Wow, Wednesday is already here!

  • Today's weather: Coast — Showers possible before 10am, then clearing with highs in the low 60s. Inland — Chance of showers this morning, then mostly sunny with highs in the low 60s.

ğŸŽ‚ Happy birthday to our Axios San Diego member Eddie Le!

Today's newsletter is 858 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: SANDAG reconsiders airport transit plan

The public transit project would bring riders directly to the airport. Photo: Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images

San Diego's yearslong pursuit of a new transit connection to the airport is taking another turn.

State of play: The San Diego Association of Governments is set to discuss on Friday its plan to spend two more years studying how to connect the region's rail system to the airport.

Why it matters: The airport-transit connection is a major selling point of a November ballot measure to raise sales taxes for county transportation projects.

  • By launching a new study, regional planners are again reconsidering their preferred way to make the project happen at the same time voters will consider approving a way to pay for it.

Flashback: Regional planners said in July that a $2 billion automated people mover — a driverless train on a fixed track — from Santa Fe Depot was the best option, based on a 92-page study that also considered extending the trolley to the airport directly and other options.

  • Elected officials were expected to greenlight an environmental review of the project last fall, a major step for it to be ready to go once funding is available.

What they're saying: The project should still complete required state and federal environmental reviews in three years — the same timeline the agency had already envisioned, Coleen Clementson, SANDAG's interim CEO, told Axios.

  • That's because the agency would now handle both environmental reviews simultaneously rather than consecutively, she said.
  • The new study would analyze fewer options and be based on current data, a requirement to receive any federal funds for the project, Clementson said.

Yes, but: That means the agency could shift from its preference for the automated people mover — after it had finally zeroed in on that option.

  • "At this point, we have to consider all of the options and do a thorough analysis," she said.

The intrigue

2. San Diego gets FEMA disaster designation

Family members clean mud from a home damaged by flooding. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

President Biden declared the January rainstorm a "major disaster," opening up federal financial assistance for San Diego County.

Why it matters: The federal money will help the city recover from the severe storms and floods that damaged property and threatened lives across the region.

Details: Residents and business owners can get assistance from FEMA, including grants for home repairs and temporary housing, low-interest loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other resources aimed at helping the city's hard-hit southeastern neighborhoods.

  • Federal funding is also available for "hazard mitigation measures" statewide, according to FEMA.
  • A regional joint field office and "disaster recovery centers" will be set up in the most impacted communities, per Mayor Todd Gloria.

What they're saying: After weeks of assessing damage, providing local resources and advocating for this designation, "we can focus on the long-term rebuilding efforts from this natural disaster," Gloria said in a statement.

Be smart: Affected individuals and business owners can apply for assistance, even if they're insured, by registering online, calling 1-800-621-3362 or using the FEMA app.

What we're watching: The historic downpour exposed the city's failing and underfunded stormwater infrastructure, which city officials have said requires a dedicated funding source and major capital projects to fix.

3. The Lineup: Local news roundup

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🗳️ A day after Andrea Cardenas resigned her seat on Chula Vista's City Council, the district attorney filed a new criminal fraud charge against her and Jesus Cardenas, her brother who works as a political consultant. She remains on the March 5 ballot for a new term despite her resignation. (Union-Tribune)

🌧️ A fresh atmospheric river is again dumping rain on Southern California, with the National Weather Service saying parts of San Diego County faced a moderate risk of excessive rainfall into today. (Axios)

⚽ Four women's national teams play today in the inaugural Concacaf W Gold Cup at SDSU's Snapdragon Stadium, which is also hosting the finals for the international tournament. (Concacaf)

4. Trolley Orange Line back on track

A damaged retaining wall near the trolley's Orange Line tracks after the Jan. 22 storm. Photo: Andrew Keatts/Axios

The Metropolitan Transit System resumed normal service on the trolley's Orange Line on Friday after catastrophic floods on Jan. 22 caused $24 million in damage to the system.

Why it matters: The Orange Line serves 24,000 passenger trips every weekday, but trains couldn't operate between the Euclid Avenue and Lemon Grove stations for nearly a month after floods severely damaged a retaining wall along the tracks.

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5. Sips & Snacks: Beachy brunch

The Morning Sando is not pictured, but trust me, it's yum. Photo: Kate Murphy/Axios

👋 Kate here to tell you about the cutest brunch spot that I can't wait to go back to.

The Blue Whale in La Jolla is casual enough for surfers and beachgoers, yet elevated enough for a brunch date.

Details: The beach cafe in a little white cottage opened in October for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with indoor and outdoor seating.

What we ordered: Breakfast. The best bite was the chicken and waffles — a gluten-free horchata waffle topped with crispy buttermilk chicken tenders and a Fresno chili pepper agave glaze. It's $18 and worth it.

  • The Big Wave Burrito was flavorful and filling. ($15)
  • We couldn't pass up the ube pancakes, which made a sweet, coconutty, shareable plate. ($16)
  • The Morning Sando is a classic on sourdough that's bigger than most breakfast sandwiches. ($15)

Of note: There are vegan options.

Pro tip: It's an order-at-the-counter-then-find-your-seat system. There can be a line out the door, but drinks and food arrive pretty quickly.

Send to your brunch buddy

Our picks:

☀️ Andy is ready for Thursday.

⚽ Kate is looking forward to watching some of the world's best women's soccer players at Snapdragon.

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