Outside of downtown, Hillcrest may be the most urban part of San Diego. Like parts of the most classic metropolitan cityscape — Manhattan — it’s walkable and cycle-able, sort of, but free parking is scarce and it takes forever to get around by car.

There should be a better way, maybe even one that’s good for walkers, cyclists and drivers, not to mention the businesspeople who want lots of customers and diners to come their way. Now, residents and merchants are considering three plans to make their dreams come true, as VOSD intern Matthew Hose reports, although anyone expecting to zip down University Avenue in a car may be out of luck.

One plan, by a retired architect, surprised people: It actually boosts the number of parking spaces while providing bike lanes. It’s getting support from businesspeople and advocates for alternative transportation, but there’s now another idea that moves a bike route away from University Avenue. And then there’s the original idea proposed by a coalition of local governments. Whatever happens, construction won’t start until 2016 at the earliest.

For SD Water Users, Stick May Replace Carrot

A few weeks ago, we told you about how environmentalists were raising the alarm that the city of San Diego wasn’t taking the drought seriously by cracking down on water users. Indeed, the city’s water rules are more lenient about things like irrigation than in many other parts of the county.

That seems to be about to change. The mayor wants the City Council to sign off on strict new rules that limit when most San Diegans can irrigate their lawns and ban ornamental fountains from, um, ornamental fountaining. There will even be water cops on the beat. For more details, check this story by KPBS and City News Service.

Frye: Take Down Prop. A

In a VOSD commentary, former Councilwoman and almost-mayor Donna Frye warns that the city “could lose out on hundreds of millions of dollars in state funding for construction projects” and “might no longer be eligible to receive low-interest loans for sewer and water projects.” This is all because the city’s passage of the anti-union Prop. A.

What should we do? “We have a few options, such as holding a special election to undo Prop. A, pushing for state legislation, initiating litigation or trying to somehow convince the state or the courts that San Diego’s Prop. A didn’t really ban project labor agreements.”

Old Carl, Meet the New Carl

It’s not easy to be a gay Republican. A big chunk of the GOP community isn’t comfortable with gays, and a big chunk of the gay community isn’t comfortable with the GOP. This might explain why former Councilman Carl DeMaio has been careful to keep his personal life in that middle range between ultra-private and ultra-public — not running from it but not necessarily embracing it either.

Now, DeMaio wants the world to know that he’s not, as his rival suggests, a Tea Party extremist. He’s “independent,” he says in a new ad that doesn’t mention he’s a Republican. And that’s not all: He calls himself “a proud gay American.”

“This new ad is the most direct and public he’s been about his personal life,” VOSD reporter Liam Dillon writes.

• The political action committee of billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the former New York City mayor, is spending millions on candidates it considers to be moderates. One of the beneficiaries is DeMaio: The PAC will pay for TV ads here.

Culture Report: Meeting of Minds on Tap

This week’s edition of the VOSD Culture Report, which recaps art and culture news from around the county, focuses on our upcoming Meeting of the Minds event on Oct. 22. Your host will be Alex Zaragoza, local arts maven and the woman behind the Culture Report.

The focus: Tijuana. “We’re shooting to give insight into the real TJ that’s only just now finding the appreciation it deserves, and how the city’s happenings affect the arts and culture of San Diego,” Zaragoza writes. This week’s Culture Report begins her introductions of the participants.

Also in the Culture Report: A new local arts app (which thankfully won’t be called Snorkl like a previous one), a possible wear-what-you-want dress code at the San Diego Symphony (everybody in jorts!), the results of this year’s architectural Orchids and Onions award (we’ll get you next time, boring new Kensington complex) and coffee roasters trying to steal some of all the attention that breweries are getting.

Quick News Hits

• The big debate over the city’s affordable housing fee may be over: The City Council has tentatively approved a compromise that will hike fees as of Jan. 1, but not as much as proponents wanted. The fee is expected to only generate $4.4 million a year to help pay for cheaper housing for the poor. (U-T)

• The airport is turning coffee to compost. (NBC 7)

• Southern California cut water use by 8 percent in August compared with last year. (L.A. Times)

Meanwhile, California pool companies are in a minor pickle due to the drought: “More than three dozen water agencies and local cities are cracking down on water use in swimming pools with rules that range from requiring a pool cover to prevent evaporation to banning residents from draining and refilling older ones that need repairs.” (AP)

• Gawker takes another look at a big issue for anyone who’s from a big-city suburb: How do you decide where to say you’re from? If you grew up in Escondido or El Cajon, for example, is it correct to say a native San Diegan? (This question is relevant to my interests.)

Location matters. I know this because of all the people and companies that like to say they’re in La Jolla when they’re actually in University City or places farther afield. The ZIP code tells the tale. It’s 92037 (unless you’re at UCSD) or getouddahere!

The Gawker post includes a shocking comment: “Here in Northern California, many folks refer to every city south of Santa Barbara and north of San Diego as ‘LA.’”

Aw man. That’s cold. I feel for you, Oceansiders, Encinitans, Carlsbaders and Del Martians!

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 randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com...

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