I asked Lisa Halverstadt a couple weeks ago to try something: In one day, go out with a photographer and see what you can capture that helps us understand truly how prevalent San Diego’s tent cities have become.
I suggested they do it in just one day because I wanted to make sure she didn’t capture the same people in different places. But several hours of work was not enough, she said, to do it justice.
The photo essay she put together with photographer Jamie Scott Lytle still provides quite a window into these semi-permanent settlements. And it turned out to be timely: The encampments made the news last week when the city of San Diego tried to clean some of them up. Halverstadt couldn’t fit all the stories she wanted to tell in one post so stay tuned for follow-ups about the people she met.
It seems like a uniquely American version of what many countries see in their major cities: shanty towns.
Well Hello There, SanDiego.gov
The city of San Diego launched a new slick website over the weekend. Claire Trageser at KPBS has all the details. Last week, the mayor’s staff walked reporters through one of its most noteworthy features: a public records request portal. It will actually make all of our public records requests and the responses public. But the requester gets first dibs. After their response comes, they have 72 hours before it becomes public for everyone else.
It could dramatically change the nature of some types of investigative scoops.
I like the new functions and look. But let us know if you run into some snags.
The Latest on the Convadium
NBC 7 San Diego has a new piece revealing the Chargers seem to be planning their own ballot initiative. This has always been likely or at least a possibility — that the team would pursue a ballot initiative that was complementary to the Citizens’ Plan aiming for the November ballot. That measure would raise hotel-room taxes and lay the ground work for a campus-style convention center expansion, while setting land aside for universities in Mission Valley.
The NBC story says “there are rumblings that the Bolts have found a way to finance the stadium using 100% private funding.”
Really the only way this is possible is if the team does piggyback on the Citizens’ Plan or something like it, which would provide public funding via hoteliers for a convention center campus. That then would provide some of the infrastructure for the stadium and lower the cost of that part of the project to something that, yes, the Chargers and NFL might be able to pay themselves.
As became clear last week, the city’s business elite seem to be shifting toward supporting something like this. Whether it’s one ballot initiative, two or some other package is what we’re waiting to find out.
• In case you were wondering, the Republican Party wants you to know it is against the Citizens’ Plan.
• For more, check out the U-T’s Michael Smolens’ good political roundup this week that includes a funny anecdote about Liam Dillon’s encounter with state Sen. Ben Hueso. Dillon’s first story in the L.A. Times/Union-Tribune was a good one about Hueso, a San Diego representative with a long familial association to the taxi cab industry, who is now resisting regulations he perceives as too lax on ride-sharing companies like Uber.
• KPBS followed up our reporting on Hubbs-Sea World’s existing white sea bass farm and some of the deformed, diseased and dead fish that have come out of it. A board member of Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute responded to our version several weeks ago.
• An effort to build a desalination plant in Rosarito, Mexico, is mired in lawsuits. (U-T)
Let’s Talk About Neighborhood Schools
I’m moderating a panel discussion early March 24 on neighborhood schools. Sign up soon so organizers can decide if they need a bigger room. Wouldn’t doubt it if they do. Check out the panelists: SDSU College of Education Dean Joe Johnson, San Diego school board member John Lee Evans, City Councilman David Alvarez and parent Sandy Weiner. The topic? “Neighborhood schools: Should I stay or should I go?”
It’s at 7 a.m. at The Prado in Balboa Park. Again, RSVP and registration is required (VOSD members, use code C3SPRINGBD). It’s our first official collaboration with Citizens Coordinate for Century 3, which usually focuses on land-use, housing and urban issues. But quality schools is a major land-use issue too. There’s a major conversation going on in San Diego about whether kids and parents should pursue the best education wherever it is in town or whether they should stay in their neighborhoods.