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These still aren’t glory days for the biotech industry, which plays a major role in San Diego’s economy. But people are beginning to turn their frowns upside down — and not with the help of some new antidepressant they helped develop.

“You see a lot more smiles in one day than you did in a week of meetings last year,” declared one attendee at this week’s Biocom investor conference here. The reason? Money is flowing into biotech once again.

But, as our report puts it, there’s reason for caution too: “entrepreneurs acknowledged that the easy credit days are gone, perhaps for good, and that financing for the youngest of companies is scarce, and will likely stay that way for the foreseeable future.”

In other news:

  • In the Golden Hill neighborhood, property owners pay special taxes through something called a maintenance assessment district to fund things like sidewalk sweeping, tree trimming, and graffiti removal.

    But a judge is expected to make a final ruling as early as this week that could kill off the assessment district, leaving Golden Hill residents in limbo and forcing officials to rethink the whole idea of these districts.

  • Susan Davis, a local congresswoman, is telling the nation’s homeland security secretary to fix the barren hillsides left behind when the feds built the border fence near the Tijuana Estuary. The county may step into the fray too.
  • Our online water forum continues with a panelist’s look what water users don’t know: how to read their water meters and their bills (they’re exasperatingly complicated) and how to figure out the best ways to save.
  • Three locally based research teams garnered $55.6 million from the California stem cell institute. And we look into a claim that the city could have resolved its outsourcing issues years ago if it had just followed the lead of the county.

    Elsewhere:

  • A new poll of 505 San Diegans about medical-marijuana dispensaries says “nearly two-thirds of the city’s adults favor allowing the shops as long as they are regulated,” the U-T reports.

    The pollster found an interesting sample: those surveyed tended to be educated (20 percent have advanced degrees like M.D.s and Ph.D.s) and almost half are left-leaning (49.6 percent said they were “very liberal” or “somewhat liberal”). You can read the survey results here in PDF.

  • The county is looking to donate property to the state so it can build a 17-story court complex downtown. (U-T)
  • The LAT looks at Hollywood’s grisly Museum of Death, which used to be housed in downtown San Diego and displays mementos of the Heaven’s Gate mass suicides.
  • The LAT also examines school-dance dress codes and notes that Rancho Bernardo High has strict rules regarding northern and southern exposure. One regulation: dresses can’t show cleavage. No word on what happens if chubby guys wear tight shirts with low necklines.

    Finally, a bit of history: today is the 80th anniversary of the 1929 stock market crash that ushered in the Great Depression.

    The Hollywood newspaper Variety had the next day’s most famous headline: “Wall St. Lays an Egg.” But at the time, San Diego’s newspapers didn’t realize the importance of Black Tuesday and gave it less-than-sensational coverage.

    The San Diego Union, for example, found bigger news to report the next morning in an eight-column front-page headline: “Call Local Officials in Federal Quiz.” Catchy! (You can see the front page here.)

    The mayor, police chief and coroner had been called to testify in a case alleging a police raid on bootleggers had been fixed.

    San Diego city officials called to testify in court? Imagine!

— RANDY DOTINGA

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