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With the fate of a Convention Center expansion still unknown, VOSD’s Ashly McGlone examines how a company called Fifth Avenue Landing has made $4 million since 2008 by doing nothing with a plot of land next to the building.

The company leased the land before the Convention Center was built, which turned out to be a lucrative decision. The land has long been eyed for the site of a Convention Center expansion.

“The company was in line to get $14 million this year under the terms of a lease buyout deal brokered in 2010. But then the Convention Center expansion project fell apart,” McGlone reports. “City Council members past and present are criticizing the decision not to buy out the lease from Fifth Avenue. They say it means the dream of a contiguous center expansion is now dead.”

How to Tell if You’re a Candidate to Go Solar

Thinking about converting your home to solar power? We’ve put together a handy flowchart to help you make the decision.

Keep in mind that you may not have a decision to make at all. Renters and condo owners may not have a choice, and solar power generally isn’t considered a cost-saving idea for those who have monthly electric bills of less than $100. And even if you own your own home and pay a lot for electricity, you’ll still have to worry about the sun and your house’s exposure to it.

But even if you’re not an ideal candidate to get rooftop solar panels, we’ve got you covered. “Policymakers are pushing ways to ensure folks who can’t get solar panels can still benefit from that power source,” Halverstadt writes. That’s where something called “community solar” and some other options come in.

Escondido Mayor Wants to Move Up

Dave Roberts was the first Democrat — and the first new face — to join the County Board of Supervisors since the 1990s. But he’s fending off a potential scandal, and Republican foes are circling. Escondido Mayor Sam Abed, a major force behind his city’s reputation as an unfriendly place for undocumented immigrants, is the first big-shot to declare his candidacy. (U-T)

• Anthony Bernal, a member of Councilman Todd Gloria’s staff, has made it official: He’s running to replace his boss as the Council member representing neighborhoods in the center of the city like Hillcrest, North Park and downtown. His sole opponent so far: Chris Ward, chief of staff to state Sen. Marty Block, who formally announced last week.

380 Local Cop Shootings, 0 Convictions

A recent report by the district attorney’s office counted 358 officer-involved shootings from 1993-2012. Only two officers were prosecuted, and both were acquitted.

Now, the U-T reports prosecutors have investigated 22 more recent shootings. The prosecutors’ verdict: They’re all legally OK. Another 18 shootings are still in the investigation stage, including nine from last year. The U-T takes a look at 22 reviews of shootings from the last three years.

Bottled Water Keeps Secrets

Environmentalists have targeted bottled water as a waste of resources since the stuff comes out of taps and doesn’t need to be bottled.

How much water are these bottled water companies using anyway? The U-T looks into several local water bottlers, including big names like Sparkletts and Pure Flo, whose slogan is still “The Finest Swallow in Town.” (No, I’m not making that up.) Turns out that the drought restrictions don’t affect them, and there’s no easy way to know how much water they’re using. “Like any property owner, the companies have rights to water under their land, and can generally use it at no charge, without limits and without reporting amounts to any regulatory agency,” the U-T reports.

Still, the president of a water advocacy group says, “the drought isn’t caused by bottled water and it won’t be solved by not bottling water.”

• Monday, the first hot day in a while, brought some sweat-producing news about California’s weather: The marine layer could be in decline, setting us up along the coast for higher temperatures. (KQED)

Bullet Train Hits Another Bump

The cross-state bullet train that’s supposed to reach San Diego at some point, decades down the line, continues to struggle. The latest problem: a dispute in the Central Valley that’s forced officials to dump plans for part of the first section track to be build. (L.A. Times)

No Hair Dryers for You, Tommy Tune!

“American Idol” auditions are coming to town. American what? Exactly. The show, whose previous auditions here have been huge spectacles, is putting on a smaller audition for its final season.

The U-T examines the rules about auditioning and finds that the show forbids the obvious (booze, animals) and the not-so-obvious (solar-powered hair dryers and “all swords, forged or carved, from any of the middle or modern ages”). No air mattresses either, guys.

Fine. I’ll leave home without my solar-powered modern-age sword forged from hair. It’ll be their fault when I’m defenseless against threats like leaves and mild breezes.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego and national president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). 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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