San Diego water officials are tired of asking people to conserve while the county has a surplus, and they’d really like to shut down at least some of the state’s conservation requirements. This would be an especially good idea, they say, if El Niño translates to le deluge.

Our friends up in Sacramento aren’t buying it. The state water board are “beginning work on new regulations because it does not expect El Niño to end the drought,” VOSD’s Ry Rivard reports. “These new rules could be anything, including almost exactly what we have now to something stronger.”

There’s even the possibility of per-person rationing, which has only been used in certain areas of the state during two previous big droughts and this one. (The city of San Jose, which is almost as big as San Diego, has instituted rations.)

As for transparency, there might not be much. The chair of the state water board actually wants negotiations over future rules to take place behind closed doors so everyone can have a “much more sophisticated view of what we might propose,” whatever that means.

• The NY Times has dropped by San Diego once again to report on how we’re handling (or not handling) the water crisis. This time, it examines the decline of the “classic lawn” in favor of bark (“gorilla hair”), desert plants and fancy dirt.

The story mentions efforts to coax people into dumping their grassy lawns via financial bribes. Er, incentives. As we reported earlier this year, water officials have been questioning whether these programs are worth it.

• We’re inching closer to the opening of the much-ballyhooed Carlsbad plant that will produce drinkable water from sea water. (KPBS)

How New Graduation Rules Are Taking Toll

In the wake of San Diego Unified’s acknowledgment that a quarter of this year’s senior class isn’t on track to meet new graduation requirements, VOSD contributor Christie Ritter checked in with teachers and students at University City High. “Those conversations revealed that the new system has taken a toll even on those who are on track,” she reports.

One student says she feels pressure to take fewer electives, and another complained about a glitchy computerized test. College-bound students face their own pressures, which one teacher says are higher than in the past.

Big NFL Nothingburger Day

The NFL’s vice president in charge of giving NFL owners as many options to build stadiums as they can fantasize about, Eric Grubman, is coming to town to go through the motions of pretending to care what San Diego fans think about the Chargers potentially leaving town. Registration for the event tonight at the Spreckels Theater is now closed.

A similar meeting occurred Tuesday night in St. Louis. Sam Farmer from the LA Times has a write-up. “For most of the three hours, the NFL executives listened to the comments and questions but only occasionally answered them,” he wrote.

• Meanwhile, the city is out with a Dick Enberg-narrated video touting a new football stadium in Mission Valley for a team that doesn’t wanna play there. Councilman David Alvarez snarked about the video on Twitter (and got snarked at in return) while Fabiani took aim at the mayor via sports radio. Jeez. Perhaps everyone could just relax by soaking up the stadium’s “shimmering kinetic facade” inspired by “our coastal waves.”

As for us at VOSD, we’re curious about what will happen in the stadium’s “sponsor activation zones.” What does one do with an activated sponsor? Or, for that matter, a deactivated sponsor.

• We’ve been talking a lot about the L.A.-area city of Carson, which is hoping to woo the Chargers and the Raiders to a new stadium there. Turns out there’s something else that connects our two cities: Carson is trying to figure out what to do about a renegade elected official who can’t be easily dislodged from office despite weird behavior.

This one is Carson’s city clerk, who’s facing “allegations of bizarre and threatening behavior,” the L.A. Times reports. The limited options to remove him are the same as those that faced San Diego before Filner agreed to leave on his own.

No Green Light for Red Light District Promotion

A bit over a quarter-century ago, I spent my summers selling Mexican car insurance to tourists heading across the border. Occasionally, a customer would joke about a certain kind of legendary (and perhaps mythical) explicit and animal-unfriendly Tijuana “show.” I’d smile and nod blankly, a strategy that still comes in handy at VOSD meetings.

Tijuana, once a libertine playground for Americans, continues to have a reputation as a place where X-rated things happen for a price. Now, there’s a flap over the wisdom of promoting Tijuana’s wild side. As the U-T reports, “plans for a cheeky marketing campaign called ‘Flirty Tijuana’ to promote the city’s red light district appear to have backfired” after spawning hoopla on social media and even drawing in a former San Diego mayor.

RIP: ‘Pope of Bankers Hill’

• The U-T’s Logan Jenkins memorializes the “Pope of Bankers Hill,” a homeless man known as Mark who became a dependable — if not always popular — part of the community near the Caliph gay bar for more than 2 decades. He was hit by a car in a hit-and-run and killed last month, possibly in a suicide attempt.

Meanwhile, Inewsource finds that those red parking meters downtown have raised $10,000 over 4 years for the homeless. An advocate for the homeless isn’t a fan of meters like these, which he thinks are designed to wrongly prevent panhandling.

Culture Report: Re-Doing the Re-Do

For a while, it seemed like everyone in the city had an opinion about what to do with Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama, the stretch of pavement in front of the Museum of Art that was once home to cars and more cars. It now is a blend of walkable space and lanes for driving.

Now, the art museum — which has found the loss of parking for people with disabilities to be a problem — wants to pretty up the so-so space with modern sculptures. VOSD’s Kinsee Morlan has the details in this week’s Culture Report, which also includes links to stories about an arty parking garage, a quirky mural in La Jolla and attendance challenges at local cultural institutions. And for you Tim Gunn fans, a young local fashion designer with colorful hair and self-esteem issues is making waves in the final three on TV’s “Project Runway.”

Quick News Hits: Sponsors, Activate!

• The City Council has agreed to pay $99,000 to the Iraq War vet and nurse who say they were sexually harassed by now-ex Mayor Bob Filner. Their allegations were among the most disturbing that were aired against Filner in the summer of 2013. (City News Service)

• Big drug store news: Walgreens is gobbling up Rite Aid. Both chains have a major presence in San Diego County. (LA Times)

• “Opponents of a plan to build a retail development on the former Carlsbad strawberry fields have enough signatures to put the issue to a citywide vote,” NBC San Diego reports.

• Oh look, it’s the Doublemint Twins!

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 ( Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

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