Not every change in a city needs to have a 30-year plan and a multi-million dollar construction project. Sometimes, paint and a few tables helps a lot, like what happened with Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama after a major revamp failed. That kind of approach to reforming civic spaces is called “tactical urbanism,” and Andrew Keatts sat down with the guy who wrote the book on the subject to talk about “tactical” efforts ongoing in San Diego.

“I don’t know anything else that’s urbanist-oriented, public space-oriented and accessible to such a wide variety of people,” said Mike Lyndon, author of a guidebook to tactical urbanism. The concepts he works on are focused on projects that are small enough to be quickly implemented, so that he can get the ball rolling on change. “It’s better to think about doing a lot of incremental stuff that adds up over time,” he said.

SD Has a CA Problem

Message to San Diego: your state is holding you back. That was the finding of one group’s report, which looked at the tax burden of cities across the country, in combination with other factors like government spending and energy costs. “San Diego’s local government is smaller and more dependent on taxes than a handful of similar cities,” reported Lisa Halverstadt. Issues like higher energy costs and tougher state regulations can impact the city’s competitiveness. And then there’s the taxes. “Californians pay 11.4 percent of their incomes in state and local taxes while the national average is 9.4 percent,” Halverstadt wrote.

Wildfire Starters: San Diego Explained

Wildfire is a year-round threat in San Diego, and the leading reason the blazes start is from outdoor equipment usage, like tractors or lawnmowers. But using that equipment in especially dry, windy weather won’t get you in trouble, since authorities think asking construction companies to stop work is unreasonable. More reasonable, they say, is to put responsibility on victims of wildfire. Ari Bloomekatz joined NBC 7’s Catherine Garcia to illuminate what is going on with San Diego’s top cause of fires in our most recent San Diego Explained.

This Day In Money (or Lack Thereof)

A report out on Thursday touched on several hot issues in San Diego right now. The report from the Center on Policy Initiatives used census data to show that poverty in the San Diego region is up. But one group has finally caught a break; homeless toddlers now have a place they can go during the day, instead of spending the day on the streets with homeless parents, KPBS reported.

inewsource checked out the data and found that incomes in San Diego still haven’t recovered to their pre-recession levels.

One group that feels that pinch are San Diego police officers, who have seen cuts in prior years and whose salaries now trail competing police departments by thousands of dollars. A SDPD union spokesman said San Diego cops who leave for other police departments are “putting their pay stubs on Facebook, so the other officers who are here can see them and go over there.”

News Nibbles

• State Senator Ben Hueso, who was recently arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, was offered a deal to plead guilty to a lesser charge of “wet reckless.” (Sac Bee)

• Women may be as numerous as men in California, but only 30 percent of city, county and state elected offices are held by women. (KPBS)

• In an interview on the minimum wage increase, City Councilman Todd Gloria pointed to the failed Convention Center expansion as an example of why he wanted to avoid “breaking new legal ground” with the proposed minimum wage increase law. (San Diego Magazine)

• San Diego’s Thomas Jefferson School of Law, already dogged by bad student debt and graduate employment metrics, is now struggling to stay solvent. (U-T)

• The U-T reported on how the county may be interested in replacing their pension system’s consulting company, who have led that system into getting high returns by using risky strategies. We recently explained what the whole mess is about.

• The county also thinks people might be more OK with each county supervisor’s “discretionary” $2 million fund if the supes will just shut-up about it on Twitter and other social media. (U-T)

• San Diego is suddenly seeing its first cases of Enterovirus D68, which affects the respiratory system. (KPBS)

• You can now use special ATM devices in San Diego to swap your money for the virtual currency Bitcoin, and then use the Bitcoins to buy beer. Or you could just swap your money for beer directly. The important thing is that you buy beer.

Bubblewrap That MRAP

Comedian Stephen Colbert took notice of San Diego Unified’s newly acquired mine-resistant military vehicle, noting that our school district may need the vehicle in case Los Angeles’ school district ever acquires grenade launchers (which they did, the L.A. Times reported). He went on to suggest that, aside from filling the vehicle with teddy bears, we could mount a giant hot dog on top of it or maybe serve ice cream to kids out of it.

Not so fast, Colbert. Late on Thursday the district announced it would send the MRAP back to the military from whence it came. Superintendent Cindy Marten cited the community’s response to the vehicle as one reason the MRAP will be re-wrapped and shipped back, according to one U-T reporter.

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

Seth Hall

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

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