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For more than two decades, a small group of Cambodian refugees farmed a two-acre plot of land in City Heights. And for more than two decades, the non-profit agency leasing the land let them stay.

That’s all come to an end now. The city is booting the refugees, although there don’t seem to be any immediate plans to do anything with the property other than clear it.

“I was very sad because it is a big waste,” a 60-year-old woman tells us, weaving a story of her life in America — the banana tree that grew taller than her, the oregano and squash, and the farm that still draws her past a chain link fence that’s supposed to keep her out.

In Other News:

• Now here’s a unique approach to the problem of not having enough open space. The folks pushing for an expansion of the downtown convention center have unveiled new plans that include a rooftop park. That may not sound too unusual: roofs have been home to plenty of things, from lounges where newspaper columnists meet cute to a famous Beatles concert. But this one is a biggie: the proposed park would be five acres.

It certainly sounds … interesting. But if it includes a playground and sandbox, kids can just forget about digging all the way to China.

• San Diego is home to the Martin Luther King Jr. Freeway (part of State Route 94) and briefly renamed downtown’s Market Street after the civil rights leader in the 1980s. Now a street in southeastern San Diego bears King’s name thanks to a community group’s efforts.

• Are city budget cuts taking a toll on your local public park? We’re working on a story and would love to talk to you about your park and what you expect from it.

• The conversation on our site about the U-T’s arts coverage is continuing, now featuring more back-and-forth between the paper’s former arts critic and one of his critics. And an editor at San Diego Magazine has weighed in, calling for less whining and more practicality (“it’s not nearly as satisfying as complaining”) through creativity regarding arts coverage funding.

• Also in arts, our new Guide from the Inside blog takes a look at a local mentorship program for beginning-and-good artists who want to break into the scene. “If their work is hidden in their garage, it doesn’t just hurt them, it hurts society,” the founder of the Fine Art Society tells us. “It is important for art to be seen.”

• The Photos of the Day capture San Diego at night — there’s an evocative shot of palm trees under the clouds — and night-duty lifeguards on the job. Earlier this week we explained how cutbacks may cut their numbers in half even though the beaches and ocean don’t empty out when the sun sets.

Elsewhere:

A stranded Carnival cruise ship with 4,400 people on board is expected to arrive in San Diego Thursday night, courtesy of tugboats. For now, Carnival says in the U-T, passengers are busying themselves with “children’s activities, trivia contests and musical performances provided by our entertainers.”


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Good heavens.

• A Sacramento TV station is questioning why some of the region’s cities spent a bundle to send representatives to a meeting of California cities in San Diego last September.

• Finally, there’s a celebration today in the Gaslamp in memory of Bum, a popular downtown dog who died 112 years ago and is memorialized in a statue. (U-T)

A local history book from 1907 includes a photo of Bum and says he marched at the head of processions and funerals, gleefully accompanied firefighters to flames and mostly viewed other dogs with “lofty contempt.” When his last days finally came in 1898, the county board of supervisors allowed Bum to live in comfort at the county hospital.

During his life, “he was a welcome visitor in every store and public place,” the book says. Bum had to be careful around saloons, though: he was a “habitual drunkard” until his Chinese owner helped him get back on the wagon, presumably in San Diego’s mostly forgotten Chinatown neighborhood. But who turned him into a lush into the first place? Maybe it’s one of of the gentlemen in this old downtown photo. The little girl looks suspicious too. That innocent look must be a front, dontcha think?

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com...

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