Late Wednesday, the California Coastal Commission voted 7-5 to remove its executive director, Charles Lester, after a long day of public testimony and social media rallying.

Toni Atkins, the speaker of the Assembly, seemed shocked as the decision became more and more obvious: “Let me apologize to the public. I truly thought my appointees would be better stewards of the coast,” she wrote.

The push to oust Lester was widely seen as driven by those frustrated by red tape hampering construction along the coast. But they were not open about their reasoning.

San Diego’s Olga Diaz was there as an alternative to County Supervisor Greg Cox, who couldn’t go. Diaz voted to remove Lester and that turned out to be decisive. She told KPBS she was able to “fill in some gaps” about his performance. Here is the vote breakdown. Capitol Public Radio says it is a win for developers.

Speaking of Coastal Development: Granny Flats Fail to Take Hold

The North County city of Encinitas needs to ramp up low-cost housing because the state says so. But many residents can’t stand the idea of squeezing more homes into their neighborhoods. So Encinitas voters decided to embrace “granny flats,” little homes that share property with a main home.

So how’s that worked out? VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan took a look and found that the program’s been anything but a success. A year later, the city’s only added six low-cost units.

“It cost too much to make the required upgrades, with not enough financial compensation for those who went through with it,” Srikrishnan writes. “And so, most people simply ignored the idea altogether.”

North County Report: Chavez’s Hopes Fall in Ravine

Assemblyman Rocky Chavez’s dreams finally caught up with reality the other day, and they bridged the gulf between them in the most outlandish way possible.

During a GOP debate between candidates for U.S. Senate, Chavez declared that he was no longer running to represent California in Washington D.C. and huffed out of a radio studio. This came as a surprise to listeners, including, one assumes, at least some who were aware that he was actually in the race.

VOSD’s North County Report digs into what happened and how Chavez’s decision throws a wrench into a local Assembly race that’s already drawn some high-profile candidates.

Also in the NC Report: Encinitas and more Encinitas, a protest in Poway schools, a big facelift for an Oceanside golf course and allegations in the race for county supervisor.

‘Founding Father’ Fuss Erupts

A right-wing legal group has jumped into local government to accuse the city of disrespecting municipal employee rights by frowning on the use of the term “founding fathers” (along with other words like “manmade” and “man up”) by city employees. Fox News amplified the story, and it apparently spooked the mayor’s office.

Mayor Faulconer, a moderate Republican thought to have higher political aspirations, manned up by quickly saying it’s fine to use “founding fathers” instead of the recommended “founders.” He reported that the offending language about the use of “founding fathers” had been stricken from an internal city guide. The U-T leaped into the mess providing more context. In the paper’s initial story, the mayor threw his former communication director under the bus but later the city’s chief operating officer threw himself under.

How El Cajon Blvd. Divides Us

People who live near certain parts of El Cajon Boulevard — like me — understand the major thoroughfare serves as more than a busy street. It also divides upscale neighborhoods to the north from poor neighborhoods to the south.

The transition can be abrupt. Cross the street to the south and you may suddenly spot more barred windows, stern fences and scary dogs. Go north and you may see fewer apartment buildings, fewer liquor stores and homes that get pricier and fancier as you near the ridge overlooking Mission Valley.

The divide is especially noticeable between Kensington to the north and the much-more obscure Teralta neighborhood to the south. As KPBS and a coalition of public radio stations report, the neighborhoods are “ close in distance, miles apart in voter turnout.” That’s not all: Kensington residents (including a former mayor and a current congresswoman) are mostly wealthy and white; in Teralta, they’re mostly poor and almost half foreign-born.

El Cajon in the New York Times

The New York Times paid a visit to a crisis pregnancy center in El Cajon that is among many facing a new California law that requires them to post information on where low-income people can get family planning and abortion services. The clinics, of course, exist to persuade people not to choose abortion so they’re fighting.

Side note: the story leads with a scene in El Cajon, a city the Times described as “impoverished.”

Impoverished? Not long ago, we did a fact check on a claim El Cajon was the poorest city in the county. About a quarter of El Cajon residents have incomes below the poverty line.

RFK Assassin, an Inmate Here, Fails Parole Bid

Sirhan Sirhan, the assassin who killed Robert F. Kennedy and an inmate at San Diego’s Donovan prison, did not win parole yesterday. It was his 15th try since killing the former attorney general, presidential brother and presidential candidate in 1968.

One of the speakers at the parole hearing is an RFK truther who thinks another shooter actually killed Kennedy. “Sirhan has claimed amnesia brought on by excess consumption of alcohol and denied committing the killing, despite having admitted to the crime in open court during his trial.” (City News Service/AP) Sirhan was transferred to Donovan on the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s death.

San Diego has many ties to the Kennedys. JFK visited here and traveled El Cajon Boulevard in an open-air motorcade months before his death. His assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald, served as a Marine here. And RFK himself spent the day in San Diego before he was shot to death in Los Angeles, making a campaign swing through Logan Heights to chants of “Bobby! Bobby!” He was so exhausted that evening that he nearly collapsed during a speech at downtown’s El Cortez Hotel.

According to biographer Evan Thomas, RFK stopped speaking and sat on the stage with his head in his hands before being rushed to a restroom. But he returned to finish the speech with a familiar line.

Quick News Hits: Flan!

• “A state appeals court ruled this week that four San Diego city employee unions aren’t entitled to $1.7 million in attorney’s fees from a 2010 lawsuit over the pension contributions of city workers.” (U-T)

• As CityBeat reports, San Diego City Councilman Mark Kersey now faces two obscure Democratic challengers. Both are real long shots without money or public profiles, but one is trying to make a stink by accusing Kersey of not living in his district. Kersey denies wrongdoing; the challenger bases his allegation on a suspicion based on the way divorce usually work and addresses used on documents.

• A huge fuss over a transgender student’s use of a locker room has broken out in the Poway school district, which serves Poway and a big chunk of the city of San Diego. Meanwhile, an audience of hundreds demanded that an Escondido high school not expel two students who had knives (one for fishing, another thrown in by his father) discovered in their trucks in the campus parking lot. Drug-sniffing dogs “alerted” on their trucks because they both brought Advil to school; the students have been charged with misdemeanors. (U-T)

Oh c’mon, Pro Football Hall of Fame!

• Same goes to you, Citizens’ Law Enforcement Review Board!

• Former Padres player and third-base coach, Tim Flannery, went off on Padres fans on Twitter. (Warning: You won’t understand any of it unless you’re fluent in baseball.)

• Do voter ID laws dampen voting by minorities? Yup, say researchers from UCSD. (U-T)

• Vanity Fair takes note of Google’s plans for self-driving cars and California regulations in the works that would require these cars to allow drivers to take over. Google doesn’t want that. In fact, it thinks its self-driving cars should be able to come without things like steering wheels and brake pedals.

Huh. Hey, what could go wrong if we allow robot overseers to take us where we want to go? Hey, what could go wrong if we allow robot overseers to take us where we want to go? Hey…

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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