San Diego County has seen explosive growth in the number of people using food stamps. While it’s doubled across California, it’s nearly tripled here.

The numbers are a testament to the enduring economic problems. Here in San Diego, though, they merit even closer scrutiny because the county has long ranked as the worst metropolitan area in the country at enrolling eligible residents for food stamps. Indeed, as few as one-third of those eligible for food stamps might actually be receiving them.

County supervisors have been pushing to reform their system.

“But it’s still unclear how much of an impact those changes have had in enrolling a larger proportion of people who are eligible for food stamps,” our Adrian Florido writes. “It’s not known whether the recession or the increased outreach make San Diego’s participation figures stand out.”

Whether the county’s efforts have been successful may become clearer when additional data comes out. For the big picture, check out our special report from last year detailing the wide gaps in San Diego’s social services safety net.

Building Things vs. Building Homes

It’s a classic San Diego battle along the waterfront.

From Barrio Logan to Little Italy, the land around the bay now provides for the kind of industry that waterfronts have long supported — the building and fixing and moving of things. In the south, residents want to separate the unhealthy, hodgepodge mixing of housing and industry. And in the north, the opposite is happening as developers propose building new housing alongside the Solar Turbines building.

The latest San Diego Explained tells the story of these waterfront battles (complete with a house taking on a factory in the boxing ring).

Through the Earphones

• Last week was about as busy a week as a newsroom can have. Our Will Carless and Emily Alpert joined KPBS’ Midday Roundtable to talk about the big stories we were following: the sale of the Union-Tribune to Doug Manchester, the guilty pleas in the Southeastern Economic Development Corp. embezzlement case and San Diego Unified’s path to potential insolvency.

• On VOSD Radio, super-involved parent Paul M. Bowers told me he thinks insolvency is a given at the school district. But he added a twist: that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It could provide the opportunity to completely redraw a dysfunctional system, Bowers said.

How to Fix SD: Your Thoughts

• He’s a teacher, and he feels disrespected. Paul Kaplan doesn’t believe he gets what he deserves from society, and he’s mad about it.

• Linda Perine thinks the buttoned-up crowd could learn something from the Occupiers and use the city of San Diego’s pension fund to stimulate the local economy through infrastructure investments, financing real estate or refinancing the city government’s borrowing.

• The average income of the top 1 percent in San Diego is $1.2 million, while it’s $55,000 for the other 99 percent, says Murtaza Baxamusa in a look at who makes up each group locally.

Our Changing Landscape

• It’s an important moment for the iconic Salton Sea, and San Diego has a lot to do with it. Today an appeals court takes up a challenge to a 2003 water deal that allows the San Diego County Water Authority to divert water from Imperial County farms. And later this month a legislative hearing will discuss whether the sea can be saved or if it’s bound to die because of San Diego’s share of the water supply.

The Los Angeles Times visits the Salton Sea and describes in sometimes-gruesome detail the changes taking place at what was once a tourist and wildlife attraction.

“In some places, the receding waterline has uncovered thermal fields with the consistency of peanut butter and studded with fumaroles, geysers and boiling mud pots spewing clouds of steam and sulfur dioxide gas that smells like rotten eggs,” the paper says. “In these burgeoning ecologies, tiny orange spiders crawl over warm mud oozing out of cone-shaped vents up to five feet high and tainted red and yellow by algae and bacteria.”

• If you like rapidly changing landscapes, you’ll love climate change. Studies on impacts either already underway or predicted in California “show that common trees are fading from their current ranges, premium wine grape varieties are under siege, marine creatures are shifting locales, the hub of the state’s water system faces increasing risks and – surprisingly – birds in the state are getting bigger as the weather warms,” the Union-Tribune reports.

Bridgepoint Snags an Education Big Wig

Bridgepoint Education, the fast-rising for-profit education company that’s rapidly expanding its local influence, has added UCSD Chancellor Marye Ann Fox to its board. The company and its competitors have been heavily criticized for the quality of the education they provide and for gaming people who shouldn’t be in higher education. Adding Fox would seemingly bolster its academic credentials; she also serves on the board for Dartmouth College and previously did so for Notre Dame University.

Job Recovery Strengthens

• “[W]e can take comfort in the fact that San Diego’s job recovery has not only remained intact, but has strengthened of late,” concludes Rich Toscano in his latest piece on local employment. It’s still 5.1 percent below its peak from mid-2007 despite having grown 3 percent since hitting bottom in 2009. “However, most of that growth has happened in the past year,” he notes.

What to Do With a Dead Whale

Upon reading that preparations are being made to deal with the massive dead fin whale found in Point Loma, I was reminded that sometimes these big beasts end up at the Miramar Landfill. Our archives contain video of one such deposit.

Politics and Sports, Forever

Sports teams are usually local political players as well. The Chargers have for nearly a decade employed a trained political hand in their efforts to get a new stadium. And we were reminded just last week how politics can spill over into the sports page, as the Union-Tribune’s new CEO threatened to use the section to call out opponents to a new stadium as “obstructionists.”

Meanwhile, NBC 7 San Diego has found a way to tie the Chargers current struggles into the most current events.

Its headline: Chargers Occupy Last Place.

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

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