Last January, we wrote about a long list San Diego gave to the state of California. The state was ending the program called redevelopment, but only for projects not already begun.

The city wanted to get all of its future visions into the pipeline. We dubbed the wish list “Redevelopment Mardi Gras” – city leaders were trying to pack all their redevelopment dreams into one big frenzy before the big deadline.

You might remember we put together one of our best graphics ever to illustrate how big the dream list was.

The state flipped on the lights and killed the party.

“The city asked for money, and the state said no,” writes our Liam Dillon.  “The city lost out on $47 million of the $77 million in redevelopment funding it had requested for the first half of 2013. The state also killed $4.8 billion slated for city projects over the next three decades.”

In a flash, San Diego’s budget outlook changed and everything from library hours to a new Chargers stadium was thrown into question.  Dillon explains why and what we can expect.

“The 70,000 Foot View”

When the supporters and opponents of the San Diego Association of Governments’ (SANDAG) transportation plan talk about transit, they all want to talk about it from the grandest possible perspective. Plans only come in intimidating and complex multi-decade chunks, costing hundreds of billions of dollars. Our Andrew Keatts is looking at the where the plan’s rubber will finally meet a road.

“The problem with both approaches is that for many citizens, understanding the overall [transit] network and how it relates to their daily lives is a struggle,” writes Keatts. “Once you understand the element of the plan that’s going to let you get from your home in Chula Vista to your office in Sorrento Mesa via Trolley Car in 30 minutes, you’re likely to be more invested in the plan.”

Keatts teamed up with Amy Krone to develop an interactive map that illustrates specific projects, their costs and timelines as well as what planners are hoping they can accomplish with each project.

This Year in Facts

All year, we fish for public statements that are true, false and worse. What we reel in we report to via San Diego Fact Check.

This year, we landed some real whoppers, reports our Lisa Halverstadt. “San Diego, we bring you the worst of the worst,” she wrote. From shockingly true to laughably false, she reported on our most notorious Fact Checks of 2012. Chime in with your own picks in the comments if you have a personal favorite that didn’t make the cut.

Ratepayers Prevail – For Now

Halverstadt also reported on big news for San Diego Gas and Electric rate payers. After months of hand-wringing and disagreements, the state Public Utilities Commission voted yesterday to deny SDGE’s request to pass on the legal costs it has incurred to customers in the form of higher rates.

“Utility customers won’t cover San Diego Gas & Electric’s wildfire settlement costs — for the time being,” reports Halverstadt. But the PUC left the door open for SDG&E to submit another request at a later time, she writes.

Education Consternation

Among the most dizzying narratives we followed this year were several topics tied to local education. Remember the change in leadership at the teachers’ union, or the drawn out threats over teacher layoffs? Our Will Carless wraps up the year in education with looks backward and forward of what we covered in San Diego and in Poway, including one story that helped shape a national conversation over controversial financing schemes.

Your Letters

Are you tired of insufficient bathroom facilities at the Old Town trolley stop? Do you wonder why the Airport Authority hasn’t been rolled into the Unified Port of San Diego? If these questions have ever crossed your mind, you aren’t alone. Our readers wrote in on these topics and more in the latest round of letters in Fix San Diego.

Fiscal Cliff: San Diego Edition

Last night saw another turn in the so-called “fiscal cliff” drama in Washington that has many Americans uncertain about taxes and the economy in the new year. The LA Times reported on what the effects would be on San Diego if a deal isn’t reached in time.

“Since early summer, groups including the Aerospace Industries Assn. have projected that the federal cuts triggered by the fiscal impasse could cost California 126,000 jobs in aerospace, a sizable industry in Southern California,” they wrote. They go on to note that the uncertainty may already have led to a de facto hiring freeze among defense contractors in the area.

Water, The Old-Fashioned Way

The Olivenhain Water District, located in Encinitas, is drilling deep into the earth in hopes of tapping another water source that could add to San Diego County’s water supply. “A successful local drilling project could allow the agency to pump 1.5 million gallons of water a day, from the ground,” KPBS reports. They chose the spot to drill because past oil drilling operations had reportedly struck water – in the early 1900’s.

Boy Scouts Cleared for Cheap Lease

The LA Times reported on a federal appeals court decision that clears the way for San Diego to lease public property to the Boy Scouts of America at a discounted rate, despite the group’s policies that ban gays and atheists.

“The ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed by two couples, one lesbian, the other agnostic, who said that the city was subsidizing a group with discriminatory policies,” reported the LA Times. The plaintiffs may still appeal the ruling to a larger panel of the 9th Circuit.

News Nibbles

• The conservative San Diego-based federal judge who sentenced Jared Loughner to life in prison for a Tucson shooting rampage in 2011 publicly expressed his opinion about high-capacity magazines for guns in a letter to the LA Times. “Reasonable, good-faith debates have boundaries, and in the debate about guns, a high-capacity magazine has always seemed to me beyond them,” he wrote.

• The U-T is going a full 24 hours with its new cable news effort. NetNewsCheck takes notice of how ambitious UT San Diego UT-TV project is and offers some inside information on what it has planned. Our own Scott Lewis is quoted.

• Researchers from San Diego State University’s Active Transportation Research Center have undertaken the most extensive bicycle count system in the nation,” reports KPBS.

• The Kaiser Foundation Hospital in San Diego was one of 12 California hospitals fined for major problems. The State Department of Health reported that an 85 year old man had the incorrect kidney surgically removed at the hospital, NBC San Diego reported.

• The 311 smartphone app launched by former councilmember Carl DeMaio, which lets users report potholes and other municipal troubles, is still receiving reports from its thousands of users, reports the San Diego Reader. But no one is sure who, if anyone, is receiving the reports.

Seeking Sea Freedom

In 1987, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service started a program aimed at replenishing Southern California’s dwindling population of sea otters. Authorities safely captured and relocated the otters from a newly established “otter-free zone” to a protected habitat in the Channel Islands.

But nobody told the otters, reported Carlsbad Patch. Fishermen complained in 1998 when scores of sea otters flouted the rules en masse and crossed the restricted zone. “Trying to tell a marine mammal to stay on one side of an imaginary line across the water was a dumb idea,” said Steve Shimek, executive director of the Otter Project, in a statement. His organization sued US Fish and Wildlife demanding stronger regulations.

As a result, beginning January 18, 2013, sea otters will once again be allowed to swim in the “otter-free zone” without risk of being removed. A happy ending for everyone besides the unchecked urchin population researchers hope the sea otters will return to eat.

Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. You can reach him at or follow him on Twitter: @loteck.

Seth Hall

Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. You can reach him at or follow him on Twitter: @loteck.

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