The Norman Park Senior Center is ground zero in Chula Vista’s municipal mess.

It served 2,500 people and was open from morning until night. Now, it’s open only four hours a day and, when the city considered closing it in November, caused a senior revolt, complete with a human chain.

City leaders spared the center, for now. But as reporter Will Carless has found as he’s explored the South Bay city, Chula Vistans off all ages remain on edge as their city deals with its boomtime hangover.

“I was part of the boom, now I’m part of the bust,” the center’s supervisor, who was lured to Chula Vista in 2003, tells Carless. “I went from the fastest growing city to the fastest foreclosing city.”

In this installment, Carless takes us inside a bustling senior center that means a lot to so many people. He previously set the table for the tale of a city in crisis, broke down the pension deal officials hope can mend the budget and explained the stripped-down services it can now provide.

Stay tuned for more from Chula Vista’s saga this week.

Promise for Forgotten Bus Service

Transportation planners widened the El Cajon Boulevard and University Avenue bridges over Interstate 15 to make up for the destruction the freeway’s construction had on City Heights. The idea: Create special stations for an ultra-efficient bus system. But those new bridges have sat empty, complete with closed bathrooms, waiting for the actual bus stations to materialize. Now, there are new plans for bus routes on the 15: Two would use those special bus overpasses that cost $45 million to build, but one wouldn’t.

In other bus news: North County’s bus system is getting an overhaul, and current plans have the busy places getting more attention and the less busy places getting, well, less attention. (North County Times)

We Have Jobs, But Nobody to Fill Them

Perhaps a more efficient transit system could help us here: San Diego tech companies can’t fill thousands of jobs they have open, losing out to places with higher prestige (Silicon Valley) or lower costs of living (Austin and Raleigh). Leaders say the region still struggles with its reputation as a tourist town rather than a high-tech hotspot. 

The Spy Entrepreneur

Duane Clarridge might be hiring — if you’ve got experience as a spy in the Middle East. The New York Times recently told a gripping tale of a shadow, private CIA operating abroad but being run from Clarridge’s San Diego home. He didn’t talk to the NYT, but the North County Times tracked him down for an interview, and learned, among other things, that he lunches with his Taser.

VOSD Radio: Neighborhoods, Schools and Stadiums

In the latest installment of VOSD Radio, Scott Lewis and I give a primer on redevelopment and how it touches on so many quality-of-life issues, from neighborhoods and schools to the possible home of a professional football team. We also hand out our Hero (Michael Zucchet) and Goat (Walmart) of the Week.

The Battle Over Horse Races and Fried Foodstuffs on a Stick

One city councilman describes it as “the black hole in our city.” The Del Mar Fairgrounds’ steady stream of events, from the horse races to gun and reptile shows, doesn’t exactly square with the Del Mar’s tony beach town image. The LA Times’ Tony Perry takes a step back and looks at the city’s attempt to buy the fairgrounds and the complicated relationship between the city and its most famous monument.

He includes this tidbit: “Del Mar restaurant owners complain that their business suffers during the annual county fair because local residents stay home to avoid the traffic while fair patrons — a record 1.3 million last summer — prefer the fried bananas, zucchini on a stick, Polish sausage and cinnamon rolls at the fair.”

Latest on Stingaree Accident

The gruesome accident outside of the Stingaree night club over the weekend grabbed lots of attention. The Union-Tribune has a follow-up with witnesses describing what happened in the moments after a cab driver slammed into a crowd of people outside.

Get Married Late! One Night Only!

Attention rushed romantics: The County Clerk’s Office is staying open late today to accommodate Valentine’s Day weddings. Just remember, what happens at the County Administration Building doesn’t stay at the County Administration Building. (10News)

For those of you interested in something a little less binding than marriage, NBC San Diego has 21 ideas of things to do today.

And, if you were planning on decorating the Cardiff Kook today, well, someone already beat you to it. Just watch out. I’m not exactly sure what happens if you get struck by this Cupid’s arrow. (CBS 8)

You can reach me at or 619.325.0526. Follow me on Twitter: @AndrewDonohue.

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