So much for the snail’s pace of the justice system. The California Supreme Court took just a few months to figure what to do with redevelopment, the system designed to promote urban renewal in rundown neighborhoods that’s become something much bigger.

Its unanimous verdict: the Legislature’s attempt to kill redevelopment is A-OK. The court said that the Legislature created redevelopment, so the Legislature can also dissolve redeevelopment.

The impacts to San Diego are tremendous. We have a guide to the controversy and what’s known about some of the more high-profile impacts to schools, the Chargers, neighborhoods and more.

The court also struck down a compromise plan to resurrect the agencies in a scaled-down form. This means that the more than 400 redevelopment agencies are history as of Feb. 1.

But redevelopment isn’t necessarily gone forever. Call it mostly dead. “Advocates for the agencies are expected to return to the Legislature to ask lawmakers to recreate them, probably under some sort of revenue-sharing agreement,” the LA Times reports.

City-level politicians were generally outraged.

Union-Tribune reporters gather reaction from politicians and provide details about a specific projects that are now threatened or just plain dead, like a minor league ballpark in Escondido, a Poway community center, a bayfront fire station in Chula Vista and more. The North County Times summarized possible effects on cities from Carlsbad to Escondido.

We also compiled some background reading. Check out our previous coverage of the whole debate over urban renewal. 

The Excessive Hyperbole Award goes to La Mesa Mayor Art Madrid, who went into full we’re-doomed-I-tell-you mode in an interview with “California is going to be a Third World country — worse than a Third World country” because of what the state has done, he said. 

However, he did admit that “some cities have ‘abused the intent’ of redevelopment,” as put it.

Almost There!

We’re just $634.83 short of our $80,000 end-of-the-year fundraising goal. Help us bridge that small gap by tomorrow!

South Bay Water District’s Cozy Contracts

Allegations of corruption in South Bay have turned politics there into a hot mess in recent weeks, and now comes intriguing news out of the water district that serves part of the region, via the U-T:

“The general manager of the Otay Water District approved more than $200,000 in no-bid contracts this year to associates of the board’s chairman, Jaime Bonilla. Three of the contracts involved a desalination plant planned in Baja California that Otay officials hope will be a key source of future water.”

Of the contracts, one is for $50,000 to a Chula Vista councilman, and another is for $50,000 to a former California lieutenant governor. “They are basically giving away our money as ratepayers to Bonilla’s friends without recourse,” a critic told the paper. “When a board member doesn’t even know that this is going on, that’s not transparency.”

It’s all routine, said the district’s general manager.

We’ve also been digging up stories about the secretive water district, which has been mum about its key partners in a deal to get water from a Mexican plant that would take salt out of seawater.

Your Taxpayer Money at (Non-) Work

In recent months, reporters from CityBeat and the U-T have been busy exposing the weirdness at a little local government agency that’s in charge of emergency call boxes. Yes, the boxes that don’t seem so necessary anymore now that just about everyone who drives a car has a cell phone.

The U-T now finds that the agency, which gets $2.6 million in taxpayer money per year, is giving away $50 gas cards as part of a campaign to get people to visit its website. “It’s like they are saying, ‘Hey, we’ve got this huge stockpile of money so let’s do some giveaways,’” says Councilwoman Lorie Zapf.

How does a government agency give away money to individuals, which is against the law? Why, it funnels it through a public relations agency, that’s how.

How We Helped You Know More in 2011

We have a list of our biggest stories of the year, stories that unearthed details about the workings of politicians, government agencies and the problems they’re supposed to solve. 

There’s my personal favorite, about the school board member who didn’t know where she lives, a problem that many of us might face shortly after midnight on Sunday (thanks to champagne) but isn’t normally an issue for people. And it wasn’t a simple matter of geography.

Plus broken promises over broken roads, affordable housing’s huge cost, a county supervisor’s wild civil rights escapades and more.

Rogue Cops, Booze Ban’s Effects and More

Our public safety reporter Keegan Kyle has recapped his most popular stories from 2011. They looked at topics from San Diego’s most notorious now-former cop and a rise in murder rates (although not enough of one to freak out about yet) to an exploration of where alcohol-related crime rates spiked after booze got banned at the beach. 

Headline of the Year Nominee

“Stay (cl)assy, San Diego: 1500-gallon sewage spill forces beach closures,” read a headline on the website of L.A. public radio station KPCC yesterday morning before somebody thought better of the wordplay and took out those parantheses.

On that note, here’s hoping that someone’s always around to clean up your messes next year. We’ll see you in 2012.

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

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at

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