Axios San Diego

Newsletter branding image

Happy Friday! We've got your weekend covered.

  • Today's weather: Coast โ€” Partly sunny; highs near 60. Inland โ€” Mostly cloudy but clearing; highs in the upper 60s.

Situational awareness: We're off Monday for Presidents' Day, but look out for a special-edition newsletter that morning from the larger Axios newsroom. Excited to hear what you think!

Today's newsletter is 879 words โ€” a 3.5-minute read.

1 big thing: How insurance is impacting San Diego's HOAs

Estimated number of HOAs, condominiums and cooperatives with fees, 2023
Data: Foundation for Community Association Research; Map: Alice Feng/Axios

More than 14.4 million Californians live in housing associations, making homeowners association those fees an important piece of San Diego's expensive housing market.

Why it matters: Homebuyers looking at condos or townhomes for their lower prices may not realize HOA dues can total thousands annually and can escalate over time, Axios' Sami Sparber writes.

Between the lines: HOA fees are meant to cover communal things like maintenance, landscaping, pools, gyms and other amenities. Associations also often insure buildings and homes' exteriors.

  • In San Diego, fees can range from under $100 or less for detached homes in suburban neighborhoods, to over $1,000 per month at luxury downtown condos.

Zoom in: As hundreds of thousands of San Diego County properties face higher insurance premiums because of extreme weather threats, HOA fees are going up, local real estate broker Spencer Lugash explained.

  • Some insurers have also abandoned California, forcing associations to seek new, potentially more expensive policies for their buildings and developments.
  • Plus, HOA boards need to keep up with inflation and rising costs of labor.
  • That cost burden falls on the homeowner, who may face sudden, drastic increases in housing costs.

Yes, but: HOA boards can only increase dues annually and can't exceed 20% without membership approval, with some exceptions, per California law.

Be smart when it comes to HOA fees

๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธTell us: What is your experience with HOA rules, dues and fines? Email us.

2. Sign company buys billboards for city re-election bids

Billboards for City Council member Stephen Whitburn and Mayor Todd Gloria. Photos: Andrew Keatts/Axios

Perhaps the most interesting part of billboards promoting the re-election campaigns of City Council member Stephen Whitburn and Mayor Todd Gloria is in the small print disclosing who paid for them.

The intrigue: Outfront Media, Inc., which owns the billboards, also paid for the messages supporting Gloria and Whitburn.

  • Also notable about Whitburn's billboard: It's at Midway Drive and West Point Loma Boulevard โ€” not in District 3, which Whitburn represents.

What they're saying: Not much.

  • Three spokespeople for Outfront Media did not respond to requests for comment on the company's interest in city government, and they haven't disclosed any lobbying contacts with city officials.
  • But the company did disclose its spending for Gloria and Whitburn in three campaign filings this month, stating the billboards would remain until Election Day on March 5.

By the numbers: Gloria's billboards cost $24,820 and Whitburn's cost $15,800, per Outfront's disclosures.

Between the lines: Outfront couldn't have made donations of that size directly to Gloria or Whitburn's re-election committees.

  • The city's ethics ordinance bars candidates from taking donations from businesses and sets contribution limits for individuals at $750 for City Council and $1,350 for mayoral candidates.

Go deeper

3. The Lineup: Local news for you

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

๐Ÿ‘ฎ๐Ÿผ To prevent drug smuggling and overdoses among those in custody, a county law enforcement oversight board is again recommending the Sheriff's Department begin body scanning all employees entering detention facilities, after department officials have twice rejected the recommendation. (KPBS)

โšพ Padres FanFest tickets are now up for grabs. Fans can meet players and catch the new celebrity softball game with star athletes. (ABC10)

โš“ Sid Voorakkara is the newest commissioner for the Port of San Diego, the government agency that controls 34 acres of coastline in San Diego, Chula Vista, National City, Imperial Beach and Coronado. (Union-Tribune)

4. Legit low-key kickbacks

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Let's get this three-day weekend started with some fun events around the city!

From a surf festival to a soulful jazz show, here's what's happening:


๐Ÿ‰ San Diego Tแบฟt Festival in Mira Mesa

Experience traditional lion dances, music performances, carnival rides and a cultural village at this Vietnamese New Year event.

๐ŸŽก Sesame Place

Kids can meet local first responders, take photos with firetrucks and join a dance party as part of Super Grover's Everyday Heroes Weekend.

๐Ÿ–ผ๏ธ Museum Month in San Diego

Enjoy discounted admission at participating museums and cultural institutions while you still can.


๐ŸŽถ "Kaleidoscope" by Jason Mraz Foundation

Jason Mraz will join kids and adults on stage for a community concert to support inclusive arts programs and local nonprofits.

๐Ÿ„๐Ÿผ San Diego Surf Festival

Catch more than 20 films celebrating surf culture, live music, a skate deck art show and surf competitions at this two-day festival.

๐Ÿ… Lunar New Year at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Create your own lantern to observe Lunar New Year and participate in a communal, dragon-inspired art piece.

โ™ฅ๏ธ Multi-Cultural Festival of Love in City Heights

Celebrate diversity, solidarity and love with a parade, face painting, live music and a community parade.


๐Ÿ›๏ธ Daygo Eatz in Encanto

Enjoy live music, an art walk, health and fitness activities, and pop-ups from local Black-owned businesses and Black artists at the neighborhood street fair.

๐ŸŽคSoul Sunday in East Village

Party to the best neo-soul, funk and jazz music coming out of San Diego at this monthly event.

Details here

5. 1 photo to go: The ocean's glow up

Bioluminescent waves at Torrey Pines State Beach. Photo: Vishwas Lokesh

Did you catch the electric-blue waves this week?

What's happening: Millions of bioluminescent plankton were showing off at Torrey Pines and Carlsbad beaches, as captured by local photographer Vishwas Lokesh.

ICYMI: See more photos to inspire you to get to the beach next time they show up, which is hard to predict.

Share this story

Our picks:

โšพ Andy is ready for the Padres to finish building their roster before the season starts.

๐Ÿ“ Kate is trying to play more pickleball and wishing there was a pickle emoji.

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