Search: Wahlstrom

Todd Gloria is Making a 101 Ash Out of You and Me

June 27, 2022 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

You may have heard that today, Monday June 27, the City Council is being called into a special meeting to formally approve a ‘settlement’ agreement possibly illegally negotiated in just a week ago.

The original deal being ‘settled’ is the disposition of the 19-story building at 101 Ash St. Approved in 2016, it called for taxpayers to lease to own a building for $128 million that insiders knew was really only valued for $67 million — and that was before anyone outside their circle realized it’s a toxic vertical landfill.

There’s currently a lawsuit, likely to prevail, claiming this deal was illegal and so not only is it void, but all the millions paid to date in rent would have to be refunded. Not only isn’t this lawsuit costing the city a penny but, even if it were to fail, there are other lawsuits and remedies.

Yet rather than let that legal drama play out, Mayor Todd Gloria’s ‘settlement’ puts taxpayers on the hook for $84 million to buy this towering fiasco outright and inexplicably shield the sellers from any liability for wrongdoing.

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LGBTQ+ Pride and YIMBY Prejudice

June 23, 2022 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

June is Pride Month, commemorating the Stonewall riots in June 1969, when lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and other sexual and gender nonconforming (LGBTQ+) persons fought back against police violence and state oppression.

Considered the formal beginning of the ‘gay rights’ movement, Pride is first and foremost about visibility — which is why the main event of every Pride celebration is a parade.

But since everything gets co-opted under capitalism, June is also the month when corporations post rainbow versions of their logos, in the hopes that this gesture will get them noticed, and hopefully translate into more sales or favorable brand awareness.

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Can State Policy Trump the Will of the People Over San Diego’s Coastal Height Limit?

June 21, 2022 by Frank Gormlie

A recent opinion piece by a state agency bureaucrat on the coastal 30-foot height limit has developers and San Diego’s establishment licking their chops.

Shannon West, head of housing accountability for California’s Department of Housing and Community Development, wrote “a technical assistance letter” which declared the 30-foot height limit conflicted with state law and thus was “void.” The letter was for San Diego’s development services department

Heidi Von-blum, director of San Diego’s planning department, immediately leaped for joy and repeated the claim that state law supersedes “local voter initiative.”

Why this all came about now is because a local developer, the San Diego Community Housing Corporation, wants to build a 60-unit, 60-foot-high residential building, called Rose Creek Apartments, on a 0.4-acre site at 2662 Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach.

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What Is Supply and Demand in Housing? San Diego As a Textbook Example

May 2, 2022 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

It’s the mantra of pro-developer pundits who self-describe as “YIMBY,” or ‘Yes in My Back Yard,’ that anyone who opposes their agenda of total deregulation on land use as a prerequisite for creating affordable housing, simply doesn’t understand ‘supply and demand’ — or as they put it, “Economics 101.”

If the problem is people need affordable housing, then we just need to allow a ‘free market,’ unconstrained by regulation, to supply whatever housing it wants in order to meet that demand.

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Who’s Paying for the Plan Hillcrest Giveaway to Developers?

April 11, 2022 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

Documents uncovered (as a result of prevailing in a lawsuit filed in 2021 in a California Public Records Act request) indicate the City of San Diego secretly partnered with major property owners to implement their chosen code changes and upzone (read: increase land values) not only for nine blocks in the historic Hillcrest core, but almost the entirety of Hillcrest and Medical Complex — and to use public funds to subsidize their efforts.

The result is the city’s current Plan Hillcrest project, which mandates these two neighborhoods absorb 80% of all new development in the six neighborhoods of Uptown.

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Is the City’s ‘Build Better SD’ a Bridge Too Far for Todd Gloria?

March 28, 2022 by Source

Could Mayor Become Fall Guy as Tide of Opposition Rises Against Circulate San Diego Playbook

By Mat Wahlstrom

What is it about our electeds’ obsession with cringe-making videos?

Announced in the ‘State of the City’ address in January, but details not released until a few weeks ago, Build Better SD is a root-and-branch overhaul of the linkage between development impact fees (DIFs) and capital improvement projects (CIPs),

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How Much More Important Are Homes Than Cars to California’s Elected Officials?

March 9, 2022 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

Even by the terms of the recent years’ fire sale of our city, this week has been exceptional.

On Monday, March 7, we got the launch of “Bridge to Homes,” a plan to spend over $80 million in public funds to make construction of 662 units of low income housing ‘financially feasible.’

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Results in Uptown Planning Group Election a Sea Change Against Pro-Developer Slates

March 7, 2022 by Source

Vote Portends Trend in Local Community Planning Group Elections

By Mat Wahlstrom

The result of the Uptown Planners community planning group election concluded Tuesday, March 1, gives reason to hope for authentic community advocates.

With 925 ballots counted, all three of the Uptown for All candidates came out on top by almost 2-to-1. Despite a lower turnout, this is about the same margin as in last year’s election when we won all eight open seats.

This time around the desperation was on the side of the self-identified YIMBYs, the Rise Uptown slate. They somehow paid for a five-figure direct mail piece to every Uptown household. But unlike the targeted letter we self-funded last year, theirs was a glossy postcard heavy on hype but light on substance.

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Being a Hope: Committing Ourselves to Making a Positive Difference by Getting Involved in San Diego’s Community Planning Groups

March 1, 2022 by Source

Cornel West Inspires at PL Nazarene’s Writer’s Symposium

By Mat Wahlstrom

Last Friday, I had the great fortune to hear Cornel West speak at Point Loma Nazarene University’s 27th Writer’s Symposium by the Sea. He resigned from teaching the public practice of philosophy at Harvard last year in protest over its dismal response to the Black Lives Matter movement because he lives what he teaches.

For Dr. West, the values of dignity, integrity, honesty, and generosity are as scientific constants:

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San Diego City Council’s Plan to Delete Emails After 5 Years Is Attack on Accountability

February 21, 2022 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom/ Times of San Diego / Feb. 18, 2022

On Wednesday, Feb. 16, the City Council’s Rules Committee took up its final consideration of the changes to San Diego’s email record retention policy proposed by Mayor Todd Gloria and endorsed by City Attorney Mara Elliott, voting unanimously to move them to the full council as soon as possible to meet a Feb. 1, 2023, implementation date.

Foremost among these is the elimination of the current policy of forever retaining emails with one that mandates that most all city correspondence before Feb. 1, 2018, and going forward be permanently deleted five years to the day after being sent.

This is being praised as a win for transparency because these changes aren’t as bad as shorter alternatives.

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Is Recent Court Decision on ‘Density Bonus’ in San Diego a Death Blow to Community Planning?

February 8, 2022 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

Last Wednesday, February 2, the Fourth Appellate Court of California certified as precedent its judgment on appeal of the Bankers Hill 150 v. City of San Diego lawsuit. The result, if left unchallenged, effectively strikes down all community plans throughout the state, along with the ability of cities or citizens to challenge whatever developers want to build, if projects include token and time-delimited ‘affordable’ units.

Going beyond consideration of the actual plan-centered merits argued by both plaintiffs and the city regarding just the 20-story 6th & Olive project, the court leapfrogged over both to invoke the state’s Density Bonus Law as trumping these deliberations and — at the urging of the Building Industry Association and the developer, Greystar — to establish its interpretation as precedent.

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The Age of Precarious

January 31, 2022 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

By the time you read this, the city council today, Monday, Jan. 31, will have already likely voted in closed session to approve a settlement that lets everyone involved in the 101 Ash Street fiasco off the hook — except the taxpayer.

There’s been myriad reporting about the details of this scandal in other outlets, foremost the excellent analysis of why this is the likely result published by La Prensa San Diego. But the reason for my mentioning it is at the heart of my topic: why more and more of us are having to live in precarity, dependent on circumstances beyond one’s control and at the whim of others.

Among all the truths our electeds and their donors hold as self-evident, none is more sacred than ‘honor among thieves’ when it comes to raiding public funds.

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A Satirical Take on San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria’s ‘State of the City Address.’

January 17, 2022 by Source

The “Real” 2022 State of the City Address

By Mat Wahlstrom

Good evening.

Council President Sean Elo-Rivera and select members of the City Council, City Attorney Mara Elliott, Underboss Jay Goldstone, City of La Mesa Councilmember Colin Parent, and Don Jerry Sanders.

I’d also like to welcome our local and transnational representatives of global capital and our outstanding City of San Diego political appointees from the previous administration.

My fellow San Diegans of means…

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San Diego Makes It to the Parody Website, The Onion

January 7, 2022 by Source

The City of San Diego and Mayor Gloria were recently showcased in the parody/ satirical website, the Onion, which has a readership of 11.7 million readers on Twitter – many more than our own San Diego Union-Tribune (which many San Diegans called “The Onion” over the decades, ironically).

Here it is:

New Initiative Decreases Stigma Against Homeless By Making Majority Of People Homeless

SAN DIEGO—In an effort to decrease the widespread social shaming often associated with being unhoused, a new city initiative unveiled Thursday reportedly aims to decrease stigma against the homeless by making the majority of people homeless.

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One Year On, No Prosecution of Anyone for Plotting Coup, Let Alone for Conspiracy or Treason

January 6, 2022 by Source

Thoughts on the Capitol Riots One Year On

By Mat Wahlstrom

Most people respect authority because they believe it to be justified by objective criteria, such as scientific evidence, transparent electoral processes, or the rule of law. For them, reason is the basis of power. Only when authority is exercised in the absence of these principles do they question it.

The crisis we are in is due to a minority who demand obedience to authority in itself, even or especially when it lacks any objective justification, and for which they are willing to say or do anything to claim. For them, force and fraud are the basis of power, and they deny any appeal to something greater that would deny it to them.

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Your Horoscope for 2022

December 28, 2021 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

Good morning, starshine: the earth says it’s time for a prognostication of the year to come! It is written in the stars — or, more precisely, the orbits of the satellites in our solar system. But, I can in full confidence predict that events will transpire and things will happen in 2022, and that many of them will affect you personally.

And by personally, I mean by the random chance of your birth month being shared with a twelfth of everyone else alive — which is why there’s also a handy zodiac guide provided at the end to help understand how each sun sign responds to life’s challenges and windfalls.

So without further ado, here’s what lies ahead!

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Upzoning: The Developers’ Long Con of Californians

December 13, 2021 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

Tomorrow marks the 55th anniversary of one of the most important grand jury reports in California history, of which you may have never heard.

“Zoning Study Report & Recommendations“ was the result of an investigation into pay-for-play allegations against a developer and the Los Angeles city council and planning department to obtain favorable upzoning, or increasing density incompatible with existing purposes, despite concerns by every other agency as to the adverse affects.

You probably won’t be shocked to hear it was initiated by a complaint from citizens concerned about parks or that the rezoning at issue would have allowed construction of a sports arena in protected open space.

But you may be surprised to learn that it resulted in criminal prosecutions for bribery and conspiracy, significant reforms of the zoning approval process, and the preservation of that open space to this day.

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Another Assault in the War on San Diego’s Community Planning Groups

November 30, 2021 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

Although we all hoped to be spared further cringe-making videos by out-of-touch electeds after the Downtown Partnership fundraiser fiasco in September, alas it was not to be.

Shared with less fanfare two weeks ago from his official Twitter account is a production on YouTube featuring District 1 Councilmember Joe LaCava, capering on behalf of his developer donors, to propose a complete undoing of the city council policies governing community planning groups (CPGs).

But once again, the asinine is the point: it cloaks the atrocious under cover of whimsy. A little background:

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Pyramid Schemes, Affinity Fraud, and the Business of Politics

November 8, 2021 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

A recent documentary series available online investigated LuLaRoe, a company that targeted women with the promise of gaining financial independence working from home, by selling quirkily patterned leggings and dresses, “creating freedom through fashion.”

In reality it was a pyramid scheme, wherein the real money was made by recruiting others into becoming sellers to recruit others to become sellers. The people at the top of a pyramid scheme get a cut of both that particular scheme’s actual product sales in addition to a cut of the buy-in fees new sellers pay to get in on it.

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City Council to Finally Consider a Hillcrest Historic District

October 25, 2021 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

This Wednesday, 10/27, at 2:00 PM, the San Diego City Council Rules Committee will hold its first ever hearing on implementing the Hillcrest historic district. Should it clear this first hurdle, it could go either to the full council for a vote or be on the ballot in the June 7, 2022 election.

The implementation of a historic district for Hillcrest is important for all San Diegans.

Although originally proposed in 1981 and recommended in the 1988 Uptown Plan, a Hillcrest historic district has never been docketed by the council for consideration.

Flash forward to June 2015, and the draft Uptown update of the 1988 Plan clearly defined

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Hillcrest: A Cautionary Fairy Tale

October 11, 2021 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

Once upon a time, there was a land by the sea where it was always sunny. Because it was always sunny, the land was known throughout the many kingdoms as a beautiful place to visit.

The land was ruled by a group of evil wizards, who were only interested in the coins they could extract from the sunshine with their magic. They enchanted all who visited the land as necessary for this, and made the people living there serve the visitors.

In this land, there was a village on the crest of a hill. At one time, it was very populous, with more homes per acre than the surrounding villages. But then people left it for the valley below, the village changed, and many people in the neighboring villages became afraid of it.

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All The King’s Men in San Diego

October 4, 2021 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

By now most of you know about “the video“. (If you don’t, see the link to a capture of it that includes the subtitles so you can watch it without sound. Trust me, you’ll want to hit mute.)

Created for the amusement of those attending the $445-a-head “ToddTalk” fundraiser for the Downtown Partnership on September 22 but only made public by accident last week, it is a perfect distillation of the collegial corruption and smug entitlement exercised by the Establishment.

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Ageism: The Last Acceptable Bias

September 20, 2021 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

The past few years have seen long overdue attention drawn to issues of systemic discrimination. From the #MeToo movement to #BlackLivesMatter to even concern for personal pronouns, we as a society are facing up to the ways in which we fall short of our egalitarian ideals to provide equality of opportunity.

But in what appears to also be a recent development, we’re seeing the exact opposite happening with regard to age. Usually only referenced in connection with employment law, age discrimination as a social phenomenon is being treated as innocuous, with replies of ‘OK, Boomer’ not only allowed to go unchallenged but treated as acceptable.

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Development and the Virtual Reality of Land Use – the Plan Hillcrest, as an Example

September 7, 2021 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

Labor Day is the only holiday on our calendar dedicated to celebrate the worker; yet it is those on the lower wage end that most likely had to work yesterday. For these people, it was turned into just another Monday, likely without extra pay to compensate, with maybe a “thank you for your service” at the checkout.

While this disconnect between official recognition versus actually getting a paid day off is still clear, it’s important to examine how the imperatives of capital similarly warp our understanding where the idea of something is proposed as a substitute for the thing itself. When in place of public benefits, we are asked to use our imagination and accept empty gestures instead.

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The Campaign Against Climate Action

August 23, 2021 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

Two weeks ago today, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its sixth report since 1990, with the appropriate description that it represents a “Code red for humanity.”

Although continued sea level rise is already ‘irreversible’ for likely thousands of years, strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses (GHGs) could make air quality better and stabilize global temperatures within a few decades.

The question is how, per IPCC advice to policymakers, this can be accomplished through ‘sustainable development’ — and what exactly that means. So it would seem to make sense that we look at all the sources of GHGs and figure out how to reduce them.

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What the YIMBYs Don’t Want You to Know: Neither Senate Bills 9 or 10 Include Requirements for Affordability

August 9, 2021 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

As noted in my previous articles, developers have launched a two-front assault on development responsive to public input: getting collaborators onto the boards of community planning groups and city commissions, and changing the laws at the state and local levels to make opposition to future projects impossible.

Senate Bills 9 and 10 are efforts to effect the second part. Introduced by our state senator, Toni Atkins, SB 9 would require cities to approve splitting single-family lots into duplexes, which combined with recent accessory dwelling unit rule changes would lead to automatic approval of six units per lot.

SB 10, co-authored by Atkins, would authorize projects of up to ten units in areas with single-family zoning along with (as reported here) giving “city councils and boards of supervisors the ability

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Inside Baseball and the ‘Blueprint San Diego’ Scam

July 26, 2021 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

If you hang around journalists for any length of time, you’ll hear the term “inside baseball.” It’s the metaphor of choice for explaining the things that *don’t* get reported in a story.

Normally meant to describe the nuances of how political decisions are made, in San Diego it’s also about certain media collaborating with the players on whom they report.

The big teams in this league are lobbyist and issue advocacy nonprofits such as Circulate San Diego, BikeSD, the Climate Action Campaign, and Voice of San Diego. They improperly self-report to the IRS not as 501(c)4 “social welfare organizations” — for whom donors’ contributions are taxable yet can engage in political activity, but as 501(c)3 “charities” — which are restricted from political activity as a consequence of donors being able to wholly deduct their contributions.

Once you know the rules you can see how the game is played.

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The Tide May Be Turning on Pro-Developer ‘Rise Uptown’ Type Slates in Local Planning Group Elections

July 13, 2021 by Source

By Mat Wahlstrom

As any regular reader of the OB Rag can tell you, the undertow of all San Diego politics is not just money but developer money. With the meltdown of the Republican Party and the rise of California as a de facto one-party state under the Democrats, developers and former GOP influence peddlers pivoted to rebrand their same trickle-down policies as “progressive.”

Their success at this has meant that most every politician and pundit regardless of party now self-identifies as YIMBY, for ‘yes in my back yard.’

Consider how this has been playing out at even the local level.

Sometime before 2019, the city attorney’s office decided to make a quiet but very consequential change in how it would interpret the law governing community planning groups (CPGs).

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