The 101 Ash St. building. / File photo by Adriana Heldiz

The ex-city real estate adviser at the center of the city’s 101 Ash St. debacle is fighting the state Department of Real Estate’s move to revoke his real estate license.

La Prensa San Diego was first to report this week that prominent commercial real estate broker Jason Hughes filed a lawsuit in San Diego Superior Court appealing state Real Estate Commissioner Chika Sundquist’s decision to pull his license. Sundquist overruled an administrative law judge’s earlier recommendation of a $4,000 fee. 

Refresher: Hughes pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor conflict-of-interest charge last year, months after the revelation that the city’s 101 Ash St. landlord paid him $9.4 million for his work on two city lease deals. Hughes had previously argued he was not covered by the state’s premier conflict-of-interest law and that he  told multiple city officials he wanted to be paid. He later repaid the $9.4 million to the city. In a proceeding last year, Hughes testified that the criminal investigation and civil cases tied to the 101 Ash deal hurt his family and tarnished his reputation, and that he was unfairly targeted. The criminal misdemeanor charge was formally expunged earlier this month.

Why the commissioner says she’s revoking the license: “(Hughes’) lack of acceptance or responsibility for his conviction and claim that his conviction is wholly unrelated to his license does not assure the department that the public will be protected granting continued licensure to respondent as a real estate broker,” Sundquist wrote in her March 28 order.

The revocation is for now set to take effect Friday.

Hughes’ legal move: The suit Hughes filed earlier this week seeks a court order to dismiss or set aside Sundquist’s decision. It also requests a stay amid Hughes’ appeal.

Hughes’ take: In a statement, Hughes spokesperson Steven Goldberg deemed Sundquist’s decision “grossly unfair” and a “blatantly unjustified use of political power.”

“As Mr. Hughes has adamantly maintained all along, he did nothing wrong and acted transparently and in good faith to support the City of San Diego during a time of significant uncertainty and urgent need,” Goldberg wrote in a statement. “Furthermore, he has had a distinguished real estate career spanning more than 35 years and has never had a single legal issue before this.”

Goldberg also wrote that the final decision won’t have a “practical impact” on Hughes’ firm, Hughes Marino, as the company’s real estate license in California is not in his name though Goldberg said Hughes continues to have a senior role overseeing the company’s offices.

What DRE says: A spokesperson for the Department of Real Estate said earlier this week that it doesn’t comment on pending litigation – and that it’s moving forward with revoking his license effective Friday.

The Learning Curve: Reading Science Bill Dies

Kindergarten students listen to themselves read during a class assignment at Spreckels Elementary school in University City on April 24, 2023.
Kindergarten students listen to themselves read during a class assignment at Spreckels Elementary school in University City on April 24, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

A statewide bill that would have mandated schools use science-backed methods of teaching reading has died, reports Jakob McWhinney in his newest Learning Curve.

The bill was opposed by the California Teachers Association, which also represents San Diego Unified teachers. Union officials said the bill would have implemented a “one-size-fits-all approach” that would have been bad for students.

San Diego Unified’s board president Shana Hazan had hoped the bill would pass given San Diego Unified’s own sluggish attempts to fully implement science-backed methods for teaching reading.

For decades, widely-discredited methods of teaching reading dominated the education landscape, as documented in the podcast Sold a Story. Science-backed teaching methods involve many different aspects, including the use of phonics.

Read the full Learning Curve here.

What’s Next for the Skydiving Center Turned City Homeless Service Hub

People that are unhoused stand in line early morning outside of the Homelessness Response Center in the East Village waiting to see if they will be able to stay in shelter on June 5, 2023.
People that are unhoused stand in line early morning outside of the Homelessness Response Center in the East Village waiting to see if they will be able to stay in shelter on June 5, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Father Joe’s Villages wants to transform an East Village skydiving center that the city made a homeless service hub into a 176-unit affordable housing project.

Father Joe’s was selected this month following a city process seeking proposals to purchase and redevelop the building at 14th Street and Imperial Avenue that Mayor Todd Gloria has long detested. Gloria last year pushed to start the process to overhaul the property, which must house the service hub until December 2025 due to federal funds the city used to buy it.

In a May 10 memo to Gloria, Chief Operating Officer Eric Dargan wrote that an evaluation committee decided to proceed with Father Joe’s plan and that officials now plan to begin a 90-day negotiation period with the nonprofit. Father Joe's Villages intends to deliver a 100% affordable housing project for low-income individuals and families and to dedicate half of the new apartments for people who are homeless or currently on the brink.

The skydiving center is essentially next door to Father Joe’s East Village campus.

Read more here.

San Diego’s Newly Homeless Outnumber Newly Housed for 2+ Years

For the past 25 months in a row, the number of people becoming homeless in the county has outpaced the number moving into homes.

The Regional Task Force on Homelessness reports that 1,302 people became homeless for the first time in April and 967 exited homelessness.

What this means: Local efforts to combat homelessness haven't kept up with the flood of people losing their homes for the past 25 months.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt and Will Huntsberry. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.

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