It’s been almost 10 years since voters approved a ballot measure securing money to improve Mission Bay Park, and it’s working pretty darn well: There’s a 10-year plan to spend tens of millions on the park.

That’s not the case a few miles southeast at Balboa Park, the city’s supposed treasure. The park has more than $300 million in needs and no plan – and no dedicated money – to fix them.

“Balboa Park’s situation means city officials cobble together money for individual projects rather than plan over the long haul,” writes Lisa Halverstadt in a new story.

It wasn’t always so. Back in 1991, the City Council approved a tax hike that earmarked $145 million for improvements to both parks. It was a temporary measure, but now it’s just Balboa Park that doesn’t have a dedicated funding source.

One big issue is that Mission Bay Park has a way to bring in money to pay back any debt the city takes on to pay for major projects. Between SeaWorld, hotels and other commercial leases, Mission Bay collects about $30 million a year for the city.

There’s nothing comparable in Balboa Park.

Big Questions Follow Big Changes in Tijuana

It’s been a rough couple weeks in news from Tijuana.

Tijuana’s police chief, Alejandro Lares, abruptly resigned, making vague allegations about a media smear campaign against him.

A day earlier, KPBS had reported on the homeless migrants living in the canal system, and the police who pursued them to put them in jail, rehab centers or on buses out of town.

And two weeks ago, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported a recent uptick in drug violence owes itself to the arrival of a new drug cartel, Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion, which is jostling for control with existing groups, Los Zetas and the Knights Templar Cartel.

Enrique Limon has more details in this edition of the Border Report.

New Eyes on City Hall

We’ve got a new City Hall reporter here at Voice of San Diego. It’s me.

I’ve spent the last few years covering land use – focusing on issues like how the region is going to accommodate a growing population with new housing and sustainable transportation options.

But over that time, the ranks of people whose primary concern is what’s happening on the City Council and the mayor’s office has slowly winnowed.

We’ve decided it’s time that we get back to having a dedicated City Hall reporter. I’ll still cover the city’s major growth and development decisions, but I’ll also cover the other most impactful issues on the City Hall agenda – and try my damnedest to shine some light on the major issues that aren’t on the agenda, but should be.

At the same time, I’m going to become an assistant editor. In addition to coordinating how we cover the city, that’ll also put me in charge of how we cover the 2016 elections. I went into it in a bit more detail here.

This seems like a good time to give you my email address – – and remind you how much I like hearing all the things you wished we’d cover more, or differently, not to mention that city-shaking tip you’ve been waiting to let loose.

San Diego Opens Its Open Data Portal

City staff on Monday released a master list of all the data sets it has on hand that it’ll soon release to the public on its new website,, as part of the open data policy it passed in December 2014, KPBS’s Claire Trageser reports.

The city is asking residents for feedback on which of the 115 data sets, representing information from 20 separate departments, it should prioritize to release first. The data sets range from things like all the properties that have been foreclosed by banks, the date and location of cliff rescues, fire response time statistics, playground locations throughout the city and which companies have received assistance from the city’s economic development department. You can vote for which data sets should be released first.

The head of the city’s open data initiative says it takes time to release each one because the IT department needs to clean up each one to deal with cybersecurity concerns and to make sure personnel records for city staff or personal information of residents isn’t included.

Earlier this month, inewsource criticized the city for rejecting its public records request for the list of data sets that the city has now released.

Buy a Trolley Fare with a Credit Card? Your Information Is at Risk

The system the Metropolitan Transit System uses to let riders pay for Compass Cards isn’t up to industry standards set by credit card companies to prevent fraud, KPBS reporter Andrew Bowen reports.

This isn’t the first problem Bowen has reported on MTS’s fare and payment system. Last month, he explained all the limitations on agency’s Compass Card system– namely, you can’t store money on the card and draw down on it each time you use it for a fare – which discourages occasional riders from considering the public transit system as a viable option.

News Hits

People on parole and probation are already subject to search and seizure from law enforcement at any time. Now that a new state law has required law enforcement to obtain a warrant before searching a person’s cell phone, laptop or digital storage device, it’s unclear what that means for those on parole and probation. Have they waived their rights to digital privacy, too? (The Intercept)

If you bought a lotto ticket in San Marcos recently, you should definitely try to figure out if you’re the person who won $7 million and hasn’t claimed it yet. (Times of San Diego)

The San Diego Police Department recently picked up a new $6.8 million computerized dispatch system to replace the one it’s had for 24 years. But the Alabama-based company that’s providing it has had trouble rolling it out in other cities across the country. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

The Los Angeles-based developer of a new Carlsbad mall has conceded that his project lost in last week’s special election. (NBC 7 San Diego)

Sacramento legislators on Monday approved a tax on some health care plans to help fund Medi-Cal, the state health care program for the poor. The plan got strong bipartisan support, with many Republicans voting in favor of the measure, including local Republican Assemblyman Brian Jones, who surprised a couple reporters by voting for the plan. Jones said he was just representing his district. Fellow Republican Assemblymembers Brian Maienschein and Marie Waldron joined Jones in crossing the aisle. (Sacramento Bee)

The City Council approved a measure to encourage property owners to turn vacant or blighted land into community gardens (City News Service)

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

Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.