The Chargers and their motley coalition pushing for a combined convention center stadium project in East Village may have just gotten their biggest supporter from the city’s halls of power yet: Jerry Sanders, the former mayor and current CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Appearing on the Mighty 1090, Sanders said plans to expand the Convention Center on its current footprint along the waterfront were doomed.
“It just doesn’t appear that that’s going to happen any time soon. What I think is important is that we do something. And that something literally has to be moving off the contiguous space. I think you’ll find a lot of people who agree with that now. And leaving that option for the future maybe — that we do Phase 3 of the Convention Center across the street somewhere and actually save Phase 4 for contiguous, if it can ever be done,” he said.
Host Scott Kaplan asked Sanders to clarify. Was he saying he supported the plan put together by JMI Realty, Cory Briggs, Donna Frye and financed in part by former Padres owner John Moores?
“What I’m saying is I support the concept,” he said. It was only a couple months ago that Mayor Kevin Faulconer pledged to put a contiguous expansion on the ballot. Now his predecessor and a major supporter says he can’t see it happening.
Land Use Experts Not Excited, Though
San Diego’s East Village is full of contrasts. It’s home to a stunning library but lots of homeless people living in tents on the sidewalk. There’s a spiffy ballpark and ugly expanses of parking and warehouses.
How will a new football stadium change things? Andrew Keatts reports that a band of architects, developers and urban planners are raising the alarm about an “unbalanced conversation” going forward about the stadium plan.
They believe a combined stadium/convention center expansion is a bad idea. “It could prove fatal to a neighborhood that’s expected to shoulder a significant burden of providing new homes to the city’s growing population,” Keatts writes.
So what’s is this band of advocates calling itself? The East Village People. Seriously. Don’t be surprised if they start singing about the YMCA.
Voters to Decide in June on Infrastructure Fund
The City Council agreed to let voters decide in June whether to set aside growth of revenues flowing to the city in the future for infrastructure investments, the U-T reports. Councilmen David Alvarez and Todd Gloria, voted no; Gloria said the measure would starve other city services and fail to solve the city’s problems with crumbling roads, sidewalks and more.
The measure, which requires the city to spend money in certain ways over 30 years, essentially represents a vote of mistrust in city officials to make the best decisions.
Felony Charges in Lincoln High Rumble
We’re hearing more about the aftermath of last week’s fracas at San Diego’s long-troubled Lincoln High: “A San Diego-area teen is facing felony charges for allegedly rendering a police officer unconscious and stealing his patrol radio and keys following a ‘play boxing’ incident that quickly escalated, sending a police officer and students to the hospital,” NBC 7 reports.
A judge told the minor, who’s fighting the charges, that he “basically started a riot.”
Our Mario Koran has followed the Lincoln High saga for years, and he and our Rachel Evans provided an update last week that puts the fight into perspective.
Culture Report: Inside the Secret Art Collection
In this week’s Culture Report, our Kinsee Morlan checks in with a Pacific Beach man “who has quietly amassed an unparalleled collection of local mid-century art.” The collection fills 20 rooms of three apartments.
He’s given artwork to the city, and several pieces will be on display at a Central Library show starting this weekend.
Also in the Culture Report: Murals in La Jolla, “adult coloring parties” (no, they aren’t coloring any adults, I checked), a new chicken-and-waffle joint, the return of cassette tapes (wanna hear my 8-tracks?) and something called Babyfest.
Backcountry Brouhaha over Growth
The U-T reports on a brewing battle in East County over whether new construction in the backcountry will harm the environment: “The U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Forest Service, as well as the nonprofit Cleveland National Forest Foundation, have raised concerns that the county’s plan could fragment woodland habitat and negatively impact threatened species.”
• It’s early, but wildflower buffs are already heading to the desert in search of blooms — and not just because they want to look at them. The L.A. Times finds that there’s a whole world of flower fanatics who “begin tracking the state of the Anza-Borrego bloom in September and October. By January, the early online reports are posted, with germination rates and rainfall tallies.”
RIP, 23-Foot Whale Calf
The SeaWorld killer whale that killed not one but two people in Florida, including a trainer, is seriously ill and seems to be in its last days.
The killings helped spark the fury that culminated in the damning “Blackfish” documentary and the continuing outcry against SeaWorld’s treatment of animals that has caused major revenue declines and management changes to the company. SeaWorld has published an extensive update about the killer whale, named Tilikum.
In other sea animal news, a 23-foot dead whale calf washed up at Silver Strand State Beach yesterday and was soon surrounded by caution tape.
Hauling the whale away was expected to cost a few thousand dollars. Pro tip: Don’t blow up a beached whale with explosives. I can’t emphasize this enough. (NBC 7)
Balboa’s Statue Bid Has Been Rocky
San Diego isn’t a big statue city like New York, Washington D.C., San Francisco or Richmond. Yes, we have a nifty and 300-pound statue of Bum the Dog downtown, and one of a living person, former Mayor/Senator/Governor Pete Wilson, which is bit odd. But there’s only a handful in Balboa Park, mostly in a grouping by one of the entrances.
“Given the glaring absence of a likeness of Spanish explorer Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, it’s a wonder children don’t assume the park is named after the Italian Stallion, Rocky Balboa,” the U-T’s Logan Jenkins writes.
He says Balboa (the explorer) “still waits for his bronze close-up.” Of course, explorers have a bad rap these days, and with good reason. But Balboa seems to have actually been a good guy and a martyr to boot.
While some spoilsporty Balboa Park honchos can’t stand the idea of a Balboa statue, Jenkins reports that there’s a movement afoot to commission one for $325,000. A donor will take care of the bill, and the statue — if approved by the powers that be — will be erected at the front of the Natural History Museum.
According to one rendering, Balboa will be looking into the distance. Here’s hoping he also gives some major side eye to those who think he doesn’t belong in park with his name on it.
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 email@example.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.