If at first your argument for using voter-approved bond money to build stuff in and around schools gets shot down in court, just try, try again. Ashly McGlone reports on how San Diego Unified’s plan to build stadium lights using money set aside for schools under Proposition S didn’t pass legal muster. But now the district is using a similar argument for a plan to build “pools for schools” using money approved by voters under Proposition Z.
“The taxpayer group that successfully sued over the field lights has put the district on notice that it plans to sue again once a drop of bond money is spent on the pools,” McGlone reports.
There’s another issue the district must navigate: Since some of the pools would be used in conjunction with private groups like the YMCA, “the district will need to make sure it’s using the bonds according to laws that limit the benefits afforded to non-governmental entities.”
School lights and bond money got you confused? Don’t know your Proposition Z from your S? McGlone has you covered. She appeared on NBC 7 to break down the whole mess in our most recent San Diego Explained.
The Learning Curve: Those Blessed Half-Days
Childless adults in San Diego may be surprised to learn that San Diego Unified designates one day of school per week as a “half-day,” where students typically only attend school for four hours. While my only question was why this policy wasn’t around when I was a kid, Mario Koran took up one reader’s question about where the idea for those so-called “minimum days” came from.
“Half-days have been around for years, and are just part of the fabric of San Diego Unified schools,” Koran writes. But the special days are also part of teachers union contracts, and are intended to allow teachers to plan lessons and grade work.
Out of Sight, Out of Pocket
Undergrounding your neighborhood’s electrical wires isn’t a panacea of beauty and safety. Camille Lazano reports on one undergrounding project in Mission Hills that has seen delay after delay, and that’s after the neighborhood has already dealt with interruptions from nearby projects. The projects aren’t free, either, Lazano reports. “City residents pay a surcharge to San Diego utility companies to fund undergrounding.” And some persnickety neighbors argue that the occasional green boxes that sit above ground and provide access to the system are no better than the huge wooden poles that they replaced.
Thinking Big on Mission Valley
Mary Lydon sits on the Citizens Stadium Advisory Group, which is trying to come up with a plan for a new stadium in Mission Valley. She wrote in to explain what the group is up to as it looks more broadly at the Mission Valley area and how that neighborhood would accommodate a new stadium. “Creating a new, mixed-use, transit-oriented village will more than likely be one funding source in the advisory group’s financing plan,” Lydon writes. However, she noted that significant “mobility improvements” would need to be made to the notoriously congested community to “boost” movement in and out of the area.
Political Waters Parting for Gloria
This week, City Councilman Todd Gloria announced that he will run for the state Assembly seat left open by Toni Atkins when she terms out of office. Party faithfuls have been stepping into line ever since, with candidate Sarah Boot first bowing out of contention on Tuesday. On Thursday, former City Councilman Ed Harris followed suit and announced he too would step aside to clear the way for Gloria’s candidacy. Republican Kevin Melton is also running for the seat.
A Republican challenger for the congressional seat currently held by Rep. Scott Peters has also appeared, the L.A. Times reports. Nope, it’s not talk-show host Carl DeMaio this time.
• CBS compiled a series of photographs that depict California’s drought in stunning contrast.
• County Supervisor Dave Roberts rescinded an $85,000 grant to rebuild a baseball field in Solana Beach after deciding it looked like favoritism since his sons play Little League there. (NBC 7)
• Public service announcement: County property owners need to pay their property taxes by Friday. (KPBS)
• San Diego wants to use cameras to catch single drivers who illegally use carpool lanes (CBS 8).
• SDNews.com covered a simmering disagreement over how to deal with short-term vacation rentals in Pacific Beach.
• Encinitas’ ban on plastic bags goes into effect Friday. (U-T San Diego)
• If you like the cheap seats, it’s good to be a Padres fan. (NBC 7)
Your Municipal Shopping Spree
The annual “budget game” hosted by KPBS invites readers to try to “fix” San Diego’s city budget by making some big calls on which programs should be implemented or cut. Results this year are coming in and the most popular choices so far are for fixing sidewalks, improving homeless services and restoring after-school programs. All of these programs cost money, so what are voters willing to give up to fund this spending spree?
Foremost, the top trim voters want to make to the budget is the $10 million subsidy the city gives Qualcomm stadium. That cut alone would pay for all three of the programs. But just in case you’re really in the mood to tip some sacred cows, you’re not alone: The second most popular cut is to the city’s free trash pickup, which gets your budget a cool $31 million to play with.