The Morning Report
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The boosters seeking to expand the convention center have easily brushed past concerns that there’s already a glut of convention space nationally. But they’ve had a much harder time fending off legal challenges, and now there’s a new potential obstacle: Condos.
The housing market in downtown is healthy, and there’s a possibility that the owners of a crucial parcel of land could decide to get in on the rush to build condos. If they do, they could kill off plans to build an expansion of the convention center near the ballpark and connect it.
This prospect is putting pressure on the mayor to get a plan together, reports VOSD’s Ashly McGlone. However, he could be in the clear if he doesn’t want a non-contiguous expansion.
A new study is due out this week with recommendations about whether a non-contiguous expansion would even work from a convention-goer perspective. The answers, and the reaction to them, could speak volumes about where the process will head from here.
Fire Risk Doesn’t Stop Builders
You know what they say about doing the same thing but expecting different results. Developers keep trying to build homes in parts of the county that are prone to wildfires, and they’re ignoring recommendations designed to lower the risk.
As VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan and Andrew Keatts explain, several new projects aim to build in the county’s rural and fire-prone areas despite plenty of evidence that homes are safer from wildfire when they’re built near existing developments.
Why does this matter now? Officials are about to consider several large projects that need to get special exemptions from the county’s building blueprint. Check out the fancy map they put together of upcoming proposals.
Cop Camera Legislation Fails in Sacto
“Assembly Democrats on Monday turned back legislation giving California police departments wide discretion in crafting policies governing body cameras,” The Sacramento Bee reports. But legislation going in the opposite direction — slapping rules onto police departments — has floundered too.
Local legislator Shirley Weber, who championed a stricter bill, thought the new one was weak: “If it is the best we can do, we should be ashamed of ourselves.” For background about Weber’s efforts to deal with issues regarding police cameras, check our interview with her from earlier this year.
• The state might raise the legal age to buy cigarettes to 21. (KPBS)
• Stock market troubles could zap California’s state budget by giving the wealthy — who pay about half of state income tax — a hit in the capital-gains department. (L.A. Times)
Audit Roundup: Asleep at Switch
• According to the Reader, a county audit finds that “fraud, drug use, and other criminal activity has been going unpunished in the county’s so-called Section 8 subsidized housing program, with lax enforcement by officials causing multimillion-dollar havoc.”
• An audit reports that the city hasn’t done a good job of managing the little Brown Field airport: It hasn’t reviewed its fees since 2003, and it has no long-term strategic plans (U-T)
Say Hello to Climate Change Think Tank
• Now there’s a mouthful: Scripps Institution of Oceanography and UCSD are combining forces to create a think tank called the Center for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation. There’s $7.5 million in initial funding, some of which should be used to consult marketing about a name that flows more easily off the tongue.
Quick News Hits: Butt Out, Trolleys!
• A local self-storage mogul was one of the biggest donors to a 2009 effort to stop gay marriage in Maine. Donation information is just now being released. (NBC 7)
• Egg prices are out of control. (AP)
• The Reader has lost its damn mind.
• Downtown pedestrians have had quite enough, thank you, of trolleys blocking intersections when they’re trying to walk across. “It’s not a pervasive problem,” a city spokesman says, but those who’ve complained on social media think it definitely is.
Back in 2009, transit officials promised that things would get better with the purchase of “ultra-short” trolley cars. Things did not, in fact, get better. Trolley posteriors (“butts,” for short) keep sticking out too far. (U-T)
Meanwhile, the transit system says riders will be able to tune in to special video programming via wi-fi when they ride the trolley’s Green Line. They’ll be able to see TV shows and movies just like at home, and with commercials too. Some of the revenue will go to the transit agency.
One of the shows to be offered: San Diego’s own “Sam the Cooking Guy.” No word on whether they’ll pick up “Sam the Pedestrian Guy Who Can’t Walk Across the Street Because of the Dang Trolley.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.