San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood is hardly a sparkling example of urban living. Still, it’s better than it used to be, and that’s largely thanks to a bookish-looking man who’s spent two decades trying to beat back the decline spawned by cheaply made housing.

Now, the director of the nonprofit City Heights Community Development Corp. is retiring amid a boom in philanthropic interest in the neighborhood. We check in with Jay Powell, who’s still mightily annoyed by the stubborn signs of neglect.

“City Heights has been through a disaster,” he tells us. “But it’s been this attenuated, long-term disaster. It’s not like, bam! The tsunami came through. Or, boom! The earthquake came through and knocked stuff out. It’s the cumulative impact of allowing this rampant, unbridled and inappropriate densification.”

Good News Isn’t Necessarily Great News for Schools

San Diego’s schools are happy that a new revised state budget proposal may forestall some cuts, but the district’s staff is warning that it’s not time to go gonzo with a rollback of the rollback, especially since budget estimates aren’t reliable.

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Medical Marijuana Drive May Force Undo

Advocates of medical marijuana dispensaries in the city may have gathered enough signatures to force the City Council to either hold a special election at a cost of millions or kill its plans to drastically curtail the shops, CityBeat reports. The signatures are due Friday and still need to be verified. “I would suspect the council would vote to repeal it in order to save the taxpayers the cost of $3 million at a time when we’re trying to restore library hours,” Councilman Todd Gloria told the paper.

Still, just having gathered a lot of signatures is no guarantee that enough are valid, as signature collectors learned last year.

More Nitty-Gritty on the Lake that Helps Us Live

After telling you about the lack of planning for the possible day when the Colorado River stops meeting the water needs of millions of people, we’re answering questions about Lake Mead, the gigantic reservoir that helps keep us from drying out.

In other water news, the U-T reports that SDG&E is using 300,000 gallons of tap water a day to build its mammoth power transmission line although it made a big deal out of using recycled water.

“The company never promised to use recycled water, and is not required to by law,” the U-T says. “Executives say they have run into similar obstacles as other developers with this goal, including regulatory delays.” The Sierra Club, however, isn’t letting SDG&E off the hook.

Fact-Checking Waste Disposal

A state senator says “the per-capita amount of waste disposed in the county has dropped in the past five years as recycling has increased.” That sounds like good news. It may be just that, but San Diego Fact Check finds that the claim isn’t entirely true.

Going After Chula Vista’s Cell Phone Tax

An attorney is targeting Chula Vista’s controversial tax on cell phones, potentially setting the stage for a damaging raid on city coffers.

Community Leader Dies at 55

Debra Stephens, a leader in the African-American community who was active in organizations ranging from the Urban League and Catfish Club to the NAACP and Martin Luther King Jr. Foundation, has died at the age of 55, the U-T says. Lincoln High, her alma mater, has posted a video featuring Stephens.

Anti-Circumcision Group Tries to Snip Practice

A San Diego-based anti-circumcision organization has placed a measure on the ballot in San Francisco that would outlaw the practice, and now it’s trying to do the same thing in Santa Monica, the LAT reports. The group, called MGM Bill (that’s short for “male genital mutilation”) says circumcision is akin to female genital mutilation and wants to ban it, even for religious reasons, unless it’s medically necessary.

Last year, CityBeat examined local ties to the anti-circumcision movement.

You Get a Statue! And You Get a Statue! Everybody Gets…

Just in time for her final show, the famous Cardiff Kook statue was dressed as Oprah Winfrey yesterday, complete with an accompaniment by a few of her favorite things.

Behind WD-40’s Well-Lubricated Success Story profiles San Diego’s own WD-40, “one of America’s most recognizable brands,” which was founded here in 1953. The company, which says half of its business is outside the U.S., claims that its WD-40 product has more than 2,000 uses.

Trivia alert! “It took them 40 attempts to get the now-signature water-displacing formula just right, a trial-and-error process that gave the company its name: WD-40 comes from ‘Water Displacement perfected on the 40th try.’”

That’s all fine and good. But hey, my knees creak when I stand up. Whatcha got to fix that, WD-40?

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

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

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