This year was no slouch when it came to big stories. Voice of San Diego spent a lot of effort covering the downfall of Bob Filner, sure, but that huge story was only a small part of the year in news. It’s something of a tradition now for us to quiz our reporters on their favorite stories of the year, and they dug deep to bring back some of 2013’s greatest hits.

Remember our series covering the troubling trends of legal arbitration? Or that time we watched U-T TV so you wouldn’t have to?

From epic fact-checks to fly-on-the-wall insider stories, our reporters have been busy bringing in unique stories that take you deeper than the average news clip.

A Picture’s Worth

It’s not only our stories that brought deep looks at San Diego’s most important issues, but also our unique photographs of San Diego from the perspective of our regular photo contributor Sam Hodgson. From capturing intimate images of prisoners and the homeless to spending time with mayors Filner and Gloria, Hodgson was there to capture key moments, and in a new post he tells the story of how he captured some of his most telling photographs from this year.

Hood Thinkin’

One word that helped define San Diego this past year was “neighborhoods.” Neighborhoods took center stage as we sat a new mayor earlier this year, and they have continued to dominate the conversation since. Andrew Keatts rehashes San Diego’s year of urban thinking, as its citizens look inward for day-to-day inspiration.

“The trend is marked most noticeably by the arrival of Bill Fulton, the city’s new planning director, a nationally celebrated thinker on the importance of sustainable urban development,” writes Keatts. But it’s not just Fulton. We also  have the Civic and Urban Initiatives program, R.A.D. Labs and an effort to re-imagine downtown.

Coming Soon: Promised Fixes

One thing that didn’t change this year: San Diego’s infrastructure continues to dissolve underneath our very feet, and it’s happening faster than we can fix it. Things keep breaking and, Liam Dillon reports, “Some of them break again, again and again.” Dillon rounded up some of the most troubling infrastructure failures San Diego faced this year and reports on the efforts to get them fixed. The bad news? None of them are fixed. The good news: They should be fixed soon, according to various spokespeople.

Culture and Holidays

San Diego Museum of Art has “the best art moment of 2013,” the Museum of Man wins an important three-year grant and Cheech Marin puts some of his collection of Chicano art on display at Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Get your holiday art fix in the most recent edition of the Culture Report.

Make It Rain

Voice member Bill Bradshaw wrote in to tell our readers about his recent efforts volunteering for Voice of San Diego. “It’s fun to rub elbows with young journalists,” Bradshaw writes, “and lately, I’ve been making phone calls to members who have perhaps forgotten to renew their memberships.” Bradshaw notes that he enjoys making the calls, but wouldn’t mind if he could share the load with other volunteers. “How about some help?” he asks.

Proof of Training Required

San Diego will have to report to the state of California every six months for the next five years showing that supervisors who work for the city have received sexual harassment prevention training. The deal comes as the result of a complaint filed by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing after Bob Filner claimed he hadn’t received the training. After the story broke, there was a sudden rush of people in Filner’s office completing the training, reported U-T San Diego.

News Nibbles

• Citybeat rounded up the likely issues that will appear as propositions on the ballot in 2014. Proposals on abortion, marijuana and pension reform all have a shot of showing up. Again.

• California schools are bracing for changes as a bill that spells out the rights of transgender students starting in kindergarten is set to take effect Jan. 1. A referendum challenge may put the law on hold, though.

• The Cabrillo Bridge in Balboa Park is closed for seismic retrofitting until April.

• Travelers through San Diego’s airport got to skip the normal security line this holiday season if their ticket was labeled “TSA-Pre.”

• Having had it up to here with the smell of sea lion poop, a group called Citizens For Odor Nuisance Abatement filed a Superior Court lawsuit against the city of San Diego.

• One agency gave San Diego a higher credit rating for Christmas.

• No doubt in the holiday spirit himself, Gov. Jerry Brown gave pardons to nine people who were convicted of crimes in San Diego County.

• The publisher of U-T San Diego wants to collect $90 per San Diego household per year, presumably through a tax, so the city can have $2 billion to build “venues and public spaces.” This from the paper who recently wrote it would be opining on “how a [new Chargers] stadium might be financed without breaking the backs of taxpayers,” in the form of a “public-private partnership.”

On Christmas Trees in Alleys

If you’ve read any news recently, you probably ran across a story urging you, neigh, imploring you to not to let your dead Christmas tree linger in your home or in your alleyway as a fire hazard. Nor should you attempt to have your old tree thrown into the landfill, they say. Instead, recycle it at one of many drop-off locations where you can just toss your tree into a huge pile and rest assured of its proper demise. And that’s all fine. But can’t we do better?

Make your old tree into a cat tree! Or use it to restore sand dunes! Chopping it up and throwing it into a lake under the guise of “sheltering fish” seems sketchy to me, but “This Old House” apparently approves of it, so who are we to disagree? Let me know if you’ve come up with any creative ideas for your used tree.

Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. You can email him at or follow him on Twitter: @loteck.

Seth Hall is co-founder of the community group San Diego Privacy, which is a member of the TRUST SD Coalition.

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