Morning Report: Vote Count Flips Supe Race

By Lisa Halverstadt

Photos by Jamie Scott Lytle
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It has been 10 days but we’re still counting votes.

And that matters. The District 3 County Supervisors race remains a toss-up. However, the latest count puts Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar just 15 votes ahead of sitting County Supervisor Dave Roberts.

Not only that, it is trending in Gaspar’s direction. Local wonk Barry Jantz crunched the numbers and says it’s Gaspar’s to lose. It could be a significant Republican victory in a sea of Democratic wins in heated races across the region.

Fire Stations Come Sans Public Art

San Diego’s long had a policy that mandates new city buildings be adorned with public art.

But Kinsee Morlan reports that Hillcrest and Mission Valley residents looking forward to new fire stations will soon see the results of a decision to temporarily suspend the policy requiring 2 percent of project funds flow to art projects.

Neither fire station will come with public art as a result of ex-Mayor Jerry Sanders’ move to put the kibosh on that rule for just over a year beginning in 2011 in an effort to stave off other city cuts.

Now, Morlan finds, some folks learning their neighborhoods’ projects will be sans art are hoping that changes.

Sac Repore: Brian Jones, Out

Republican state Assemblyman Brian Jones hasn’t been afraid to vent his frustration during his six years in Sacramento.

The termed-out Santee assemblyman’s even expressed them on video in a series he dubbed, “Are You Kidding Me?” (We’re not.)

But in the latest Sacramento Report, Jones talked to Sara Libby about bipartisan efforts at the state capitol and how he took steps to avoid offending Assembly colleagues despite that video series. Jones plans to seek a Senate seat in 2018.

Also in the Sac Repore: The details on two San Diego officials’ names being bandied about for state offices, updates on two Assembly staffers’ quest to seek offices themselves and more.

Podcast: Bry’s To-Do List

Soon-to-be District 1 City Councilwoman Barbara Bry joined Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts team to talk about her top priorities post-inauguration.

Unsurprisingly, Bry — who will soon represent neighborhoods including La Jolla and Carmel Valley — placed the long-raging debate over regulations for vacation rentals on the top of that to-do list. She thinks people should not be allowed to rent out their whole homes to vacationers for more than just a short period every year.

She also emphasized small business support and public safety as prime concerns once she takes office next month.

In this week’s podcast, Lewis and Keatts also covered other big stories including the City Council approval of both a financing plan for the Plaza de Panama project in Balboa Park and a long-awaited (and controversial) Uptown community plan.

Guest Commentary: Leaving Homeless Youth in a Lurch

Supporters remain startled months after Father Joe’s Villages abrupt announcement that it will soon shutter a beloved refuge for homeless teens.

The decision meant 13 teens living at Toussaint Academy, which has offered hundreds of teens housing and services since 1992, would need to find new homes by the end of the year. The agency plans to convert the facility into an apartment complex for homeless adults.

In a new op-ed, youth advocate and arts educator Angela Santora argues Father Joe’s mishandled the upcoming closure and should take greater responsibility for vulnerable teens who don’t qualify for other long-term housing programs in San Diego.

• Federal data released Thursday revealed San Diego saw a 32 percent spike in youth homelessness — a category that includes young adults up to age 25 — from 2015 to 2016 while the U.S. average fell 3 percent. That makes San Diego the sixth-largest hub for homeless youth in the nation, the Union-Tribune reports.

• The U-T also reports that East County leaders are forming a task force to better address homelessness. Their first meeting comes months after the four East County cities were panned for their failure to adequately aid the area’s homeless population.

Quick News Hits

• Car2Go announced on Twitter that it will stop serving San Diego at the end of the year. The U-T reports it as a setback for efforts to combat climate change.

• An aerial survey found the drought has killed more than 100 million trees statewide. (Associated Press)

• A judge denied a Kearny Mesa medical-marijuana business owner’s request to force the District Attorney’s Office to return more than $100,000 in cash seized absent any criminal charges. (Union-Tribune)

• A $25 million settlement deal could help President-elect Donald Trump avoid a drawn-out Trump University trial in San Diego. (Reuters)

• Downtown residents, brace yourselves for a lot more apartment construction. (Union-Tribune)

The Week’s Top Stories

These were the most popular Voice of San Diego stories for the week of Nov. 12-Nov. 18. Click here to see the full top 10.

1. Across the County, Taxpayer-Funded Turf Fields Are Falling Apart After Just a Few Years
 At least 20 artificial turf fields at schools across San Diego County have deteriorated while still under warranty. Yet instead of getting a free replacement, some schools shelled out even more money for another new field. Without much pushback from public school officials, taxpayers have been left holding the bag for a private company’s admittedly defective product. (Ashly McGlone)

2. Opinion: San Diego Said No to C; Now It’s Time to Say Yes to the Q
 The Q is a perfect framework for a refurbished state-of -the-art stadium. Plus, rehabbing an old building rather than building a new one is better for the environment. (Jack Carpenter)

3. The Consummate Salesman
 FieldTurf USA turned failure into opportunity when dozens of its artificial turf fields quickly fell apart at public schools across San Diego County. No one held the turf company line and wrung more money from local customers than regional FieldTurf salesman Tim Coury. (Ashly McGlone)

4. How a Turf Company With High Prices and a Defective Product Cornered the SD Market
 FieldTurf USA managed to convince several public school districts to give all their turf jobs to the company, claiming it offered a superior product and warranty — all while grappling with a defective product installed at as many as 3,000 schools. (Ashly McGlone)

5. Despite Failures, San Diego Unified Just Can’t Quit FieldTurf
 San Diego Unified had at least six FieldTurf fields fall apart before the warranty was up, and two were replaced with the same defective product. Still, district officials have such confidence in the company, no other turf manufacturer has been allowed to compete for jobs within the district. (Ashly McGlone)