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Our list of the year’s 10 most popular stories suggests that readers like it when people take matters into their own hands. And it really helps if naked people, the Chargers, condos and/or natural disasters are involved. (Please alert us immediately if a story ever involves all of those things. And take pictures.)

All of these stories got tons of hits in 2010: Would-be nude bicyclists went to court to expand the definition of free speech. A Hillcrest man decided to stop waiting for the city and fix a pothole himself. La Jolla condo owners filed suit against the people who built their homes. Chargers fans discovered ways to ignore a TV blackout, science researchers found San Diego State to be a better bet than UCSD, and downtown homebuyers paid cash amid a credit crunch.

Other biggies were articles about Union-Tribune layoffs, the Easter Sunday earthquake, Mission Valley flooding, and the housing market’s “shadow inventory.”

Walmart Swings for the Fences:

Walmart’s campaign against the city’s new anti-superstore ordinance may bear fruit: a coalition supported by the chain has gathered about 54,000 signatures in a bid to force the City Council to either revoke new regulations or call for a pricey ($2.8 million to $3.4 million) special election. Now the city clerk’s office will check to see if the required 32,741 signatures are there. (U-T)

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It’s possible that there might not be enough verified names. Earlier this year, a signature-gathering effort failed spectacularly when a spot check revealed that there were hordes of duplicate signatures. But it’s hard to imagine that happening twice unless local petition-gatherers have some serious quality-control issues.

If there is enough support, the council will face a tough choice between backing down (at a possible risk to their careers) or spending millions on an election (not exactly a career-boosting move, either).

The Man Behind a ‘Historic Barrio’:

“Greater Logan Heights” doesn’t really have a good ring to it, especially when you consider that the neighborhoods within it (including Logan Heights and Sherman Heights) have their own identities. Enter a new moniker: “The Historic Barrio District.”

Jerry Guzman-Vergara, a young activist, helped push the name forward. In this week’s Q&A, he tells us about his goals for his community, the pluses and minuses of gentrification and the risk that the area’s new name excludes the African-American residents of the area. He also talks about a closed park, the hazards of redevelopment and a woman who thought it was newsworthy that a white woman was seen walking her dog.

Notable and Quotable:

If you created an index of our list of the most memorable quotes of the past year, it might look something like this:

• Bilbray, Mrs., ability to keep congressman husband on tight leash

• F*ing insane, City Hall employee’s progression into state of being

• Hale-Bopp, San Diego councilman’s alleged origins in

• Kennedy, President John F., apparent lack of interest in non-glamorous, non-rich, non-voluptuous women

• Poop, reported presence of a pony in

There’s more in our list of quotations worth remembering: “jack weenie,” the trouble with doughnut shops, the hoped-for hideousness of stripper attire, and the woman who’s the mayor’s “son of a bitch.”

Thank Goodness That’s Over!

Surprise! San Diego’s mammoth financial problems are done-ski. That’s according to BusinessWeek, which says the city’s fiscal crisis was resolved in 2009 in a story about how difficult municipal bankruptcy can be.

This will come as news to just about everyone in the 619 or 858 area codes. Those barely open libraries, insufficient street repairs and fire department brownouts must be some sort of mirage. (Worst. Mirage. Ever.)

Keeping You Schooled in 2011:

Which education jobs and programs are more dispensable than others? Do voters have too much sway over who sits on the San Diego school board? Where does education reform go from here?

Also: How important are neighborhood schools? And how will two new school board members — a budget wonk and a middle school teacher — fit in?

These are five of the big questions that will face local public schools over the next year. We take a closer look at these issues with an eye toward what’s coming next in each of these areas.

Happy New (Arts) Year:

Several ongoing stories in the local arts world will keep our journalists busy in the year ahead. Among other things, we’ll keep an eye on how the city fits — or doesn’t fit — arts funding into its new budget. Some funding for public art is already in trouble, and a councilman is pushing to cut even more.

We’ll also track how financial woes are affecting private arts organizations like Lyric Opera San Diego, which sent out a desperate plea for donations a few weeks ago. We’ll continue to chronicle how artists, to borrow a phrase from reality TV, manage to make it work. As for me personally, I’ll still mourn the fact that our new arts blog isn’t titled “Who Arted?”

More Than Fairly Expensive in Fairbanks Ranch:

The exclusive North County community of Fairbanks Ranch is the fifth most expensive small town in the entire country, BusinessWeek says, with just over 2,200 people and an average home price of — you better sit down for this — $2,552,340. Rancho Santa Fe is a bit behind: it’s at No. 11 (average home price: $1,843,950).

How the Mighty Have Fallen:

A “much beloved metal sculpture dinosaur” in La Jolla may be on its last (big) legs: a recent storm knocked over a tree that then downed the 14-foot-tall T. Rex. “The dinosaur’s pretty messed up,” its owner tells the La Jolla Light. “There’s much discussion and debate about the next step.”

Um… fossil kebabs?

One Last Note for 2010:

Over the past year, we’ve done our best to engage your brain, tug at your heart and maybe even tickle a funny bone. We’re proudest of our series that shed light on the needy, the powerful and the political, not to mention a young man who may finally be able to hear the world.

Thanks for letting us be part of your lives and for putting up with my lame jokes and rude remarks in the Morning Report. I’ll continue to provide your recommended daily allowance of both in 2011.

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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