Here’s something you may not know: If you own a house in the city, you’re responsible for maintaining the sidewalk out front. Surprise! Here’s another corker: It can cost you quite a bundle to fix the sidewalk or install one.  

We checked in with a Pacific Beach resident who doesn’t have a sidewalk in front of his house but, after seeing near-accidents, would really like one. “I’m stunned that we haven’t had bodies in the street,”  he told us.

The possible cost? Five grand. At least. And the city’s cost-sharing plan won’t pitch in.

Our story, part of our continuing look at the city’s sidewalk crisis, speculates that costs like this explain why our sidewalks are in such poor shape.

• KPBS reports on how two neighborhoods, one in Mission Valley and the other in the northern stretches of the city, didn’t live up to the happy talk that they were to be fabulously walkable.

Fact Check: About That Class Sizes Claim …

A local school administrator brought up the hot topic of class sizes during an explosive interview last week that we’re now fact-checking.

“Actually, there’s not one piece of literature published to prove that” smaller classes are better, the San Diego school district’s financial chief told us. “As a matter of fact, just the opposite.”

The claim gets a verdict of Huckster Propaganda: “It is reasonable to believe that (he) made that mischaracterization to his own advantage: to push for increasing class sizes in order to save the district money, a path he believes is a responsible way to improve the district’s fiscal health.”

Jacobs on Park Plan: ‘At This Point It’s Over’

Irwin Jacobs, the billionaire philanthropist and prime mover behind the major Balboa Park makeover plan, sounds more than discouraged about a Monday ruling that kills the project, at least for now. A compromise sounds unlikely.

At this point, it’s over,” he told KPBS Tuesday, adding that he’s not aware of alternatives that rid the Plaza de Panama of cars and “serve the needs of the institutions in the park.”

The judge’s ruling, which apparently could be appealed, leads our weekly Culture Report compilation of links to stories about arts and culture.  

Earth Day Is Saved!

Mayor Bob Filner says the Earth Day festival is back on: It will be held at Balboa Park as planned, the Reader reports.  

The festival was saved by the judge’s ruling on the Balboa Park makeover.

As Hospice Seeks Bankruptcy, Scripps Steps In

I reported last month on the crisis facing San Diego Hospice as it faces a potential financial collapse over its habit of allowing patients to get care even if they weren’t shown to be near death. This week brought news of the hospice’s bid for bankruptcy, and now Scripps Health, which runs local hospitals, has agreed to step in and provide some hospice services, a Scripps Health spokesman tells me. He says that the hospice asked Scripps to step in.

KPBS just published a major story about the hospice’s troubles, focusing on a patient whose lingering at the edge of death represents the challenges facing hospices nationwide.

Fact Check TV: Un-Going to Pot

Fact Check TV follows up on our published stories about the battle over medical marijuana shops and summarizes what’s been happening on the federal and local fronts. Things are looking pretty iffy for the shops (some of which still operate locally), but that’s nothing new.

Letters: Cutting Budgets, Building Homes

In letters, Corinne Wilson, research and policy lead at the Center on Policy Initiatives, writes in about local government: “Good fiscal stewardship is not just a matter of doing things on the cheap. It means getting good value for money spent. It’s no bargain to shortchange city residents on basic services and put public health and safety at risk.”

And we’ve compiled another roundup of letters about housing density.  

Join Us for Our Member Coffee Next Week

We’re having a special Member Coffee bright and early at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 12, to launch our new occasional series, “What’s the Deal?” Meet our folks at Pappalecco in Little Italy and hear from school board member Scott Barnett, who’s joining us.

Member Coffees are open to VOSD members and their guests.

Hi Birdie! How’s the Little … Rowwwr! Aiiieeee!

The national media has paid quite a bit of attention to a report about the menace that our feline companions pose to fellow creatures. They apparently kill billions of birds and small mammals in the U.S. each year. Now, KPBS takes a look at the issue and hears from a local avian guru who says the cat-versus-bird problem deserves attention here.

One solution? Keep your cat inside. That’s what I do with mine, but he still gets to hunt more than my feet on occasion.

A while back, I returned home to find him sitting next to a dead mouse in the hallway. I went to get a trash bag and returned to find the cat but no mouse.

Did the critter turn out to be dinner? Or was it really alive and ushered to safety, say, under my bed? I asked, but the kitty didn’t tell.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

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.

Randy Dotinga

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

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