Lawn-waterers beware: It’s now illegal to irrigate more than a few days a week in cities and towns across the state. But if you get your water from the city of San Diego, feel free to sprinkle away every day of the year.

As we report in a new story, San Diego is going its own way when it comes to restrictions on irrigation. But an environmental group is crying foul, saying the city is violating state law and failing to take the drought seriously.

It all comes down to how people interpret new state regulations. The state water board is investigating, and we should soon know whether the city’s water rules are all wet.

The City’s Here to Help Your Business — Maybe

In a new story, we take a closer look at how the city is willing to go the extra mile — and spend the extra million, or two or three — to help certain businesses. Emphasize the “certain” part: “The city’s not interested in sinking cash in every business in the city. It’s focused on investing in those that meet some key metrics.”

Our story explains who can get subsidies and free services.

VOSD Radio: Maximum Battle Over Minimum Wage

The latest edition of the VOSD Radio Show and Expanded Podcast features guest Jason Roe, who’s leading the effort to prevent the city from raising the minimum wage slightly above the level set by the state.

“Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, of job creation,” says Roe, who’s pushing a ballot measure to let voters decide whether to keep the minimum wage hike.

• VOSD Radio’s Goat of the Week award goes to the San Diego Unified school district for its bonkers decision to acquire a surplus armored military vehicle designed to protect against mines and ambushes, which are not major threats facing local campuses.

The news about the school district’s new toy made headlines across the world.

There’s no sign that the district is going to get rid of the thing. But the Northern California city of Davis is making a different choice in a similar situation. As the New York Times reports, the liberal college town’s leaders told their police department to get rid of its own $700,000 “mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle.”

“When it comes to help from Washington we, like most communities, have a long wish list,” the mayor of Davis says. “But a tank, or MRAP, or whatever you choose to call it, is not on that list.”

Where Bike Lanes Helped Reduce Traffic

The ongoing battle between cyclists and drivers seems like one with definite winners and definite losers. Few if any people seem to believe that making life easier (and safer) for cyclists will do the same for drivers. In fact, one popular way to encourage public transit and protect the environment is to make driving so aggravating that fewer people will ever want to get in their cars.

A new story via the online news outlet Vox turns all these assumptions upside down. About 30 miles of new protected bike lanes — lanes that are physically separated from cars, not just by a painted stripe — appear to have actually sped up traffic.

How the heck did that happen? Apparently, the key is better engineering. “For the most part, driving lanes weren’t actually eliminated when they bike lanes were built — they were simply narrowed. Additionally, the design of the bike lanes included a dedicated left-turn lane at most intersections, allowing cars to wait to turn left without holding up traffic.”

• Readers flocked to our story about the high prices in San Diego’s upcoming rent-a-bike program: It was the most popular on our site last week. Taxpayers aren’t subsidizing the program, so its prices may be the highest in the nation.

For the rest of the Top 10 most popular stories of the past week, click here.

Quick News Hits: How Hot Is It?

• Councilwoman Marti Emerald will undergo surgery to treat the breast cancer that was diagnosed last week. She says her doctors believe her prognosis is “excellent.” (U-T)

Emerald, a former TV reporter, has been a member of the Council since 2008. She represents much of the central area of San Diego, including Kensington, City Heights and the College Area.

• A poll suggests support for the death penalty in California has sunk to the lowest levels in a half-century, the L.A. Times reports, but most voters seem to still want the state to kill prisoners. California’s death penalty is in legal limbo thanks to a judge’s ruling in July.

• We’re supposed to get Santa Anas in September, but this week’s mammoth heat wave isn’t descending with high winds and low humidity. Instead, it’s just plain hot, with SDG&E activating its power-saving programs as it expects big power crunch from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and, especially, late this afternoon.

As for me, I’ll just sit around and complain about the heat so much that I’ll catch a breeze from everybody’s weary sighs.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

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