Axios San Diego

Newsletter branding image

Wooo! Happy Friday, everybody! Let's have a dope weekend.

  • Today's weather: Coast — Mostly cloudy with highs in the low 60s. Inland — Cloudy early, then clearing with highs near 70.

🎂 Happy early birthday to our Axios San Diego member April Boling!

Today's newsletter is 886 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: San Diego’s cannabis revenue isn’t even that high, man

Data: City of San Diego; Chart: Axios Visuals

San Diego's declining cannabis tax revenue just isn't as fruitful as city officials projected.

Why it matters: City voters approved a range of taxes on cannabis businesses in 2016, when state voters approved recreational use, but legalization thus far hasn't produced a tax windfall.

San Diego's taxes on marijuana businesses ramped up slowly since legalization, as the city issued permits for retail sales and production.

By the numbers: The city collected $2.7 million in the first fiscal year after legalization, and revenue peaked at $23.3 million in the 12 months from July 2020 through June 2021.

  • Tax collections slid to $22.8 million the next year and plunged to $18.2 million last year.

Context: The city charges an 8% tax on cannabis retail sales and 2% on production facilities.

The intrigue: When San Diegans approved the cannabis tax in 2016, the city's independent budget analyst estimated it would generate $22 million in its first year and quickly reach $35 million per year.

Friction point: Tax collections are plummeting because of competition from illegal delivery services, which can undercut the legal market because of lower overhead, industry leaders told the Union-Tribune last year.

Zoom out: There are 61 permitted "cannabisnesses" in the city.

  • 33 of those are retail storefronts, while the others are for production activity — cultivation, manufacturing, packaging, storage, etc.

Zoom in: I-8 might as well be cannabis corridor — there are six permitted marijuana sellers in Mission Valley, another four in Linda Vista and four more in Midway.

  • The city's production facilities are clustered in the industrial areas of Mira Mesa (10 production permits) and Otay Mesa (nine permits).

Catch up quick: The city this year was scheduled to launch a social equity program to provide people criminalized for cannabis opportunities to break into the newly legal industry.

  • The city was planning to issue 18 equity licenses through a lottery.

Yes, but: Mayor Todd Gloria's proposed budget would end that program before it starts, returning an $880,000 state grant that would have boosted it, as Voice of San Diego reported.

Pass this along

2. Weed-friendly stays have a high price tag

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Add 420-friendly vacation rentals to San Diego's running list of things that are most expensive in the country.

Why it matters: "Cannabis-cations" are one piece of the growing multibillion-dollar weed economy.

By the numbers: A one-night stay at a weed-friendly rental in San Diego costs about $360 on average, a new study by Upgraded Points shows.

  • Scottsdale and Phoenix are also up there at about $300 per night.
  • Columbus, Ohio, is the cheapest place for toke travels at $127 per night.

The big picture: Many U.S. cities that blazed the marijuana legalization trail have a high concentration of pot-friendly vacation rentals.

  • Yes, but: San Diego isn't one of them. The city ranks 28th.

Share this story

3. The Lineup: News you need to know

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

⛺ The City Council this month voted to spend almost $500,000 to keep a city maintenance yard in Golden Hill as a safe camping site for 130 two-person tents through the summer. Twenty former residents of the site had been connected to permanent housing as of earlier this year. (Union-Tribune)

🎬 The California Film Commission issued one of its largest-ever movie tax credits to "California Convergence," which received nearly $1 million to film entirely in San Diego County. (CBS 8)

🏘️San Diego Unified selected a developer to build rent-restricted, affordable housing for seniors and families at the former site of Central Elementary in City Heights. (Voice of San Diego)

4. Legit low-key kickbacks

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

We've got a busy weekend filled with festivals, live music, sports and cool cars. Here's a good place to start making plans:


🎸 Cindy Lee

Check out the indie-pop star, who just dropped one of the best albums of 2024.

🖼️ Forecast Form: Art in the Caribbean Diaspora

Experience a new exhibit on contemporary art by artists who live in the Caribbean or are of Caribbean heritage, from the 1990s until today. The display will be open through July 28.


🎉 Chicano Park Day

Observe the 54th anniversary of the community takeover of Chicano Park with an all-day party of live music and dance performances.

🎸Brittany Howard

Hear the frontwoman from Alabama Shakes as she tours her fantastic new album, with opener June McDoom.


🕺 San Diego Gay Men's Chorus: "Freak Out!"

See the troupe get down to chart-topping disco hits, with rollerblades and glitter to spare.

🏉San Diego Legion

Watch the pro rugby team try to keep its home unbeaten streak alive and enjoy a tailgate, live music, youth clinics and kids activities before kickoff.

More weekend events and details

5. Journalists ding mayor's office on transparency

Photo illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios. Photo: Daniel Knighton/Getty Images

Mayor Todd Gloria's office has won the crown as the the person or public agency that's been most obstructive to the press, in the San Diego Society for Professional Journalists' annual Windows and Walls Awards.

Why it matters: SD-SPJ hands out the "window" and "wall" distinctions each year to commend those who've expanded the public's right to know, and (tsk-tsk) those who've stifled those efforts.

Driving the news: The journalist group awarded winners last night at Mujeres Brew House in Barrio Logan.

What they're saying: SD-SPJ officers said Gloria's office won the "wall" award for denying reporters access to interviews, news conferences and site tours, as well as not issuing press credentials to freelancers through SDPD and opting not to participate in debates ahead of the March primary.

Other winners

Our picks:

🪩 Andy is taking in his favorite band at the Sphere tonight and will report back.

🪶 Kate is obviously listening to "The Tortured Poets Department" on repeat.

This newsletter was edited by Carly Mallenbaum and copy edited by James Gilzow.