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Here’s a problem: A new football stadium downtown could jolt surrounding neighborhoods, turning them into hot spots with higher rents. The Chargers think they have this figured out. They’re wooing labor unions with an unusual (and non-binding) promise: If they get a stadium built, they’ll fight to keep housing costs low in the neighboring communities of Barrio Logan, Sherman Heights and Logan Heights.
We got the skinny via an Aug. 9 letter from the team to the San Diego Building and Construction Trades Council in which the Chargers pledge to create a community land trust to protect those neighborhoods from higher housing prices after a stadium is built.
Councilman David Alvarez, who represents the neighborhoods and is against the stadium measure, is not impressed, VOSD contributor Johnny Magdaleno reports. Alvarez opposes the Chargers initiative, known as Measure C. “It’s one thing to have requirements that are legal, and it’s another to make promises,” he said. “Whether it’s Sherman Heights or Logan Heights, these neighborhoods have already had their share of promises left unfulfilled.”
• Meanwhile, in a VOSD commentary, Rep. Scott Peters, a Democrat and former city councilman, explains why he supports the “convadium” plan for a new football stadium-convention center expansion downtown.
“This project is not ‘giving money to a billionaire.’ It’s a public-private partnership in which both sides should contribute and both should expect benefits,” he writes. “I understand that the $650 million contribution from the owner and the NFL is one of the largest of its kind. San Diegans should vote based on the convadium’s benefits and economic returns for San Diego, not on animosity toward billionaires or any particular one.”
State Roundup: Blizzard of Bills
As the state Legislature finished its session Tuesday, new laws and deals spun out of Sacramento. Here’s a roundup via the L.A. Times:
• The governor and the Legislature “reached a deal on how to spend a significant portion of the money generated by the state’s cap-and-trade auctions, breaking through a two-year impasse during which time the funds have sat unspent.”
According to the paper, $900 million would to go combat global warming through projects like transit improvements, parks and support for low-emission cars. By press time, a final decision hadn’t been made.
• Converting that garage or building that granny flat may become easier thanks to new legislation that the governor is expected to sign.
• Uber and Lyft drivers may need to comply with tougher background checks.
Inside the Bilingual Education Debate
We’ve learned that bilingual immersion schools, like Sherman Elementary in San Diego’s Sherman Heights neighborhood, can help students excel in English as well as the second language kids are learning. Students at Sherman, Mario Koran has reported “are acquiring English at a faster rate than students who are placed in English-only classrooms.” The schools also can be better integrated than schools where curriculum is English-only.
So why isn’t this system more common? An opinion piece in The Hechinger Report takes a look. At so-called dual immersion schools, “Both sets of students learn from one another — the Spanish-dominant students support the emerging bilingualism of the English-dominant students, and vice versa. Importantly, recent research shows that being bilingual actually makes you smarter.”
In California, voters will get to weigh in on a November measure that would make it easier to open such programs.
Build in My Backyard? Not So Fast
U-T columnist Logan Jenkins considers one of the mainstays of the movement for more affordable housing: Building more homes, literally, in our backyards. Granny flats, add-ins, the works. Jenkins figures that if just 10 percent of the county’s homeowners add 600 square feet of separate living space to their land, our housing crisis will go kablooie.
Well, about that. A small developer tells him that the system encourages big projects but not little ones. Simply splitting a lot in Spring Valley could cost $68,000 in fees and engineering costs and two years of red tape. “Twenty years ago, [he] estimated, the bureaucratic hit would have been $15,000 and taken six months to finish.”
San Diego’s in the, Um, Running
Some of us only run when we’re being chased. As for actual runners, San Diego seems to be a fine place to make tracks: Runner’s World puts us in fourth place nationally on its first-ever list of the best places to run; Balboa Park alone has 65 miles (!) of trails. Hilly San Francisco tops the list, followed by Seattle and Boston.
We don’t place too high in terms of personal safety, though (that’s life as a big city), and we lag a bit when it comes to access to parks, recreation and fitness facilities and walkability. And somehow, foggy, drizzly, chilly San Francisco actually places ahead of us on the climate/smog front. (NBC 7)
Quick News Hits: Rocky Road
• San Diego has gotten one of the largest chunks of Syrian refugees in the country over the past few years, although the numbers are still fairly low. (New York Times)
• Crime is up in the county over the first six months of the year compared with the same period in 2015: Property crime rose by 4 percent and violent crime by 1 percent. (NBC 7)
• The planned San Diego Bayfest hip-hop festival at the ballpark has been canceled at nearly the last minute “amid a series of accusations and counterclaims.” (U-T)
• SeaWorld has broken ground on a new educational attraction, one that fits into its new focus on helping people learn instead of emphasizing sea animals doing tricks. (City News Service)
• A $78,000 grant is supporting an effort by an LGBT Democratic group to register 4,000 new voters. (KPBS)
• A shopping center in City Heights could get a major renovation and a larger grocery store. (KPBS)
• Pomegranate craft beer anyone? Stone Brewing has a new CEO — the president of the POM Wonderful juice company. The Escondido-based company is reportedly the ninth largest craft brewer in the country. (L.A. Times)
• Remember local developer Rocky de La Fuente, the failed 2016 presidential candidate whose $122 million lawsuit against the city has ping-ponged around courts and driven municipal attorneys to distraction for years?
Well, for some reason, he decided to run for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in … drumroll please … the state of Florida. How’d that go? Not well. He polled just 5 percent of the vote, placing fourth out of five candidates.
Perhaps voters weren’t convinced by this Facebook plea: “HOY!!!! AHORA!!!! Vota por un Latino para el Senado por Florida. Vamos con Roque ‘Rocky’ De La Fuente.”
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. He is also a board member and ex-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.