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Falling palm tree fronds, the fate of a plan to remodel Balboa Park, installing your own sidewalk and fallout from explosive statements (some of them incorrect) from San Diego Unified’s new CFO: These are the comments we’re highlighting this week.

Take a look:

David Douglas on “Judge Strikes Down Plaza de Panama Approval“:

The judge’s decision today (one that he clearly was reluctant and saddened to make) is one that we will rue as short-sighted and wrong. Opponents of the Plaza project had no viable alternative — ever. Their obstructionism was simply that. It might have once been nobly inspired, but somewhere along the way became simply and merely contrarian. They win, we all lose.

Now, we can continue for the indefinite future to celebrate an unsightly, noisy parking lot in the heart of the park, which I’m pretty sure the park’s creators never envisioned. There will be nothing done to remedy this, at least nothing that won’t be a stop-gap Band-Aid to make the place seem a little less dreary for the centennial, which is fast-looking like it will be an underwhelming embarrassment.

Posters above suggest Mr. Jacobs’ offer to spend his millions in fixing up other aspects of the park. That’s supposed to be the city’s job and obligation, and by extension, all of ours. As taxpayers, we almost routinely reject any notion that we should pay for what we want. We want a park to be proud of, but not with our money. Not apparently with Mr. Jacobs’ either.

Judith Swink on “The Loud Balboa Park Debate Slips Quietly Away“:

This is public parkland, owned by the city, therefore owned by the citizens, and two individuals should never ever have the ability to make unilateral decisions about park use and projects. The so-called public workshops were no more than lip service to a process that was hijacked by the project.

City employees had no choice but to go along. Planning commissioners, shamefully, bowed before the dangling offer of money, as did most members of the Balboa Park Committee, but at least a majority of the Park & Recreation Board and all of the Historic Resources Board (all members are volunteer appointees) understood that this plan was inconsistent with the historical nature of Balboa Park, as underlined by letters from the State Historic Preservation Officer, the National Park Service (National Landmarks such as Balboa Park) and even Caltrans — among a long list of local organizations plus hundreds, perhaps thousands, of individual San Diegans.

Any plan that prioritizes vehicle traffic and parking and the convenience of the museums above maintaining and enhancing the historical appearance of the park does a major disservice to all of us.

Andy Kopp on ” The Cost of Do-It-Yourself Sidewalks“:

Google Earth confirms that only Mr. Anderson’s side of the street is suitable for a sidewalk. It also shows there is very comfortably four and a half car/SUV widths’ worth of street there.

Mr. Anderson/his neighbors/the city could easily extend the curb out approximately four feet, creating a four-and-a-half-foot -wide sidewalk while leaving plenty of room for street parking on the opposite side and two full lanes for traffic. There is only one (probable) water main pipe access cover on his side/section of the street but appears about five and half feet out from the current curb so it shouldn’t be an issue.

Extending into the street would alleviate the need to worry about the elm tree for sure, utility poles, and probably the gas and sewer lines as well. Neighbors could get on board with this, as their curbside landscaping wouldn’t be affected. It’s a fair bet that if the city would approve such a plan, Mr. Anderson could probably successfully crowd-source a lot of the funding from his extended neighbors, who are fortunate enough to have sidewalks already.

Something has surely gone wrong if, even as several different permits are necessary and prudent, the cost of those permits become prohibitively expensive so as to have a chilling effect on something as rudimentary as building a sidewalk — at such a point becoming a self-defeating enterprise.

Catherine Hockmuth on “Five Things the Schools Chief Said Without Saying Them“:

I didn’t know much about the CFO before this interview, and now what I know isn’t encouraging to me. Are people really so excited about the “breath of fresh air” and “candor” that turns out to be more bluster than anything? I don’t actually feel I know more about his qualifications or his ideas (the interview just cites what he says about his record) other than that he’s somewhat loose with details, which is not what I think would be a great quality in a CFO. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that this was just an isolated incident of poor judgment and I certainly won’t join in the chorus calling for his dismissal. I believe in due process. I’m also hoping to hear from Kowba and the school board what they liked about him. What made them think he’s what we need to get the schools’ finances in order and more transparent?

I’m not bothered by people concerned about waste in schools. Every system has waste and we should try to reduce it where we can. What worries me is that we’re depleting our schools of resources and have been for years. That’s why the classrooms are dirty, why some teachers’ phones don’t work and why our classrooms are increasingly crowded. Dobbs’ statement on that was amusing only in that the CFO’s opinion on the merits of class size is kind of irrelevant. Besides, anyone with any sense at all must concede that the number of students in a classroom greatly impacts the time teachers have to spend with students individually. If we don’t care about the latter, well, that concerns me a great deal.

Margaret Sohar on “The High Costs of Blindly Cutting Budgets“:

Having personally suffered an unfortunate consequence related to the reduction (? elimination) of tree-trimming services, I can attest to the seriousness of the risks involved in not maintaining the trimming of the palm trees. A palm frond crashed down on my parked car in the Bankers Hill area, shattering the back window of my hatchback.

The force of impact must certainly be greater because of the distance from which these fronds fall. This experience has given me cause for concern regarding the potential for head injuries, especially to children.

I also agree that in addition to the city restoring this crucial service, along with other basic maintenance services, someone in an official capacity must take responsibility for oversight of the quality of service performed.

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 dagny.salas@voiceofsandiego.org 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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