The data is clear: 17th and K in the East Village is the place to get hard drugs in San Diego.

“If you want to buy crack and you’re living in Poway, you’re going to 17th and K,” said Bob McElroy, the president of the Alpha Project, which runs the city’s winter homeless shelter nearby.

Despite all that has happened to transform the East Village and downtown into a thriving national model of urban renaissance, it hasn’t changed this enclave’s reputation in San Diego as the place to get drugs on the street. And no amount of police presence seems to impact it either.

Our story takes a look at the area and what local business owners, police and activists think about it.

  • Every month, for years now, writer Kelly Bennett has profiled a random San Diegan and what they do to make a living. This month, she follows an Iraq war veteran who is trying to make it as a welder. Local veterans have a higher than average unemployment rate as they leave the guarantees of the military for a badly damaged economy. Jesse Townsend found a path through a program called Veterans in Piping. And it will be interesting to check in with him as he tries to forge a career at home. 
  • Rich Toscano updated his home price-per-square-foot graphic today pointing out that though home prices are higher than they were last year, they’ve flattened out. “The seasonally strong period approaches again.  But so does the date when the Fed will allegedly stop directly propping up the mortgage market.”
  • We have a new edition of San Diego Fact Check TV posted here. It was me flying solo this week.
  • Also, if you’re still in the video mode, we’ve posted an engaging interview with Yasmin Hamud, a Somali immigrant who started the Center for Bridging Communities, which helps other young Somalis in San Diego prepare for college. The video comes to us via our partners, the Media Arts Center.


  • California’s Legislature and governor have boosted efforts to build new football stadiums in California recently — helping their planners bypass environmental laws and some of the other hurdles to constructing big projects like that. But the U-T reports that local Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña is now pushing a bill that would prohibit taxpayer subsidies for those stadiums unless the NFL agrees not to black out games that it can’t sell out.
  • The New York Times on Sunday profiled a group of female Marines in Camp Pendleton prepping for a new experiment in Afghanistan. The women will accompany men on patrols and try to engage Afghan women in conversation as the military continues to try to win over the hearts and minds of people there. “As envisioned, the teams will work like American politicians who campaign door to door and learn what voters care about,” the Times reports.
  • Finally, obviously there was some terrible news in the case of the missing Amber Dubois. The U-T has the best story up about all that we now know about it, including the claim by a private investigator that the tip on the location of Dubois’ remains didn’t come from the man charged with murdering Chelsea King. 

Many have reflected on the difference in attention given to the two girls’ disappearances. Local AP writer, Eliot Spagat, had a thought-provoking piece up Saturday about the distinctive public responses to the two cases. “Perhaps the biggest determinant in getting the attention of law enforcement and reporters is whether there are signs of foul play that may put other children at risk.”

I would agree with Spagat but add a few more factors. Crucial to getting a child’s disappearance the kind of attention that delivers results is not only that but the ability of the parents to create so-called “reportable events” — searches, candlelight vigils, etc. This is easier when you have a wide network of friends, or associates at churches, workplaces or whatever who you can immediately activate. They must also succeed in communicating just how mysteriously and abruptly the teen vanished. King’s did: She went jogging and never got back to her car.

And yet Dubois’ story somehow got muddied. I was a reporter in Utah in 2002 and tried to dissect why and how Elizabeth Smart’s abduction became such a national event when others didn’t.

There’s no easy answer, but clearly, the more confounding the mystery, the more attention it attracts. Attention can lead to tips and, eventually, to closure. It did for Smart and now — perhaps because of the awareness King’s loss provoked — Dubois too.


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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