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Your San Diego news year in review

You probably know what music you listened to the most thanks to recaps by various streaming platforms, but do you know what news stories captured your interest the most? The KPBS web team compiled data on the most read topics this year.

While a lot happened in the news in 2022, some of the biggest issues on KPBS readers’ minds were housing, gas rebates, street vendor laws and the Midterm Elections.

Without further ado, here are some of the biggest stories of 2022.



During the pandemic, housing costs increased roughly 33% in San Diego County. Prices have become out of reach for a lot of San Diegans, forcing some of them to face eviction or move out of the county completely. The end of no-fault evictions in September made the situation even worse for some renters.

Some people who applied for the county’s Emergency Rental Assistance program this year received notices from the county that they’d not be getting paid – even if they were approved. Read details about that here.

Border towns such as Tijuana and Ensenada have long been refuges for those who can’t or don’t want to pay San Diego’s sky-high housing costs. But now the stream of people heading south has become a flood. The influx of Americans has made the price of housing rise in that region as well, however.

Meanwhile, San Diego County’s housing market cooled off thanks to rising interest rates. Buyers who were once willing to get into bidding wars, with offers way above asking price, are now hesitant to get into the market.

Gas rebate checks

Formally known as the Middle Class Tax Refund, this is a one-time payment to California taxpayers who filed their 2020 return by last October. It’s intended to provide relief to residents impacted by rising costs for gas, food and more caused by inflation.


Depending on income level and claimed dependents, the payments range from $400 to $1,050 for couples filing jointly and $200 to $700 for individuals. Payments have been slow to roll out, but state officials said some have been mailed out early December for those with last names starting with A through K in the form of debit cards.

Rooftop solar rules

California regulators approved the most dramatic overhaul of the state’s rooftop solar rules since the state began subsidizing the technology in 1996. In December, the California Public Utility Commission voted 5-0 to approve proposed changes to the state’s Net Energy Metering (NEM) rules.

The new plan cuts the value of solar-generated electricity sold back to utilities — and that reduces the financial benefit of installing solar panels. Instead of paying homeowners a few cents less than retail for rooftop-generated power, as NEM 2.0 rules currently do, electricity sold back to the grid will be a lot cheaper for the utility.

The change makes it more difficult for rooftop solar owners to recover the thousands of dollars they spent installing the solar arrays.

Midterm Election

This Midterm Election turned out to be more of a red “trickle” rather than the red “wave” some experts predicted. The House tipped to the Republicans while the Senate remained under Democrats’ control. In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom easily won reelection against Republican state Sen. Brian Dahle. Alex Padilla won the race to stay on for the next term as U.S. Senator of California. Previously, he was appointed after Kamala Harris left the post for Vice President.

Locally, an all-Democrat city council was sworn in for the first time in San Diego. Newcomer Kent Lee replaced termed-out Chris Cate, the lone Republican on city council. And San Diego County is expected to swear in a new sheriff in January. Kelly Anne Martinez will become the first woman to lead the 172-year-old law enforcement agency.

Chula Vista’s city attorney race caused a stir when local Democrats backed deceased candidate Simon Silva. Silva won the election, which will trigger a special election that will, by some estimates, cost the city up to $2 million.

See how all the races shook out here.

Attendees of the Republican Party of San Diego County election watch party at the U.S. Grant Hotel closely monitor the national election results, San Diego, Nov, 8, 2022.
Matthew Bowler
Attendees of the Republican Party of San Diego County election watch party at the U.S. Grant Hotel closely monitor the national election results, San Diego, Nov, 8, 2022.

Mpox and a ‘tripledemic’

While the world was still embattled with COVID-19, another contagious virus spread across the globe – mpox, formerly known as monkeypox. The virus, which causes smallpox-like symptoms, vectored in on LGBTQ+ communities.

The disease saw its peak in the U.S. in August with a seven-day average of 459 new cases. It fell steadily to an average of seven cases by the end of November. The drop in cases led to San Diego County's local health emergency for mpox expiring.

Then, many U.S. cities – including San Diego – faced an early flu season, with health officials warning of a “tripledemic” of RSV, COVID-19 and the flu. The CDC continues to advise indoor masking to prevent the spread of these respiratory viruses.

SDSU rape case

It’s been over a year since a teenage girl reported that she was taken to a back room of a house on Rockford Drive during a party and repeatedly assaulted by three men — later named in a civil suit as Matt Araiza, Zavier Leonard and Nowlin “Pa’a” Ewaliko. All three were on the San Diego State University football team at the time.

Early December, the San Diego County District Attorney's Office announced that prosecutors would not seek criminal charges, saying in a statement that “it is clear the evidence does not support the filing of criminal charges and there is no path to a potential criminal conviction.”

The backlash to the decision was swift, with some SDSU students marching in protest.

USS Bonhomme Richard

The fire that damaged the $1.2 billion warship, USS Bonhomme Richard, became one of the Navy’s worst peace-time disasters. Starting July 12, 2020, the ship burned for several days in the San Diego Bay.

In its investigation, the Navy pinned the blame on Seaman Recruit Ryan Sawyer Mays. He’d been charged with arson and willful hazarding of a vessel, but he denied any involvement in the fire.

Mays was acquitted on Sept. 30, 2022 by a military judge. Prosecutors alleged that Mays set the blaze because he was disgruntled with the Navy after dropping out of the SEAL training program. But defense attorneys said there was another, more likely arsonist, although they also contended that the prosecution had not proven the fire was arson at all.

Ryan Sawyer Mays, 21, holds a press conference after being acquitted of arson charges related to the 2020 USS Bonhomme Richard fire. San Diego, Calif. Sept. 30, 2022.
Matthew Hoffman
Ryan Sawyer Mays, 21, holds a press conference after being acquitted of arson charges related to the 2020 USS Bonhomme Richard fire. San Diego, Calif. Sept. 30, 2022.

Border and immigration

San Diego officials are preparing for an influx of migrants to our southern borders with the end of Title 42. This controversial public health order allowed border agents to deny migrants access into the U.S. without a court hearing. Since the start of the pandemic, Title 42 has been invoked more than 2 million times.

Tijuana experienced an unprecedented explosion of cartel violence one weekend in August. Mexico’s National Guard has increased its presence in the region, but some residents said that hasn’t made them feel safe. Violence against Mexican journalists also gained a national spotlight. Recently, two cartel hitmen were charged in the murder of Tijuana journalist Margarito Martinez.

At the border fence, Mexican authorities reported that the higher walls built during the Trump administration caused 80% of migrant injuries. To avoid skyrocketing medical costs, U.S. Customs and Border Protection began releasing injured people from federal custody. Also, Friendship Park is at risk of being closed for good as Biden’s administration considers an addition to the existing border wall.

Street vendor laws

This year, San Diego changed how, when and where street vendors can operate. The law restricts vending in high-traffic areas like Balboa Park and the Gaslamp Quarter. Enforcement in some coastal areas will begin early January 2023.

Some vendors agreed with more regulation. Henna tattoo artist Jenny Santos has observed poor behavior among other vendors. “People are paying other people to save their spots. They're leaving up their tents overnight,” she told KPBS.

Others, like street barber Iyzohe (who asked for his last name not to be used), worried about how the new rules would impact their business. “It's like on the one hand you’re saying, 'we're allowing street vendors to go out and do free enterprise,' but then you create a whole bunch of rules that kind of make it difficult,” he said.

Park rangers and the city's code enforcement officers had been in charge of enforcement, but that hasn’t worked, according to Gaslamp Quarter Association’s Michael Trimble. The San Diego Police Department got involved in Gaslamp enforcement. 

Return of Comic-Con

The pandemic forced Comic-Con International to go virtual with its Comic-Con@Home editions and to hold a scaled back Comic-Con Special Edition in November 2021.

This year saw the return of Comic-Con to an in-person event at the San Diego Convention Center – the first time since 2019. There were cosplayers, comic book writers for change, all sorts of panels, Star Wars fan groups and more.

Comic-Con didn’t end for the artists that had their portfolio reviews – many were busy following up on contracts they made during the event. While Comic-Con is a place for pop culture fanatics, it’s also a place for artists to advance their careers.