The Morning Report
Get the news and information you need to take on the day.
Just because the sun goes down doesn’t mean San Diego’s lifeguards all clock out and head home.
The city actually maintains a crew of four to patrol the shores at night, and that unit could get halved as soon as this summer as City Hall searches for ways to close a $70 million budget gap.
Randy Dotinga explains the adventures-gone-wrong that the lifeguards deal with:
“Boats catch fire, run aground, and sink in the moonlight. Kayakers capsize during sudden storms as they search for fish. Scuba divers get stuck in kelp, riptides snag booze-addled skinny dippers, and every now and then some bonehead decides to jump off the Ocean Beach pier.”
These are the tangible services at stake for San Diegans as city leaders continue to grasp for plans to solve its enduring financial crisis.
Last week, we showed how the city had essentially stopped maintaining its famous fleet of palm trees because of its financial problems, putting the burden on residents to keep potentially dangerous fronds in check.
• So just how will the city deal with its financial mess now that Proposition D failed? Scott Lewis and I explained the post-election storylines and the impending showdown between city services and employee benefits in our weekly radio program. We also hand out the awards for Hero and Goat of the Week.
• The fans and architects of the secret late-night deal that lifted the limits on downtown redevelopment have offered a variety of explanations for their actions. It was all about creating jobs, they said. Others have argued that the deal actually didn’t do much — it was more of a technicality, an argument belied by their vocal support for it.
The deal’s main player, Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, has been trying out a new one lately. His argument: The deal kept our local tax money from going to Sacramento’s “black hole.”
Our Scott Lewis put on his Fact Check cap and has determined that statement to be misleading. The billions of dollars of property taxes that will now be diverted to subsidize downtown construction would’ve stayed here in San Diego absent Fletcher’s actions, going to schools, the city, the county and special districts.
Fletcher offers up a response (and a pat on the head) for Lewis, saying he understands the issue is complex and it’s easy for people to be confused.
As a native Milwaukeean, I first had a hard time accepting San Diego as the nation’s new beer hotspot. I now have matured and repented. Plus, it’s good for the local economy. As one famous San Diegan said to NBC: “It’s like one of the clusters we have. It’s like biotech and hi-tech and now we’ve got brew-tech.”
• In news that’s related in more ways than one, local biotech Life Technologies helped Ozzy Osbourne read through a complete collection of his genes and the results were recently announced: His genes say he is distantly related to Jesse James, bad at recognizing odors and could be “a very good mother,” according to Scientific American.
Ozzy and his wife, Sharon, were at the conference. Sharon confirmed many scientists’ worst fears by telling the audience, “At the end of the world, there will be cockroaches, Ozzy and Keith Richards.”
Where does all this fit in? Earlier this summer we took a look at the race between two local companies to sequence a full genome for under $1,000. The companies have been using celebrities’ genomes to drum up publicity.
• It’s unfortunately referred to as the General Plan but should have a name more befitting of its importance and interest, like the Really Cool Plan for How San Diego Grows and Looks in the Future.
Regardless, it’s a plan that’s being updated right now and one potential proposal would make it more difficult for developers to get around the backcountry’s growth rules. (NC Times)
• Home sales are down 19 percent and inventory is up 32 percent from the same time last year, writes Rich Toscano. So it is no surprise that prices have drifted downward of late,” he says. “Nor should we be surprised if they continue to do so in the near future.”
• We’ve added a new twist to our partnership with NBC. Now, Kelly Bennett will be doing a weekly installment of Behind the Scenes TV, looking at the region’s art scene. In the latest edition, she toured a converted warehouse in the East Village that’s being used for both living space and studios for artists. (Our Morning Report on Saturday incorrectly described the program’s subject. We regret that and hope to make up for it with this.)
• The burrowing owl is a unique creature, as the name suggests. It’s the only owl to make its nest below ground.
Its numbers are dwindling, and that could be a potential harbinger for the larger ecosystem, the Union-Tribune reports.
We took an in-depth look at the life and decline of the burrowing owl a couple of years ago that began like this:
“To find two of the county’s last burrowing owls, you will need four-wheel drive, a key to a padlocked gate and a hearty knowledge of the sage-covered wilderness near the base of Otay Mountain.
There, on rolling hills owned by the city of San Diego, two of the tiny birds have made their homes in man-made burrows in the ground — sections of buried plastic pipe with rock-ringed openings at either end. But the tiny colony of artificial burrows, 23 potential owl homes in all, sits mostly empty. No other owls have found them.”
That’s recommended reading. Not only is it informative, but as one of our staff members has learned, it turns out it’s a great icebreaker at parties.