Axios San Diego

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It's Friday. It hailed yesterday, if you can believe it.

  • Today's weather: Coast — Mostly sunny with highs in the low 60s. Inland — Mostly sunny with highs near 65.

🎂 Happy early birthday to our Axios San Diego member Cody Hooven!

Today's newsletter is 952 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: 📈 San Diego housing permits jump

A North Park condominium in 2020. Photo: Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images

San Diego issued more permits for homes last year than it has in decades, nearly doubling its total from a year earlier, per figures that Mayor Todd Gloria is set to release today.

Why it matters: The surge may indicate that years of city attempts to reform housing policy are showing results — but even 2023's big total falls far short of the city's annual need, according to its state-mandated housing blueprint.

By the numbers: The city issued permits for 9,691 homes last year, per the mayor's office.

  • That's more than any year since at least 2005, according to San Diego's official tally, and nearly double the 5,189 permits it averaged over the previous five years.
  • When compared to historic federal data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, it's more than any year since 1988 and a greater total than in 36 of the past 43 years.

Yes, but: According to the state, San Diego needs roughly 13,500 new homes per year — or 108,036 from 2021 to 2029.

Zoom out: The San Diego region bucked California's downward permitting trend. The entire metro area issued 11,468 permits in 2023, 20% more than in 2022, according to census data compiled by Point2.

  • The state, meanwhile, issued 111,221 permits in 2023, down about 5% from a year earlier.

Fine print: HUD's preliminary 2023 data for San Diego is much lower than city totals, coming in roughly in line with recent years — not above them.

What we're watching: Lori Holt Pfeiler, CEO of the Building Industry Association of San Diego County, harshly criticized county officials this week for their record on housing production, but said the city has been more receptive.

  • "Basically, the county is dead to us," she said.
  • But, she added, "There has been an opportunity presented in the city of San Diego."

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2. ⚾️ Padres swing blockbuster before Seoul

Dylan Cease pitches against the Boston Red Sox in 2023. Photo: Winslow Townson/Getty Images

The Padres swung their second blockbuster trade of the offseason, but this time they were the team adding a superstar.

State of play: San Diego acquired Dylan Cease, a right-handed pitcher who was runner-up for the AL Cy Young award in 2022 with the Chicago White Sox. He's expected to fortify their starting rotation.

  • Drew Thorpe, a prospect who had been part of the return when the Padres traded superstar Juan Soto in December, is now part of the package headed to Chicago.

Why it matters: The Soto trade stoked fears the Padres were headed for another rebuild, but flipping prospects for a star like Cease indicates the team still sees itself as a contender.

Follow the money: The Padres still significantly cut payroll from last year, per Fangraphs projections.

What's next: Cease joined the Padres just before their Thursday flight to South Korea for the Seoul Series.

  • They and the Los Angeles Dodgers will open the MLB regular season next Wednesday and Thursday as part of the Seoul Series.
  • They won't continue their regular season until Opening Day at Petco Park on March 28 against the San Francisco Giants.

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3. The Lineup: Local news roundup

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🚘 A La Mesa security guard returned home Tuesday after spending a year in a Tijuana prison.

  • He "accidentally" drove across the border with a gun to Mexico, where possession of a firearm is illegal. (Union-Tribune)

🍖 Coop's West Texas BBQ in Lemon Grove is closing after 13 years, but the Texas-style barbecue joint plans to continue catering services and pop-ups at local breweries. (San Diego Magazine)

At least 624 people experiencing homelessness in San Diego County died in 2023 — a new high, according to the medical examiner's office.

4. San Diego Wave sold at record price

The San Diego Wave huddle during an NWSL match. Photo: Alan Smith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The San Diego Wave is being sold in a deal valued at $120 million, as first reported by Sportico yesterday.

Why it matters: That's a record-breaking price for an NWSL club — nearly double the $63 million paid earlier this year for the Portland Thorns, per The Athletic.

Driving the news: Principal owner Ron Burkle agreed to sell the professional women's soccer club to the Levine Leichtman family in a two-part deal.

  • The sale was approved by the league's board earlier this week, according to the Athletic.
  • Burkle will remain principal owner for the 2024 season, as part of the deal.

By the numbers: Lauren Leichtman and her husband Arthur Levine, founders of a Los Angeles-based private equity firm, are first paying $35 million for 35% of the team, Sportico reported.

  • They reportedly agreed to buy the other 65% for $78 million after this season.

The Wave issued statements for the "new investors joining as minority" owners but did not confirm details of the sale to Axios.

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5. Legit low-key kickbacks: St. Patrick's Day edition

Illustration: Tiffany Herring/Axios

There will be plenty of St. Patrick's Day pub crawls and parties around San Diego this weekend.


📽️ Latino Film Festival

Experience this 10-day celebration of Latino cinema, arts and culture with film screenings, Q&As with filmmakers, parties, and live music and entertainment.


🍀 St. Patrick's Day Parade and Irish Festival

Get festive at the annual parade with live entertainment, Irish food and craft vendors, and a beer garden.

🎸 ShamROCK

Drink green beer and celebrate St. Patrick's Day at this annual music and beer festival with Irish dance lessons and rock bands.


🏄🏼 WSA West Coast Surfing Championships

Sit on the beach and watch surfers of all ages shred as they compete to qualify for West Coast and U.S. championships.

More holiday weekend events

6. 🇮🇪 Stat du jour: Luck of the Irish

☘️ Share of people reporting Irish ancestry
Data: U.S. Census; Chart: Axios Visuals

Nearly 245,000 San Diego County residents, or 7.4%, reported Irish ancestry as of 2022, census data shows.

Our picks:

☀️ Andy is ready for San Diego to do that thing it is allegedly known for already.

🌼 Kate is hoping to see wildflower blooms at ​​Anza-Borrego this weekend. Any tips?

This newsletter was edited by Emma Hurt and copy edited by James Gilzow.