This story first appeared in inewsource’s weekend newsletter. Sign up for it here.
Reporter Brad Racino published a story this week about the culmination of years of negotiations involving San Diego’s commercial fishermen, a local developer and the Port of San Diego. The talks centered around Tuna Harbor – nestled within downtown’s Seaport Village at the end of Pacific Highway – and the future of an industry.
I asked Brad about the motivation behind this story and why anyone should care.
You said you spent two years working on this story. That’s a long time. Why the investment?
I’ve always been drawn to the politics behind San Diego’s downtown waterfront. It’s extremely valuable real estate but a lot of people don’t know that it’s also public land – held in trust by the Port of San Diego. As we wrote in our 2016 investigation into the history of the North Embarcadero, this situation is ripe for exploitation by powerful interests.
When I heard the port would be redeveloping the Central Embarcadero, I wanted to find a way to get in on the ground floor to monitor the evolution of this project – called Seaport San Diego – to hold all sides accountable for promises made to the public. Basically, to avoid a repeat of what happened along the North Embarcadero in the early 2000s.
San Diego’s commercial fishermen struck me as an entryway for readers to connect to a project that’s still years away from even breaking ground. And as I dug deeper, I learned how big of a deal the Seaport project could be to revitalizing a dormant industry that once defined this city.
And for people who don’t eat fish – why should they care?
While this story focused on the fishing side of Seaport, the overall development is about a lot more than Tuna Harbor. It encompasses 70 acres of public (there’s that word again!) land and water, and is seeking to create a new maritime district downtown.
As this development progresses, it’s up to San Diegans to attend public meetings, keep up with news stories and hold people accountable to ensure this project benefits the public, and not just a few powerful and wealthy interests.
A deal years in the making
San Diego’s commercial fishermen rarely cooperate with outsiders. Monied interests – including developers – are naturally interested in their bayfront properties. Hotels line the downtown North Embarcadero. Two different billion-dollar developments are coming to the Central Embarcadero (home to Tuna Harbor). A third waterfront project – one of the largest on the West Coast – is expected to break ground on the Chula Vista bayfront in 2019.
Throughout the Seaport negotiations, inewsource monitored the arguments, near-implosions and compromises that finally led to a deal being signed last month. It was a rare and noteworthy episode in San Diego history: Downtown land was up for grabs, and the two sides vying for a part of its future couldn’t have contrasted more in their history, finances or motivations.
Here’s the story of how it all happened.
P.S. Brad got some terrific feedback after the story published. Our favorite was from one of the characters in the story, Theresa Talley, a researcher with California Sea Grant at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She wrote:
“This is just great – I love that you managed to concisely lay out the whole long process and also capture the important (and amusing) nuances. The piece reflects the real story incredibly well and is a fun read. Thanks for your hard work.”
-To read up on the history of the North Embarcadero, here’s our story from 2016.
-To read the first Seaport story from 2016, head here.
Republicans have slight edge over Democrats in early voting
Reporter Nicole Tyau checked on early voting in San Diego County and found Republicans were slightly ahead of Democrats in casting ballots for the Nov. 6 election.
As of midday Wednesday, the Registrar of Voters Office had received 149,752 ballots. Early voting — done by mail or in person at the registrar’s office — began on Oct. 8.
Nicole also included some tools from the registrar’s office to help voters. You can find them all in her story here.
Voter resources (continued)
If you’re getting ready to fill out your sample ballot or cast your mail-in ballot, inewsource has you covered on the politics of money in the Nov. 6 election.
There’s our five-part Follow The Money series with reporters Jill Castellano and Brad Racino, looking at key ballot measures: the state gas tax increase repeal; the contest between SoccerCity/SDSU West; requiring all county elections to be decided in November; the San Diego Unified School District bond proposal; and a San Diego government transparency measure.
The radio, TV and web stories can all be found here.
Want to search the money behind candidates for county supervisor or a school board? inewsource has a database just for you. It covers all political campaigns that report to the San Diego County registrar of voters. Explore it here.
Want to search the money behind San Diego City Council candidates and city ballot measures, inewsource again has a database just for you. Explore it here.
Another valuable tool for voters is the KPBS Voters Guide. It covers federal, state and local races, including ballot measures. Added perk: It includes inewsource election stories from throughout the year. Check it out here.
On the border
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Friday approved a request from the Department of Homeland Security to send additional U.S. troops to the U.S.-Mexico border as a caravan of thousands of migrants travel north from Central America.
So we thought this would be a good time to remind readers of our interactive America’s Wall project, which lets you explore Border Patrol staffing, apprehensions and wall construction since 1990.
Props 6 and 10
Reporter Jill Castellano went on KPBS Midday Edition to discuss the funding behind Prop 6, the gas tax repeal effort, and Prop 10, a rent control initiative. You can listen to it here.
The November #NewsMatch
This November, inewsource is participating in the #NewsMatch challenge, an exciting opportunity for nonprofit news organizations. It’s a time when donations to support our work are doubled by a pool of funds from national journalism grantmakers. This is a collaborative effort to help keep nonprofit news thriving, and we hope you’ll consider participating by making a donation in the month of November to double the impact of each dollar.
We’ll let you know when big things happen.