Traffic stinks on several local freeways during rush hours, but still we drive, leaving buses, trolleys and trains behind. Is local public transportation more of a hassle (and more expensive) for most people? The bigger question: Will anything ever get San Diegans out of their cars?

We may get an answer over the next four decades. That’s when local officials plan to spend $100 billion on transportation projects like roads and train tracks. Should freeways and streets get the lion’s share or public transportation? The county’s association of governments is in the middle of planning and getting pressure from transit advocates who want growth to go in a different direction.

Money for Something, But What?

What should the city do with downtown redevelopment money? It could be spent on a stadium or pay down debt. Or build more affordable housing. Or it could be diverted, maybe, into city coffers. We check in with the mayor’s office to get perspective on what people are thinking.

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Memories of the Way We Worked:

This year, our People at Work specialist Kelly Bennett profiled a welder apprentice, a tattoo artist, and a woman who sews the clothes that strippers wear (or don’t), among other folks.

Now Bennett is our arts editor, and she’s focusing on artists at work. In a new post, we use words and images to revisit profiles written by Bennett and others.

Non-Paying Parents:

Earlier this year, San Diego schools began charging some parents more than $300 a year so their kids can ride the bus to school. But only about half of the families of 5,000 kids have paid up.

Kids from poor families are exempt, as are the disabled. The district, however, doesn’t have a firm way to enforce the new rules. The upshot: the district may make less money than it planned.

Reprieve for a UCSD Student:

The UCSD grad student who faced deportation despite more than two decades in the U.S. has gotten a reprieve: he can stick around and go to school for at least another year. (U-T) His situation is unlike that of most other illegal immigrants: his father, a Philippines activist who was shot, tried to get asylum here.

Après L’Histoire, Le Déluge:

Our story recapping the major flood risk facing Mission Valley attracted a bunch of comments, which we summarize in a new post. Readers disagree over who’s at fault and what can be done to fix things so Mission Valley doesn’t disappear with the rain some day. I’ll add my opinion: If the big honkin’ floodwaters come, save the Costco! My life won’t be complete without jokes about 36-packs of toilet paper.

A Little Dip Will Do Ya:

So much for the itty-bitty housing boom. A new report says San Diego home prices fell by 1.5 percent in October, the steepest drop in quite a while. As always, this report — known as Case-Schiller — is a bit behind the times. But our Rich Toscano says it does confirm his suspicions about falling prices and shows that things are worse (at least for those trying to sell) than he thought. And if things are worse than Toscano thinks — he’s not one to gallivant around smelling roses and gushing about the wonderfulness of it all — then that’s not good.

That’s One Pricey Printer:

In education, a shuttered charter school and its former principal are being sued by an Illinois financial company that accuses them of failing to pay more than $37,000 they owe for a digital printer and copier. The school’s leader was the topic of a special report in our pages two years ago.

Isn’t It Ironic:

CityBeat’s political analyst John R. Lamb ponders who might run for mayor in 2012. (Answer: Everybody.) He also notes that things might not be rosy for Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher if he gets to be called “Hizzoner.” “What if Fletcher, Prince of the Late-Night Redevelopment Cap Hike Caper, finds himself powerless in redevelopment matters, as some City Council members now want the mayor to be? That would seemingly take a lot of fun out of an otherwise thankless job.”

But wouldn’t he still get to cut ribbons and stuff?

Snap, Crackle and Pop:

Earlier this week, engagement editor Grant Barrett told you how he discovered a “geocache” while taking a walk at Mission Trails Regional Park. (No, I didn’t know what a geocache was either. And yes, I do think this story deserves a nomination as the nerdiest VOSD post of the year. Grant is definitely gotten a good start toward a Lifetime Nerd Achievement Award.)

Now Grant is wondering why there are so many desiccated snail shells all over the place — hundreds or even thousands of them along one side of a trail, but not the other. Some seemed as though they’d been there for years. (Someone should have a word with their designer about biodegradability.)

Was there some sort of snail epidemic? A snepidemic, perhaps? A snapocalypse? Grant has an answer and plenty of details about snails and their predators, including an animal with the awesome name of “devil’s coach horse.”

Tip It:

Another one of those city-ranking stories is out, with this one listing the 40 drunkest cities in the United States. No. 1 is Milwaukee and No. 10 is San Diego, where residents throw back an average of 12.44 drinks a month. We’re one of the only Sun Belt cities to make the top of the list, suggesting that maybe we’re especially big on outdoor living and indoor imbibing (at least since it became harder to legally guzzle booze at the beach).

Or maybe just one guy (or gal) is doing all the boozing for the rest of us and boosting the average. You know what they say: functioning livers are for wussies.

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga

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

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