Axios San Diego

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Today's newsletter is 897 words — a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: California emits below-the-radar greenhouse gas

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Southern California emits the nation's highest concentration of emissions of sulfuryl fluoride, a potent greenhouse gas and pesticide for termites, a new study shows.

Why it matters: The state touts its greenhouse gas reduction policies, but this gas is not named in state or federal data despite having a relatively long atmospheric lifetime and a high climate-change potential.

  • Other greenhouse gases could be slipping under the radar, too, researchers say.

Between the lines: Scientists used air samples and atmospheric measurements to detect, measure and trace these emissions, which are missing from both the California and U.S. greenhouse gas emissions inventories.

  • The EPA tracks and reports emissions through those inventories, which inform policymakers on reduction strategies, goals and progress.
  • This study suggests those policymakers aren't getting the full picture from current calculations and methods.

What they're saying: Atmospheric measurements are key to developing accurate inventories and determining if reduction strategies are actually working, according to Jens Muhle, an atmospheric research scientist at UCSD Scripps Institution of Oceanography and co-author of the study.

  • Without them, "it's like trying to diet without ever stepping on the balance," Muhle told Axios.
  • "Maybe California is not really reducing the emissions to the degree they think," he said.

The big picture: California emits more sulfuryl fluoride than the rest of the U.S. combined — 60-85% nationally and up to 12% of the global total — with most of it coming from Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, the study shows.

Zoom in: Sulfuryl fluoride is an EPA-approved pesticide that's been used in California for decades to treat termites and other insect infestations in homes and for agricultural fumigation.

  • It's used at shipping ports and is one of the few treatments for drywood termites, "a common regional pest that can form colonies in high, hard-to-reach parts of wooden structures," according to UCSD.
  • The gas is pumped into airtight tents surrounding an infested building, and any excess is released into the atmosphere.
  • About 85% of the state's sulfuryl fluoride emissions comes from that structural fumigation process, per the study.

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2. Audit: San Diego doesn't adequately monitor homelessness spending

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

San Diego has spent $218 million in the last three years to combat its homelessness crisis but does not adequately monitor the efficacy of that spending, per an audit released Tuesday.

Why it matters: By not tracking in a single place how it spends disparate funding streams, San Diego hinders transparency and accountability — and its own ability to assess the effectiveness of its decisions — the audit concluded.

The big picture: The auditor also reviewed California's overall homelessness response and determined that state officials have spent $24 billion in the past five years without consistently monitoring the outcome.

  • Zoom in: The audit into San Diego also examined San Jose's homelessness spending, and found that it, too, hadn't adequately tracked the spending of local, state and federal money.

By the numbers: The audit pulled apart local homelessness spending and found San Diego in the past three years spent $71 million in federal money, $59 million from the state and $87 million in local tax dollars.

  • San Diego's homeless population grew from 5,538 in 2015 to 6,500 in 2023.
  • The statewide homeless count was 115,738 in 2015 and 181,399 last year.

The other side: Lisa Jones, president and CEO of the San Diego Housing Commission, which manages many city homelessness efforts, disputed multiple conclusions of the audit.

  • She said the report came to "erroneous conclusions," misunderstood "the breadth of SDHC's extensive efforts" and lacked "the context necessary for a comprehensive assessment" of the agency's homelessness services.

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3. The Lineup: Catch this local news

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

👮🏼 A murder victim has been identified from a 1986 cold case in Lakeside via genetic genealogy. Investigators are now taking a fresh look at the case. (NBC 7)

🇲🇽 Long waits at the San Ysidro-Tijuana border crossing have become routine in recent months, which officials believe are the result of construction in Tijuana near the border. (Union-Tribune)

🏘️ State Farm is discontinuing coverage for 72,000 homes and apartments in California because of increased costs and risks of natural disasters — especially wildfires. (Associated Press)

4. Love for The Lafayette

Sip a painkiller poolside and bask in the sunshine. Photo: Kate Murphy/Axios

The luxurious, whimsical and bold Lafayette Hotel was named best new hotel of 2024 by Esquire magazine.

Why it matters: The historic hotel in North Park underwent a $31 million renovation last year, turning it into what Esquire calls a "fever dream of a party palace." And it's paying off.

The vibe: opulence.

  • A swanky lobby and cocktail bar leads out to another chic, retro bar overlooking the pool, with cabanas that make it feel like old Hollywood.
  • There's a 24-hour diner, bowling alley and billiards, and an Oaxacan restaurant resembling an abandoned Mexican church.
  • Lou Lou's Club and Ballroom, a 1920s-style jazz and supper club, is a main event.

What they're saying: The Lafayette thinks of hospitality "not as giving guests what they think they want but as showing them what's pretty damn cool," Esquire's lifestyle and culture director Kevin Sintumuang writes.

Tell a friend looking for a staycation

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

Penny needs water, ASAP. Photo: Kate Murphy/Axios

Do you know where Kate and Penny (if you can find her) got this panoramic view?

  • Hit reply to this email with the right answer for a chance to win some Axios swag.

A clue: The steep, narrow trail leads you to "the chief."

Our picks:

🐶 Andy is hoping to meet more Axios subscribers at the third night of Dogs in a Pile's Ocean Beach residency!

☀️ Kate is enjoying these sunny days as much as possible before May gray.

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