The abandoned Central Library on E Street in downtown has a certain rumpled 1950s charm, although it can be a bit hard to see past the homeless camped out front. The building looks sturdy enough to survive earthquakes, plagues and political apocalypses, and local bookworms will always have a soft place in their hearts for the treasures they found within.
Local leaders aren’t worried about all that. Officials want to figure out a way to use the iconic building, which is becoming a neglected eyesore. But, as our Kinsee Morlan reports, it’s taking them a long time and its fate remains unclear.
One idea: Make it a hub for tech startups an other innovators. Or maybe it would be a good homeless shelter or police evidence storage facility. Now, proposals are finally coming in, but it seems doubtful that the city will put up money.
Politics Roundup: What Just Happened?
• The City Council has approved a $3.4 billion budget. Among the spending: $1.5 million to upgrade Balboa Park’s Thompson Medical Library. (U-T)
What, the what? Turns out it’s part of the Naval Hospital complex. For details, click here.
• In the latest count, Barbara Bry maintains a huge lead over Ray Ellis in the District 1 City Council race but she doesn’t seem to be getting closer to winning outright. She has 48.73 percent of the vote, not the 50.01 percent she would need to put the race to bed — she is 402 votes away from that.
Unless that shifts dramatically somehow, we’re in for a runoff in November.
• In the County Board of Education race for the north coastal area, Mark Anderson maintains a 193-vote lead over Paulette Donnellon. More than 90,000 votes were cast.
• San Diego Decides, our political podcast, looks at three big local races that aren’t over yet and finds a gender gap: “Each pits a more conservative or business-backed male candidate against a more liberal female.”
Also: The U-T’s endorsement powers seem limited. Among their failed nods: A suggestion that voters send a message to Donald Trump by writing in Ronald Reagan in the GOP presidential primary race. As we noted last week, any write-in votes for The Gipper went uncounted, and he couldn’t have been an official write-in candidate anyway (although there were a few). Why? Because he’s dead. That’s disqualifying.
Plus: A Zachary Taylor reference! If you picked 19th century presidents in your Morning Report drinking game, this slug’s for you.
I couldn’t find any connections between President Taylor and San Diego. He doesn’t seem to have been one of the chief executives to visit our fair city while in office. (Every president since Benjamin Harrison has done so.) And he was in office before California was a state, so our county’s voters couldn’t have opposed him big-time like they did when they rejected Abraham Lincoln not once but twice. But I did find some local Zachary Taylors, including a masseuse and a baseball player.
• Local legislator Shirley Weber is pushing a bill that would make it clear that prison isn’t for “punishment.” She supports “restorative justice” instead. Dan Walters at The Sacramento Bee wondered how that squares with her calling for the removal of the Northern California judge who gave a lenient sentence to a rapist in a now-notorious case at Stanford University.
• San Diego’s ban on the synthetic drug Spice was featured on NPR.
The port is trying to decide what to do with Seaport Village when the current lease runs out. There are some big ideas. Surfing Magazine just noticed one of them: A Kelly Slater Wave Pool for surfers. After warning surfers how long construction might take the magazine advises some public engagement: “… if you buzz with excitement at the thought of a readily available chlorinated paradise at the tips of your fingers in the next decade, go make your voice heard.”
Airbnb Debate Rages On
Loyal VOSD readers know there’s been a recent argument about vacation rentals playing out on our site, particularly whether or not they have a negative impact on San Diego’s affordable housing supply.
Tom Coat joins the conversation with a VOSD commentary making the case for why entire-home short-term vacation rentals have become a very real and serious problem that’s affecting affordable housing here and in other cities.
A longtime news reporter and designer, Coat is also one of the founders and a current board member of Save San Diego Neighborhoods, a citizens group that wants the city to put an end to vacation rentals by enforcing existing zoning codes.
Coat pushes back on VOSD’s recent fact check that made a false determination on Save San Diego Neighborhoods’ estimated number of homes used or converted to whole-home rentals in San Diego – roughly 6,000.
He says the figure the group came up with is provides the “most accurate picture to date” and likely even lowballs the number of homes that’ve been removed from the housing market because of the booming vacation rental industry.
San Diego Deals with #OrlandoStrong
For a second evening in a row, San Diegans gathered in Hillcrest to cope with the killing of 49 people in Orlando, Fla. More than 1,000 people marched, according to the U-T.
• California law forbids the sale and possession of AR-15 rifles like the one used in the Orlando killings, NBC 7 reports. “California also prohibits any person from distributing, transporting, giving or lending any assault weapon within the state.” Despite the ban, a version of the firearm was used in the San Bernardino massacre.
• NBC 7 has details on San Diego’s gay pride weekend in July: there’s no change in scheduling. Extra security is expected. As the story notes, the parade has been hit by a tear gas attack in 1999 — it struck a contingent of parents and children & mdash; and a baseball attack of attendees in 2006.
Meanwhile, locals are embracing the #twomenkissing and #twowomenkissing hashtags on Instagram and Twitter in response to a report that the Orlando gunman was enraged by seeing two men kiss. The U-T posted a roundup of photos.
SDG&E Boasts Renewable Energy Numbers
“Last year 35 percent of all the electricity provided by San Diego Gas & Electric came from renewable sources — solar and wind — a record for the company and for any investor-owned utility in California,” inewsource reports.
However, the number doesn’t include rooftop solar. Indeed, as we’ve explained, the power produced by rooftop solar panels doesn’t help SDG&E meet its clean energy goals, yet another complication amid the power company’s testy relationship with rooftop solar proponents.
Pay Bump Coming for Min Wage Workers
Don’t spend it all in one place, minimum wage workers in the city of San Diego: Thanks to voters, the lowest pay allowed in the city will go up from $10 to $10.50 an hour in July. It will rise again on Jan. 1 to $11.50 an hour.
KPBS reports that exact date of the pay boost is unclear because it must wait for the election results to be certified. Workers in the city will be guaranteed five sick days a year too.
The city still needs to figure out how it will enforce the new minimum wage law: Will it seek out violators or wait until workers report problems? Whatever the case, it may not have long to deal with this issue on a major level. The state’s minimum wage will reach $12 an hour in 2019 for certain businesses, topping the city’s minimum rate.
Big Stadium, Small Events?
More fodder for the football stadium debate and the question of whether a new one will be a draw for non-football events: A snarky story on a site called Our San Diego finds that a $750 million stadium in Indianapolis hosted 8 events in May, including a rehearsal dinner (50 people showed up for that) and a high school prom.
My prom was held at SeaWorld. It really was. We had dinner at Reuben’s before and danced to INXS and “Pretty in Pink.”
Word to the wise: Shamu is all hands.
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.