risk Track program will work toward diverting those non-violent chronic misdemeanor offenders into treatment and housing programs instead.

Goat of the Week

The city of San Diego’s Development Services Department gets a big thumbs-down this week for breaking its own rules and allowing ineligible projects to benefit from a program that fast-tracks sustainable developments. Keatts found that five well-connected local architects benefited the most from the rule-breaking.

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