South Bay’s National City would really, really, really like developers to drop by and stay awhile, maybe put up a condo complex or an apartment building. The city’s so eager for construction that it’s rolled out a red carpet of perks to woo builders.
But, as our Maya Srikrishnan reports, there haven’t been a lot of takers: “Ten years ago, National City adopted a blueprint for its downtown that made way for 5,500 new housing units. Only about 300 have been built so far.”
The recession didn’t help, of course, but there seems to be a bigger factor: The low rents in National City, which for two-bedrooms average about half the price of those in downtown San Diego.
Low rents discourage builders. But they also mean downtown workers could conceivably find a great deal on an apartment in National City and a quick commute. If more workers did that, rents might go up, and that could actually be good for building in the city, if not for renters.
Srikrishnan’s story includes more details on the economics of building in National City and its plans to make itself even more welcoming to developers.
FieldTurf Says it Puts Customers First
Earlier this month, we published a four-part series revealing how a company persuaded local school districts to spend hundreds of thousands to upgrade artificial turf on athletic fields that had failed while under warranty.
The company in question, FieldTurf, has responded in a letter to the editor from Eric Daliere, its CEO and president. He writes that the articles “grossly misrepresent the way that FieldTurf has conducted itself with our customers in the San Diego region and around the country. In fact, we believe the accusations and implications contained in these stories runs counter to the very heart of what we are as a company.”
Daliere writes that the defective fields are not dangerous to players, that the company has always lived up to its warranties and that taxpayer money has not been squandered.
Dallas Takes Pension Ignominy Crown
Remember when City Hall’s financial meltdown earned us the sobriquet of “Enron-by-the-Sea”? Bad decisions about pensions for city employees threatened to send San Diego into bankruptcy, and the city became a byword for inept leadership and scandal.
While many of the those who made poor decisions are still bouncing around in government circles today, those days are gone. Our reputation has recovered, it seems, allowing another Top 10 American city to take the municipal failure crown: Dallas. “The city’s pension fund for its police officers and firefighters is near collapse and seeking an immense bailout,” the New York Times reports. To make matters worse, “over six recent weeks, panicked Dallas retirees have pulled $220 million out of the fund.”
The pension fund wants to be rescued to the tune of $1.1 billion, about what the city spends a year in its general fund budget.
Airport Picks Up Pace on Curfew Fines
The San Diego Airport is imposing many more fines on airlines whose planes violate the nighttime takeoff curfew, inewsource reports, possibly as a response to the news outlet’s revelation that many violations weren’t resulting in fines.
In recent months, fines for taking off after 11:30 p.m. have reached as high as $30,000.
One intriguing tidbit: A flight identified as “Viacom-Paramount,” the big media/film company, took off after midnight on July 21, during Comic-Con. The late takeoff resulted in a $2,000 fine. Even superheroes can’t fight back against the long arm of the airport.
Border Report: The Post-Election Blues
The VOSD Border Report leads off with news about reactions to the surprise victory of Donald Trump: The Mexican president’s approval ratings are down, and so is the peso’s value. Meanwhile, some of the Haitian refugees who’ve been crossing the Mexican border say they’ll stay in Tijuana rather than risk deportation in the U.S.
At the border itself, families from the U.S. and Mexico met over the weekend at Friendship Park for some rare person-to-person interaction: “This is the fourth time the emergency door at Friendship Park has opened so that people living in both countries (who are pre-vetted by Border Patrol on the U.S. side) can hug one another,” writes VOSD contributor Brooke Binkowski.
Quick News Hits: Secessionists Are Ballot-Bound
• The state Supreme Court has ruled in a big real estate case: “If two agents work for the same real estate company — one representing the buyer, the other the seller of a house — each must safeguard the interests of the other’s client as well as his or her own, the state high court unanimously decided,” the L.A. Times reports. “Real estate industry experts warned that such a decision would hurt large brokerage houses and interfere with the agents’ representation of their clients.”
• Now that recreational marijuana is legal, will we soon have pot shops lining our streets like wine bars and craft beer joints? Maybe not. As the New York Times reports, medical marijuana growers have had to operate in secrecy, and they are wary of coming out into the light.
• KPBS takes a look at law enforcement efforts to crack down on sex trafficking by enlisting hotels and motels to be part of the fight: “You absolutely need the insiders, the hotel-motel staff, the housekeeping, the clerical, the security to be the eyes and ears,” says a local prosecutor.
• The California secession movement has kicked off its effort to put a get-out-of-the-U.S. measure on the state ballot in 2018.
The L.A. Times says the movement “is based around California taxpayers paying more money to the federal government than the state receives in spending, that Californians are culturally different from the rest of the country, and that national media and organizations routinely criticize Californians for being out of step with the rest of the U.S.”
In other words, Americans don’t idolize us, so we’re going to take our state and go home. Boy, our tormentors are really going to regret calling us the “land of fruits and nuts” now!
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.