The union that represents the San Diego school district’s teachers has adopted a new approach: virtual silence. Its leaders have shut down communication links to the superintendent, district staff, the media and even other union groups.

“Driven by charismatically tough, old-school leaders, the union has metamorphosed into a hardline organization that’s become ever-more confrontational,” our Will Carless found in conversations with former teachers union officials, other union leaders and district staff.

The shift comes at a key time for the San Diego Unified School District. It’s warning of financial doom and says it needs employees to relinquish promised raises and make other concessions to avoid major layoffs.

The district has given teachers plenty of reasons to be skeptical. Previous doomsday warnings never materialized and it’s struggled to produce accurate financial information.

Still, former union officials and others say they believe this time the district isn’t bluffing and are worried about the union’s tactics.

“I think their answer is just ‘No,’ before they even know what the question is,” says a rep with the administrators union. “They’ve kinda become the bullies on the block.”

For Housing Prices, a Lost Decade-Plus

During the go-go mid-2000s, it seemed like just about everyone was running around snapping up houses, real-estate licenses or both.

Well, we all know how that story ended.

So where are we now? Our Rich Toscano has run the numbers: today’s home prices are the same as they were in December 2000 when you adjust for inflation.

“While it was an interesting ride, point-to-point, real San Diego home prices have gone nowhere for 11 years,” Toscano writes.

Subscribe to the Morning Report.

It’s about enough to make you think the unthinkable: that homes should be viewed as places to live that you need to pay for, not as investments.

A Secret Road in North County’s Secretive Reserve

A new road has apparently been built in a historic property east of Escondido that’s at the center of a dispute over development versus preservation, the North County Times reports.

An attorney for owner of Rancho Guejito has said the road is old, but the newspaper found evidence from photos and satellite images that it says contradicts that.

The owner may have to pay fines. “But veteran observers of development in Southern California say those penalties may be insignificant to Rancho Guejito Corp. compared with the benefit it gains from a new road on the land,” the paper says. “They say such access could boost the property’s value and someday unlock a city-sized development on the pristine acreage.”

We tried to film a San Diego Explained segment about the county’s backcountry development rules at Rancho Guejito last year, but met a gate sign that warned of armed guards.

Rancho Guejito has a rich history.

In 2007, the LA Times told the story, including this teaser: “An empire builder in the Old World mold owned 21,400 untamed acres in San Diego County. Now a bitter family feud has erupted over their fate.”

For more, check out this 2010 column by the U-T’s Logan Jenkins about the future of the property. (He quotes a Union reporter as writing of how “The sea of grass lifts and falls for miles across the hills and valleys. The grass is everywhere, like green waves on a placid sea.”)

Keeping the Drumbeat Going on Waterfront Mega-Project

The U-T San Diego wanted to know what the mayoral candidates thought about its big plan for a waterfront mega-project: Bonnie Dumanis lauds the paper for being bold and says the plan adheres to her principles; Nathan Fletcher searches for an alternative to tax money and finds a visa program for international investment; Carl DeMaio supports a stadium as long as the subsidy continues to cost as much as Qualcomm Stadium costs the city; and Bob Filner says he’ll be the toughest negotiator the Chargers ever faced.

You May Get to Dump Your Smart Meter

For months, power customers around San Diego (La Mesa is a particular hot spot) and elsewhere in the state have been battling the new-fangled “smart meters,” saying they cause a variety of health problems.

Power companies deny there’s a medical risk, and a non-partisan study agreed. But complaints have continued, with some critics saying the devices invade privacy and boost electricity bills. (And anyway, who wants a “smart” device around the house, waiting to take over the world? Lookin’ at you, smart toaster!)

Now, the NC Times reports, some relief may be on the way courtesy of state regulators who want to allow people to opt out of the meters. But it’ll cost them — the customers, that is. “It doesn’t seem fair,” an Escondido man tells the paper. “It’s sort of like extortionism. If you want your health and privacy and not to be charged extra electricity rates, you’re going to pay a penalty.”    

Our VOSD Reading List

Our web editor Dagny Salas is putting together a weekly reading list to offer up recommendations from our staff and community of readers. The latest list includes reads on gangs, YouTube and Facebook.

Under the Waves, a Lost Land Remains Mythical

A few years ago, the Google Ocean computer program revealed grids on the seafloor in the North Atlantic, making some starry-eyed observers wonder if they’d found roads from the mythical land of Atlantis.

Well, no. Turns out the grids were the result of a computer glitch. UCSD students have spent the last three years fixing problems with the data, and now Google Ocean better reflects reality, LiveScience reports.

Speaking of mythical places, I decided to see if we had anything close to them in San Diego County. Turns out we do, according to the Thomas Guide, the oracle of all things location-oriented, at least until Google Maps came along.

There’s an Atlantis Street out near El Cajon, a bunch of Utopia streets in Poway and Rancho Bernardo (sounds like utopia has a lot of country clubs), and a Valhalla Drive out Lakeside way.

That’s nice. Now if only I could find a true mythical paradise: Free Rent Lane.  

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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