The 74-year-old widow wasn’t born yesterday, and she didn’t just fall off the turnip truck either (whatever the heck that means). When a lady came to her door in City Heights and offered to repair her fence, paint her house and bring in new landscaping, all for free, the woman figured the obvious: It was a scam.

Nobody does this sort of thing for free, right? Especially in a low-income part of town that’s vulnerable to con artists.

But there was no scam. The lady at the door represented an organization that’s fighting to stop the blight in City Heights. As we report, volunteers “scour the neighborhood, identify code violations and ask homeowners to fix them, sometimes providing money and workers to help.”

Our story reveals how the community effort works, where it gets its funding and why it’s turning things around.

In other news:

  • Our latest San Diego Explained with NBC 7/39 breaks down desalination, showing why it has so much promise in arid San Diego but still has a few hurdles to cross before it becomes a major part of our water supply.
  • A major ratings agency “issued a report that fired a shot across the bow of municipal governments talking about bankruptcy. The message? Stop.” Maybe that’s why the mayor’s been on the anti-bankruptcy offensive.
  • The San Diego school district has raised the idea of cutting teacher salaries by 8 percent, and guess what: teachers hate the idea. They’re especially miffed because they make less, on average, than teachers in some other districts. (The average salary was $64,318 last year.)

    But as we report, there’s more to the story: San Diego schools are better staffed with teachers than some of those elsewhere.

    Also in education: A school official who was jilted by the high school district in the South Bay “may vie for a spot on its board — a move that could put her in charge of the superintendent who demoted her.” And we’ve got details about fundraising for San Diego school board candidates.

  • She was maybe in, then out, then she was sort of back in, and now she’s definitely out. We’re talking about San Diego school board member Shelia Jackson, who says she’s not running for county supervisor after all.
  • Numbers run when they see our real-estate columnist coming because they know they’re going to be crunched big time. In today’s column, Rich Toscano checks housing statistics and finds that local monthly mortgage payments are about as low as they’ve ever been.
  • We’ve got a lot more on our site today: a new editorial cartoon that questions the county’s spending priorities in the wake of our Out of Reach investigation (yes, it did support a holiday dog festival), a patriotic Photo of the Day (Hello, sailor!) and a Fact Check blog post examining a claim about rising cyber crime.


  • The state controller says the county made $539,000 in payments to In-Home Supportive Services clients or employees who happen to be deceased in 2008. (KPBS)
  • Carlsbad self-help guru James A. Ray was arrested and jailed yesterday in connection with those sweat-lodge deaths in Arizona. He’s facing manslaughter charges. (NYT)
  • In the U-T: Councilwoman Donna Frye rapped Port Commissioner Steve Cushman on his use of the word “negos” to “describe environmentalists and civic activists who object to several port projects.” It turns out there is such a slang word (who knew?), but it still reminds people of another term. … Two incumbents running for county supervisor are way ahead in the fundraising race.

Finally, we’d like to thank all of you who attended our fifth anniversary party last night and everyone else who’s helped us thrive for half a decade. All of us on the team are thankful for your generosity and proud to be worthy of your support.

And I’d like to personally thank those of you who mentioned how much you like waking up with me five days a week. I appreciate it. Just please stop hogging the blankets, would ya? It’s cold in here!


Dagny Salas

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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