By Craig Benedetto & Marshall Anderson, Legislative Advocates
Housing Action Plan 2.0 Approved 7-1
The BOMA-supported Housing Action Plan 2.0 (HAP 2.0) was approved in a 7-1 city council vote. The plan includes changes that will help speed the conversion of some commercial properties as well as incentives to spur the construction of residential and mixed-use builds. During a previous hearing, the city council failed to come to consensus following concerns around alleged ‘redlining’ provisions that would allow larger market rate projects (than the base zone would otherwise allow) by including offsite affordable housing throughout the city. The approved plan instead limits the offsite affordable incentive to moderate income areas within the same planning area or within three miles of the project. To review the city’s proposal, please go to their HAP 2.0 webpage HERE. To read the staff report for the item, please go HERE.
CITY, COUNTY OFFICES TO CLOSE FOR CHRISTMAS, NEW YEARS
City and County Offices will be closed for business on Monday, Dec. 25, 2023, and Monday, Jan. 1, 2024, in observance of the Christmas Holiday and New Year's Day. Regular business hours will resume the day after the closure. To learn more, click HERE
JUDGE REJECTS MEASURE C LEGAL CHALLENGE, PAVES WAY FOR MIDWAY RISING PROJECT
A judge dismissed the final legal challenge to Measure C, the voter-approved initiative eliminating the 30-foot coastal height restriction in San Diego's Midway District. This decision now paves the way for the Midway Rising redevelopment project, which proposes over 4,000 housing units, a new entertainment arena, and parkland. To learn more, click HERE.
COUNTY DELAYS SB 43 IMPLEMENTATION, INVOLUNTARY MENTAL HEALTH HOLDS
Senate Bill 43, which broadens the rules for involuntary mental health holds, is set to go into effect on January 1, 2024. The new law allows individuals to be detained and treated if they are unable to provide for their personal safety or necessary medical care due to severe substance use or co-occurring mental health disorders. The law also permits counties to delay implementation for up to two years. Upon pushback from several hospitals who claim that an increase in “5150 holds” will add strain on emergency medical resources, County Board of Supervisors Chair, Nora Vargas, succeeded in pushing for a one-year delay to implement the new rule.
MONTGOMERY-STEPPE SWORN IN AS A MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
Following her victory on November 7th, former San Diego City Councilmember Monica Montgomery-Steppe was sworn in as a member of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors this month. She takes the place of former Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, who resigned his position this past spring. In her comments following being sworn in, Supervisor Montgomery-Steppe pledged to be open, honest, and direct in addressing inequities in County Government Services and work hard to ensure her constituents in the 4th District receive the services they need and deserve. To learn more, please click HERE.
PLANNING COMMISSION GENERALLY SUPPORTIVE OF HILLCREST FOCUSED PLAN
During an informational workshop, the San Diego Planning Commission offered generally positive comments with respect to the Hillcrest Focused Plan, which nearly doubles the maximum density allowed in the uptown neighborhood. In some areas, the plan would allow for 30-story buildings while contemplating the addition of 50,000 future residents and the need to address the regional housing crisis. Planning commissioners generally supported the plan while noting that some areas may not be the ideal place for an increase in density. Some neighborhood residents strongly criticized the proposal, arguing it would compromise community character. Additionally, the Commission expressed concern about the level of densification, suggesting that it would be more of an impediment than a help. An updated version of the plan is expected to undergo further review before potential approval next summer. To learn more, click HERE.
ELO-RIVERA RE-ELECTED AS CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT
The San Diego City Council, in a narrow vote, elected Sean Elo-Rivera to an unprecedented third one-year term as Council President. The decision on a 5-4 vote showed the divide between the Democrat members of the Council. The 4 dissenting votes came as a result of claimed retribution from a prior close vote two years before, as well as perception of gender discrimination toward fellow council members who disagreed with his views. Nevertheless, the 5 votes in majority said he was a good leader, spoke truth to power and wasn’t persuaded by outside business interests. The 5th vote to re-elect Elo-Rivera came from former Councilmember Monica Montgomery-Steppe, who is no longer on the Council. The remaining 8 members will have to seek compromise on potentially contentious items until Montgomery-Steppe’s successor is elected. To learn more, click HERE.
FATE OF CONVENTION CENTER EXPANSION KICKED BACK TO LOWER COURT
The California Supreme Court has refused to review a contested court ruling on San Diego's Measure C. The 2020 ballot measure aimed to fund a convention center expansion, while also dedicating revenue for infrastructure and homelessness spending via a tiered tourism occupancy tax increase. The decision means that the case will now be sent back to the San Diego County Superior Court to determine if Measure C legally qualified as a citizens' initiative. The designation is crucial for determining whether it passed with a simple majority or a two-thirds margin. The appellate court had previously concluded that the measure passed in 2020 with a simple majority, but it was unable to decide whether it qualified as a citizens' initiative. To learn more about Measure C, click HERE.
- Lisa Jones Selected to Run San Diego Housing Commission: In a unanimous city council vote, Lisa Jones was tapped to head the San Diego Housing Commission. Lisa currently serves as the Executive Vice President of Strategic Initiatives. To read more, please click HERE.
- Downtown Homeless Numbers Drop: The number of people living outside or in vehicles downtown in San Diego reached a two-year low of around 1,200 individuals, down by around 1,000 from six months ago. The decline is attributed to the enforcement of the city's camping ban and new shelter facilities, which has prompted some individuals to move elsewhere or seek shelter.
- San Diego Declares Behavioral Health Bed Crisis: The San Diego City Council unanimously declared a behavioral health bed crisis in the city, acknowledging the urgent need to increase capacity for behavioral health facilities. The resolution, sponsored by Councilmember Raul Campillo, emphasizes the importance of addressing mental illness and addiction promptly. The action also directs city staff to engage in regular communication with county, local, and regional partners to ensure coordinated efforts in addressing the lack of behavioral health beds. You can read the Resolution HERE.
CHULA VISTA CITY COUNCIL STRIPS CARDENAS OF KEY
The Chula Vista City Council voted to strip embattled and indicted Councilmember Andrea Cardenas of her Council-appointed positions, including the much-coveted seat on SANDAG’s Board of Directors. Councilmember Cardenas, who had not been at a Council hearing since her indictment on charges of misusing federal pandemic relief funds, did attend this hearing and while not offering to withdraw from those positions, she indicated she was not opposed. In a subsequent action, the Council chose to appoint Councilmember Carolina Chavez to the SANDAG seat, despite Mayor John McCann’s ongoing interest. There were more calls at the hearing for Councilmember Cardenas to resign her position in total, but she has, so far, declined to do so citing her right to due process. To read more, please click HERE.
SANDAG APPOINTS INTERIM CEO
Coleen Clementson, a Deputy Chief Executive at the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), has been appointed as Interim CEO. The unanimous decision follows the resignation of outgoing CEO, Hasan Ikhrata. Clementson, who has been overseeing planning and special projects, will serve in the interim role until a permanent CEO is appointed, expected later next year. The agency manages over $1.2 billion annually for transportation, mobility, and other projects in the region.