The University Heights neighborhood is in the middle in more ways than one.

Its boundaries are hard to determine geographically, as it bleeds into the noisier parts of Hillcrest and quieter parts of North Park next door. And on a city-planning level, it’s shared between two community groups that guide discussions about growth and change.

How’s that working out? Just guess. As our land-use reporter Andrew Keatts reports, there’s tension over whether University Heights should fall in a single planning group, and whether it will follow through on plans to decrease population density, creating a direct conflict with citywide plans.

Our Website Gets Some Work Done

We’ve heard you. Boy, have we heard you.

Voice of San Diego debuted a new website design a few weeks ago, and readers have not been happy about the challenges of finding content and using the system. So, as they say in the cosmetic surgery world, the site has been “refreshed.” Check it out here and read comments from our CEO and others in The Plaza.

Today in Filner: A Foe, a Reversal and a Gaffe

• City Attorney Jan Goldsmith, whose Cold War with Mayor Bob Filner continues, has just hired an interim spokesman. The guy is, as we put it, an “anti-Filnerite.” He’s even run against him (and lost) for Congress.

• U-T San Diego reports on the bizarre story of how the mayor reversed his opposition to a project by the infamous Sunroad company after it gave a big donation to the city in response to his request. (Sunroad previously gave a big headache to former Mayor Jerry Sanders.)

It sounds like a “shakedown” to one councilman; the mayor’s chief of staff has said the money was a donation, not a payment.

Filner earlier told 10News that there was no extortion: “What we’re trying to do is make sure that people that get things from the city understand that they also have to give things back. You don’t get free things.”

• Filner made an awkward joke at a summit of California mayors about the mayor of Oakland and her city’s potential as the next stop for newly released prisoners: “There was remarkable unanimity at Mayor Quan’s proposal that after we train all the prison guys ready to get out, they would all go to Oakland. We thank you for that offer.”

Nobody laughed. “Rookie mayor,” Sacramento’s mayor told reporters. KQED has the details.

• The Wall Street Journal explores how the mayor bypassed a bid and hired real-estate consultant Jason Hughes for free to hand negotiations of leases of city office space. “Renegotiating office leases can be a drawn-out process even in the best of circumstances. But the saga in San Diego shows how badly bogged down the process can get when politics and personal agendas get involved,” the Journal reports.

Disclosure: The consultant’s company, Hughes Marino, is a Voice of San Diego sponsor at the $10,000 level.

• The City Council has approved trying to borrow $35 million for a variety of projects (including expanded libraries and road repair) despite the mayor’s concerns that the city attorney may have set the bond up for failure, the U-T reports.

City Hall Roundup

• Republican members of the council are pushing to keep cops from taking jobs elsewhere, KPBS reports. We fact-checked some frequently cited claims about police recruitment and retention back in March.

• Local attorney Ryan T. Darby has read our story about the red tape facing a local brewery and writes this on the conservative blog: “San Diego is a hotbed of microbrewery start-ups that want to succeed and contribute to the local economy while serving as good neighbors. There is no reason why we can’t simplify this regulatory process to make permitting easier while preserving — and enhancing — our quality of life.”

Ft. Rosecrans Cemetery Loses Its Luster

At its best, Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery is one of the most scenic cemeteries of any kind in the country. But it’s at its worst right now, the U-T reports, thanks to the yellowing of grass thanks to the removal of headstone repairs and broken valves.

A complaint from Rep. Duncan D. Hunter appears to have prompted an apology, but much of the cemetery will look terrible through next year.

For more about the cemetery, check our moving photo essay from a memorial service in 2010. You can read about the story behind an obelisk that’s stood over a century in remembrance of the sailors who died here in one of the Navy’s worst disasters.

Quick News Hits

• Doug Manchester, publisher of the U-T, recently toured The Boston Globe and may be in the hunt to buy it, the Globe reports.

• The Stumblr drops by my neighborhood of Normal Heights and finds a really ugly sidewalk patch job.

• The controversial Chargers team doctor resigned after losing surgery privileges at two local hospitals, USA Today reports.

• KPBS has details about the 2015 celebration at Balboa Park.

• KPBS talks to election law specialists who say former Councilman Carl DeMaio, who plans to run for Congress in 2014, is “walking a blurry line” when it comes to connections to his advocacy group. “They said his coalition seemed to be laying the local groundwork for the congressional bid — a trend around the country — and he might have found a “great new loophole” in the law.”

• “The National Security Agency surveillance programs that swept up information on domestic phone calls and Internet traffic from abroad played a key role in the prosecution of four Somali immigrants in San Diego for funding the terrorist group al-Shabaab,” the U-T reports.

• A stork is missing from San Diego Zoo Safari Park, formerly known in the yonder days of yore as the Wild Animal Park, NBC 7 San Diego reports.

Well, we all know what storks are about. If anyone you know suddenly has a baby, don’t call the “I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant” TV people. Just ring up the zoo.

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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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