Houston is famous for being a city without zoning regulations. That’s not quite the case, but the rules about what can go where are definitely loose. Not long ago, I stayed at a hotel there next to an upscale shopping center and its next-door neighbor — an adult superstore. Talk about mixed-use!

At least we have strict zoning laws here, right? Well, not exactly. In Barrio Logan, wide-ranging zoning laws allow industrial businesses like welders and warehouses to sit amid homes. At the same time, 18-wheelers roll through and cargo ships unload bananas, wind blades and fertilizer.

It’s not exactly a recipe for delightful urban living. There’s recently been a lot of talk about an update to the city’s blueprint for the neighborhood, and now it looks like things will come to a head in 2013 as things get finalized.

“This conflict between residential, maritime industry and the commercial property owners, that’s going to be really interesting…,” the chairman of a committee of community planners tells us. “There are too many uses in too small of an area, and we seem to all agree it isn’t how we want our communities to be, but who’s going to give?”

Fact Check: SD’s Most Diverse District?

A candidate for the City Council seat that serves southeastern San Diego declared that it’s the most diverse council district in the city. Is it? San Diego Fact Check finds that it is indeed: the claim is true.

Sez We: 2012’s Standout VOSD Stories

In a new kind of year-end compilation, we asked our current and former writers to identify the VOSD stories that gave them the most pride.

Here are their answers along with links to the stories and details about why the writers liked them.

You’ll find stories about brawlers and borrowing schemes. A prickly politician and political puffery. Hidden artwork, a not-so-hidden horrific stench, and a City Heights neighborhood that’s trying to turn back crime.

• We hardly have a monopoly on great work. Today, I’ll be working on a compilation of top-notch 2012 journalism about San Diego from other media outlets.

Want to help? Drop me a line (click here to send an email) and let me know about any nifty stories about San Diego that you came across in 2012. Make sure to include links to our readers can read, watch or listen.

I’m also working on a timely story about San Diego’s most colorful judges of all time. If you know of one, give me a shout.

The Most Potent Quotes of 2012

If they’re lucky, journalists get a few unforgettable quotes in their careers.

Back in the 1990s, for example, I interviewed an Escondido school board member who compared group math to another, um, group activity: “nobody gets the attention they deserve.” Another time, a local mayor informed me of a persistent, spontaneous and very tiring side effect of her bladder surgery. (Trust me, you don’t want to know.)

This year, I added a new quote to my most-memorable list when a powerful San Diego media figure told me to “get a life.”

Who was it? Check my cheeky compilation of San Diego’s Quotes of the Year to find out.

You’ll also find quotes from three mayors (including one who told off a Chinese person who only requested his autograph), an outspoken publisher, the most disgraced congressman of all time and more.

As for that “get a life” business: It turned out to be especially awkward for me later this year. Click here to read why.

Letters: Critical Mass as Critical (and Expensive) Mess

In letters, Anthony Wagner, a board member of the city of San Diego Citizens’ Review Board on Police Practices, takes aim at Critical Mass, the monthly anarchic group bike ride through the streets of San Diego.

In one recent event, “they rode against traffic, cut off drivers, blew through red lights, intimidated vehicle traffic by pounding on windows and harassed pedestrians,” Wagner writes. He adds that Critical Mass is “a major threat to public health and safety,” costs the city police time, has resulted in collisions and injuries and gives cyclists a bad name.

For an eyewitness account of a chaotic Critical Mass ride, check our 2009 story.

• Also in letters, we hear from Carina deManigold, a graduate student at USC, who writes about homeless students, including those who attend a special San Diego school for them. “These students face a range of problems regarding schooling, from finding a way to get to school, to having the appropriate clothing and finding a quiet place to study,” she writes.  

Quick News Hits

• A community service agency is getting a $28 million, five-year grant to “help crack the cycle of inter-generational poverty in the Castle Park neighborhood” of Chula Vista, NBC San Diego reports. Donors will provide matching funds, boosting the entire amount to $60 million.

Among other things, the money will pay for improvements to Hilltop middle and high schools (which produced your Morning Report scribe, among other fascinating and illustrious notables) and Castle Park middle and high schools (rivals of Hilltop that produced no notables of any kind, ever), plus the Castle Park elementary school.

• 10News finds that hundreds of cops and family members have contacted a new San Diego Police unit devoted to wellness among employees and their relatives. The police department created the unit after a series of allegations of misconduct against officers.    

• SeaWorld is going public

• Well, here’s a headline to remember: “Red Rover, Red Rover, Send a Student Injury Lawsuit Right Over.”

The family of an East County teenager is suing the Santee school district, saying he broke his leg during a forbidden game of Red Rover at a middle school p.e. class, patch.com reports. The family, which alleges that the district banned the game but allowed it to be played, is seeking damages of more than $25,000.

It’s amazing to realize as an adult how dangerous children’s games can be. Oh well. Time for a swim. Marco! Pol…OW!

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

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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