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I adore Fiesta Island. I love that you can do so many different things there. Weird summer traditions. Model rockets. Dogs, dogs, dogs.
It’s one of our city’s last, just plain undefined places. You go there to make your own fun. When Fiesta Island is in the news, though, it never seems to be good. It broke my heart when bicyclists were crushed by an impaired driver. And talk of looming development and modernizing of the space makes me nervous.
Now, though, Fiesta Island has entered a new phase. It is a new front in the homelessness crisis.
Dozens of people in RVs are settling on the island and not leaving when the park supposedly closes at night. City officials admitted to us that they don’t always close the gate to the park at night and that police only sweep it when they have the resources free to do that. The city’s relatively new ordinance prohibiting oversized vehicles from parking overnight on residential streets might be fueling the flight to Fiesta Island.
• As Lisa Halverstadt wrote, the window for safe haven at Fiesta Island appears to be closing.
More evidence came Friday morning. Joe, who parked his van on the island for about a week, told Halverstadt police returned to the island the previous night. He said an officer wrote him a $50 ticket and ordered him to leave. Joe wasn’t sure where he’d sleep this weekend.
“I have nowhere else to go,” he said.
• In yesterday’s Morning Report, we reported on a troubling update about the spiking population of homeless residents downtown. At 1,386, the Downtown Partnership’s count of homeless residents on the street in August was more than double the number from January. Double. Some readers wondered if that was a normal seasonal spike. Well, if you look at those numbers for the past few years, there hasn’t been anything like this in the last five years.
Something is happening.
Podcast: What Exactly Is Traffic Congestion Relief?
Our flagship podcast is getting a lot of attention these days. So thank you for those who listen. This week, we talked about the Chargers’ odd “wins” and struggles, how struggling principals find themselves in “special assignments” in San Diego Unified School District and a long, interesting fact check about the San Diego Association of Governments’ claim that its sales-tax increase on the November ballot will relieve traffic congestion.
The measure (Measure A on the ballot) will undeniably increase transportation options. But you might have a different definition of congestion relief than SANDAG does. We also introduce you to someone you may not have ever heard of but who plays a vital role at Voice of San Diego: Mary Walter-Brown, our publisher and COO.
• By the way, the ballot statements for city measures are now available online for your perusal.
• Andy Keatts and I also did a Facebook Live video to test out a potential new feature, the Friday Download. It was kind of an excuse to help Walter-Brown’s team get over the line on our big fundraising challenge this week.
Voice of San Diego has received hundreds of donations this week but we need all we can get. It’s going to be a steep climb for us for the rest of the year and every bit helps. If you enjoy reading this every day but haven’t contributed, please consider!
• Keatts and writer Maya Srikrishnan also held forth on KPBS’s Roundtable Friday.
Sacramento Report: Curious Committees
Recently, the San Jose Mercury News found that candidate-controlled ballot measure committees can be “little-known and barely regulated accounts” that aren’t always used to promote or oppose state and local initiatives as intended.
The groups receive unlimited funds for their choice causes, because donors aren’t subject to candidate contribution limits. Turns out, Assemblywoman Toni Atkins raised more cash for her version than any other legislator in the state.
Also, the Denti-Cal system is rotting and the sprint to the end of the legislative session continues. All that and a lot more is in our weekly roundup of news from the capital.
Quick News Hits
• Most polls on Measure C, the Chargers’ plan for a new facility downtown, have been lopsided against the measure. Not this new one from 10News.
• San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer still hasn’t said whether he supports or opposes Measure C. But he has taken sides on many others.
• The breeding of orcas and making them do performances for entertainment would be illegal under a bill that the Legislature has now sent Gov. Jerry Brown. (L.A. Times) SeaWorld has already announced it would phase out its breeding program. The first time the bill was proposed, it got shot down, under then Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins. This time, Atkins supported it.
• Turns out a judge will not put a halt to physician-assisted deaths for terminally ill patients.
• This is quite a story about a discovery on a San Diego beach.
Most-Read Stories of the Week
Here is a list of the Top 10 most-read stories of the week and below are the Top 5:
1. What I Learned Helping My Sister Use California’s New Law to End Her Life
Less than two months after the state’s new aid-in-dying measure went into effect, my sister used the law to obtain a lethal dose of drugs. “I’d rather be free than entombed in my body,” she told me. (Kelly Davis)
2. I’m a Young Techie. Here’s What San Diego Needs to Do to Keep Me.
Please don’t make me work in Sorrento Valley. (Alexander Bakst)
3. Another Principal Problem, Another ‘Special Assignment’ at San Diego Unified
A San Diego Unified investigation found Serra High’s principal might have lied about his credentials. Instead of dismissing the principal, the district moved him to a “special assignment” position – a lateral move that allows him to keep his $143,000 yearly salary. At least 13 principals have been moved to similar roles, some after experiencing problems. (Mario Koran)
4. Museum of Contemporary Art to Cut Jobs, Close La Jolla Campus Ahead of Expansion
The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is eliminating eight full-time positions and 20 part-time positions, and closing its La Jolla campus beginning in January. The layoffs come in anticipation of the museum’s big expansion, which will triple the exhibition space of the La Jolla location. (Kinsee Morlan)
5. SDPD Officer Faced No Discipline or Internal Affairs Interviews After Controversial Shooting
Because California has one of the strictest laws in the nation when it comes to when details on officer discipline must be made public, civil lawsuits like the one filed against San Diego Police Officer Browder represent the rare instance when the public can see how – or if – the department is punishing or otherwise addressing officer behavior. (Andrew Keatts and Sara Libby)