Why are so many fights erupting about drive-thrus at fast food restaurants in North Park? Residents have successfully gotten rules in place to keep drive thrus out but plans to build them keep coming. We explore the issue and the obstacles, including city zoning laws that aren’t exactly clear. And we examine the issue of “wiggle room”: How would a Jack in the Box, Roberto’s or KFC build drive thrus?

And how many -berto’s restaurants are there in this town? (Ok, we don’t answer that, but maybe it could be a follow-up.)

All Together Now: Agreement on Outsourcing

It may seem like city leaders are irreparably divided on the issue on the city’s managed competition program, which forces city workers to bid against private companies that want to perform a service.But as our new story about areas of agreement reveals, “both supporters and detractors agree managed competition could use some tweaks, and the wonkiest among them even zero in on some of the same concerns.”

Readers Write: Stadium First? Nah

In a recent Member Report, Voice of San Diego’s CEO Scott Lewis reported on a meeting U-T San Diego owners were having Monday with some of the city’s elite to figure out how to get Kevin Faulconer elected.

Lewis asked members to respond whether they agreed with Doug Manchester and John Lynch that a new football stadium was the highest priority. We’ve compiled some of the best responses. “If Qualcomm Stadium is completely outdated, build a new stadium on that site and tear down the old one,” writes reader Carol Beam, while Stewart Halpern says “downtown football stadiums just don’t make sense.”

What’s the Member Report? Voice of San Diego survives in part because of the 1,700 readers who donate. We call them members. The Member Report is our version of a kind of edgy newsletter for them. Donate here.

• In a VOSD commentary, Dennis Ridz, chairman of the Torrey Pines Community Planning Board, says his group can’t officially weigh in on the controversial One Paseo development because it doesn’t cover that area. But the Torrey Pines area is still next door and will be directly affected, he writes. As for councilmembers, he says, none of them live there.

Solar Turbines Gets Its Shield

The San Diego City Council imposed a buffer downtown to ensure that nobody will try to build homes next to Solar Turbines. A proposal last year for the old Fat City restaurant scared the company. Recall, Kevin Faulconer was touted as having saved Solar Turbines in the mayoral campaign but it was actually downtown’s community plan, of which he was a major proponent, that had threatened the manufacturer in the first place.

The new buffer means no more of those threats.

Congressman Holds Fast to Food-Free Protest

Local Rep. Juan Vargas will take part in a Washington D.C. “fasting chain” to show support for immigration reform, we report in a new story.

Here a Pension Problem, There a Pension Problem

• Remember Prop. B, which was supposed to help the city resolve its ongoing headache over employees who are going to make a lot of money when they retire and take taxpayer-funded pensions? Eighteen months after it passed, the U-T reports, “it remains in legal limbo and a couple of its key provisions have yet to be enacted by the City Council.”

• Could San Diego ever get rid of some of its pension obligations by going bankrupt? The failed city of Detroit wants to do just that, and a judge has just ruled that it can.

Hopefuls for the Holidays

No, they aren’t going to vanish up a chimney somewhere. The two remaining mayoral candidates will continue campaigning through the holidays, the U-T reports, although it sounds like they won’t be doing much in the way of heavy lifting.

Quick News Hits

• The Culture Report, our weekly look at all things artsy, checks in on the tons of public art at the brand-spanking-new Central Library (even a notoriously snooty crank — me — likes some of it), the growing fuss over the Balboa Park centennial’s inability to find local help, Mrs. Huxtable’s big new local role (no, it’s not just sitting around and smiling generously at Mr. Huxtable), and the new Maker’s Quarter project in downtown.

• The San Diego area barely avoided disaster back in September 2011 when the region suffered a massive blackout. Plenty of things that we’d expect to work didn’t: Cell phones via certain carriers lost service, for instance, and several emergency hospital generators sputtered or simply failed. Luckily, no one died.

Now, a new LA Times story says experts fear the blackout is “a harbinger of the sorts of problems that could become frequent if the nation fails to refashion its outmoded power grid.”

• A couple months ago, the City Council quietly approved a $900 million plan for a major upgrade of the little Brown Field airport by the border and the area around it. Now, 10News reports, activists are suing the city in a bid to save a species of owl whose numbers have dwindled to about 15 in the county.

• Baby, she was born this way! Yes, Lady Gaga is returning to San Diego. She’ll be performing at San Diego State next June.

Excellent! I’ll plenty of time to get my meat dress back from the cleaners.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and vice president of the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

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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