Municipal leaders in the North County city of Encinitas met last week to consider an unpleasant prospect — complying with state law that says they must make enough space for housing that will meet the needs of the incoming residents. A prominent faction of current Encinitans doesn’t want more homes despite projections of the share that it will have to accept of regional growth.

What to do? Well, some residents asked, how about we blow off the state and ignore its law?

At issue is an Encinitas measure that stipulates all land-use decisions must get final approval from voters. That means that if the city passes a state-mandated plan to accommodate more housing, voters could ultimately reject it — sending everything back to square one.

VOSD contributor Ruarri Serpa has the details: The city attorney brought reality into the picture after residents suggested to City Council members that they all just forget about the state law. “You are in the breach of something very consequential, and if you choose to simply say, ‘We’re not going to,’ please don’t believe that that is the end of the day and all things went well,” he said.

But with housing changes going to the ballot, voters may do just that.

Opinion: What Sherman Heights Really Wants

The city has taken a lot of heat for its decision to install jagged rocks under an overpass in order to keep the homeless at bay. In a VOSD commentary, local resident Pita Verdin says neighbors shouldn’t be blamed for the mess: “it was very hurtful to see the articles and accusations from homeless advocates that Sherman Heights residents requested those rocks. Our request was to increase the lighting and for cleanup to be done consistently in that area.”

Her idea: Make the underpass a “destination point” through art instead.

At least six homeless people sleeping near Horton Plaza were attacked early Tuesday morning, all struck in the head. (Fox 5)

Downtown Goes on a Parking Diet

“The San Diego City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a plan for downtown San Diego that will add nine miles of new bike lanes and more than five miles of widened sidewalks,” KPBS reports. “In 10 years, it will also begin eliminating parking spaces.”

Under the $63 million plan, downtown is estimated to have almost 500 fewer parking spaces in 30 years. Business owners, not surprisingly, don’t like all this. But an environmental group opposed it too, saying it doesn’t do enough to support public transit. (KPBS)

Politics Roundup: More Help for Mentally Ill Homeless

County supervisors have approved funding to boost mental health services for the homeless, Times of S.D. reports.

As we’ve reported, 14 percent of San Diego’s homeless population say they have a severe mental illness. Check our previous coverage for more on this and other initiatives.

The mayors of three South Bay cities came out in favor of boosting the local sales tax by a half-cent to build a trolley line. But San Diego Mayor Faulconer isn’t on board. (Times of S.D., KPBS)

The state has a new law that aims to protect groundwater, but implementing it won’t be simple. (Capital Public Radio)

I’ve Had Days Like This Too, Emu

The Border Fire out by Potrero has done more than threaten homes and force evacuations. It’s also alerted the county to the existence of East County communities called Cowboy Ranch, Canyon City and Dog Patch. (Who knew?) And the fire has produced some amazing photos thanks to remarkable photojournalists.

The Atlantic has a collection of photos of the Border Fire and other wildfires. Make sure to check out the one of the emu fleeing from the flames. The U-T has a photo gallery too, including a memorable shot of shooting flames behind a flapping California flag.

Inside S.D.’s Sex Trafficking Industry

The Guardian takes a belated look at a 2015 federal report that estimates sex trafficking in San Diego is “a vast underground industry worth more than $800 million annually, eight times higher than previously estimated.” Says a prosecutor: “This is a beautiful town with an ugly truth.”

The report, the Guardian says, finds that “pimps were evenly split between white, black and Hispanic.”

Sports Podcast: Meet the Voice of the Gulls

Take a listen to the latest episode of VOSD’s new sports podcast, The Kept Faith. This week the guys sit down with Craig Elsten from Mighty 1090. They talk about Craig’s first year as the voice of the San Diego Gulls and dig deep into what having good hockey back in town means for the sports landscape of the city. Then they discuss the #FireMikeDee movement with the blogger Padres Jagoff, who set the campaign into motion.

Culture Report: Holding the Fort

In the latest edition of our weekly Culture Report, VOSD’s Kinsee Morlan visits a fort-like installation at The New Children’s Museum and hears about the creator’s inspiration: An endlessly fascinating cave that he’d visit as a child and the music he’d make there.

Also in the Culture Report: The San Diego International Fringe Festival, an award for downtown’s new earthquake-whispering sculpture, a slam at beer snobs and a dessert roundup.

Quick News Hits: Sports Boomtown? Try Doomtown

The state’s last operational nuclear power plant, at Diablo Canyon in San Luis Obispo County, is on its last legs. Following on the heels of the now-defunct San Onofre plant in our neck of the woods, it will shut down by 2025.

The power from its two reactors “would be replaced with investment in a greenhouse-gas-free portfolio of energy efficiency, renewables and energy storage,” the L.A. Times reports.

As you may have heard, we’re now being ranked as the most miserable major sports city in the entire country.

According to the U-T, we’ve had 109 seasons of pro baseball, hockey (yes, hockey), basketball (it’s been a while) and football, all without a championship. Buffalo is close at 103.

Here’s some good news, kinda: If the Chargers leave town in disgrace, as some of us hope, we’ll only be adding one losing season to the total each year. Buffalo has two pro teams, potentially doubling the chances that that they’d then pass us on the losing front. Um … Yay!

For now, though, we’ll have to put up with headlines like this one in Esquire: “Congrats, San Diego: You’re Now the New Cleveland.

Oww! It burns like a polluted river on fire!

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 ( Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at

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