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To save $1 million a year, the mayor will fold the Planning Department into the department in charge of processing building permits, the Development Services Department. This has planners and advocates of organized growth worried.
Bill Anderson, the city’s planning director, explains why: “Development Services tends to say, ‘Do you meet the regulations, yes or no?’ Planning is about saying, ‘Are you meeting the intent of the policy and the vision?’”
“My biggest fear is that there will be a loss of recognition of the importance of thinking beyond permit processing as we think about the future of San Diego,” said Michael Stepner, who worked in city planning from 1971 to 1997.
In other words, if the newly combined department is mostly about approving developer’s plans, it might not be making sure that neighborhoods have things like fire stations and parks, and that they don’t become a jumble of high-rises, single family homes, junkyards and warehouses.
There’s a deflated-looking Pinocchio above a banner that says “false” next to our latest Fact Check, this one about Councilman Carl DeMaio’s claim that “Right now under the city of San Diego, we provide every employee with Medicare.” Poor puppet! He keeps getting jerked around.
DeMaio did say in an interview that he believes city employees who aren’t Medicare eligible should receive city coverage. “If a city employee is not Medicare eligible, I have no problem providing a reasonable health insurance allowance. I have always had that position and I have factored that into all our retiree health care reform proposals.”
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Pensive on Pensions
We shot a San Diego Explained video with our media partner NBC San Diego. At Legoland! The visuals are more about building blocks than they are about gushing water slides as we explain the proposal to move new city employees (minus police) to a 401(k) plan.
The results of our first members-only survey are in: 64% of those who responded feel that the widening of I-5 should be postponed until other transit projects are completed.
School Reform Time-Out
This is the pact that’s guiding school reform in San Diego. At least, that’s what it’s supposed to do. It’s been disrupted by a rift, a “breakup between San Diego Unified and the teachers union.” It’s not supposed to be about bickering between powerful factions. It’s supposed to be about cooperation and data-sharing between teachers, among other things.
An advocacy group for medical marijuana collectives sent a letter to City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, threatening to sue. The argument is that the new city ordinance requiring all collectives to not operate near certain other kinds of businesses amounts to a de facto ban.
At LGBT Weekly, three people give their opinion on the marijuana collective ordinance. Councilman Todd Gloria has a nuanced view that is cautiously for it, though he says, “I remain concerned that the zoning restrictions in the ordinance place cooperatives out of the city’s central neighborhoods. This hurts the sickest patients the most because they are the ones who are unable to travel long distances for their medication. Ironically, cooperatives have been zoned out of some of the communities most supportive of them, including some neighborhoods in District 3.”
San Diego Reader gives us Walter Mencken’s “almost factual news” satire which includes the subheadline “Padres Manager Works with Old Friends to Open Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Petco Park.” If Bud Black and his players have medical marijuana prescriptions, that might explain the Padres poor hitting.
Good News: Criminal Unemployment Is Up
Journalism, We Have Some
Is there a high school journalist in your life? Make sure they know about our VOSD Awards for Excellence in High School Journalism. There’s a $500 prize. The deadline is one week from today.
Three other journalism tidbits:
• Former San Diego City Councilman Jim Madaffer plans to start a newspaper in La Mesa, Mount Helix Patch reports. Madaffer and his wife already publish the Mission Times Courier and Mission Valley News.
It’s not uncommon for local politicians to be shown grinning on the front pages of a community newspaper. But it’s not everyday that the article is written by the politician’s mother — in a newspaper owned by the politician and published by his wife. … Rarely does a story about City Hall pass without at least a passing reference to Madaffer’s efforts, if not a friendly pat on the back.
• Speaking of pats on the back, Fast Company magazine named voiceofsandiego.org California’s example of bold ideas that are changing cities and economies, for which we thank them.
• And Annabel Crabb of The Drum on ABC, the Australian broadcast network, also recently came by our office to ask some questions. She gave us a nice write-up.
Ode to a Library
A stylish bunch of Logan Heights teenagers sing a sweet love song to libraries, their submission to the American Library Association’s “Why I Need My Library” contest. Let’s hope it moves some hearts: both city and school libraries are in jeopardy.