Housing cost is a major topic of concern for economic growth and those worried about poverty in the region. We need only look to the Bay Area to see how tense it can get if we don’t address it.

A a state report this year found restrictions on new homes are a big obstacle to lower housing prices. “Often the way that you wind up with lower density zoning or restrictive land use policies is existing residents don’t tend to be in favor of building more housing,” the author of the report says. “Requiring lower densities is one way of restricting.”

In Encinitas VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan found two examples of how zoning can increase housing prices. It will always be expensive to live on the coast but restrictions exasperate it.

VOSD Podcast: City Attorney Hopeful Robert Hickey

Scott Lewis’s series of in-depth podcast interviews with city attorney candidates has concluded with a chat with Robert Hickey, a Republican and deputy district attorney who has a long history of prosecuting murderers.

If you care about city politics and criminal justice, you are going to want to listen. Lewis asked Hickey about the controversial guilt-by-association targeting (now abandoned) of people with alleged connections to gangs and why the DA removed him from a management position. “I know it wasn’t for anything to do with my job performance,” he said.


Stadium Effort Is Really Mickey Mouse Now

Every few days now there is a flare up in news about the Chargers’ potential move to Los Angeles or our potential construction of a taxpayer funded stadium for them.

Wednesday was a big one. NBC San Diego summed it up in a Star Wars analogy.

First, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer led a presentation to 17 owners of NFL teams making the case that they should force the Chargers to keep negotiating with him.

Just like after every meeting he’s been in on this issue, Faulconer reported it went quite well.

• Right on cue, though, the Chargers hit back hard with news that Bob Iger, the Disney chairman and CEO, has been recruited (without even getting a toaster oven, apparently) to oversee the construction of a new stadium for the Chargers and Raiders in Carson. As that LA Times article notes, some saw it as mere window dressing.

But he will become a “non-executive chairman” (yeah, that’s a new term for us too)  “and oversee all major initiatives with the venture, including stadium design, naming rights and fan experience, and will be responsible for guiding construction and operation of the facility,” as CBS Sports described it. He’s not leaving Disney, though.

The bigger news is that if the deal happens, Iger will buy a minority share in either the Chargers or the Raiders.

Iger will help open doors for the teams in Los Angeles and he provides a counter to the argument that the Rams owner Stan Kroenke is better prepared and resourced to have immediate success in the new market. Kroenke has a competing proposal in Inglewood.

• Another interesting flash: Some NFL owners think the decision on who gets to move to LA should be delayed until March at least, which would make it very hard to move a team only a few months before the start of the 2016 season.

• The LA Times also has a nice side by side comparison of the two LA proposals.

• The Vice news site dips into counter claims about the appeal (or lack of it) of moving a team or teams to L.A. Vice even waxes Rumsfeldian: “The most likely scenario is really that none of the owners have any better handle on the known unknowns than we do, and that the final decision will rest less on economics than on whether Kroenke, Spanos, or Davis has the most friends at the NFL owners’ meetings. It sounds like a crazy way to decide the fate of sports franchises, sure, but you’ve got to have respect for tradition.”

The author of the Vice article is the guy behind the stadium-scam book “Field of Schemes.”

More Schools to Get A/C… In a While

San Diego Unified has been hustling to build new stadiums while students get steamed in stifling classrooms. Now, the district is planning to add air-conditioning to a couple thousand classrooms by … 2019. Sorry, kids. However, there’s hope the project could get done earlier. Solar power will keep the A/C on. (inewsource)

Behind the Anti-SeaWorld Forces

As a reeling SeaWorld tries to reform its orca operations, the L.A. Times profiles the attorney/TV producer/Coastal Commission member who helped end killer whale breeding at the park.

“This wasn’t about exerting power; this was about what the law allows us to do and what’s the right thing to do,” says the attorney, who hasn’t even seen the SeaWorld-damning documentary “Blackfish.”

By the way, the L.A. Times story suggests SeaWorld has plenty of time to figure out a new strategy that will turn it into more of an amusement park than a nature showcase. Actually, as VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt has reported, it can’t really do that.

• The director of “Blackfish” says SeaWorld needs to do more when it comes to doing less with orcas. (LA Times)

The Sad History of ‘Operation Wetback’

What the heck was Donald Trump talking about during Tuesday’s debate when he went on about an Eisenhower-era campaign to get rid of illegal immigrants, get rid of them again when they came back, and get rid of them when they came back again?

Vox explains: The unfortunately named “Operation Wetback” was “the closest to mass deportation of unauthorized immigrants the United States has ever actually come. Over the summer of 1954 and into 1955, hundreds of immigration agents swept through the southwestern United States, rounding up immigrants who were here without legal authorization and packing them into trucks, trains, planes, and ships to be sent back to Mexico. It was macho and militarized. It was very Trump-y.”

North County Report: $5M to Sway Voters

The weekly North County Report offers links to a long list of news stories, including one that reveals how much a mall developer has spent to woo Carlsbad voters ($5 million as of Sept. 30). Also: School news from Vista and Oceanside, more mobile-home rent control debate in Vista (this issue has bedeviled the city for decades), and tidbits from Escondido, Encinitas, Cardiff and Solana Beach.

Quick News Hits: Snooty, Snobby & Snotty?

• Last summer, dozens of attendees were sickened, apparently by food poisoning, at an award ceremony hosted by the local chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Now, the president of the chapter says it’s severing its relationship with the local landmark Bali Hai restaurant, which hosted the event and has reportedly not provided a refund: “We are extremely disappointed by its lack of responsiveness and floored, frankly, that no one from the Bali Hai ever apologized to us for this foodborne illness.”

• The port is looking to revamp Imperial Beach pier and potentially bring in a new restaurant to replace the Tin Fish at the end of the pier. (City News Service)

• The Jewish Federation of San Diego County went online to mock the faux fuss over the de-Christmas-ing of Starbucks holiday cups. The federation created images of cups emblazoned with menorahs, and they’ve gone viral big-time.

• San Diegans have been more interested in vegan diets than any other over the past decade, Vox finds, at least judging by Google searches. That bucks the trend in much of the rest of the country, which these days is more intrigued by gluten-free eating.

• We hear a lot of complaints about the lack of intellectualism in San Diego, which I like to call Des Moines-by-the-Sea. We’re not particularly well-read, many of us prefer outdoor activities to indoor pursuits, and our artists endlessly complain about being unappreciated. So it’s a surprise to find that we’re No. 3 nationally when it comes to a ranking of pretentiousness, a trait you expect to find in more hoity-toity, pinky-finger-in-the-air, “oh look at the filthy rabble, Muffy” kinds of places. (San Francisco is No. 1.)

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go practice looking down on people even when I’m sitting in a chair.

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 randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com...

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