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San Diego’s Stories of 2019

The biggest San Diego headlines you might have missed and news items that went viral this year

By Erin Meanley Glenny, Dan Letchworth, Sarah Pfledderer, Chase Scheinbaum, Sarah Sapeda, and Marie Tutko


San Diego's Stories of 2019

San Diego’s Stories of 2019

Brad Wise | Photo: Anne Watson

January 16

Beloved chef Brad Wise (Trust) opened Fort Oak in Mission Hills. Five months later our magazine named it Critic’s Pick for Best New Restaurant.

January 25

The annual Point-in-Time Count found 8,102 homeless people living in San Diego County.

San Diego's Stories of 2019

San Diego’s Stories of 2019

Justin Rose | Photo: Shutterstock

January 27

Justin Rose won the 2019 Farmers Insurance Open, not only undercutting Tiger Woods’ famous 2008 win by two shots, but also nailing the lowest Farmers Insurance Open score since the South Course was made more difficult in the early 2000s.


February 5

San Diego pot company Cannabiniers became first in California to launch a line of THC-infused, nonalcoholic craft beer.

February 8

Walter Munk, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography geophysicist known as the “Einstein of the Oceans,” died in his La Jolla home. He was 101.

San Diego's Stories of 2019

San Diego’s Stories of 2019

The super bloom in Anza-Borrego | Photo: Shutterstock

February 20 declared that “Poppies Are Poppin’” when the super bloom got underway.

San Diego's Stories of 2019

San Diego’s Stories of 2019

Manny Machado | Photo: San Diego Padres/Andy Hayt

February 21

Manny Machado signed a 10-year, $300 million contract with the San Diego Padres.

February 22

North County assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath introduced state legislation to ban certain kinds of vacation rentals in beach neighborhoods in San Diego County; the bill is currently moving through Sacramento.


March 4

Alaska Airlines added a direct route to Everett, Washington. Other nonstop flights added in 2019 included Omaha and Norfolk. No Paris?

March 8

One Paseo finally opened. Kinda. Sorta. Slowly. Just the retail. Some of it, anyway.

Maureen Hodges was the first woman to receive the title of lifeguard lieutenant in the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

March 12

Federal authorities alleged a wide-ranging scandal wherein parents bribed universities to grant their child admission. Among those eventually charged? At least three parents residing in San Diego, including Elisabeth Kimmel, a previous owner of KFMB.

March 14

The California drought was pronounced officially over by the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska. The center announced it in a tweet, saying that we’d been in a drought since December 20, 2011.

March 18

Voice of San Diego reported that four men had come forward accusing Kevin Beiser, a San Diego Unified Board of Education trustee, of sexual assault and harassment. One was a former campaign manager, who sued him. The lawsuit was settled confidentially in September, and Beiser remains on the school board.

San Diego's Stories of 2019

San Diego’s Stories of 2019

Electric scooters | Photo: Shutterstock

March 19

Lime and Bird sued towing company Scoot Scoop for impounding thousands of their electric scooters. Scoot Scoop later countersued.

March 20

Legoland celebrated 20 years.

March 21

Sea World turned 55, just five years older than Comic-Con, which celebrated 50 years on the same day.

March 27

NBC reported that Carlsbad resident Toni Anderson, 74, won $150,000 in child support at once, 50 years after her divorce.

San Diego's Stories of 2019

San Diego’s Stories of 2019

Abby’s | Photo: NBC

March 28

NBC premiered Abby’s, the first-ever sitcom filmed outdoors before a live audience. Set in South Park, it was cancelled two months later.


April 2

The San Diego Fleet, our Alliance of American Football team, went out of business when the AAF suspended operations just two games shy of completing their first and only season.

San Diego's Stories of 2019

San Diego’s Stories of 2019

Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center | Photo: Gate Photography

April 5

The $82 million Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center enjoyed its grand opening. The new CEO of the La Jolla Music Society started the same day.

April 8

The San Diego Padres turned 50. (Hey, at least some of our sports teams are sticking around!)

April 16

SDSU astronomers reported their discovery of a third planet in the binary system Kepler-47, some 3,400 light-years away, making it the first known system where three planets are orbiting two stars at once.

April 18

The Plaza de Panama Committee officially scrapped their long-embattled plans to remove vehicular traffic from Balboa Park’s central plaza.

April 27

A 19-year-old shooter killed one and wounded three at the Chabad of Poway synagogue.

Sycuan Casino completed a drastic redo for a cool $260 million, and got some rad food as a result (Bull & Bourbon steakhouse, Hangry Slice, Lucha Libre), giving us more reasons to head east.

April 28

Shake Shack opened in Little Italy, the fourth San Diego County location in two years.

April 29

The public oohed and aahed at the San Diego Zoo’s last pandas, Bai Yun and her cub Xiao Liwu, before they departed for China. The two had been on loan as part of an international conservation program.

San Diegans got a glimpse of the Coronado Bridge’s future when it lit up with color-changing LEDs. The test run on a section near Barrio Logan was part of an estimated $14 million to $16 million lighting project set to be completed in 2022.


San Diego's Stories of 2019

San Diego’s Stories of 2019

San Diego Seals

May 6

San Diego’s lacrosse team, the Seals, lost in the National Lacrosse League Western Division Semifinal against the Calgary Roughnecks.

May 10

Il Dandy opened in the Mister A’s building. The Italian restaurant is helmed by a father-and-son chef team who earned a Michelin star in Calabria.

May 17

A3 Education, a network of 19 online charter schools, was indicted for a scam worth $80 million, according to Voice of San Diego.

May 20

The San Diego City Council approved Stockdale Capital Partners’ plans to turn Horton Plaza into a tech hub called “The Campus at Horton.”

San Diego's Stories of 2019

San Diego’s Stories of 2019

San Diego Gulls

May 27

The San Diego Gulls advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the first time ever and ended up falling to the Chicago Wolves in six games during the Calder Cup Playoffs.

May 28

Michelin awarded eight San Diego restaurants Bib Gourmand status in its inaugural guide to California restaurants: Campfire, Cucina Sorella, Cucina Urbana, El Jardín, Juniper & Ivy, Kettner Exchange, Lola 55, and Solare.

May 30

Old Trieste, which had been a Bay Park fine dining institution for 56 years, closed.

May 31

Sweetwater Union High School District cut 29 bus stops for four high schools where many students were depending on the buses for transportation, according to the U-T.


June 3

Addison received one Michelin star, the first and only San Diego restaurant to do so.

June 7

The USS Midway Museum turned 15.

San Diego's Stories of 2019

San Diego’s Stories of 2019

Guild Hotel | Photo: Robert Benson

June 11

The $80 million Guild Hotel opened on West Broadway in the 1924 Army Navy YMCA building.

UC San Diego launched a partnership with EvoNexus to create a new “fintech” (financial technology) hub in the city.

June 13

Susan Brown Snook became the first female bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego.

June 14

California Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins announced an $8.26 million state grant to Balboa Park to restore its Botanical Building and House of Pacific Relations International Cottages.

June 16

In only the team’s second season, the San Diego Legion made it to the Major League Rugby championships at USD’s Torero Stadium.

June 18

The Port of San Diego green-lighted the development of Chula Vista’s $1.3 billion waterfront resort and convention center.

San Diego's Stories of 2019

San Diego’s Stories of 2019

Sir Paul McCartney | Photo: Shutterstock

June 22

Sir Paul McCartney, age 77, played at Petco Park for two hours and 46 minutes straight, no intermission.

San Diego's Stories of 2019

San Diego’s Stories of 2019

Serẽa at Hotel del Coronado | Photo: Justin McChesney-Wachs

June 29

Hotel del Coronado opened its new restaurant, Serẽa, and began serving a $150 cocktail.


July 5

The day after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake—the largest in Southern California in two decades—a second one measuring 7.1 occurred. Centered 200 miles north of San Diego, it was felt all the way in Tijuana.

July 15

News broke that Vacation Isle mainstay Paradise Point Resort & Spa will be turned into a Margaritaville Island Resort. Maybe now we’ll finally find that lost shaker of salt.

July 16

The city of San Diego turned 250, and the Junípero Serra Museum celebrated with a moving ceremony that finally added the Kumeyaay Nation flag to the top of Presidio Hill, alongside those of Spain, Mexico, and the United States.

July 19

PwC reported that venture capital firms invested $808 million in San Diego companies in the second quarter of 2019.

July 24

UC San Diego surpassed its $2 billion fundraising goal three years ahead of schedule, becoming the youngest university in the country to complete a $2 billion campaign.

San Diego's Stories of 2019

San Diego’s Stories of 2019

Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins | Photo: Paula Watts

July 30

After just one year in business—during which it was the only San Diego restaurant nominated for a 2019 James Beard Award—El Jardín closed for rebranding without Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins as its head chef.


August 1

Arizona-based Times Media Group bought San Diego CityBeat. The alternative weekly’s editor, Seth Combs, was laid off on August 30.

August 2

A 30-foot slab of sandstone fell from the bluff at Grandview Beach, killing three related women with ties to Encinitas.

August 10

Animal Planet debuted the docuseries The Zoo: San Diego, a spin-off of a successful similar show about the Bronx Zoo. No pandas in ours, but we’ve got the first southern white rhino conceived by artificial insemination (born July 28).

August 21

Representative Duncan Hunter and his wife, Margaret, were indicted on charges of illegally using more than $250,000 of campaign money to float personal expenses, like vacations, shopping trips, and airfare for a pet rabbit.

San Diego's Stories of 2019

San Diego’s Stories of 2019

San Diego Symphony

August 29

San Diego Symphony broke ground on its permanent outdoor Bayside Performance Park.

Gina Champion-Cain, CEO of The Patio Group restaurants, was charged with fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The federal agency alleged that she stole $300 million from investors in a liquor-license loan scheme.


September 2

The Windmill Food Hall opened in Carlsbad. Pea Soup Andersen’s may be long gone, but the windmill keeps turning.

September 4

The New York Times published an article about San Diego’s sudden glut of electric scooters.

September 5

Waters off of Scripps Pier warmed to 78 degrees, the highest September temperature ever recorded at the 103-year-old pier.

September 7

San Diego soccer team 1904 FC played their first official match, against the LA Force. 1904 FC is part of the National Independent Soccer Association and will be playing their home games in SDCCU Stadium.

September 10

San Diegan Jenna Evans, 29, swallowed her 2.4 carat engage­ment ring while dreaming about jewelry thieves.

San Diego's Stories of 2019

San Diego’s Stories of 2019

President Trump | Photo: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

September 18

President Trump held a private fundraiser at The US Grant before visiting the border in Otay Mesa.

Del Mar’s music festival, Kaaboo, sold to Virgin Fest. But this won’t affect its partnership with the Padres (announced just three days before), and it’s still moving to Petco Park in 2020.

September 20

Animae, a $5.5 million pan-Asian restaurant from Brian Malarkey, opened in the glitzy Pacific Gate condo complex in the Embarcadero.

September 25

San Diego County began offering free preapproved floor plans for granny flats, saving homeowners about $30,000 a pop in design and permitting fees.

The median home price in San Diego fell to $584,000—the first such drop in seven years.


San Diego's Stories of 2019

San Diego’s Stories of 2019

Cross Border Xpress | Photo: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

October 1

The Cross Border Xpress pedestrian bridge to Tijuana International Airport opened a California Welcome Center. (The bridge saw a 30 percent increase in traffic from July to September 2019.)

A listing for a 200-square-foot glorified shed in University Heights made national headlines. Why? The rent: $1,100 a month. (No pets, no on-site laundry; credit score verification required.) As of press time, the unit appears to have been rented.

October 4

After 20 years representing California’s 53rd Congressional District, Susan Davis announced that she will not seek reelection next year.

October 5

Brand-new music director Rafael Payare conducted the San Diego Symphony’s dramatic season opening concert. He kicked it off with Mahler.

San Diego breweries continued their reign at this year’s Great American Beer Festival, amassing a whopping 18 medals—more than any other county and more than the entire state of Texas. Pizza Port and Lost Abbey were the big winners. Cheers!

October 8

Credit card industry billionaire T. Denny Sanford gave $350 million to National University—the largest individual or family donation in San Diego County history. It was renamed Sanford National University in his honor.

October 9

The city council’s housing committee approved the installation of movable tiny houses (halfway between a trailer and a granny flat) in backyards.

California effectively banned private prisons once their current contracts expire, and became the first state to ban privately run immigrant detention centers. Just two days earlier, a man died in ICE custody at the only such facility in San Diego, Otay Mesa Detention Center. Its contract expires in 2023.

October 10

According to ESPN, Padres minor league pitcher Jacob Nix was arrested for allegedly breaking into a Peoria, Arizona, home through the doggie door.

San Diego's Stories of 2019

San Diego’s Stories of 2019

Almost Famous | Photo: Neal Preston

October 13

Almost Famous, a stage adaptation of San Diego native Cameron Crowe’s hit film, debuted at The Old Globe.

Fashion Valley celebrated 50 years. Now they’re starting a major renovation.

October 14

The San Diego City Council adopted a $1.9 billion Community Action Plan on Homelessness.

San Diego State University publicly proposed to buy 132 acres of land in Mission Valley, including SDCCU Stadium, for $68.2 million. Two weeks later, the university increased the offer by almost $20 million.

San Diego's Stories of 2019

San Diego’s Stories of 2019

Jessica Meir | Photo: NASA

October 18

UC San Diego alum and astronaut Jessica Meir conducted her first spacewalk, to do repairs on the International Space Station—and since she was with fellow astronaut Christina Koch, it made history as the first all-female spacewalk.

October 21

The third Tijuana pipeline break in less than 30 days released 9.2 million gallons of wastewater across the border.

SeaWorld and Sesame Workshop announced they’re building a Sesame Street theme park in Chula Vista, to open in 2021 as “Sesame Place.”

October 22

Voice of San Diego reported that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra charged South Park’s Dr. Tara Zandvliet for writing kids vaccine exemptions for illegitimate reasons.

October 24

The Padres named 38-year-old Jayce Tingler their new manager.

SDG&E cut power to 8,000 customers in East County as Santa Ana winds increased the risk of wildfires. That number jumped to nearly 19,000 the following day, as the Miller Fire burned 37 acres in Valley Center.


November 24

The San Diego Convention Center turned 30.

November 23–24

Competitive sponging is back! The first National Bodyboarding Festival took place in Ocean Beach.

November 22–24

Wonderfront Festival premiered downtown.

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