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When is an inn not an inn? When it’s in someone’s house, maybe? But then what is it if it’s not a hotel, a motel, a B&B or guesthouse?
That’s the big question for the city of San Diego as services like Airbnb offer tourists and other visitors the chance to stay overnight in someone’s private home. Should a paying guest in someone’s second bedroom have to cough up hotel taxes just like a hotel visitor with a mint on her pillow?
We examine the issue in a new story: “A lack of specific city regulations has created confusion and frustration among both the local hotel industry and even some Airbnb hosts, though many may be unaware they need to collect taxes in the first place.”
Schools Call It Quits on Risky Borrowing
With an impenetrable name like “capital appreciation bonds,” how could the ultra-risky borrowing schemes embraced by school districts be anything but trouble? Turns out they were — and are. These are the bonds — loans, in layperson-talk — that provide nice influxes of cash up front but can cost 15 times as much down the line to pay them back.
Journalists at VOSD and elsewhere first started to pay close attention to these loans back in 2012, and the public’s interest hit the fan. Politicians started focusing on the loans too as those who stood behind them — like officials with the Poway school district — had trouble explaining why they believe those who pay property taxes should face such gargantuan bills in a few decades.
State legislators in Sacramento clamped down on the types of loans that are allowed. Now, there’s more news: school districts are relying on these loans a lot less than in the past.
Our story also notes what happened to the superintendent of Poway schools.
Was he run out of town on a rail? Nope. Anything but: He’s making more money and is one of the highest-paid superintendents in the state.
Minimum Wage Hike May Not Need Your Support
If you’re thinking you’d get a chance to vote on a hike in the minimum wage later this year, you may have to adjust your expectations: The City Council is exploring ways to bypass voters and simply approve a hike in the minimum wage to $13.09 over three years, City News Service reports.
That would be higher than the state’s minimum wage, set to reach $10 in two years.
Look to hear more about all this in June. Between now and then, review our recent reader’s guide on the minimum wage issue.
Crime Reports Won’t Doom Undocumented Immigrants
We follow up on questions from a crowd of Chula Vista residents with a look at what happens if undocumented immigrants report crimes: if all goes according to the law, nothing. “There are laws and policies in place to protect the undocumented from retribution or deportation.”
Your Map to Cyclist and Runner Hotspots
Want to hit the ground running? Or biking? We’ve got just the thing for you: a map, via an app called Strava, of the favorite routes of cyclists and runners. We zoomed in on San Diego and posted a map here.
College Classes In, College Classes Out
• Point Loma Nazarene University is engaging in a “prioritization” process. Translation: Cutbacks are in store, $2.2 million worth to be exact. According to the college paper, the university is eliminating a bunch of majors: theater, family and consumer sciences, Romance languages and philosophy/theology.
Quick News Hits: Greer Garson Alert
• “Opponents of day-use fees in national forests chalked up another victory this week with a federal court ruling in the long-running battle over the recreation charges,” the LA Times reports.
• I received a few responses to my Morning Report tale of running into local movie maven Andy Friedenberg on a plane this week after wondering if “Andy What’s-His-Face” was present. The best came from Lee Grissom, the former president of the Greater San Diego Chamber of Commerce and quite possibly the best storyteller in town, present company excluded.
He wrote about flying on a plane many years ago and suddenly realizing he was sitting next to the actress Greer Garson. (Look her up, youngsters.)
He praised her performance in a movie, but mixed her up with another actress, Deborah Kerr. Luckily, young actress Suzi Quatro, who played an weirdly named musician from “Happy Days,” was sitting nearby and rescued him from embarrassment by starting up a conversation herself with Garson.
“And that,” Grissom recalls, “was the day Leather Tuscadero saved my pride.”
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and president-elect of the American Society of Journalists & Authors. Please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.