Sometimes when you plug “Balboa Park” into your phone’s GPS, you’ll end up in trails around Morley Field. Sometimes you’ll end up near the Ruben H. Fleet Science Center. Sometimes you’ll end up at The Prado restaurant.
Even for people who help run the park, getting there for the first time can be remarkably confusing.
Lisa Halverstadt’s latest story on Balboa Park looks into these GPS mishaps and the park’s curious lack of signage.
Halverstadt describes some of the initiatives to make it easier to get to Balboa Park: entryway monuments, phone apps to help visitors get around upon arrival at the park and just more intuitive signage.
Big News: Settlement in Hotel-Room Tax Lawsuit
Attorney Cory Briggs is holding a press conference this morning to explain a settlement he and clients have reached with the Tourism Market District. The agency funds marketing efforts for San Diego to potential visitors and is funded with a 2 percent levy on hotel rooms in addition to the 10.5 percent city of San Diego tax.
But that 2 percent was never approved by voters. Briggs and his client, San Diegans for Open Government, sued arguing it looked very much like a tax — some hotels even call it that on room bills. Briggs rivals tried to argue he and his clients had no standing to sue but when that argument was dismissed, they had incentive to settle.
We don’t yet know the framework of the settlement or if it also involves the city of San Diego and not just the Tourism Marketing District.
• Perhaps not coincidentally, San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith issued a scathing legal memo suggesting the City Council may consider defiantly not putting the so-called Citizens Plan on the ballot even if it turns in enough valid signatures. The Council should perhaps even consider suing to keep it off the ballot or later disqualifying it.
The biggest risk, he wrote, was what he called a “poison pill” that invalidates all the parts of the measure if one part is ruled illegal.
Briggs promised to respond in depth to this as well at the press conference.
Here’s the U-T’s quick take, including the mayor’s statement that further indicates he’s not inclined to support the plan.
• Representatives of the Chargers met with attorney Briggs Monday. He’s the author of the Citizens Plan.
Briggs said he has no intention of changing his initiative for the Chargers and expressed concern over what will happen in Mission Valley once the team leaves. (NBC7)
• Speaking of Goldsmith, he is on board the Ted Cruz train. Cruz garnered 50 endorsements from California politicians, including Goldsmith, Chula Vista’s John McCann and Diane Harkey, who represents San Diego on the state Board of Equalization.
‘Erasing’ The Border Wall
A public art project aims to make the border wall disappear along three Mexican border cities: Mexicali, Agua Prieta and Ciudad Juarez. To many on both sides of the wall who have split families and lives in both the United States and Mexico, its politics don’t mirror reality. It’s an abstract, physical barrier.
The “Borrando la Frontera,” project will coordinate volunteers along the border to paint sections of the border wall sky blue to symbolically erase the barrier.
In our latest Border Report, Brooke Binkowski talks with the artist behind the project, Ana Teresa Fernandez.
Binkowski also writes about calls from Mexican farm laborers for a boycott of Driscoll and Sakuma berries. Last month, the workers and activists marched to draw attention to the human rights abuses and low wages on the farms.
Opinion: San Diego Water Officials Swing Back at Met
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California will vote on further water rate hikes today.
Mark Weston, chairman of the San Diego County Water Authority’s Board of Directors, writes an op-ed arguing that such rate hikes are illegal and reinforce why the county must continue to advance local water projects.
Weston’s commentary was a response an op-ed by Meena Westford of Metropolitan, who defended the higher water rates, saying the district implements such increases to maintain strong financial practices.
Rather than being fiscally responsible, Metropolitan sets water rates higher than necessary to pay for its expenses, Weston argues.
“For San Diego-area ratepayers, these over-collections amount to an illegal $188 million of excess charges from 2011 to 2014 – money MWD collected without demonstrating any need, or any connection to the costs it incurred,” he writes.
Quick News Hits:
• First 5 San Diego, the county agency that collects and spends millions of dollars from tobacco taxes on early childhood programs, granted $2 million worth of contracts to organizations run by two members of its commission. (Union-Tribune)
• Supporters of Prop. 47, which reduced penalties for drug offenses and other low-level felonies, are concerned that the hundreds of millions of dollars saved from putting those people in prison isn’t making it to the drug treatment and other rehabilitation programs where it was promised to go. (KPBS)
• Sixty-eight percent of 1,200 people polled said they would vote for SANDAG’s proposed tax hike – more than what the measure would need to pass at the polls. (City News Service)
• A judge recommended (Union-Tribune) that Advantage towing company should be fined $160,000 for illegal campaign contributions in the 2012 mayoral race. Liam Dillon dug into the company’s political donations back in September.
• The first of three televised debates for mayor will be tonight from 6-7 p.m., hosted by Univision/Telemundo. The second debate, hosted by KUSI and the San Diego Union Tribune, will be on May 24 from 9-10 p.m. The last will be on June 3, from 6-7 p.m. and will be co-hosted by Voice of San Diego and NBC7. (Union-Tribune)