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If there’s a trivial issue in your neighborhood – a neighbor’s messy yard, or a sign blocking the sidewalk – it’ll take the City of San Diego’s code enforcement team more than a week to fix the situation.

And if you’re suffering from real threats to your health and safety – leaking sewage, exposed electrical wires, uninhabitable living conditions – it’ll take just about the same amount of time.

Those are findings from a new audit of the city’s code enforcement division, reports Megan Burks. The department responds to high- and low-priority cases in nearly identical timeframes. The high-priority response time of 11 days is five times higher than the goal of responding in just two days. And the department’s hesitancy to issue fines likely contributes to repeat offenders.

The blistering audit echoes the findings of an investigation by Voice of San Diego and KPBS earlier this year into one slumlord who had been the subject of 62 resident complaints to the city between 2001 and 2013. Despite repeated warnings to the city, residents were nonetheless still living with roaches, missing windows and gas leaks.

The audit made 12 recommendations to improve the shoddy department, and Councilman Scott Sherman, chair of the audit committee, said he’d do everything possible to ensure they’re implemented.

Poway Unified to Employees: Please Stop Sending Political Email Blasts, It’s Illegal

The Poway Unified School District had to remind its employees this week that they aren’t allowed to use district resources for political purposes, thanks to complaints sent to the San Diego County District Attorney, reports Ashly McGlone.

A DA investigator contacted lawyers for the district because its employees were using their work email to show support for Andy Patapow, a board member facing a potential recall effort.

Patapow asked a school board assistant to share his self-defense with district employees, which she did, sending them to district leaders, principles and others on the school board. Members of Poway’s teachers union responded by proclaiming their support for Patapow and asked all 1,600 teachers to email the board to support him. Teachers sent more than 80 emails to the board.

What’s a Magnet School?

San Diego’s largest school district has a great-sounding mantra that guides its decisions: There should be a great school in every neighborhood.

That way, parents can rest easy sending their kids to neighborhood schools, without having to send them to charter schools or hoping to get a chance to send them to some of the better schools in far-flung pats of the district.

Problem is, San Diego’s neighborhoods are segregated racially and socioeconomically. The plan, if achieved, would effectively ensure city schools are segregated, too.

Magnet schools, meanwhile, have no boundaries. Anyone in the district can go to them, and they have particular themes, like science or drama.

In this week’s “Learning Curve,” reporter Mario Koran looks into what the magnet system means for the district’s “neighborhood schools” goals, and how the specialized schools work in the first place.

Solar Rush in Imperial County

There’s a gold rush to construct solar power facilities in Imperial County ever since the area was connected to San Diego by the Sunrise Powerlink, a 117-mile power transmission line between the two counties.

It’s led to 9,000 acres covered in solar projects and 12,000 acres of wind turbines.

The boom is the result of a state law pushing utility companies to up their share of renewable energy provided to customers, and reporter Lisa Halverstadt has the rundown in this week’s edition of San Diego Explained.

Mayor Faulconer Tops Republicans in Statewide Poll

A new poll shows a trio of current or former Democratic mayors (former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, current L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, and former San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsome) leading the field of would-be gubernatorial candidates in a 2018 election, but also found San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer topped the list of potential Republican candidates.

Twenty-five percent of respondents said they’d be inclined to support a Faulconer run, ahead of the other Republican included in the poll, Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin. Forty-four percent of respondents weren’t inclined to support Faulconer, and 31 percent had no opinion of him.

Chances of Faulconer getting any serious challenge from a Democrat for his 2016 mayoral re-election bid locally are getting slimmer by the day, and it looks like he’ll have a chance to parlay his position into a statewide run, if he wants to.

SeaWorld to Challenge Breeding Ban

The Coastal Commission, an appointed agency that regulates land use along the state’s coast, last week prohibited SeaWorld from breeding orcas as a condition of approving its plan to build a new $100 million holding facility.

SeaWorld yesterday announced it’ll challenge the Commission’s decision. The company’s hired a law firm to lead its challenge against the regulatory agency.

Document Dump Shows Customs and Border Patrol Agents ‘Stretch the Limits of the Law’

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents have been accused of racial profiling, verbal abuse, excessive force and improperly using their guns, in a trove of nearly 6,000 pages of documents from complaints, arrest statistics and other records uncovered in an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuit. (New York Times)

The documents “portray an agency whose fractured oversight system has enabled at least some agents working along the southern border to stretch the limits of law and professional courtesy while rarely facing meaningful consequences.”

San Diego on Way to Hottest October Ever

Local meteorologist Matt Baylow Tweeted a jarring observation yesterday: to avoid this being the hottest October ever, the city would need to record an average daily temperature of 68.6 degrees for the next 17 days.

“Not possible,” he wrote.

Counting Votes on Lilac Hills Ranch

San Diego Union Tribune columnist Logan Jenkins has covered north county development for years, and his tea leaf-reading suggests Lilac Hills Ranch – the sprawling, 1,700 home project in a mostly undeveloped area in Valley Center – is in big trouble if Supervisor Bill Horn can’t prevail on the state’s political watchdog to let him vote on the project, despite what it says is a conflict of interest because of what would approving the project would do to the value of the over 30 acres he owns nearby.

That would spoil an awfully combative decade the developer has spent trying to get the project approved – as we uncovered in our investigation into the project – during which they’ve have not heard a “no” they didn’t find a way around.

Correction: An earlier version of this post included a photo of Memorial Prep and identified it as a magnet school. It is no longer a magnet school.

Andrew Keatts

I'm Andrew Keatts, a managing editor for projects and investigations at Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at andrew.keatts@voiceofsandiego.org...

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