San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria announced a proposal on April 4, 2024 to lease and transform a vacant warehouse into a 1,000-bed homeless shelter. The commercial building is at Kettner Boulevard and Vine Street in Middletown. / Photo by Vito di Stefano for Planetcob

Mayor Todd Gloria’s plan to open a 1,000-bed homeless shelter in Middletown appears to be moving forward.

After a fourth closed-door City Council discussion of a proposed lease with the owner of the warehouse Gloria’s eyeing for the shelter, the mayor and Council President Sean Elo-Rivera released a joint statement saying Gloria will request a public hearing - and that Elo-Rivera, who has publicly said he isn’t necessarily on boad with the shelter pitch, “has committed to efficiently processing that request.”

Their joint statement hinted that controversial deal terms that council members previously rejected in closed-session briefings have improved.

“For months, the city has negotiated aggressively on behalf of taxpayers in order to lower costs and bring about more favorable deal terms based off the feedback from the public and City Council,” Gloria and Elo-Rivera wrote.

Refresher: Gloria wants to transform the Middletown property into the city’s largest-ever longterm shelter campus. Lease terms that were previously announced - and leaked to Planetcob - didn’t go over well with local real estate pros or City Hall insiders. The late Monday announcement suggests that the City Council finds the latest terms more palatable and that Gloria’s office thinks it can get the votes it’ll need to proceed.

What’s next: Elo-Rivera told Voice that a forthcoming Mayor’s Office memo with a requested docket date will help dictate the timing of a vote on the proposed lease. City attorneys and independent budget analysts will also want to carefully vet the deal before the City Council votes, steps that could take weeks to complete.

Supervisor Pitches Guv on Different Site for Tiny Homes

We wrote Monday about the county potentially losing a $10 million state grant if they rescind plans to install sleeping cabins on a lot in Spring Valley. Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors is going to decide whether to do that. Supervisor Nora Vargas wants her colleagues to support her decision those tiny homes should not go to the Spring Valley site because of neighborhood opposition.

Monday, County Supervisor Monica Montgomery Steppe wrote to the governor offering a site in Lemon Grove.

Where the 150 safe sleeping cabins was planned to be for people experience homelessness off of Jamacha Road, near State Route 125 in Spring Valley on June 19, 2024. / Ariana Drehsler for Planetcob

Padilla Stops at Tijuana River Before Critical Bill Hearings

State Sen. Steve Padilla, a Democrat from Chula Vista, made the case for banning a new landfill in Otay Mesa and cracking down on water-polluting companies in Mexico during a pit stop in South Bay before heading back to Sacramento.

Standing before the Tijuana Estuary, home to the mouth of the polluted Tijuana River, Padilla bashed what he said were “deceptive” efforts to kill his proposed ban on a new landfill. Adding a landfill to a watershed that’s already suffering from cross-border sewage spills would be the wrong move, Padilla said.

“This community is being poisoned,” Padilla said. “If the confluence of events that have descended upon this community were happening in other parts of the coast of California ... it would probably be one of the highest priorities for intervention, mitigation and money that the (state) has ever seen.”

The State Assembly’s Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials considers the landfill bill, Senate Bill 1208, and another one of his initiatives to crack down on polluting corporations, SB 1178, on Tuesday.

Our Scott Lewis revealed how Padilla’s landfill bill targets a deal by a client of one of his former political allies: Ben Hueso. National Enterprises is trying to get permits to build the 300-acre landfill because San Diego’s other landfills are running out of room, Hueso told state senators earlier this year.

Border Report: Tijuana’s Former Top Cop Returning

Fourteen years ago, Julián Leyzaola departed the Tijuana police force after years at the helm that earned him a reputation as an aggressive crime fighter.

Now, Voice contributor Sandra Dibble reports in the latest Border Report, Tijuana’s mayor-elect plans to make Leyzaola the city’s new public safety secretary later this year.

Worth noting: Dibble writes that Leyzaola has faced a series of setbacks since he left the Tijuana police department in 2010 – and he’ll be leading public safety efforts in a city that’s shifted since his departure.

Also in this week’s Border Report: Updates on the murder of Zeta journalist Francisco Ortiz Franco, Tijuana’s annual street opera festival and more.

Read the full Border Report.

Metropolitan Transit System Debates Fare Evasion Crackdown

The Union-Tribune reports that the Metropolitan Transit System board late last week rejected a proposal to reverse a program allowing riders caught not paying fares to avoid a ticket if they immediately pay the fare. The push followed a surge in fare evasion after MTS began using a new fare-payment system that gave riders less incentive to buy monthly or daily passes to save cash.

Axios has more details on rising fare evasion rates.

How we got here: In 2020, our Lisa Halverstadt found that often-unpaid MTS tickets were upending low-income riders’ lives, helping to inspire a bolstered diversion program to reduce the burden of those tickets.

In Other News

  • Times of San Diego reports that Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer is pushing a plan for the county to assess how the Tijuana sewage crisis is impacting South Bay residents’ health.
  • CBS 8 checked in on the bidding war between homeless-serving nonprofit Solutions for Change and the county, which hopes to pursue a behavioral health campus at a Vista property.
  • The Union-Tribune reveals that San Diego Gas & Electric is set to pay a nearly $71,000 fine over a power shutoff on Thanksgiving in 2021. (Warning: This story is only for subscribers.)
  • The San Diego Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists recently named our Lisa Halverstadt its journalist of the year. Times of San Diego profiled her and spoke with a couple of her sources who have experienced homelessness. (Shameless plug: If you want to support hardworking Voice reporters like Lisa, please consider a donation during our ongoing fundraising campaign.)

Correction: Our latest Sacramento Report implied that California’s Density Bonus law does not currently apply in the state’s Coastal Zone. It does.

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt, Scott Lewis, MacKenzie Elmer and Emily Ito. It was edited by Scott Lewis.

Join the Conversation

2 Comments

  1. ” (Warning: This story is only for subscribers.)”
    to warn is “to give notice, advice, or intimation to (a person, group, etc.) of *danger, impending evil, possible harm, or anything else unfavorable*”
    please delete the word “warning” from your notice (better word) of any paywalls. it's not really correct, is it.

  2. Version 4.0 will not be any better than the previous ones. $30 million a year is flushing tax dollars down the drain to make homeless advocates rich.

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