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If you don’t live in an apartment or condo, you may believe San Diego has too many of them. Heck, you may believe this even if you do live in one of them.
But the city is trying to fit more people into smaller spaces as part of a density push, and some parts of town are zoned for the dreaded “multi-family” housing.
What to do? As VOSD’s Andrew Keatts reports, the city is making it easier for developers to build small homes (think North Park/Hillcrest-style bungalows) on small lots instead of big apartment buildings. Under old rules, you would have to get special permission for each new division.
“It could be one piece of the puzzle to provide housing for an increasing population but less controversial than major density fights have caused,” Keatts writes.
Civic Drama Continues
The mayor held his rally Wednesday in Southeastern San Diego to save Civic San Diego from new legislation. He mentioned that the councilwoman for the area, Myrtle Cole, was a big supporter of Civic San Diego. And she was, saying this during her campaign: “We want to make the permitting process more streamlined, to attract developers and that’s what Civic San Diego will be doing, and that will help, because investors did not want to come into our district because it took them so long to develop and it cost so much,” she said.
Curiously, though, she was not at the mayor’s rally. When NBC 7 San Diego’s Wendy Fry called her to check whether she still felt that way, she got a no comment.
The Year’s Weirdest Story: Early Leader
“An aide to state Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris and two others are accused of operating a rogue police force that claimed to exist for more than 3,000 years and have jurisdiction in 33 states and Mexico,” the L.A. Times reports, quoting officials. Hmm. What’s the force called? “Masonic Fraternal Police Department.” Double hmm.
• In other legal news: “Hash oil,” a marijuana-based product, is said to be a great treatment for very sick people, although it also makes them tremendously high, perhaps enough to make them forget they’re very sick. the tricky thing: It’s legal to get it if a doctor says it’s OK, making the stuff is illegal — and dangerous. CityBeat checks in on the situation.
• Rachel Smith, a resident in the Burlingame neighborhood, sure looks like a nice lady. But at least some of her neighbors think she’s a nuisance since she allows visitors to stay in her home via Airbnb. The Reader explores what happened next.
• No, a federal judge said, conservative superstar Dinesh D’Souza can’t take a cozy break from his sentence in a campaign-financing case by hanging out for the summer at a local Catholic high school here: “The short explanation is, as all criminal defendants are aware, that we don’t provide ‘summer breaks’ in these circumstances,” the annoyed judge said.
That wasn’t all. The judge also zinged D’Souza after receiving a copy of a magazine article about him: “With respect to the Vanity Fair article, the court has no immediate reaction other than the article suggests several fertile areas of discussion during Mr. D’Souza’s required therapeutic counseling.” Zing! (NY Post)
At Airport, Uber’s Still Out
I recently tried to get a ride home from the airport via Lyft, the Avis of app-based taxi services. But it wouldn’t let me call a car. Then I tried Uber and waited for a few minutes until someone answered my hail. He turned out to have a special license to pick up at the airport.
Weren’t we supposed to have fixed the Uber/Lyft situation at Lindbergh Field so savvy travelers could avoid taxis and their higher cost, cramped space, unfriendly drivers and lack of convenience? Well, KPBS reports, the supposed fix hasn’t made things easy for users. Uber can’t even pick up people at the curb. It’s not clear why Lyft is MIA.
Ambulance Companies Pay Big in Case
“Two ambulance companies in San Diego County will pay $600,000 each to the federal government as part of an $11.5 million anti-kickback settlement initiated by a competitor’s whistleblower complaint,” the U-T reports. The companies are Balboa Ambulance Service and E.R. Ambulance. The whistleblower himself will get $1.7 million.
Rapper Says Shooting Lyrics Sell
Remember “Tiny Doo,” the little-known local rapper who became an emblem of legal overreach when county prosecutors jailed him for daring to make money from rapping about crime? A judge released him. Now, he tells the libertarian outfit Reason that his songs are “not real life, it’s just entertainment. The more shooting you have in the movie […] the more people are compelled to really, really, want to tune in. The more shooting you talk about in your raps, the more people that like certain type of stuff like that is gonna want to go grab that album.”
In Fresno, a Freak-Out over Water
More than a few folks like it when the name of the Fresno mayor comes up in the news. Ashley Swearengin makes us think of the gloriously foul-mouthed Al Swearengen in TV’s “Deadwood.” Now, Swearengin (the mayor) appears in an NY Times story about the huge outcry when the very low water rates went up by a bit: “It wasn’t that long ago that people here were fighting the installation of water meters.”
Raising rates even more could snuff out political careers in Fresno. But, as the story reports, the similarly drought-stricken city of Santa Fe, N.M., has no problem jacking up water rates, at least for the hogs at the trough: “in no major city today are the tiers so steep, with water guzzlers paying three to four times more per gallon than more efficient consumers are charged.” As a result, the city’s using less water even as it grows.
Which city is San Diego more like? Santa Fe, actually. Our rates are on the high side, like theirs, and there’s a big difference between the cost for 50 gallons a day and 150 gallons a day. It’s teeniest in Fresno among 30 cities surveyed. Maybe more swearing is needed.
• The news site Grist tries to explain how farmers trade water in California.
Eat Up! The Food’s Fine, Says Us
Three local universities take care of their own inspections of food facilities like restaurants and cafeterias, inewsource finds. How do the colleges think they’re doing? Pretty darned well. OK, just about perfectly, actually: “A review of records for 115 restaurants, coffee shops and kitchens showed all received ‘A’ grades.”
Why Storytelling Matters
When I’m not engaging in writerly duties, I serve as the president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, an 1,100-member association of professional independent writers. Last week, we held our big annual conference for more than 500 attendees in the Big Apple. The keynote speaker was memoirist and novelist Jennifer Finney Boylan, the first bestselling transgender author in the U.S.
I’m bringing her up because she got a standing ovation after talking about something we do here at VOSD every day: tell stories and try to make the world a better place.
Boylan, who’s written about revealing her private agony to the wife and children who only knew her as a man, told us about traumas and triumphs and the power of journalism. “What we do as tellers of stories can change the world and change lives,” she said. “It may not seem that way when you’re coming up with a listicle for BuzzFeed… Sometimes when you’re in the weeds of this profession, we can lose track of that… But when people see or read a story, it becomes real.”
If you’d like to listen to her inspiring speech about the power of stories, along with a mercifully brief postscript from me, click here.
OK, This Is Actually Drone-Worthy
His drone whacked itself into a building at Balboa Park, and he got some grief from a bystander who feared he’d hurt birds. But while his drone is worse for wear, local videographer Eladio Arvelo is still basking in the glow of his stunning drone’s-eye video of San Diego top sights, all caught just after sunrise.
The 4-minute video’s been around for a while, but Times of S.D. just brought new attention to it by chatting with Arvelo about his stunning creation. The video is truly remarkable: Nothing like this has ever been filmed here since it just wasn’t possible. One especially amazing fact: It makes the waterfront “Kiss” statue look non-terrible. Talk about once-in-a-lifetime.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.