Ideally, surfers and other beachgoers get warned about sewage spills and know to stay out of the water. That didn’t happen over the last week, when sewage from Tijuana — an estimated 6-7 million gallons a day — flowed into the ocean.

County officials didn’t notify the public because the currents were flowing south. But, they eventually shifted northward, creating a pocket of time in which even the most schooled surfers went in the tainted water without knowing it.

The incident highlights two issues: the county’s public communication and “the major pollution problem that has plagued San Diego’s coast for decades, one that was supposed to have been fixed 15 years ago,”  our Rob Davis reports.

The problem started at an international sewage treatment plant in San Ysidro, whose recent $93 million upgrade hasn’t helped it to regularly comply with federal Clean Water Act standards.

Tierrasanta’s Big Fear

Our reporter Will Carless is spending the week covering the issues and candidates in City Council District 7, and dropped by Tierrasanta to soak up the local concerns. Here’s a biggie: fire.

Canyons cross-cross the neighborhood. “A big concern in the community is brush management or thinning ground vegetation in the canyons, so they can’t act as conduits for wildfires in East County,” Carless reports.

Another big issue: the preservation of the neighborhood’s bedroom community feel. There have been plans to link Tierrasanta Boulevard to Mission Gorge Road, potentially turning it into a busy east-west link in “The Island in the Hills.” Residents hope to nix those plans.

• Next, Carless visits the neighborhood of Grantville and wonders if it could become the next Mission Valley.

Development is the big issue here. “Will the area, known as Mission Gorge, become a traffic-congested mess of strip malls and high-density housing like Mission Valley?” Carless asks. “Or could it become a well-planned, livable community?”

Know of something Carless should cover? Have a question you want him to put to the candidates. Email him at

Mayor: Financial Crisis Is Over

Stand down. That’s the message from Mayor Jerry Sanders, his clearest yet, about the city’s perennial financial mess. He presented a new budget that’s the first one in at least a decade that doesn’t rely on smoke and mirrors to balance out, our Liam Dillon reports.

The budget does include money for new hours for libraries and rec centers. Still, the mayor concedes there’s plenty more work to be done.

As for roads and other maintenance, well … the city is $30 million short in its bid to keep roads from getting worse, and it’s borrowing $75 million that future generations will get to pay.

Battle over City Hotel Records Continues

In a letter this week, the City Attorney’s Office said it would like to release information we’re seeking about hoteliers’ secret tax vote, but its hands are tied by the law.

Our City Hall reporter Liam Dillon notes that it was the city attorney that wrote that very law to begin with.

Downtown Trees Get Refreshed

You know all those trees on Broadway in downtown? Me neither. I’m too busy trying to avoid going the wrong way down a one-way street to notice the vegetation.

But they’re there, it turns out, more than 100 of them from Park Boulevard to the waterfront. Downtown boosters now want to replace them with palm trees, KPBS reports, meaning that the magnolias, ficuses and other kinds of trees will take a hike.

Not everyone is on board. Palm trees, it turns out, are increasingly being seen as pedestrian-unfriendly. Among other things, they don’t provide much shade. And they can drop lots of junk on the ground, like dead fronds and rotten, slippery palm berries that may send people you-know-what-over-teakettle. (Don’t ask me how I know this.)

Back in 2010, we explored how the city’s cutbacks in palm tree maintenance had created unsightly and potentially hazardous messes. “As budget problems worsen,” we reported, “the city expects neglected trees to cause increasing damage to city sidewalks, power lines, and possibly raise the city’s liability for damage and personal injuries from falling fronds and branches.”

For details about the hazards of unmaintained palm trees — the dangers are real — check out what our readers had to say. District 9 City Council candidate said it was one of the major issues facing Kensington residents.

Horning in on the Art of Divining

Bill Horn, the county supervisor, turns out to have a unique talent when it comes to looking underground.

Horn, who represents North County, went divining earlier this week. Armed with halves of a wire hanger, he searched for underground water on a property in San Marcos that will become a campus for autistic people, the NCT reports. Horn said he’s had plenty of luck with using dowsing, aka divining — which some people think is a crock — to find water.

The art of divining is ancient, but it doesn’t work for everybody. I tried it once and ended up on the edge of the OB Pier. Maybe the stick wanted to meet a hot young plank?

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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