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Roundtable: 2016 Was Quite A Year In San Diego


2016: Election, Immigration, Housing Shortage, Climate Worries


Amita Sharma, investigative reporter, KPBS News

Andrew Bowen, metro reporter, KPBS News

Jean Guerrero, Fronteras reporter, KPBS News

Eric Anderson, environment reporter, KPBS News


The Election

The 2016 election produced some interesting, even surprising, results in San Diego County.

On Monday, November 28, 18 days after the election, the Associated Press announced that Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Vista) had at last won his seat by some 2,300 votes.

This was Issa's closest race ever. He cruised through his previous seven contests, winning with healthy margins, but not this year.

The contest was also hugely expensive.

Issa’s early and enthusiastic support for Donald Trump and changing demographics in his district have been cited as reasons for his small margin of victory.

His opponent, Democrat Douglas Applegate, is not giving up and says he will run in 2018.

San Diego County Supervisor Dave Roberts conceded defeat to Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar -- also on November 28 -- for the 3rd District seat. Roberts was the lone Democrat on the five-member board and the first incumbent to lose his seat in more than 30 years.

Proposition 64, legalizing adult recreational use of marijuana, was passed by the voters, as was a tax on pot sales. But marijuana is still classified as a Schedule A drug and is therefore illegal, according to the federal government.

Prop 64 is already having an effect on the criminal justice system, with people in California prisons for pot felonies petitioning to have their felony sentences reduced to misdemeanors.

When Measure C, the Chargers initiative to build a stadium/convention center downtown, came nowhere near passing, many assumed team owner Dean Spanos would take its defeat as the final insult and just go.

Not so fast.

Scott Sherman and others on the San Diego City Council dug in at the goal line and offered the team a lease on the Mission Valley Qualcomm site for $1 per year for 99 years.

It turns out that what sounds like a terrific deal may actually itself be the final insult. The Chargers had passed on this offer eons ago, and having to spurn it again at this point -- and look bad in the process -- reportedly made Spanos furious.

The Housing Shortage

It's not news that it's hard to find a place to live in San Diego. In 2016, it got harder.

There simply is not enough housing in San Diego County. Rents and home prices are up. The population is growing. Construction has not kept pace with need.

One way to deal with the problem is through in-fill, or increased housing density in already developed neighborhoods. Several communities have rebelled against denser housing, including Clairemont, North Park, Poway and Encinitas, where homeowners want to keep things the way they are.

Housing You Matters, an ad hoc group of realtors, contractors, environmentalists, etc., chaired by Lori Holt Pfeiler of Habitat for Humanity, has come together to try to foster a YIMBY (yes in my backyard) attitude.


The wall along the border has already had dire consequences for many migrants forced to cross into the U.S. by going through the desert. Estimates are that more than 300 migrants die trying to enter the U.S. that way.

One of the pillars of Donald Trump's campaign for the presidency was his promise to strengthen and lengthen the border wall. Many who work along the border believe migrants will still try to cross and that many more will die.

Another issue stemming from Trump's election is concern over what will happen to young immigrants brought here illegally as children by their parents.

They were given a reprieve from deportation by President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. DACA immigrants, now in school or working, do not know their country of origin or its language. President-elect Trump has said he will revoke the program.


San Diego’s aggressive Climate Action Plan was introduced in March.

The plan is legally binding and includes provisions for low-income communities, waste diversion, clean energy and transportation. It has received praise from environmental groups.

Whether the city will meet the transportation goals essential to the plan is unclear. One reason is the defeat of measure M, the county proposition to increase the sales tax to fund transportation needs.

Of 19 local governments in the county, only seven have any climate plans in place. Coronado, El Cajon, Imperial Beach, Poway and Santee have no plans at all.

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