The Morning Report
Get the news and information you need to take on the day.
With all those construction cranes looming overhead, downtown San Diego may seem like the hottest part of the county when it comes to building stuff. But Oceanside, the North County city that’s both gleaming and gritty, has its own mini downtown boom.
As VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan reports, “a handful of projects are moving forward in downtown Oceanside, with buildings reaching four to eight stories going up and little in the way of community opposition rallying against them.”
This has been a very long time coming. Locals have tried to develop downtown for decades, but various holdups have put the kibosh on the plans. Srikrishnan explores the history of downtown Oceanside, once grungy and crime-ridden but now undergoing an El Cajon Boulevard-style renaissance: The grittiness remains but it’s gaining a money-spending hipster flavor.
Poor Water Users Get a Big Break
The City Council authorized a new city fund on Tuesday to help low-income water users.
A California law, Proposition 218, is supposed to make it difficult for water departments to raise rates, but it also makes it hard for them to help low-income customers. That’s because the law says water departments can only charge their customers what it takes to provide them with water – that means one group of customers isn’t supposed to subsidize another group. So wealthy customers aren’t supposed to be able to help subsidize rates for low-income customers.
To get around that, the city’s new “Help to Others” aid plan, which was crafted by the city Public Utilities Department, depends on donations from the public to help low-income water users. It’s unclear how many people will donate, meaning the helpfulness of the program is a big unknown. The plan also won’t be up and running until summer 2017.
But some people need the help: Water rates have soared in the past quarter-century and last fall the City Council approved the water department’s request for a five-year, 40 percent water rate hike.
From 2014 to summer 2015, the city shut off water to about 19,833 of its roughly 280,000 customers for non-payment. Most customers only lose water services for a few hours or days at a time while they set up a payment plan.
— Ry Rivard
Bruce Lightner: I’m Legit, Actually
Is the husband of Council President Sherri Lightner running for her Council seat in order to force a run-off and boost the Democratic candidate for the seat? (She can’t run again due to term limits.) No, Bruce Lightner tells the U-T, he’s not. And as for allegations that he pilfered coding from an opponent’s website, he says — a bit bizarrely — that he “would characterize it as a parody — it’s a web page with a similar look and feel.” He said he plans to replace the site.
Law Enforcement Roundup: Requests Denied
“Public information requests for police body camera footage and complaints and other personnel related documents have been denied by government agencies while requests for emails, data sets and agency policies have generally been granted,” NBC 7 reports in a piece taking stock of all its public records requests. One peculiar fact: “The California Department of Motor Vehicles no longer releases license photos of individuals after the individual has died.”
• A report says the Border Patrol is massively failing to deal with abuse and corruption among its officers. (L.A. Times)
Culture Report: Graffiti Park’s Fresh Face
Writerz Blok, a legal outlet for graffiti art in southeastern San Diego, is getting a boost: It’s becoming a non-profit and wants to do more; it’s already credited with reducing graffiti and helping kids get off the wrong track. VOSD’s weekly Culture Report has details, along with links to stories about topics like arts education, king-sized sushi rolls, missing art, whales and chocolate/berry combos.
WGASA? Well, Lots of People on Reddit, It Turns Out
A few years back, I helped VOSD write an article that examined whether the Wgasa Bush Line at the Wild Animal Park was actually named for the acronym of a naughty phrase (“Who Gives a Shit Anyway”).
Absolutely not, declared the park. They’re wrong, countered the San Diego Zoo’s former executive director and the son of the deceased chief designer at the zoo. The monorail was indeed named after that you-know-what; the designer had scrawled the words onto a piece of paper during a meeting. The acronym sounded African, and thus it became the monorail’s name with few the wiser.
This week, someone (no, not me!) posted a link to our story in Reddit’s “Today I Learned” section. It’s since drawn thousands of up-arrows along with a flurry of comments about the renaming of the park and the demise of the monorail. One reader says this is “the best thing since Seattle’s ‘South Lake Union Trolley.’”
Quick News Hits: Welcome to Chula Viszzzzz …
• “Carne asada fries and cash were demanded by two robbery suspects inside a San Diego-area taco shop early Tuesday.” (NBC 7)
• The 538.com news site takes a look at the results of an online quiz asking people to name the nation’s 100 most populous cities. The “most forgettable” big city? San Jose. Wherever that is. It’ll come to me in a second. (Florida? Texas?) San Diego is the 10th most memorable city and 10th among Google searches.
And … drum-rol l… what’s the 95th most memorable city (and the 97th in Google searches), despite being the 77th largest in the whole country? Why it’s our very own … Um … I forgot. Stand by.
Oh yes. It’s my hometown, Chula Vista. It may have a “pretty view,” per its name, but turns out it’s mostly invisible.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.