An aerial view of the Midway District along Sports Arena Boulevard. Courtesy City of San Diego

San Diego voters early Wednesday appeared to back a new police review commission and a measure to remove height limits in the Midway District. But a nearly $1 billion housing bond was falling short of the two-thirds approval needed.

With nearly two-thirds of votes in, results showed 57.4% approving Measure A to authorize the city to issue $900 million in bonds to finance construction of an estimated 7,500 new housing units primarily for the homeless.

“We still don’t know the final results yet, but it sends a very powerful message that a majority of voters want the city to take action on homelessness,” said Stephen Russell, president and CEO of the San Diego Housing Federation. “Reaching the two-thirds threshold is difficult, but we are committed to continuing to work with the city to implement solutions to homelessness. We will pay close attention to the election results as they come in during the next few weeks.”

Several surveys conducted by the Housing Federation over the last 3 1/2 years showed that reducing homelessness ranked top among concerns for local likely voters, moving to second place only after the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic.

However, the margin of the initial votes reported make it impossible for Measure A to pass, said Carl DeMaio, chairman of Reform California – NO on Measure A.

“By rejecting Measure A, San Diego voters have not only once again refused efforts by city politicians to raise taxes, but they have sent a message that the current city strategy on homelessness is failing,” DeMaio said in a statement. “Voters refuse to throw good money after bad. Going forward we need to force city politicians to completely rethink their approach to homelessness.”

Paying off the bonds would have raised property taxes by $21 annually on a median priced home in the initial years. The measure had wide support, from Father Joe’s Villages to the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, but former Councilman DeMaio was a vocal opponent.

Measure B was leading 74.9% yes to 25.1% no to establish an independent Commission on Police Practices to review complaints and investigate police misconduct. The City Council voted unanimously to put it on the ballot.

It was first suggested by Councilwoman Monica Montgomery in 2018, but took on urgency in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter protests.

Measure E was leading 57.2% yes to 42.8% no to remove the 30-foot height limit in the Midway area known for strip clubs and dilapidated warehouses.

The district was included in a nearly 50-year-old ballot measure to preserve ocean views in coastal communities west of Interstate 5.

Now the limits prevent replacement of the aging Sports Arena and development of new housing. No views are threatened, but opponents are concerned about setting a precedent.

Updated at 6:32 a.m., Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020

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