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We’re getting more and more details about the Chargers plan for a downtown convadium — a joint convention center and stadium. But we’re also hearing more about the rather big decisions the team’s leaders simply haven’t made.
For instance, does their idea include the stadium having a roof of some kind?
They don’t know yet.
Fred Maas, the former downtown development guru for the city who is now working for the Chargers and other team representatives provided some more specifics about how the financing would work. It is what we reported here. Though the team did clarify that under its proposal, the operations and maintenance of the new facility would be paid for with the increased hotel-room tax and the team would cover deficits in annual operations only for the stadium part of it.
There are other questions too. The Chargers have not made key architectural decisions like whether the convention side of the facility would be underneath or on the side of the stadium or whether the stadium floor itself would be the exhibit space.
Maas said the team is working on the assumption it needs to get two-thirds vote to gain approval but would of course be happy if a recent court ruling holds up and only a simple majority is required to raise the hotel-room tax to 16.5 percent from the effective 12.5 percent total levy that exists now.
Finally, the Chargers’ new proposal does not include money to help the city retire existing debt on Qualcomm Stadium.
— Scott Lewis
Zoo Ain’t Sharing Its Special Tax
Balboa Park needs more than $300 million in fixes and upgrades. Unfortunately, there’s no dedicated money to pay for that.
That led two City Council members to wonder if maybe the San Diego Zoo could help. The zoo does get a cozy benefit from a special property tax, which adds more than $10 million annually to its coffers in recent years. But the zoo hasn’t been willing to spread the wealth.
The zoo, which is a nonprofit, pulled in $295 million in revenue in 2014, about $69 million more than its expenses.
A zoo spokesperson was barely willing to talk about the issue of zoo support for the park, and both current and former zoo board members were mum.
Culture Report: ‘Arts Desert’ Gets an Oasis
VOSD’s weekly Culture Report profiles a hand-built stage in the Oak Park neighborhood that’s serving as the home for experimental puppet theater and avant garde jazz shows. The neighborhood, one of San Diego’s most obscure, is a bit of an “arts desert,” but a couple puppeteers hope they’ve created an iconic space for performances.
Also in the Culture Report: A battle over a yard sculpture in La Jolla, eatery art, an anniversary for Humphrey’s, duck soup and a mosaic artist confab.
• Our Kinsee Morlan, who covers arts for us and writes the Culture Report among other duties, has an update in our pages about the reboot of the San Diego Film Commission. It lost funding in 2013, but boosters have been pushing for its revival because they think a commission can coax a bit of Hollywood — and, more importantly, a bit of that sweet Hollywood money — to our fair city.
There are still questions, though, about why we need a film office in the first place, especially if we’re not going to offer subsidies that woo productions to leave L.A.
• Paste Magazine, which is called Paste Magazine for some reason, names 5 top “Underground Taco Shops” in San Diego, all family-owned.
Any list that includes the high-profile and often-packed El Indio restaurant isn’t really after “underground” Mexican joints. Still, it’s a handy list, if too focused on places by the beach.
Politics Roundup: Saldaña on the Attack, But…
Mayoral candidate and former legislator Saldaña, a Democratic long shot for mayor, has issued an overheated press release accusing Faulconer’s campaign of a dirty trick. But evidence is lacking, and the press release (headline: “SLEAZE-GATE!”) prompted gleeful mockery from both sides of the local political aisle.
At issue: According to her campaign, a consulting firm requested public records, including emails, related to her employment by a community college. There doesn’t seem to be any proof of a connection to Faulconer’s campaign; a spokesman says he doesn’t know what she’s talking about, telling the U-T that “we do not plan to research our opponents.”
And opposition research in itself — particularly a request for public records — is hardly a case of dirty politics.
• Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, named by Washingtonian Magazine as one of the two partiest of party animals in Congress, is our reigning King of Vape. Yes, that’s him actually vaping in the halls of Congress and drawing a rare “Oh My God” headline from Gawker. But he may have competition on the vape-friendly front. Local state Senator Joel Anderson, got a rave from vapers by taking a stand against a tax. “Don’t Tax Vapor” is an odd slogan to rally behind, however.
• For once, the California GOP presidential primary election may actually be exciting. In fact, it seems guaranteed to be a humdinger, at least as far as anything has been guaranteed during this bizarro election.
As U-T columnist Logan Jenkins notes, “The state GOP started revising its rules about 18 years ago to accomplish two goals: First, limit the primary to registered Republicans, helping conservative candidates; and second, turn every congressional district into a contested battleground with three delegates going to the winner.”
This system, Jenkins writes, may actually help Ted Cruz in a state that may not seem very Cruz-friendly. A key Cruz strategy has been to recruit potential Cruz delegates who are brimming with the elusive quality of sticktoitiveness.
• CityBeat contacted nearly 60 local politicians and asked them whom they support for president. Most of them — call them profiles in un-courage — blew off the newspaper. Of those who did respond, a whole bunch refused to comment, including District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis (a prominent Republican) and Councilman Todd Gloria (a prominent Democrat).
But Hillary Clinton does get support from Rep. Susan Davis, Rep. Scott Peters, former Assembly speaker Toni Atkins, Councilwoman Marti Emerald and Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas. Mayoral candidate Lori Saldaña is “leaning” toward Bernie Sanders.
On the GOP side, Rep. Duncan D. Hunter became one of the first two members of Congress to endorse Trump. Meanwhile, Mayor Kevin Faulcouner and Rep. Darrell Issa appear to be in limbo after endorsee Marco Rubio dropped out.
Startup CEO: Why I Moved Company to San Diego
One of the guys behind Bizness Apps, a San Francisco start-up, writes in TechCrunch about why his company is picking up and moving to sunny San Diego.
One surprising reason: Housing costs are cheap. Well, cheaper. And it’s less competitive here, with more opportunity to scarf up talent. “We’re confident this move will facilitate faster expansion than we ever saw in San Francisco,” the startup chief says. “The mobile industry is booming, and San Diego is the new frontier where we’ll lay the foundation for our future.”
My, What Big Double-Height Lounges You Have!
• The L.A. Times summarizes the findings of a new audit this way: “the University of California has hurt local students by admitting so many out-of-state applicants to its campuses and should be reined in with tough restrictions.”
• Here’s some NSFW nightmare fuel (editor’s note: Warning, it’s bizarre and graphic) from local novelist/journalist/clearly disturbed person Ryan Bradford. (Hi, pal!)
• Wondering how the other .0001 percent lives? The Robb Report, an upscale publication for upscale people, takes a look at the new luxury Pacific Gate condo complex in downtown. The complex features “a double-height lounge, a screening room and conference room, gender-specific steam and sauna rooms, a fitness center, an outdoor pool and spa, and even a pet retreat.”
Seems legit. As we all know, if there’s one thing our pets need, it’s more relaxation time.
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.