The Ballast Point brewery wanted to just open a small tasting room. But fear of the city’s permitting process — and the prospect of a battle with neighbors — led it to quash the idea and speed up plans to build a full-service restaurant instead.

That’s odd. It’s easier to build a restaurant than a tasting room? Yup. As VOSD land-use reporter Andrew Keatts explains in a new story, the city’s rules can lead to some strange bedfellows. In this case, call them brewfellows.

“We’ve done conditional [non-automatic] permits for things we thought would be a no-brainer that became a nightmare,” a consultant tells us. “It opens everything up to more scrutiny. And it becomes an emotional issue. That’s what scares everyone — that it’ll go into emotions instead of logic. Community planning groups, and subgroups of that, like neighborhood groups, they can become very emotional. Everybody has a button.”

Verdict on Major Cuts at New Supe’s School

Cindy Marten, the incoming superintendent of San Diego schools, claimed that the elementary school where she served as principal faced millions in cuts in recent years. San Diego Fact Check finds that her claim is “barely true.”

Huge Fed Lawsuit Against SD Hospice

The federal government has filed a $112 million lawsuit against the now-defunct San Diego Hospice, which is now in bankruptcy proceedings, claiming it falsely filed claims in 2009 and 2010, U-T San Diego reports. For background, check my recent story, published on our site in conjunction with Kaiser Health News, that examined the hospice’s collapse.

Updating Our Street Light Project

The city has a reported $30 million backlog of uninstalled street lights. That is a huge number. If street lights cost $30,000, say, that would translate to 1,000 of them. (We don’t have information yet on their cost.)

In an update to our current street light project, VOSD reporter Liam Dillon offers details about the city’s process and a clarification about the options in the North Park area.

A ‘High’ Note for The Stumblr

• The Stumblr is in Logan Heights again. This decrepit sidewalk might get a rise out of you.

Alternate Realities, Barista Flirtation, Bovine Artist

VOSD’s weekly Culture Report offers an aggregation of links to stories about a local art museum’s focus on alternative realities (here’s hoping I’m skinnier in one of them), an artist who’s pondering his experiences (like trying to not flirt with a barista every day), and a “bovine artist.”

I’m not going to milk that last item for cheesy humor since that would be udderly wrong. We run a classy joint here at the Morning Report.

A High Note for the … Padres?

Thirteen innings, a victory and an eight-game winning streak: The Padres suddenly seem to have a prayer, says VOSD sports blogger Beau Lynott.

More Big Trouble at Bridgepoint

Here are a few words that strike fear into the hearts of workers these days: “voluntary work-force reduction program.” When companies say this, they often mean “we’ll buy you out now if you want but later you might just get laid off with a worse deal.”

Some employees of Ashford University, run by distressed local parent company Bridgepoint Education, received a letter offering the buy-outs last week, NBC 7 San Diego reports. The company says involuntary layoffs may come later; hundreds of jobs are potentially at stake.

VOSD has been following the Bridgepoint saga for a couple years. You can catch up by reading our update from last July.

One Vote and Property Taxes Rocket

“Back in 2000, one man “marked an ‘X’ on a ballot giving the city of San Diego the power to issue $25 million in bonds and charge hundreds of homeowners thousands more in property taxes,” KPBS reports. No one else voted. Now, 346 property owners continue to pay the price for the time he marked the spot with an X.

How the heck did that happen? Don’t call the cops: It was all legal. The man was a consultant for a developer — he doesn’t even remember actually voting — and state law allowed him to personally set up the taxing scheme known as a Mello-Roos district for a northern San Diego neighborhood.

North County Public Transit Under Scrutiny

Federal transit officials are “looking into” the North County Transit District, which manages the region’s bus and Sprinter service, INewsource reports. The investigative news outlet has been chronicling a series of problems in the transit system “from security risks to contract failing to high employee turnover.”

Examining the Toll of Toll Roads

Freeway express lanes — like the ones in San Diego and Orange counties — are mighty convenient for car-poolers and drivers (like me) willing to cough up some dough to breeze by traffic jams. But are they fair to the poor who can’t afford the single-driver fees?

The Atlantic Cities blog examines the debate, noting that “a couple recent arguments suggest that [the] lanes and the country’s egalitarian spirit can, in fact, coexist.”

Dear Sir and/or Madam …

The website Reddit is abuzz over a hilariously vague form letter that a constituent received from local Rep. Scott Peters.

The constituent was worried about government intrusion into our private lives. The Peters letter, however, was not concerned about anything in particular other than unspecified “recent events”: “Thank you for contacting me to share your views on recent events … I share your concern surrounding these events … I will be monitoring any developments related to these recent events … ”

And rest assured, Peters will “expect Congress to get the answers the American public deserves, and I will support every effort to get the facts, fix the problem so it doesn’t recur and to hold accountable any wrongdoers.”

Thank goodness someone’s on top of “recent events” in Washington D.C. Because these things keep happening.

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Randy Dotinga

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

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