The fates of medical marijuana and a plan remodel to Balboa Park, an explosive interview with San Diego Unified’s new CFO, managed competition and housing density all generated discussion this week.

Check out five comments we’re highlighting:

Susan Duerksen on “The Latest Budget Blow: Managed Competition Delays“:

The recent jury decision regarding tree-trimming services is one example of the huge costs that can result from inadequate service levels, both in terms of financial costs to the city and the safety of residents. After the budget for tree trimming was cut, a man was paralyzed when a top-heavy palm tree fell on him. The city has been ordered to pay almost $8 million for its negligence — many times the annual cost of trimming the trees.

The ballot initiative that authorized the use of managed competition back in 2006 specified it should be used only if it can save money while maintaining service levels and protecting the public interest. Meeting those criteria has been a constant challenge — and absolutely crucial.

The fleet maintenance competition mentioned in the article was completed in October 2011. At this point, it’s completely reasonable to review the adequacy of service reductions determined back then before setting them in concrete. As the tree-trimming example shows, sloppy services are no bargain.

Joe LaCava on “Developers Aren’t Always Wrong “:

Good discussion going here. Your readers would benefit from an explanation of what “value of land” means. It is not, for example, what a home builder pays for a buildable lot; that is typically 30 to 40 percent of the price of a new home (upwards of 50 to 55 percent in highly desirable markets). Your readers should also note that the percentages cited are for 2006 when the market was superheated. Today (3rd Quarter, 2012) the Lincoln Institute pegs the number at 60 percent but again, what does that percentage mean to residents and electeds?

Also lost in the conversation is that the current community plans and zoning *already* allow for the housing growth projected for our city. As noted our city’s share of state-wide growth is 88,000 units over the next 10 years. The city has the land use regulations in place to add 126,000 units. Whether the current plans/zoning is the right way for our city to grow, whether our communities have the infrastructure to support that growth, whether we as a city can afford to grow in that matter, whether those plans will provide for unsubsidized affordable housing, and whether current economics will allow that growth to happen are all important questions to be debated.

Sara Kent on “Judge: Plaza de Panama Approval Violates City Law“:

The invested public should not have been pushed unceremoniously out of this planning process, but those same voices need to take the opportunity to come back to the table rather than continue to point fingers. It’s a different mayor and City Council now, leaders who will hopefully shepherd a compromise solution. That can’t happen smoothly if both sides remain entrenched.

Geoff Page on “Marijuana Crackdown Has a Good Day“:

I voted for the Mayor Bob Filner but I am disappointed that he did not hold his ground. The City Council is, as always, hardly word mentioning. Why did they take this action behind closed doors? This was not a confidential matter; it should have been heard in open session with public participation but the council didn’t want to go through all that. I have to call that a cowardly move. This whole story is just sad and pathetic, I feel really sorry for the folks who have been hurt by these self-serving actions.

Debbie O’Toole on “New Schools CFO: SD Unified has ‘Hundreds of Excess Employees’“:

I am speechless (almost). Although I think the compensation amount should be clarified, many of us have known for years that there are hundreds of excess staff. When I asked a former school board member the question directly, the response was that there were only 8.


Welcome to SDUSD. I wish you a long and successful career.

Comments have been lightly edited for typos, spelling and style.

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Dagny Salas is the web editor at Voice of San Diego. You can contact her directly at or 619.550.5669.

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Disclosure: Voice of San Diego members and supporters may be mentioned or have a stake in the stories we cover. For a complete list of our contributors, click here.

Dagny Salas

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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