Big cities may seem like they’d drive environmentalists around the bend, but many green types actually like the idea of fitting lots of people into small spaces by building up instead of out. The idea is to boost public transportation, limit the use of cars and keep cities from sprawling into the remaining wilderness.

A year ago, it looked like this kind of urban life might get a big boost in San Diego in 2014. VOSD land-use reporter Andrew Keatts even predicted smooth sailing ahead. But now, as he admits in a look back at 2014, his prediction “seems to have been absurd.”

“In the year since, some of the crumbs that led me to that conclusion have been dismantled or dismissed,” he writes. “New efforts aimed at making the city a more urban place, with denser development and increased use of public transportation didn’t fare well … 2014 showed anyone looking to make San Diego more like San Francisco, Portland or Denver that they have their work cut out for them.”

2014 Was a Bonanza for Business

You know how businesses like to complain about how San Diego makes things difficult for them? Judging by what they got in 2014, they might need to make some major adjustments. As VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt reports, the business community notched victory after victory over the past year. “The business community is back and it’ll play a major role in guiding local policy conversations in 2015,” Halverstadt writes.

Stingers! The Year’s Most Buzzy Opinions

San Diegans shared plenty of opinions via VOSD in 2014, and several commentaries in particular spurred readers to react. We’ve compiled a list of the most incendiary opinions of the year. Among the topics: A big (and widely mocked) smooch for San Diego schools, a bitter (and also widely mocked) kiss-off from a notable former local restaurant owner and a stand against anti-feminist trolls. Plus more, including a defense — of that family who needed to be rescued from the ocean — that revealed a deep familial divide, among other things, in the comments.

Three More Fatal Hit-and-Runs

As we revealed in a series of stories, it’s been a horrific year in San Diego County for fatal hit-and-run crashes, and families and friends of victims rarely find justice even when the culprits are exposed. Now, “police are investigating three separate fatal hit-and-run crashes on Sunday night — one in National City, another in City Heights and a third in Carlsbad.” (NBC 7)

Schools to Face Another Pension Nightmare

“A state-mandated schedule for replenishing California’s cash-strapped teachers’ retirement fund means school districts will see their pension contributions triple by 2021 and remain high for decades, according to budget forecasts released this month by several local districts,” the U-T reports.

The cost for some districts could be tens of millions a year. Check our story here for background on how San Diego schools may be affected.

• Six local judges are suing the state, saying they deserve higher pensions. They include Judge Gary Kreep, a conservative legal activist whose surprise victory in 2012 drew plenty of media attention. (Reader)

Quick News Hits: Tower Ho!

• In Balboa Park, the Museum of Man’s iconic California Tower will open to the public on New Year’s Day for the first time since 1935. Visitors will have to climb stairs since there’s no elevator. (KPBS)

• Cigarette butts made up a huge chunk of the trash collected at San Diego area beaches, a new report says. (TakePart)

• The mini-Target store that’s coming to South Park, replacing a supermarket that’s seemed to have long been mummified in 1962, won’t have a Starbucks in order to keep independent coffee fans from freaking out. (NBC 7)

• KPBS raves about a swanky New Year’s Eve celebration at downtown’s Westgate Hotel that features “a vintage cocktail reception, five-course wine paired dinner, a live quartet and a midnight balloon drop complete with a Champagne toast.”

The dinner will feature “a spread recreating favorite mid-century dishes.” Yikes. I mean, um, yum! In honor of San Diego’s history as a seafood stronghold and the home of the heir to a certain jiggly food fortune, perhaps they should offer this actual mid-century treat: the Tuna and Jell-o Pie. Save me a piece!

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

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

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