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The city could’ve spent $2 million on anything.
It decided to spend it on the stadium.
Know this: When city leaders say the $2 million we’re spending on an environmental review for a new stadium (a review the Chargers don’t event want) came from “new” or “unexpected” money, that’s a red herring.
Liam Dillon explains: “[Mayor Kevin] Faulconer, [Councilwoman Myrtle] Cole and others point to the source of the money, a convoluted repayment of cash from the state that city leaders hadn’t expected to get back. But even if the money is the municipal equivalent of finding a $20 bill in your pocket, city leaders chose to spend it on, to keep the metaphor going, a bunch of lottery tickets instead of dinner.”
Dillon also rounds up a list of a few items the city could spend that money on instead of an effort to replace the stadium.
Cool it With the Solar-Permit Backpatting
City Council members were pretty proud of their move this week to speed up the permitting process for solar panels.
On Tuesday, they voted to approve a measure that would lower permit costs and streamline the process, mostly for duplexes since the city already expedites those projects for single-family homes. In a Union-Tribune story topped with a down-to-business headline, Councilman Mark Kersey talked up the measure:
“Any time we’re talking about streamlining our internal processes and bureaucracy, I’m all in favor of doing that … I would like to see similar expedited approval processes for other home projects similar to this, such as electrical vehicle charging stations in people’s garages and gray water systems in people’s houses.”
But as Lisa Halverstadt points out, permitting woes weren’t really holding San Diego solar boosters back, especially not with regard to residential installations. The move came as a response to a 2014 state law that basically forces cities to make it easier to get solar projects approved. Solar advocates had already praised San Diego for how quick and breezy the permitting process is for residential projects.
Instead, the solar lobby in town has plenty of other nagging anxieties to keep it occupied. Halverstadt writes: “The industry’s closely following debates about changes to a billing deal that allows solar customers to slash their energy bills, an income tax credit that now lessens the burden of solar purchases and upcoming electricity rate adjustments.”
Sacramento Report: The Drone Went Down, Down, Down and the Flames Went Higher
Last week, you probably noted some of the hubbub about personal drones hindering fire response as the North Fire swept across the I-15. “Please stop flying hobby drones in the area,” U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman Gerrelaine Alcordo said at the time, as reported by CNN. “We can’t risk the choppers colliding with them. We could have loss of life.”
Lawmakers had already been working on some legislation to police drone use, but last week’s news hook brought a renewed urgency. Two bills in the works would allow law enforcement to shoot down drones if they’re interfering with rescue work. In this week’s Sacramento Report, Sara Libby highlights two arguments voiced against that authorization. Plus, there’s the potential for drones to actually help with rescue work.
Also in our roundup of news from the state capital: Superintendent Tom Torlakson’s idea to use Gov. Jerry Brown’s new plan for funding schools as a source for teacher raises, Democrats cheer the University of California system’s move to raise employees’ minimum wage to $15 an hour and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins’ appearance outside the hotly protested ALEC conference in San Diego this week.
Got $500 Million? Maybe Throw Balboa Park a Bone
It’s no secret Balboa Park’s got a long list of needed repairs. The grand estimated total for everything from tiny fixes to roof replacement on some buildings comes out somewhere around $500 million. And coming up with the funds for those renovations won’t be easy.
Somehow Tomas Herrera-Mishler didn’t shy from that daunting task. The new CEO of the Balboa Park Conservancy joined Scott Lewis, Andy Keatts and me at this week’s live podcast recording, along with Betty Peabody, who founded the Friends of Balboa Park. We talked with them about the future of the crown jewel of San Diego, and, uh, what exactly the difference is between their two organizations.
A Slap in the Face for Junior Seau’s Family
The family of Junior Seau, the ex-Chargers player who committed suicide after suffering brain trauma during his time on the field, will not be allowed to speak at his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 8.
According to the New York Times, Seau had told his family if he ever made it, he wanted his daughter to introduce him. Instead, the induction will feature a video you can be damn sure won’t mention concussions, Seau’s self-inflicted gunshot wound or his family’s lawsuit against the NFL.
On Bleacher Report, Mike Tanier implores players to turn down any offers they get from Pro Football to speak as substitutes for Seau’s family: “If silence is what the Pro Football Hall of Fame wants, then silence it should get.”
We talked with David Casey Jr., the attorney representing Seau’s family in their lawsuit against the NFL, during our “future of football” panel back in February. He didn’t predict a slew of suits coming between parents and schools over high school football injuries, but he highlighted the need for education in these programs.
This is a good time to revisit the Union-Tribune’s thorough and wrenching series on Seau’s life, written by Jill Lieber Steeg.
Quick News Hits
• After sweeping into SoCal less than a year ago, the grocery chain Haggen has fallen on hard times, it seems. The company’s cutting between 700 and 800 jobs in stores around our region, 25 of which are in San Diego. (10 News)
• Notable sighting: Raiders owner Mark Davis and Chargers owner Dean Spanos palling around L.A. to meet “area community leaders,” Los Angeles Daily News sports columnist Vincent Bonsignore tweeted. The Rams have also made appearances. As for that “strong bond” between Davis and Spanos, that’s one pair of buddies I’d rather not run into on the L.A. club scene.
• UCSD won against USC in the heated legal fight over Alzheimer’s research. (Union-Tribune)
• A San Diego County judge said he’ll likely dismiss the right-to-die lawsuit that’s gotten national attention. (Associated Press)
• Earlier this week, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office granted Salt Lake Comic Con’s application to trademark its name. That hasn’t convinced San Diego Comic-Con to call off its trademark infringement lawsuit though; organizers still plan to take their Salt Lake rivals to federal court. (Salt Lake Tribune)
• Two animal rights advocates were arrested Friday after a vandalism spree two years ago where they used “paint, paint stripper, a super glue-type substance, butyric acid, muriatic acid and glass etchant” to wreak havoc on San Diego retailer Furs by Graf, as well as the current and former owners’ homes in Spring Valley and La Mesa. Maybe next time just buy a snarky T-shirt from PETA instead. (Fox 5)
• Having a hard time grasping all the big questions and legal issues involved in this ongoing Airbnb debate? Local attorney Omar Passons, who’s admittedly got a dog in this fight, lays ’em out on his blog, Understanding San Diego.
• Can desalination counter the drought? The New Yorker zeroes in on Carlsbad and Santa Barbara and the “troubled history” of desal in the U.S.
• If you are awkward, like me, and a willing participant in the sharing economy, also like me, this guide to proper Lyft and Uber etiquette might be handy. Full disclosure: It still takes me an extra beat to remember to get in a Lyft’s front seat. (CityLab)
Top Stories: July 18-24
Programming note: Since we’re bringing back the Saturday Morning Report (a lot of news happens!), we’ve decided to stop sending out the weekly list of our 10 most popular stories. The post will still be up on the site for you to browse, and we’ll be listing the top five here every week – we just didn’t want to overload your inbox.
Another programming note: How much better would this list be if early-2000s Carson Daly read it to you? (TRL forever.)
Check out the rest of our 10 most-read stories from this week here.
Catherine Green is deputy editor at Voice of San Diego. She handles daily operations while helping to plan new long-term projects. You can contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 619.550.5668. Follow her on Twitter: @c_s_green.