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If Californians approve Proposition 64 in November and fully legalize marijuana, there could be widespread ramifications across the state, including here in San Diego, writes Ry Rivard.
But right now, it’s hard to begin growing marijuana in San Diego County because of local ordinances that discourage growth under the state’s existing medical marijuana laws. If marijuana becomes legal, growers — including maybe even some traditional farmers — could put pressure on local governments to loosen up those restrictions.
But the county and cities here will need to decide what’s next.
Home Prices (Almost) More Expensive Than Ever
You may remember our longtime contributor Rich Toscano, the local real-estate guru who gained fame for calling the pre-recession housing bubble what it was — a bubble. Toscano returns with an analysis that notes something extraordinary about San Diego’s current housing market: With the exception of those infamous boom years, homes here have never been so expensive.
That may sound like bad news for homebuyers. But, Toscano writes, “despite unusually high purchase prices, all-time low mortgage rates are keeping monthly costs quite reasonable for borrowers. Compared to rents and incomes, the monthly payment on the median San Diego home is actually lower than the historic norm.”
In the big picture, he writes, “potential buyers and sellers should bear in mind that San Diego homes — while nowhere near the nutty heights reached during the bubble — are more expensive than they’ve been through most of the past four decades.”
Taxpayers Fund Restrooms That Public Can’t Use
Downtown’s Fault Line Park doesn’t have quite the stick-out-like-a-sore-thumb panache of its neighboring new Pinnacle on the Park apartment tower, but it’s still a unique addition to the landscape with artwork that’s tied to an actual fault line that runs through it.
Don’t expect to use a restroom there, though. More than a year after the block-sized park opened, restrooms are closed to the public except for disabled customers at a restaurant. The restaurant staff “said they closed them indefinitely because they attracted the neighborhood’s growing homeless population,” inewsource reports. But there’s a twist: downtown’s urban-renewal agency gave $1.6 million to the project’s developer to maintain the park and restrooms.
So, um, how’s that going, considering that the restrooms are essentially kaput? “One year after the project opened, responsibility over enforcement of Pinnacle’s obligations is anything but clear,” inewsource reports.
• The board of the urban-renewal agency, Civic San Diego, has approved new restrictions on itself. They next go to the City Council. (U-T)
Election Roundup: Hunter & Trump, Together Forever (or For Now)
Rep. Duncan Hunter, one of Donald Trump’s earliest supporters in Congress, is defending the candidate over those lewd comments implying that he’d sexually assaulted women: “I think it’s totally unfair, you can take anybody’s comments off the record from a decade or more prior and pull them up at your convenience. If you had recorded the stuff my Marines and I were talking about, after not seeing a woman for seven months — but let’s just leave it at that.”
• The Trump imbroglio is reminding Twitter users, locally and beyond, of how former Mayor Bob Filner (and his supporters and foes) responded to the sexual harassment allegations against him.
• As the U-T reports, TV viewers are getting socked with attack ads in the race between Rep. Darrell Issa, a Republican and one of the highest-profile members of Congress, and an upstart Democratic rival named Doug Applegate. The Democratic Party is reportedly throwing millions into the race because it thinks Issa, for once, is vulnerable.
One Issa ad features former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani defending the congressman, while another goes after Applegate over allegations in divorce records. Meanwhile, anti-Issa ads highlight Trump’s sexual assault comments and target his alliance with Issa.
Also: A 91-year-old WWII vet from Poway is bashing Trump in national TV ads for Hillary Clinton. (U-T)
• L.A. Times columnist George Skelton is bored silly by the yawner of a U.S. Senate race between two liberal Democrats, Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez: “Harris is overly cautious. Sanchez is noncomformist, but not particularly in an intriguing way … Harris is polished and articulate, but too often she robotically utters platitudes. Sanchez, frankly, is often hard to follow.”
• Donald Trump supporters have been huge fans of a national L.A. Times/USC poll that’s consistently shown Trump ahead. The poll has often been an outlier, and now the New York Times uncovers one reason why: A 19-year-old black Trump supporter in Illinois who takes part in almost of the L.A. Times/USC polls, per their design. Due to the poll’s statistical approach, “alone, he has been enough to put Mr. Trump in double digits of support among black voters. He can improve Mr. Trump’s margin by 1 point in the survey, even though he is one of around 3,000 panelists.”
When Latinos Run a Big SoCal City
While they make up a huge portion of the population, Latinos continue to struggle to gain political influence in politics in the San Diego region. White politicians mostly dominate city councils, school boards and the County Board of Supervisors. But just to the north of us, Latino politicians actually run a large city: Santa Ana.
As the New York Times reports, Latinos hold every one of the seven City Council seats in the city of 343,000. The story says the transformation in Santa Ana is a sign of things to come in California: “Latinos now make up just under 40 percent of the state’s population, projected to increase to 47 percent by 2050. The leaders of both houses of the Legislature are Latino, as is the secretary of state, the current mayor of Los Angeles and the previous mayor.”
• A U-T data roundup looks at the top average City Council salaries in the state. L.A. is tops at $165,211, and San Diego — the second-largest city in the state — is second at $77,371. (The city’s council members work full-time. Generous medical and pension benefits aren’t included here.) Chula Vista’s council members have the fifth-highest salaries in the state at $66,034 on average. Chula Vista is the 14th largest city in the state. It’s not clear if the full list includes the elected leaders of San Francisco, the state’s fourth-largest city, which is a city and a county.
Could Orange County Go Dem?
The political website 538.com notes that non-educated whites who supported Obama in 2012 are moving toward the GOP in the presidential race, while non-whites and college-educated whites who supported Romney are moving Dem-ward. The site estimates how this could affect Trump and Hillary Clinton on a county-by-county level.
In San Diego County, these trends could give a net gain to Clinton this year, but not nearly as much as they might in the longtime Republican stronghold of Orange County. An editor with the Cook Political Report says no Democrat has won Orange County since 1936, when FDR got 55 percent of the vote there.
San Diego County, by the way, went for FDR all four times he ran. But we then rejected a loooong line of Democrats: Truman, Stevenson (x 2), JFK, LBJ (in his 1964 landslide!), Humphrey, McGovern, Carter (x 2), Mondale and Dukakis. We went blue in 1992 but didn’t go Dem again until 2008 and 2012.
Quick News Hits: Under the Big Top
• Our weekly North County Report looks into yet another land-use ballot measure, this one in Del Mar. Also: Bad news for a plan for a downtown San Marcos, an Oceanside native’s big literary profile, nixed red-light cameras in Vista and district-by-district elections on the way in San Marcos.
• Local U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy may become a Superior Court judge. The U-T says U.S. attorneys (the top local federal prosecutors) typically get swept out with each presidential administration. (U-T)
• BloombergBusinessweek digs into the messy aftermath of a wildly popular rebate program designed to help Southern Californians get rid of their water-guzzling lawns. A company has left a swath of complaints in its wake, and the magazine says its “short but profitable life span serves as an instructional fable for other cities that will inevitably face climate change-related infrastructure problems. The takeaway: Solutions are rarely simple or easy, so do a lot of research before throwing public money at the issues.”
As we’ve reported, the San Diego County Water Authority objected to the rebates, calling them a waste of money. But the Metropolitan Water District, which oversees Southern California, provided them to customers in L.A. and San Diego.
• We’ve told you before about how local rock star Tom DeLonge of Blink-182 is obsessed with UFOs. How obsessed? Well, those hacked emails from inside the Clinton campaign reveal that DeLonge wrote to campaign chairman John Podesta, who’s a UFO buff, about the supposed Roswell conspiracy. Podesta may even appear in a documentary that DeLonge is producing.
• Amid national hysteria, local schools are cracking down on clown costumes, and a spokesman for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus tells the U-T that all this mess is making real clowns look bad: “People have called the election a circus and called the candidates clowns. A circus is well-organized entertainment.”
Har! That reminds me: If a clown comes to the door and asks for your vote, just tell him to go back and squeeze into his tiny car with all the other politicians.
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. He is also immediate past 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.