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The conversation in the comments this week turned to how to fix community planning groups,the state’s public records law and a reflection on Bob Filner’s legacy on bikes. Check them out:

Erik Bruvold on “How San Diego’s Planning Groups Can Jump-start Involvement“:

I have always believe that planning groups should A) have more power and B) be a lot more accountable. The best provide a great “fire alarm” for the City Council as to projects that are flawed and likely to generate serious backlash. But on occasion, community planning groups have been “taken over” by voices that either are harping on a single issue. The problem is that these voices exist or come to prominence — it is that because they are not seen as really representing a broad community interest they get tuned out and the council can’t derive much (any?) value from that community planning group’s deliberations.

So here is one possible model. Keep the existing 45 groups as they are — solely advisory. Consider them as something of a “subcommittee.” Each group in a council district (and yes, you would have to revise boundaries to be coterminous with the district boundaries) gets to appoint/elect a member to what in effect is a planning commission for that district for a set term. Everything that happens at the planning commission would apply. Gotta be legal. Have to make findings. Same sorts of appeals to the council, etc. Probably eliminate the existing planning commission and/or give the mayor some appointments to these newly formed council commissions.

Benjamin Katz on “3 Ways to Bolster the California Public Records Act“:

This is a huge topic and I’m appreciative of Joel Hoffmann’s research into this and preliminary ideas on how we can make government more open. In addition to what Joel has listed, I’d immediately also add making the PRA process transparent.

Both requests for records and responses should be handled through a publicly visible portal (with date/time stamps), so that we all can see how responsive our government is being, derive general benefit from anything that has been already released and monitor for inconsistent/discriminatory releases of information.

Seth Hall, a VOSD contributor, on “3 Ways to Bolster the California Public Records Act“:

I completely agree and appreciate the last suggestion Joel mentioned, which is to fix a statewide problem by starting locally.

As beneficiaries of the PRA laws, news organizations are in a unique position to not only know where the most pain is, but also to be able to lead an organized effort to make change where the pain is. It costs money, time and expertise to make these changes, and as major stakeholders, unified news organizations are in the best position to lead a consistent, unified effort to get that started.

Journalists who want to make an impact and advocate for an issue can start right here, with this issue, which will better the quality of their own journalism and will increase access to records for their readers. And here they have an ally in VOSD and in Joel.

Sam Ollinger on “Filner’s Promises: The Mayor’s Final Report Card“:

Here is what I find remarkable about this short stint as mayor — it is completely unprecedented how the conversation during these short few months changed here in the city (regarding bicycling and livability of our city).

A while back I had an opportunity to review three gigantoid scrapbooks that was the creation of the late Dr. Clifford Graves, the La Jolla doctor who happened to be the founder of Hostelling International (San Diego) and someone I consider to be the first cycling advocate in the region. Graves had meticulously saved every single mention of anything related to bicycling from the 1800s through about the 1990s. This gave me a window into how cycling has been perceived for over a century in the city of San Diego. …

The need for redesigning our city, for critically evaluating how our public street space was serving its users: These were not subjects that ever made it into the discourse as memorialized in Graves’ scrapbooks. Filner’s State of the City address back in January addressed these subjects in a way no San Diego mayor ever has, although 10 years ago City Council had a brief affair with car-free streets.

In fact, I personally had a hard time keeping up with the mayor since he seemed to grasp the issues faster than I could lay them out. I thought I would have a nice cozy time coasting along (slowly) figuring out how to articulate the issues, but I was very mistaken. People much smarter than me have laid out the case of why the (soon-to-be-former) mayor was good, bad and evil, but I have to say that considering my general lukewarm attitude toward Filner, he surprised me in ways I couldn’t have imagined when it came to talking about redesigning our city to be a model in the world. In six months he did far more than I thought possible. So I do wonder if the next mayor will grasp what it takes to transform San Diego into a world-class bicycling city and then work to implement it.

Comments and excerpts have been edited for clarity and style, and a link was added. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us here

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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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