Many folks are motivated to put up solar panels to minimize their energy costs. But a vast majority of people getting into solar now are doing it through the costliest route: They’re leasing.

They might prefer leasing. And they might not be able to afford a purchase no matter how it’s financed.

“But money and convenience aren’t the sole drivers of the solar leasing phenomenon. There’s also a powerful marketing push behind it,” writes VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt in an extensive look at the financial pluses and minuses of the most popular financing plans for new solar systems.

She’s going to be analyzing the economics of solar panels and some of the things that can go wrong this week.

SDPD Racial Profiling Gets Another Look

Though San Diego police officers are supposed to collect data when they pull someone over, they’ve continually said their data is inconclusive when it comes to determining whether racial profiling happens.

Experts think there might be a better way. And some of them have been tasked with examining SDPD using what’s called the “Veil of Darkness” model. Daylight plays a big role in the model, Megan Burks explains in a new story: “Researchers can compare traffic stop data from 5:30 to 9 p.m. in July, when it’s light out, to the same timeframe in January, when it’s dark. If more people of color are pulled over in that area during the summer, one can assume race is at play.”

SDSU’s Joshua Chanin and his team will deliver the first batch results from the study in October.

Court: S.D. Unified Is OK on Lights

San Diego Unified won’t need to refund bond money spent on controversial sports field lights, a state appeal court has ruled, although it can’t spend more on them.

Briggs: There’s a Way Out, Stadium Fans

One of the big questions — but certainly not the only one — about the mayor’s commitment to take the stadium question to voters is what they would vote on. Scott Lewis ran through some of the facts about a push for a vote in December with our partners at NBC Friday.

And he appeared on KPBS’ Roundtable on Friday. In short, the city could have a vote, but the more meaningful the city makes the vote, the harder it would be to pull off. In particular, the questions of environmental impact studies and related requirements loom.

A long U-T story has a short take-home message: Attorney Cory Briggs, the guy who sues cities when they try to do things, won’t go after San Diego if voters bypass laws requiring environmental review by calling for (and approving) a stadium ballot measure. The city attorney weighed in in the comments under the piece saying basically that sounds like a fine plan but the city can’t organize citizens to do a citizens initiative.

In fact, that would likely come from the Chargers, who would be expected to pay for a big part of the campaign. So they would have to want something first.

• The U-T also has another poll of voters’ thoughts on the stadium saga. A plurality of respondents think the team is going to LA.

Our stories about the stadium debate were the first-, second- and fifth-most popular articles on our site last week. Check out the full Top 10 list.

Opinion: Not So Fast, Cop Apologist!

In a VOSD commentary, San Diego’s Margaret Dooley-Sammuli, ACLU of California’s criminal justice and drug policy director, writes that she’s stunned by local Assemblyman Rocky Chavez’s rosy view of the police and his resistance to legislation to battle profiling: “Are we living in the same California? The same state where 80 people have been killed by law enforcement in 2015 alone?… this is about ensuring that all Californians are treated with dignity and respect.

• We’ve put together a guide to understanding your rights when you deal with the police in a variety of situations.

Water-Profligate in Rancho Santa Fe

Thanks to an earlier NY Times article, Rancho Santa Fe developed a national reputation as a town full of rich people who put the rest of the state to shame when it comes to shameless water-guzzling. Now, a Washington Post story adds to the picture of let-them-drink-cake attitudes: It depicts a community home to people, like conservative talk show host Steve Yuhas, who want to use as much water as they want as long as they pay for it, everyone else be damned.

“We’re not all equal when it comes to water,” he actually said. Added another resident: “we’re being overly penalized, and we’re certainly being overly scrutinized by the world.. “What are we supposed to do, just have dirt around our house on four acres?” She pays $800 a month for water. Gosh. Where do they find these people? Do they grow them on (well-manicured) trees?

For help understanding who’s blaming whom in California when it comes to water-wasting, check my recent story for

• For years, the city hasn’t been able to pinpoint the source of an endless water leak in the North Park area that’s been ruining plants and destroying floors. Here’s an idea: Maybe the city could check to see who has unusually large water bills in the area or find a way to at least gather the leaking water. (U-T)

• Climate change is boosting the risk of wildfires in the West, says the U.S. secretary of the interior. Among other things, climate change is reputedly making fire season longer.

Quick News Hits: High and Outside

• Sally Thornton, one of San Diego’s top philanthropists and “a matriarch of this town,” has died at the age of 81. (U-T)

• NBC 7 says a string of fires in City Heights has residents a bit worried.

• North County’s Palomar College, which we revealed to have a cozy arrangement to coax administrators into early retirement, is replacing almost 100 employees of various types. All but 2 took the deal. (U-T)

• “The legal battle to block the teaching of yoga in Encinitas public schools… is finished,” the LA Times reports. Now if lawyers would just take on truly annoying subjects like calculus, we’d really be getting somewhere.

Whoa. And may I add: Whoa.

• Here’s a surprise on the beach: Tar balls. They smell like gasoline and are gross. NBC 7 finds that they’re probably “natural tar balls that seep out of oil reserves stored in oceanic rocks and float onshore.”

• The AV Club remembers the day 45 years ago when Dock Ellis, a Pittsburgh Pirate, pitched a no-hitter against the Padres in San Diego. That’s unusual enough, but here’s the twist: Ellis was zonked out on LSD.

The moment is so legendary (he was “as high as a Georgia pine”) that it’s even been memorialized in animated form based on the former pitcher’s own recollection on NPR in 2009. The cartoon is quite awesome and features cameos by a certain Mission Valley stadium. A Deadspin writer’s attempt to recreate the performance with a video game is also a classic.

Only one detail is missing: What did Padres fans need to take to get through that game?

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 ( Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

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

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