El Cajon Boulevard isn’t exactly a top place to take out-of-towners when they want to see the sights, unless they have a non-traditional definition of tourist attractions. With some exceptions, the gentrification and hipster-ization of North Park has largely passed it by, and it still harbors a reputation for liquor stores, tattoo parlors and vice.

Even as its dumpier parts remain dumpy, the street’s future may be quite different. “El Cajon Boulevard is about to become a test case for San Diego’s vision of a neighborhood packed with dense, affordable urban housing,” VOSD’s Zoe Schaver reports. Hundreds of rental units are in the works, its fancy hotel is getting a facelift and a rapid bus puts some zip in the steps of commuters.

There’s more, including a “business incubator and low-cost housing for LGBT seniors.” One developer “envisions the boulevard as a place with mom-and-pop shops and restaurants on the ground level and tall stacks of affordable apartments up top, along with townhouses and plenty of green space, like you might see in Seattle or Portland.”

Your Guide to S.D.’s Top Newbies

There are a bunch of new names in the news: Pat Murphy (interim manager of the Padres), Randa Coniglio (CEO of the port), Austin Beutner (new publisher of the Union-Tribune and continuing as publisher of the L.A. Times), Karen Janney (superintendent of high and middle schools in the South Bay) and David Bennett (general manager of the resurrected San Diego Opera).

These folks have more than fancy new titles. They have extensive backgrounds, and we take a look at all of their histories in a guide to these newbies.

Critics: ‘Portland Loos’ Stink

If you’ve been downtown lately, you may have spotted a “Portland Loo” — a kind of public restroom that cost the city a cool $560,000 for a pair. Critics are targeting the one at 14th and L. “Over the last six months, nearby businesses have complained to city and elected officials about homeless people stalking women after dark, brandishing knives, prostitution and rampant drug abuse in the area around the Loo,” CityBeat reports.

CityBeat finds that there are a lot more police calls around the other restroom, which is not too far away at the transit center near the ballpark.

But it’s the other loo, closer to tourists, businesses and barhoppers, that’s getting more attention. Councilman Todd Gloria wants to move it, potentially at a cost of $200,000.

Drought Update: Recycle That Pool!

Don’t worry, say power officials, we’ll have enough electricity in the state this summer despite some reductions in power production from dams. (Union-Tribune)

• We’re hearing a lot about taking the sewage out of sewage so we can drink it. Now, a North County company says it can recycle pool water, or at least a big chunk of it. The strategy all has to do with cleaning the water and putting it back in the pool instead of dumping it all and filling the pool with new water.

Why empty the pool at all if you’re going to refill it? KPBS explains: “Pool owners are supposed to empty and refill their pools every five to seven years to prevent mineral buildup.”

• Rancho Santa Fe’s national reputation continues to sink thanks to the snooty let-them-drink-cake crowd.

Still Clucking After All These Years

• The Famous San Diego Chicken (née the KGB Chicken, the Famous Chicken, etc., etc.) is still around, and the man inside the suit is 61 years old. He’s performed in every state (yes, even Delaware, Rhode Island and Wyoming), so he can slow down a bit.

“I don’t do the splits like I used to,” Chicken guy Ted Giannoulas tells the Union-Tribune. “I’m guessing that after a certain point, neither did James Brown.” (We won’t run that by San Diego Fact Check.)

Ford Eyes Some Uber-Type Action

Take that, Uber! “Ford Motor Co. is testing a car-sharing program that helps people rent out autos they purchased from the automaker to prescreened customers as a way to defray the cost of maintaining a vehicle.” Alas, San Diego isn’t one of the test markets. (L.A. Times)

Meanwhile, the L.A. Times editorial board doesn’t like a state ruling that could lead to a requirement that drivers for Uber & Co. be considered employees, not independent contractors.

Quick News Hits: Fight Club

Downtown may get a 5-star Ritz Carlton hotel. (Union-Tribune)

• Local law enforcement types are getting training in Krav Maga, “a hand-to-hand street-fighting system.” (KPBS)

Word(s) Up, Sports Fans!

As cities go, San Diego is not known as an intellectual powerhouse. Sure, we have Nobel Prize winners galore, but we often seem to be the pretty one instead of the smart one when compared with West Coast cities like Seattle, Portland and San Francisco. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Or so I’m told.

But maybe we’re sharper than we think. When it comes to grammar, punctuation and spelling, commenters on the official Padres site whip 28 of the 29 other teams, according to a new analysis by Grammarly. Mets fans are the worst; Indians fans are the best, just ahead of Padres fans.

How about NFL teams? Guess what: Chargers commenters do well too, beating 27 of the 32 teams when it comes to writing well.

Considering how well these commenters score, maybe they should be on the field instead of in the online peanut gallery.

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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