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Next stop: homelessness. Our reporter Kelly Bennett will next tackle this issue through the various types of storytelling venues that Voice of San Diego has at its disposal.

We’ve covered homelessness before, as have other media outlets in town. The goal this time is to understand the scope of homelessness in San Diego, evaluate what’s being done and figure out where we’re going.

Why now? Well, things are changing.

You may recall when the City Council used to play an elaborate game of hot-potato whenever it came time to figure out where to put the winter homeless shelter. 

We’ll still have a winter shelter this year. What’s new is a long-awaited permanent, year-round shelter scheduled to open next month.

Meanwhile, Councilman Todd Gloria, who now represents downtown, thinks homelessness can be eliminated there within four years. That’s a mighty big expectation considering the complicated world of homeless people.

What do you want to know? Check out Bennett’s introduction to her coverage and drop her a line.  

Today in Strange Hotel Leases

The Bahia Resort Hotel in Mission Bay is going to stick around for another 21 years beyond its city lease that goes for 19 years past now. That’s not terribly unusual, but we’ve discovered several strange things about the new lease.

For one, “the owner isn’t required to make any improvements to the property, but if he gets a major redevelopment project approved, he’s rewarded with a new, 50-year lease to help finance it. The city says this is all to encourage a major redevelopment,” our Andrew Keatts reports.

He’s got details on all the weirdness, including a look at how the deal was rushed through before a new mayor came on the scene.

In Ramona, Schools Totter in Balancing Act

To many of us, Ramona may be nothing more than a pit stop with palm trees on the way to Julian. But there’s a town out there with plenty of history and thousands of residents, including an enclave of upscale types at San Diego Country Estates.  

The school district serves 5,865 students and has a unique distinction: It’s the only one of its type to never persuade its voters to raise property taxes to invest in schools. It failed again last month. Never mind that students in the district perform well on tests.

There’s a bigger program: The district went ahead and borrowed $25 million in 2004 anyway, and now the loan is due. Our story explores the pickle that Ramona schools have found themselves in: “The district doesn’t have a plan for how to pay its bills.”

Battle Looms over ‘Managed Competition’

Under Mayor Jerry Sanders, the city liked the idea of its twist on outsourcing — allowing city employees to bid against outside contractors to provide services. Funny thing: The city workers kept winning the bids and saving the city money.

But now, there’s a new mayor in town. U-T San Diego reports that Bob Filner is not going to rush to put more city services up to bid because he’s suspicious of how things have worked out so far: “I almost want to call it mismanaged cuts, not managed competition.”

There’s also a new City Council president in town: Councilman Todd Gloria. He’s a Democrat but wanders off the reservation on occasion, drawing barbs from enclaves on the left like labor. Gloria and Filner already disagree on managed competition, the U-T reports in a glowing profile of Gloria that takes note of his “sharp mind” and “self-effacing personality.”

Why is Gloria getting such positive coverage? Call it a honeymoon period: He won reelection with no opponent trying to take him down, and he doesn’t have the kind of bull-in-china-shop personality that brings out enraged enemies.

A Judge Lets Loose on Futility

U-T columnist Logan Jenkins takes a look at a judge’s ruling that scuttled — at least for now — a 40-year, $200 billion plan for transportation in San Diego because it’s not friendly enough to public transit.

The judge, he finds, is mighty open: He admits his “dramatic action is historically irrelevant, technically — but necessarily — unfair, and distorted by institutional poverty. Not your everyday admissions from someone who wears robes and sits on a bench.”

Wow. A few more reality checks like that and we’re all going to end up with a big bill.

You Can’t Keep a Good Multimillionaire Down

You may have heard about the white La Jolla multimillionaire who bought a billboard in Barrio Logan that shows his photo along with the words “All I Want for Christmas is a Latina Girlfriend.”

It would have been nice it if it had sparked a fascinating discussion about the evolving cultural taboos about relationships across racial lines. Of course, it didn’t do any such thing. It just rattled some people, amused others and inspired chortling about the guy’s prehistoric AOL email address.

Well guess what: Somebody vandalized the billboard, stripping off its lower half where it mentioned how to reach the Latina-seeking rich guy. He tells the U-T  he’s received 15,000 e-mails and will get the billboard restored.

A commenter at the U-T had the best and last word about the defacing: “Maybe someone thought it was one of those signs where you tear off the contact information.”  

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga

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

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