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Voice of San Diego Podcast

Author: Voice of San Diego

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This is Voice of San Diego’s weekly spitfire roundup of news. We cover local and regional politics, the environment, education, the border and more. This show features our investigative reporting and interviews with lawmakers and other special guests.
298 Episodes
Last month, students at Correia Middle School in Point Loma reported seeing a classmate brandish a gun. The following week, more allegations surfaced about the classmate in question. School Facebook groups blew up; parents spun. And in the aftermath, families demanded answers about San Diego Unified’s discipline policies. In this episode, host Jakob McWhinney clarifies the messy story. Plus: More arguments on the City Attorney job change. San Diego water costs soar. Western water leaders duke it out at Politifest. Get your Politifest tickets now at politifest.orgSee for privacy information.
There's an election for San Diego City Attorney in 2024. Current City Attorney Mara Elliott is termed out. Running to replace her are Deputy City Attorney Heather Ferbert and Assemblyman Brian Maienschein. The 2024 ballot could ask voters to choose not only who should be City Attorney — but what the City Attorney should do. On the show this week, our crew discusses the unique role of the San Diego City Attorney, its tumultuous history — and how it could change. Plus: Southwestern College tests out competency-based degrees. And former County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher responds to the accusations of sexual harassment and assault against him. Support us: Donate to Voice today and mention the podcast. We may read your note in the next episode! for privacy information.
This week, San Diego City Councilman Kent Lee joined us for a live show in North Park. Cozied up to the beer fermenters in Original 40 Brewing, hosts Scott Lewis, Andrea Lopez-Villafaña and Jakob McWhinney spilled the tea on local public affairs. Because that’s what the people came for, right? Talking points: Civic Center redevelopment project. The housing crisis. The cost-of-living crisis. Nudists. And audience games! Support the show — and local journalism — at Register for Politifest 2023 at politifest.orgSee for privacy information.
Senior investigative reporter Will Huntsberry joins us to discuss his new investigation. He revealed a fake nonprofit that operated concession stands in Petco Park for nine years, earning a cut of the profits. A snapshot of the earning potential just this year shows the nonprofit, "Chula Vista Fast Pitch," worked enough concession stands to pull in $370,000. On the show this week, we review the story — including the nature of nonprofit vendor work at Petco (and Snapdragon Stadium), how this fake nonprofit came to be, who was behind it, who's ultimately responsible and the fallout after the story broke. Plus: Chronic absenteeism has exploded for kindergartners. San Diego homeless encampments changed a lot this summer. Tony Gwynn. See you soon! Get your tickets to our next live show at for privacy information.
San Diego’s men’s soccer team — San Diego Loyal of the United Soccer League — announced this will be their final season. In May, a coalition of investors bought into Major League Soccer and had their own announcement: a new team is coming to town. They have squeezed out San Diego Loyal. This week, KPBS's Andrew Dyer — a local soccer nut and host of the San Diego Loyal Locals podcast — joins us to review the recent history of local soccer. We take it back to 2018 and the failed Soccer City project, discuss highlights of the Loyal’s legacy and how San Diego State University steered local soccer to where we are now. Plus: Hurricane Hilary. The latest in the Nathan Fletcher lawsuits. And a new "Song of the Week." Join us for our next live podcast and more at for privacy information.
Ridin' High

Ridin' High


San Diego City Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe is commanding a big lead in the special election to replace Nathan Fletcher on the Board of Supervisors. Amy Reichert is also going to the November runoff election. On the podcast, we discuss the results, the race thus far and look ahead at a weird race in a heavily Democratic district. Also riding high: Parents, students and educators gear up for a new school year. Host Jakob McWhinney shares the big school stories he's watching. Also riding high: UC San Diego researchers innovate in mushroom studies and more at their first psychedelics research lab. Also riding high: Palomar Health's anxiety. After a big budget plunge last fiscal year, how will the public healthcare provider recover? See you soon! Get your tickets for our next Brews & News live podcast at for privacy information.
This week, environment reporter MacKenzie Elmer explains some of the drama going down in water politics. It all started when a couple farming communities tried to divorce the San Diego Water Authority. Now, rural districts seek to change the whole voting structure — with the help of state lawmakers. Plus: How to be a great composter. A Southeastern San Diego nonprofit loses community support. The last week before the special election. Subscribe to the Environment Report: for privacy information.
Few joys in life match a breezy summer night gossiping with good friends over cold drinks. And in this first-ever “Happy Hour” special episode, that’s what we’ve got for you. Hosts Scott Lewis and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña chat with guests Alain Stephens, reporter from The Trace, and Greg Moran, investigative reporter formerly with the The Union Tribune. Our stories:"Selling Sunset" star tied to landlord who tried to burn tenants out.Secret stories of the gun industry and the U.S. government.A short and expensive history of San Diego desalination.How the Fat Leonard scandal that blew a hole in the U.S. Navy. Watch out for Alain's podcast with The Weekly Briefing by The Trace: for privacy information.
Monday was the first day San Diego police could enforce the homeless camping ban — made to crack down on specific areas of the city where street camping has proliferated. Voice reporter Lisa Halverstadt has been following this ban since its inception. This week she surveyed common camping areas to see how the city and police curbed campsites and affixed new warning signs. She shares all the latest details on the city's homeless efforts in the podcast. Plus: Halverstadt broke the news that the city's largest homeless services provider — Father Joe's Villages — is in hot water. Also this week: The worst trees in San Diego. Transpo leader Hasan Ikhrata is out. Fact check on Monica Montgomery Steppe's "defund the police" record.See for privacy information.
A few weeks ago, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria asked a question — daring reporters to find out, "What other jurisdictions are applying for Homekey dollars?" "Homekey" is a state project doling out big money for new housing. Local municipalities can apply for funds to help boost permanent supportive housing projects. San Diego has applied for more than $105 million of this funding, chiefly to convert motels to permanent rooms. And despite this crisis hampering the whole region, host Andrea Lopez-Villafaña found the city of San Diego is indeed shouldering the county's weight. This week, we discuss Homekey, housing and homelessness — including the city of Chula Vista's approach and fact checks for common homelessness assumptions. Subscribe to support Voice and stay informed: for privacy information.
"Mailers are like the core concentrate of local politics. If you boil down politics, you're left with mailer content." This week, our hosts discuss political mailers. While mailers are objectively annoying inbox filler that most people throw, they are created by strategists who have a lot of data about who they're targeting. Therefore, in addition to the argument for or against any given candidate, the postal padding also serves as a proxy for what the experts think they know about the electorate. In this episode, we discuss the art of mailers and what local political groups are trying to express ahead of the special election to replace Nathan Fletcher on the Board of Supervisors. Plus: A new amendment to the lawsuit against Fletcher. More Union-Tribune staff depart. And the latest in water politics as two North County farming communities continue to try to divorce the San Diego Water Authority.See for privacy information.
Los Angeles' richest man, Patrick Soon-Shiong, sold the San Diego Union-Tribune and the LA Times to MediaNews Group, owned by Alden Global Capital.  The U-T has had six owners since 2009. Soon-Shiong at the start of his tenure promised "stability." Now it seems there's anything but. This week on the show, we discuss how the news came trickling out at the start of the week — followed quickly by staff reduction notices and buyout offers for the waning paper. We also look at the wider picture: How did newspapers get to this point? And is there a route to stability for regional journalism? Plus: Former mayor Kevin Faulconer announced his bid for County Supervisor. The special election to replace former Supervisor Nathan Fletcher is almost here. And San Diego Unified's school board is oddly... unified. Support VOSD with a donation or subscription. Donate at Subscribe at for privacy information.
This week, we've got updates from the highly anticipated safe camping site put in place by the city of San Diego. The city opened the site to provide unhoused residents a safe place to camp, made to be more attractive than sidewalks. The first of two such sites, it precedes stricter enforcement to get tents off city streets and away from sensitive areas like schools. On the show, reporter Lisa Halverstadt details the amenities and intake numbers — and a new story about how increased homeless enforcement may affect Black San Diegans disproportionately. Plus: A wealthy family’s 100-year-old company is blocking a permanent housing project. And San Diego Unified is facing big budget deficits. Keep up with all our stories with the Morning Report: for privacy information.
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and other city leaders announced the opening of a safe camping site for homeless residents. It's first of two in the coming months — along with a new ban on camping, which narrowly passed the City Council last week. The ban expands current restrictions with further attention to sensitive areas such as schools and is now set to take effect in late July. Another, larger camp site is on tap for the fall. We discuss the details of the new site as part of a robust effort by Gloria to reduce tents on the streets. Plus: Two sales tax measures may hit the 2024 ballot. And a weird protest hits a Rancho Peñasquitos library. Support VOSD and the podcast as we close out the fiscal year: for privacy information.
'It's Gonna Blow'

'It's Gonna Blow'


This week's co-host, Jakob McWhinney, shared in this episode a framework he often uses to consider San Diego's present state and future: "It's gonna blow." The Padres are going to acquire huge stars and take off. San Diego's going to be a hot new music scene. Democrats are going to transform county government. The big thing is always going to happen. McWhinney and hosts Scott Lewis and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña review this week's news with that framework in mind: SDSU, sports, homelessness, billionaire investors and more. Subscribe to our most popular product, the Morning Report: for privacy information.
After hours of public discussion and debate, the San Diego City Council narrowly approved a law that would ban camping on public land.  The ban would bar homeless camps in public spaces at all times when shelter is available. And when shelter isn't available, tents would still be banned within two blocks of schools or shelters, as well as in canyons and along transit hubs and waterways.  The pod crew gets into what it all means.  Support the show at for privacy information.
Days before the San Diego City Council voted on a camping ban pushed by Mayor Todd Gloria, he joined us in the Voice of San Diego studio to discuss his approach to homelessness.  Host Scott Lewis had a lot of questions for him. What does the ban do that laws on the books don't do? How will it be enforced? What about this is different than what former mayor Kevin Faluconer did?  Note: The City Council narrowly approved the ban on June 13, 2023. Read our coverage at Support the show at for privacy information.
The new point-in-time count numbers are in. The annual homeless census showed a record surge in homelessness, reaching its highest point in 12 years. On the podcast this week, we review the new data and particularly distressing increases among the senior population and in chronic homelessness. We also have a story this week about the old data: According to a report by our Will Huntsberry, before the 2023 figures came out, the regional census (while an imperfect system of measure) actually showed a 10-year decline. Meanwhile homelessness has become more visible, and tragic, than ever.  These stories all come ahead of a highly-anticipated vote next week that aims to transform homelessness in the city of San Diego, further enforcing San Diego's ban on street camping while pushing residents toward shelters and safe camping sites. Plus: Water politics is boiling. Andy is leaving. Join the VOSD Podcast crew! Support our fiscal year-end campaign at: for privacy information.
When Laws Meet Reality

When Laws Meet Reality


A bill that passed quietly last year, signed by the governor with no meaningful opposition, has completely upended campaign finance and is causing confusion across the state. This week, we unpack SB 1439, which requires elected officials to recuse themselves from votes involving anyone who gave them more than $250 in campaign contributions. Also a year ago, a San Diego city ordinance went into effect to curb street vendors. Vendors now say vending is practically impossible. Finally, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria is gearing up for a big vote on an ordinance that could ban camping in most public spaces. We assess his latest messaging on that front. Plus: Andy Keatts has some news. Keep up with all our stories with The Morning Report: for privacy information.
Last week, we brought in KPBS reporter Andrew Bowen to talk about his new podcast, "Freeway Exit," dedicated to the past, present and future of freeways. This is the full unabridged version of that interview — where Bowen and host Andrew Keatts are free to unleash their unbridled passion for freeways and transportation. Here, they dig into the archival footage Bowen found to inform his series. They discussed a freeway decommissioning that's in the works in San Diego right now. And, some history: How President Dwight D. Eisenhower championed freeways and their proliferation throughout the country. They also discussed freeway revolts by local communities and a glimpse into a possible future of freeway use in the region. Keep up with everything about the podcast with our weekly newsletter: Support the show at for privacy information.
Comments (2)

Super Nice

regarding episode too much poo: There were comments about the lethality of new variants of Covid 19 are less so. No this is not true, the people still getting sick enough to be in hospital are immunocompramised or in vaccinated. High risk people can only die once, those that have died over the last 2 years cannot die again.

Jul 24th


I was at this event and I'm grateful that I could hear it over on the podcast. In person I automatically leaned towards the homeless advocate. But listening to it again I could be sold on not just voting for it but advocating for it, if I knew how much it is now and how much it will be compared to other cities we are in competition with. Why would San Diegans oppose raising a tax they aren't paying though? I don't get that part. And obviously funding streets, homelessness, and shoring up a revenue source is in the public interest.

Nov 4th
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