San Diego’s roads, sidewalks and municipal buildings are falling apart faster than they can be fixed. For once, though, it’s not that City Hall doesn’t have the money. It’s that City Hall can’t get it spent.

In our special report A City in Disrepair, reporter Liam Dillon finds roads that were supposed to be paved, broken-down elevators that were supposed to be fixed and a police station so leaky one of its officers has to devise a contraption to keep rain out of the captain’s office. 

After years of decay, Mayor Jerry Sanders borrowed $100 million in 2009 to address the crumbling infrastructure. An inefficient bureaucracy, decisions at the top and the neglect of the past have all contributed to the city’s inability to spend that money and make good on their promises.

And with city officials planning to borrow another $500 million, it’s imperative the city figure it out.

“If they can’t get it right,” Dillon writes, “the parts of the city that residents touch and feel every day will continue to crumble faster than they can be fixed.”

The conversation around the story is already kicking in the comments section.

The story also gets a really sharp spread in the upcoming edition of San Diego Magazine, so be sure to check that out. It’ll also be the focus of this week’s San Diego Explained, which airs on the 6 p.m. NBC 7 San Diego newscast on Wednesday.

A Gay GOP Mayor, the Judge Mayor Returns and the Mayor’s Missed Warning

• The Associated Press picked up on the fact that San Diego could become the largest city in the United States to elect an openly gay Republican mayor.

Two of the three leading Republican candidates — Carl DeMaio and Bonnie Dumanis — are openly gay, though it’s hardly a part of their political personas. That, the AP notes, “may help explain why their sexual orientation has been a non-issue even among social conservatives.”

It still creates an underlying tension with the local party’s social conservatism. When Sanders publicly switched his support to favor gay marriage, party leaders contemplated pulling their endorsement. Today, local party Chairman Tony Krvaric tells the AP the candidates’ sexual orientation is irrelevant: “If the candidates don’t make it an issue, voters won’t make it an issue.”

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• The guy Sanders replaced, Dick Murphy, has resurfaced with an autobiography, and the Union-Tribune’s Craig Gustafson doesn’t seem too impressed.

The book “does little to shed light on this critical period in San Diego’s modern history or explain exactly what led him to step down seven months after he was re-elected in 2004.” Instead, Gustafson says, “colleagues and family members will adore this book as Murphy takes time to acknowledge the many people who guided him and worked alongside him through the years.”

I was reading the book this weekend and though I haven’t gotten yet to the crisis years I was starting to get the same feeling.

• Sanders and the council received warnings years ago about financial irregularities with its public-private ambulance partnership, but didn’t address it until recently. (U-T) The Rural-Metro Corp. has been accused of hiding revenue and overcharging the city.

City Heights’ Refugee Gardens a National Model

City Heights’ New Roots Community Farm is a model for a national movement, says The New York Times.

“New Roots, with 85 growers from 12 countries, is one of more than 50 community farms dedicated to refugee agriculture, an entrepreneurial movement spreading across the country,” the Times writes. “American agriculture has historically been forged by newcomers, like the Scandinavians who helped settle the Great Plains; today’s growers are more likely to be rural subsistence farmers from Africa and Asia, resettled in and around cities from New York, Burlington, Vt., and Lowell, Mass., to Minneapolis, Phoenix and San Diego.”

The Times also has a colorful slideshow from the City Heights farmers market.

The farm has come a long way in a short time. In 2009, we profiled one of the movement’s leaders just as the community members began prepping the two-acre plot on 54th Street.

The Battle in Barrio Logan

There’s a struggle going on right now for what Barrio Logan will look like in the future. As its rules for development are being redrawn, residents want the neighborhood’s jumble of homes and industry to be friendlier to homes. Meanwhile, businesses that need its bay access are worried about being suffocated.

The city of San Diego has forged a potential compromise, but a community committee formed by the city to help guide the process wasn’t involved, leading resident advocates to cry foul, our Adrian Florido reports.

The Gov.’s Pen Strikes Here

• Gov. Jerry Brown has vetoed Sen. Juan Vargas’ attempt to complicate the construction of Wal-Mart Supercenters and other big-box stores by forcing their economic impacts to be considered. (Los Angeles Times) Brown said the bill would “add yet another layer of review to an already cumbersome process.”

Vargas’ move came after the San Diego City Council made a similar effort to restrict Wal-Mart, but then reversed course when threatened with a ballot measure.

• The governor was kinder to Sen. Christine Kehoe, signing her bill that will mandate coastal public transit improvements be done at the same time as the Interstate 5 widening. She originally tried to force transit to be done first and the compromise lost some support among public transit advocates.

Solar Homeowners Fired Up

They spent a lot of money installing solar systems at home, and now they’re none too pleased with SDG&E’s plans to charge them for being plugged into the electrical grid. (North County Times)

‘Occupy San Diego’ Still Occupying

Their numbers have shrunk, but protesters in the Occupy San Diego movement continued throughout the weekend, says the U-T. Our Sam Hodgson got up-close and personal with the movement and put the results into a photo essay this weekend.

I’m the editor of VOSD. You can reach me at or 619.325.0526.

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