A few weeks ago, my editors urged me to spend a day chronicling the homeless encampments that have become increasingly visible here.

One of the folks I met stayed with me. His name is Mac Oson and he lives under a Friars Road bridge.

But that description doesn’t really do it justice. Oson and his roommates have made the space into an elaborate set-up complete with a kitchen, rooms and decorations. And Oson’s quick to share it. He offers temporary shelter, meals and even haircuts to those in need.

His life there is uncertain, though. The bridge is surrounded by large Mission Valley apartment complexes and one’s urging Oson to move out. Yet Oson and others in the camp don’t believe a shelter would be an improvement over what they’ve created.

Here’s a tour of Oson’s home and a look at the life he’s built under the bridge.

Sacramento Report: Big News on the Tax Front

If you’re a wonk, you know the deal: Raising taxes for specific causes is real hard here in California.

Our Sara Libby leads this week’s Sacramento Report with a look at how a big court decision could upend that long-held roadblock. Libby also drops knowledge on big stories on the state’s controversial CalGang database and all those bills lawmakers are introducing and reintroducing – and why they’re doing that.

 In a commentary, land use attorney Everett DeLano pushes back against our Maya Srikrishnan’s recent story about Encinitas’ resistance to a state affordable housing law.

While the goals of that law are admirable, DeLano writes that law isn’t always executed the way folks might think.

VOSD Podcast: Signature-Gatherers and the County Dems’ Big Meeting

It really pays to be a signature-gatherer these days. There are a slew of ballot measures vying for support – and signatures – this year, and that big ruling I just mentioned may have opened the door to even more of them.

In the latest VOSD Podcast, Scott Lewis and Andrew Keatts offer a window into the big bucks being thrown at local signature-gathering efforts and explain the big ruling making news this week. Lewis and Keatts also talk with county Democratic Party Chair Francine Busby about why local Dems aren’t dominating at the polls despite their dominant registration numbers, plus the county party’s big endorsement meeting this week.

Another Achievement Gap Data Point

A recent survey by the San Diego Unified School District revealed an unfortunate truth: Hundreds of students in the district who could successfully tackle Advanced Placement classes aren’t signing up. The results were even more disconcerting among black and Latino students.

“A third of eligible Latinos opted out and nearly half of eligible African-Americans are not enrolled,” KPBS reporter Megan Burks writes.

The survey results revealed that the students’ reluctance wasn’t so much about a lack of competence but a lack of confidence.

Our Mario Koran’s reporting has also underlined the challenges San Diego Unified’s faced trying to address the achievement gap. Though the district’s repeatedly pledged to address it, progress has been only marginal.

News Nibbles

The New York Times Magazine profiles Bill Walton, and calls him one of “San Diego’s grand natural treasures.” 

More than 3 million pounds of nuclear waste remains at the shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station and it’s not clear when – or where – it will eventually go. (Union-Tribune)

The American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego is accusing U.S. Customs and Border Protection of failing to provide food to asylum seekers at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. (KPBS)

City leaders are looking to reform a perk that allows officials to give out free tickets to Chargers and Padres games. (Union-Tribune)

Did you know San Diego’s home to one of the biggest yeast-makers in the nation? KPBS profiles White Labs, the Clairemont company that’s helped fuel the local craft brewing industry’s rise.

Top Stories of the Week

Our list of the 10 most-read VOSD stories of the week is here. Below are the Top 5:

1. The Chargers Are Readying Their Own Convadium Tax Hike — But the Mayor’s Not on Board
The Chargers have spent the week furiously trying to put together an initiative that would raise the hotel-room tax to fund construction of a new convention center and stadium. A big wrench has come into play: a bombshell court decision that would lower the bar for stadium measures to a simple majority vote. (Scott Lewis)

2. Dem Leader: Party Faces ‘Stealth GOP Takeover’ Bid
A confidential memo obtained by Voice of San Diego alerts Democratic Party insiders that Anthony Bernal, who’s running to represent District 3 on the San Diego City Council, was actually a stalking horse for the Republican Party. Another threat facing local Dems, according to the memo: Mitt Romney. (Andrew Keatts)

3. ‘You Can’t Arrest Your Way Out of a Problem’
San Diego County’s new probation chief says his focus has always been on “intervention and prevention before suppression and enforcement.” (Kelly Davis)

4. San Diego Decides: The District 9 Divide
Zooming in on the races for mayor, city attorney and District 9. (Colin Thomson)

5. Parents Just as Wary of Neighborhood Schools as They Were Five Years Ago, New Study Shows
A new study shows 42 percent of parents across San Diego Unified choose to send their kids to schools outside their neighborhoods. That’s about the same percentage of students as 2011, when the district made neighborhood schools its No. 1 priority. To reverse the trend, the school board is looking to spend bond money building new schools, renovating old ones and adding more online courses. (Mario Koran)

Lisa is a senior investigative reporter who digs into some of San Diego's biggest challenges including homelessness, city real estate debacles, the region's...

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