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More than 400 city staffers are getting a new workplace in downtown, not far from their old one after a major announcement Monday that the city and its volunteer real estate adviser Jason Hughes had secured a much cheaper lease in a better building. The lease at 600 B. Street was almost expired.

As our Lisa Halverstadt reports, there were plenty of I-told-you-so opportunities Tuesday. It was high lease rates that had provided the backbone for the argument that the city should build a new City Hall.

In its own I-told-you-so, the U-T reports that the city had projected it would need to pay lease rates of $2.17 per square foot downtown. And that was the reason to build its own new headquarters. But the new rate the city is paying is $1.25 per square foot.

It’s only for six years, however, and Mayor Bob Filner still thinks there’s room for discussion of a new City Hall. He and Hughes, who helped secure the deal, turn their attention to the city’s entire downtown real estate situation.

• Carl DeMaio, whom Hughes had supported for the mayor, tweeted his own I-told-you-so.

More Thoughts for the New Schools Chief

San Diego schools will soon have a new superintendent, and local parents and others are eager to give her a piece of their minds. Dear Superintendent, our Tumblr devoted to visual messages for incoming chief Cindy Marten, is extra busy in the wake of our chat with her last week. Check it out here and get details about contributing here.

• Marten’s chat with us was the hot topic during the latest edition of VOSD Radio.

• The San Jose Mercury News reports that “a lawsuit is heading closer to trial, a lawsuit that could vastly expand services for disabled students in California, and greatly increase the costs of educating them, is inching toward trial… A victory could possibly force districts to offer more programs to more children with physical, mental and social-emotional disabilities.”

Active Voice: Should All Students Be University-Eligible?

San Diego schools are playing the expectation-setting game, and there’s talk that they’ll say every high-school graduate must be eligible to enter one of the state’s two university systems.

Now that is a high expectation. Can the schools do it? Our Oscar Ramos says it won’t be easy: “in order to meet that goal, San Diegans are also going to have to invest in stronger supports for our students, many of whom may struggle to meet our more rigorous graduation requirements.”

One-Third of S.D. Working Households Socked Hard

Just how much do we pay to call San Diego home? We know we’re quite high on the cost-of-living scale. Now, a new report from the Center for Housing Policy puts things into perspective.

San Diego ranks fifth among U.S. metro areas when it comes to the percentage of working households that face a “severe housing cost burden.” We’re at 34 percent, behind only Miami, Los Angeles, New York City and Orlando.

Councilman Blasts Fletcher’s Party Switch

Reaction to Nathan Fletcher’s decision to join the Democratic Party continued Monday. Scott Sherman, the City Councilman who represents Tierrasanta and other nearby neighborhoods, let loose on Facebook blasting Fletcher.

That’s what happens when you have no character. Nathan is about Nathan and that’s it. If it’s not changing party to Independent the day after he begged for the GOP endorsement or taking advantage of a terrible tragedy and coming up with Megan’s law so he could get his name in the paper,” Sherman said.

He went on: “Other than our Mayor…….Nathan Fletcher embodies everything that is wrong with politicians. Remember…………..I’m still not one. Just surrounded by them.

Sherman notoriously claimed he wasn’t a politician at the ceremony where he officially became one in December. We’re guessing he meant Chelsea’s Law, which is being replicated by other states.

The U-T compiled a look back and Fletcher’s first 30 hours as a Democrat and also slammed him in an editorial.

Cities Don’t Have to Allow Marijuana Storefronts

Cities can ban storefront medical marijuana shops, the California Supreme Court has ruled. (AP) This matters because San Diego has a de facto existing ban on dispensaries (any that you see operating are simply not being enforced.) The city attorney explained Monday that the ruling freed the city from the worry that it had to allow the storefronts. 

It can allow them, he said, but it doesn’t have to.

Mayor Filner wants to allow the shops to exist in San Diego. Check our recent video explainer to understand some of the hurdles facing Filner.

Our Most Popular Posts

The first storyin our new ongoing examination of San Diego’s street lights is at the top of the VOSD hit parade: It got more clicks than any other story on our site over the past week.

Other popular stories on our Top 10 list looked at the challenges of zoning for a brewery owner, photos of the ever-present mayor, and a new plan to give a face lift to Balboa Park.    

By the way, we haven’t forgotten about one of our recent obsessions: sidewalks. The Stumblr blog, which remains active, now includes a batch of new photos from the decrepit sidewalks along 39th Street in City Heights.

Quick News Hits

Fact Check TV examines a campaign claim about City Council candidate Myrtle Cole, who’s running to represent much of southeastern San Diego. Our fact-checkers also check into a councilman’s claim that Mayor Bob Filner’s proposed budget leaves street repairs on the side of the road, at least for a year.

• U-T columnist Logan Jenkins previews a political “prizefight” on tap for 2014 in Escondido. (Oh boy!) “There will be blood,” he writes with a cinematic flair, and “a traditionally conservative city’s core identity will be on the line.”

• The DEA is out with a new most-wanted poster of six alleged drug traffickers in the San Diego-Tijuana region, the AP reports. As the U-T’s Sandra Dibble explained to our Scott Lewis, this is interesting because it “shows the established presence of the Sinaloa group, which wasn’t on previous posters.”

• The little mountain town of Julian, famed for its yummy apple harvest and snow-flecked winters, is mighty proud of its volunteer fire department. So proud, the L.A. Times reports, that it’s turned away the county’s offer to provide plenty of support (including two full-timers) in return for giving up the right to run the Julian-Cuyamaca Fire Protection District.

“There have been misgivings in other areas about their volunteer departments coming under the Fire Authority. But nowhere has the opposition been stronger than in Julian,” the Times reports. It adds that “about 400 volunteer firefighters, spread among 30 stations and 10 departments, protect 60% of the sprawling county.”

Here’s hoping the volunteer fire crews in Julian know their priorities: Protect the people first. Then the pies.

Unless they’re really good pies. Then it might be the other way around.

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

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Randy Dotinga

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

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