Axios San Diego

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Good morning! It's already Thursday.

  • Today's weather: Coast — Patchy drizzle early, then mostly cloudy with highs in the mid-60s. Inland — Scattered drizzle this morning, then clearing with highs near 70.

Today's newsletter is 867 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: Messy county exec fight is getting messier

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A fight over the hiring of the most powerful official in San Diego County government is only escalating.

Why it matters: The county is set to pick — by the end of the month — between two finalists for its next chief administrative officer, whose duties including controlling an annual budget of more than $8 billion.

Catch up quick: Cindy Chavez — an elected supervisor in Santa Clara County, and the former leader of a Bay Area labor group — last year received a conditional offer for the position, before the board recanted and restarted its search.

Driving the news: A lawyer representing Chavez sent a letter Tuesday threatening to sue over "numerous irregularities" in the hiring process.

State of play: In the letter to Nora Vargas, chair of the county board of supervisors, Chavez's lawyer asked the county to preserve records related to the search and hiring process.

  • The letter alleges a supervisor or associate improperly disclosed confidential information to a third party about candidates and the process.
  • It alleges "at least one" supervisor discussed Chavez's race and ethnicity during the search.

What they're saying: "As a woman of color, Ms. Chavez is familiar with harmful stereotypes that undermine and disparage the qualifications of women of color in leadership roles," the letter reads.

The other side: In a written statement to Axios, Vargas said the board followed a transparent process and cannot comment on candidates.

Friction point: The situation erupted when the white head of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council used Spanish slang words to describe Vargas, leading to accusations of racism.

Inside the room: Crystal Irving, leader of the largest county workers union, said in an Instagram post that Vargas referred to Chavez as "unqualified" in private conversations before the interview process.

  • "Nora started making comments to anyone that asked about the CAO that we needed someone with financial experience… this was widely understood as unsupportive of Cindy," Irving said.

What's next

2. Megashelter negotiations plod along

The site of the proposed homeless shelter in the Midway District near the airport. Photo: Andy Keatts/Axios

Mayor Todd Gloria says his plan to open a 1,000-bed homeless shelter at a Middletown warehouse is on track, but that track is beginning to look pretty circuitous.

Why it matters: The shelter would become the city's largest, but the cost of the lease Gloria negotiated has been criticized by city officials and real estate professionals.

State of play: The City Council had its second closed-session hearing on the proposal Monday, after the first one led to new negotiations with Douglas Hamm, the property's owner.

  • Voice of San Diego reported Tuesday that the renegotiated deal got a cool reception from the City Council, which directed staff to continue discussions.
  • A committee of councilmembers was set to discuss the lease last month, but that was canceled after the city's independent budget analyst signaled "significant questions."

By the numbers: Voice reported Hamm offered to lower the lease rate and length, and chipped in on improvements, but raised the percentage by which rent payments increase each year.

Keep reading

3. The Lineup: Catch up quick

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

🌱 Mission Bay Park is headed for an overhaul after city officials struck a compromise between environmentalists and recreation groups to triple its acreage of climate change-mitigating marshlands. (Union-Tribune)

⚡ A ballot measure that would create a municipal utility company in San Diego and oust San Diego Gas & Electric did not collect enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot. Backers now hope the City Council will choose to put the question before voters. (La Jolla Light)

🏘️ The massive Riverwalk housing project in Mission Valley halted construction, with developers citing market conditions and interest rates as the culprit. They haven't said when work will resume. (NBC 7)

4. 🏄 Bioluminescent surfing returns to La Jolla

A surfer rides a bioluminescent wave at Torrey Pines State Beach. GIF: Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego

UC San Diego surfers have been catching glowing waves over the past week.

Why it matters: The bloom of bioluminescent plankton returned to La Jolla, putting on another nighttime light show in the water during the red tide that can last days or months.

The intrigue: The natural phenomenon draws people to San Diego beaches at night, but it can also cause mass mortality among fish and other marine life by creating low or excess oxygen and unstable pH levels.

Between the lines: La Jolla — specifically, Scripps Pier — is a good place to view bioluminescence because there is very little light pollution on the north side of the pier, Scripps researcher Melissa Carter told Axios.

  • People can easily miss the dim, blue light in other coastal areas because of the bright lights from hotels, piers and other nighttime attractions.

Driving the news: The UCSD surf team and club earlier this week went out to Torrey Pines State Beach and Gliderport, where the bioluminescence was visible from shore.

See more photos

5. 🕵️ Where in the world is Kate in San Diego?

Where can you get this view? Photo: Kate Murphy/Axios

We've got another round for you this week!

How it works: Reply directly to this email with your best guess of Kate's location (be specific).

  • If you're right, you could win some Axios swag.

A clue: At this point, just take me to the tide pools.

Our picks:

Andy is in disbelief over the Padres' performance against the Rockies this week: A three-game sweep at home.

🥪 Kate is searching for the best deli sandwich in San Diego — please send recs.

This newsletter was edited by Ross Terrell and copy edited by James Gilzow.