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The beginning of 2013 officially ended yesterday, and our Scott Lewis helped end it on a lively note by responding to some strong feedback he received when he defended our recent look into San Diego’s 40-year-old coastal building height limit.

Lewis argues that addressing San Diego’s affordable housing problems requires a robust conversation about density and sprawl in San Diego.

“If someone evil also holds this view, I guess I’ll have to deal with the consequences of agreeing with them,” he wrote. “If there’s even one irrational restriction on density, or one stupid bureaucratic impediment to building, it’s one too many.”

What do you think? You can submit a letter here.

The Port’s Import: San Diego Explained

Do you know what the port does?

It’s OK if you don’t, port commissioners even joke that their parents get confused. We’ve got your back.

In the latest San Diego Explained, Scott Lewis and NBC 7 San Diego’s Catherine Garcia help bring you up to speed on what the port is and why the controversy over two recently vacant commission matters.

Pension Obligation Bonds Explained

The city for years has been batting around the idea of pension obligation bonds. This is when a public agency, like the county has, borrows money from investors to put into its own investments in its employee pension fund. The city was about to do it years ago before its reputation on Wall Street collapsed.

Last night on Twitter, locals were passing around this Governing magazine article about pension obligation bonds. It’s one of the most comprehensive ever done.

Will Filner Deliver?

Candidate Bob Filner infamously voiced strong opinions about things that he dreamt could happen in San Diego if he was elected mayor. Those dreams included things like new transit options, expanded port operations,  and accessible medical marijuana for those who need it.

Our Lisa Halverstadt is going to be tracking Filner’s progress on the promises he’s made. Her first progress report covers Filner’s recent push to establish new rules that will permit medical marijuana dispensaries inside city limits. Determination? “Working on it,” Halverstadt reports. “Filner said in a statement released Tuesday that he plans to put together an ordinance within the next 30 days that allows for reasonable regulation of dispensaries,” she wrote.

“Is she ok? Will she come back? Will I see her again?”

Voice reader Heather Rose wrote to us about a series of articles our Kelly Bennett wrote sharing the experience of a newly homeless woman. Rose shares some of the questions that haunt her about a woman she frequently sees panhandling on the street who suddenly disappeared. “Did someone finally take her in? Did she go to a shelter,” she asks? “I wish her the best. But I miss her, too.”

District 4 Candidates Pitch Themselves

The District 4 council race was heating up on Wednesday as eight of the nine candidates for the March 26th special election took questions from residents. UT San Diego’s Craig Gustafson was there (until they kicked him out), and reported on each of the attending candidates, who are vying to replace former councilman Tony Young. “If no one tops 50 percent of the vote, a likely scenario given the large number of candidates, the top two finishers will compete in a runoff within 49 days,” the UT reported.

Shuttering the Red Light Cameras

San Diego’s red light cameras are on the chopping block this morning, as Mayor Bob Filner and police Chief William Lansdowne are scheduled to announce whether they will maintain the program, reported San Diego 6. The cameras at 15 intersections were disabled, at least temporarily, at midnight, according to Fox 5 San Diego. While campaigning for mayor, Filner said that he did not support the program as it was set up.

D-Day for Plaza De Panama Plan

The UT’s Matt Hall (still no relation to this author) alerted that today’s court date for the Jacobs’ plan for Balboa Park “has all the star power and story lines of Sunday’s Super Bowl.”

We’ve previously covered the planned reworking of the Plaza de Panama at some length.

News Nibbles

• A group of 14 employees have been fired from the Midway Museum in connection with the alleged sale and recycling of metals from the historic aircraft carrier, reports NBC San Diego. Metals such as steel, copper and aluminum were allegedly taken from the aircraft carrier for recycling, but only a portion of the proceeds were returned to the Midway.

• San Diego Police have recently deployed to San Diego schools carrying AR-15 assault rifles, reports the UT. The president of the San Diego school board was surprised when he heard about it and wants to know “why [the rifles] are needed and how they will be used.”

• More sidewalk cafes and restaurant seating may be coming for San Diego, reports 10 News. Several city council members have expressed interest in reducing the cost and complication of obtaining the permits required to build the sought after expansions.

Seals, The Deal

If there’s anything we’ve got here in San Diego, it is sun and it is seals. The harbor seals at the Children’s Pool in La Jolla have been a political basketball for years. Now, you can now watch the seals sleep and crawl and… do what ever else it is seals do on a beach, from the comfort of your own home, reports NBC San Diego. Mayor Bob Filner helped unveil the Seal Cam. “It shows the respect and understanding of our ecological position in this world,” he said.

But the seals have their opponents, and those opponents smell something fishy about the camera and its operator, the Western Alliance for Nature Conservancy. “There are a lot of problems with this camera,” said Ken Hunrichs, president of Friends of the Children’s Pool.

I’ll say there are. The camera can’t swivel around to watch all the opinionated people standing around the Children’s Pool yelling at one another about whether or not to approach the seals. That’s the real spectacle worth watching. Maybe we can borrow some of the unused red-light cameras…

Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. You may not republish this content without his consent. You can reach him at or follow him on Twitter: @loteck.

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.

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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