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At their essence, schools educate people and transit agencies move people around. But as we’ve learned, school districts have another role: They’re often land barons, buying and selling property in sometimes-controversial ways. Now, the North County transit agency is going a step further and actually seeking developer proposals for the lease of its land around rail stations in three cities.
“The deals will help the agency “earn some money off the land it owns, and help the region build housing in the mixed-use, transit-oriented projects it has said are needed to accommodate population growth,” reports VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan.
The plan seems to make sense, especially in light of the potential for the projects to backfill the agency’s finances. But advocates for the poor want to make sure the new housing around the stations is affordable. The transit agency seems ready to leave that up to the three cities, but advocates want more.
• A new statewide report gives poor grades to the San Diego transit system (C-minus) and its stations (no grade better than a B) because they’re not doing a good job of serving people. A guru tells KPBS: “you don’t have a lot people within the half-mile area who are using transit. You don’t have a lot of walkable neighborhoods in that half-mile radius. And you don’t have a lot of jobs and homes that are really clustered around the rail transit network.”
• In a VOSD commentary, we hear from Colin Parent, policy counsel for Circulate San Diego, who sees a fundamental flaw with a draft plan for the region’s transportation future over the next 35 years.
Much of the vision in the plan is fine, he writes, including more frequent trolley stops (arriving every seven minutes instead of every 15) and a trolley link going all the way from Otay Mesa to Sorrento Valley: “These improvements will keep our streets from being congested while providing green, affordable and convenient transportation choices … (but) we shouldn’t have to wait so long to see this happen.”
Ex-Sheriff, Police Chief Dead at 80
Bill Kolender, one of the region’s most powerful law enforcement officials from the 1970s into the 2000s, has died at the age of 80. Well-respected and only occasionally controversial, Kolender served as San Diego’s police chief from 1975-1988 and then as sheriff from 1994-2009. Kolender had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
“Convincingly self-effacing, with a Solomon-like reputation for integrity and empathy, there is perhaps no more popular public figure in San Diego today,” the L.A. Times reported in a 1985 profile. “Even his officers on the beat, where Kolender spent relatively little time before ascending to management, appear to genuinely like him.”
Obituaries list his wide accomplishments and include praise from his many fans. His career did have blemishes, most notably a ticket-fixing scandal in 1987: He and an assistant chief were reprimanded for “fixing traffic tickets for friends and relatives, and improperly using city employees and equipment for personal benefit,” the L.A. Times reported.
The U-T notes other controversies, and includes effusive praise from numerous San Diego leaders like former Mayor Jerry Sanders and former Sen. Pete Wilson, who recalled trying to get Kolender to run for office but was told, “I think my role is here, in law enforcement.”
Politics Roundup: Minimum Wage, Maximum Battle?
• Bay Area mayors are pushing for an initiative to appear on the statewide ballot next year and push up the minimum wage across California.
• Local legislator Lorena Gonzalez got some good news (the governor signed a bill she supported that’s being called “the strongest equal pay law in the nation”) and some bad news (he vetoed her bill targeting what she calls gender bias and unfair compensation in the workers’ compensation system). “With all due respect,” she wrote in a press release, “a woman’s breasts are worth as much as the prostate of a male coworker.”
• As you’ve probably heard, California has become the fifth state to allow physician-assisted suicide thanks to the Legislature and Brown. The news site Vox explains how the new option for the terminally ill will work.
• Chula Vista’s elected leaders are facing a lawsuit and depositions over allegations that they violated open-government laws when they appointed a new member to the City Council. (Star-News)
Culture Report: Outside Art
Topping the news in VOSD’s weekly Culture Report: The La Jolla Playhouse is embracing the outside at its Without Walls Festival this weekend, featuring “theater staged on tennis and basketball courts, Baroque opera set in a grove of trees overlooking the Pacific Ocean, an audio tour that turns into a theatrical narrative and a whole lot more.”
Plus: The back-from-the-dead San Diego Opera is once again in the news for the wrong reasons. The NYC opera where our opera’s new director previously worked has gone under, and some fingers are pointing his way. The director isn’t having it.
• Brady Phelps, a local sports blogger and friend of VOSD, is getting attention from US Weekly for his pancake art fundraising effort to support clean water in 24 countries. The batter-painted creations are “frame-worthy,” at least if you don’t chow them down first.
Quick News Hits: That’s a Lotta Tea Cup Rides
• The New York Times hails California’s clean-energy progress and explains a regional situation we’ve been following closely here in San Diego: The ongoing tension between solar power companies and utilities. “Big providers … are losing revenue from customers who generate their own power, enjoying smaller monthly bills while still drawing on grid electricity at times. The utilities want those customers to pay a larger share of the cost of maintaining electricity lines and plants.”
Lisa Halverstadt laid out the many factors that complicate SDG&E’s relationship with rooftop solar customers in the county.
• How bad were the Padres this year? Fivethirtyeight.com ranks them 26th out of 30 teams. The best: The Blue Jays. O Canada!
• More and more major news sites are dumping comments because they’re often “filled with trolls and spam and/or they are too much effort to maintain.” (Don’t worry. VOSD still has them.) Now, a Fortune writer says that while the complaints have plenty of truth, he thinks the value of comments can be worth the work required to keep them from degenerating: “if you care about your readers — beyond just seeing them as eyeballs who consume your content and hopefully click on your ads — isn’t it worth making that effort?”
• Holy guaca-Mickey! The cost of a deluxe season pass at Disneyland has crossed the $1,000 barrier.
Oh well, no big deal. I can just bypass the lines with these E Tickets I saved from 1980. They don’t work anymore? Fine, I’ll get an expensive pass and sulk on the PeopleMover on the way to Country Bear Jamboree. Wait, what?! They’re gone? I’m going to have a stern word with Mr. Toad & Co. right now, just as soon as I extract myself from this dang tea cup.
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.