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Balboa Park is a beloved mecca for tourists and San Diegans alike.
But it can be a less inviting place for people with mobility issues.
I spent the past week talking to park visitors with disabilities and learned that finding suitable parking can be a challenge, even despite the city’s efforts to add more handicapped parking.
Meanwhile, some folks I spoke with who might benefit from using the park’s free trams, another city investment meant to improve park accessibility, said they weren’t sure whether those trams were actually free or accessible to them. (It is free; and folks who’ve used it told me they found it accessible.)
The Plaza de Panama project aims to help address some of these issues by adding a parking garage and more disabled parking and drop-off capacity in the lot next to the Alcazar Garden.
That controversial project appears likely to go forward as long as cash flows in to support it.
Sacramento Report: The Lawvalanche
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez celebrated the passage of a bill that mandates overtime pay for farmworkers. Now the high-profile bill’s fate is up to Gov. Jerry Brown.
Other bills that hit Brown’s desk this week include one from Assemblywoman Toni Atkins that closes coverage gaps for cancer screenings. Another sponsored by Assemblyman Brian Maienschein will allow rape victims to track the status of their rape kits.
One bill that’s already died: Sen. Marty Block’s bill that aimed to require new attorneys to do 50 hours of pro bono work before being admitted to the California Bar. Brown vetoed it this week.
VOSD’s Sara Libby has details on why Brown’s refusal to sign that bill was sorta surprising, plus a more complete roundup of the week’s billsplosion in the Sacramento Report.
False Pre-K Tense
Call it the “game-changing education initiative” that wasn’t.
Last week, San Diego Unified School District and Mayor Kevin Faulconer hailed an initiative to launch a so-called Pre-K for All program. Problem is, it’s not actually a free preschool program despite its seeming similarities with a New York City program that actually offers free preschool for all.
VOSD’s Andrew Keatts and Scott Lewis explain why San Diego Unified’s program doesn’t live up to that benchmark in this week’s podcast.
The duo also chatted with architect and developer Jonathan Segal, whose latest project in Little Italy made headlines this week for what it doesn’t offer: parking.
Op-Ed: The Sell on Desal
The water wars continue on our website.
The head of a coalition that includes Poseidon Water, which owns and operates the Carlsbad Desalination Project, rejects the idea that conservation and wastewater recycling produce the water savings some have suggested.
“By themselves, they cannot possibly overcome drought, dependence on imported water and expected population growth for the region,” OC WISE executive director Robert Sulnick writes in a new op-ed.
That’s created an opening for desal projects, Sulnick argues.
Tourism Authority Makes Hotel Tax Hike Opposition Official
The Tourism Authority and County Hotel-Motel Association have officially decided not to endorse the Chargers’ convadium measure or attorney Cory Briggs’ Citizens Plan, saying both could imperil the local tourism industry.
Tourism Authority CEO Joe Terzi told Scott Lewis that other groups supporting the measure didn’t offer persuasive arguments.
“Many of the people I’ve talked to about the concerns we have say, frankly, they just want to support the Chargers,” Terzi said. “They say, ‘We’re supporting the Chargers and you should too, and don’t worry about it because it’s not going to pass anyway.’ For us not to share our concerns would not be appropriate.”
Quick News Hits
• As presidential candidate Donald Trump doubles down on plans to build a wall on the border, San Diego and Tijuana are getting press for trying to increase their cross-border connections. (Marketplace)
• More than 8,500 county retirees are losing a monthly retirement benefit. (Union-Tribune)
• The FAA has rejected the flight path change that Point Lomans feared would cause more Point Loma pauses. For the uninitiated, that’s the pause in conversation when planes fly over. (CBS 8)
• San Diego’s Climate Action Plan is back in the national news but this time the focus is on whether the city can accomplish its ambitious goals. (Curbed)
• Republican Rep. Darrell Issa says he’s not worried about the so-called Trump effect despite facing the toughest race of his congressional career. (KPBS)
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 five:
1. Opinion: Stadium Plan Is Quite the Shutout: Taxpayers, $1.1 billion; Spanos, $0
Questions about parking and access to a proposed downtown stadium illustrate how much is wrong with the Spanos stadium initiative, and how badly it would damage San Diego. (Tim O’Reiley)
2. Opinion: The Convadium Is an Opportunity for San Diego to Do a Big Thing. We Should Take It.
The proposed stadium-convention center wouldn’t be a giveaway to a billionaire; it’s a public-private partnership in which both sides should contribute and both should expect benefits. San Diegans should vote based on the project’s benefits and economic returns for San Diego, not on animosity toward billionaires or any particular one. (Scott Peters)
3. Opinion: 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)
4. Fiesta Island Now a Homeless, RV Haven
A new law banning oversized vehicles from parking overnight on city streets might have fueled the creation of an unauthorized campground in Mission Bay. People who live in cars and recreational vehicles have increasingly settled on Fiesta Island. Now the city’s stepping up enforcement. (Lisa Halverstadt)
5. 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)