We’ll need to need to cram a lot more homes into our fair county if we want to meet demand and keep housing close to affordable. But the failure of two high-profile measures on the ballot in 2016 suggests citizens aren’t on board.

“The rejection of Measure T in Encinitas and Measure B countywide sent a message that many county residents simply aren’t open to new development — whether it happens in established metro areas, or in rural spaces,” reports our Maya Srikrishnan in one of our year-end roundups. “The fact that the proposals even went to the ballot drives home the paralysis elected officials face when it comes to building more housing.”

Our Favorite VOSD Stories of 2016

Earlier this week, we rounded up some of the most impressive journalism about San Diego from other news outlets. Now, it’s time for VOSD staff members and contributors to reminisce about our own favorite stories that we each wrote in 2016.

You can check the compilation of our work here. You’ll find details about each “staff pick”: What the story was about, why the VOSD journalist liked it and where the story stands now. And we provide links so you can read the stories yourselves.

A common theme in our favorite stories this year: Our uncovering of denial by those in power, from school officials to the police to elected leaders from across the county. We also dug into water politics, Barrio Logan’s gentrification crisis, the sad state of the Starlight Bowl and San Diego’s hidden gay history.

While her words made us weep, we’re especially proud to have started a national conversation via contributor Kelly Davis’s wrenching personal essay about the death of her sister, facilitated by California’s new aid-in-dying law, and the party held in her honor before her final moments. “My sister is an example of exactly what the law intended to do: allow a dying young woman the ability to assert control over the chaos and uncertainty of terminal illness,” Davis writes. “She turned death into a reason to celebrate, and she was there to enjoy the party.”

Culture Report: Artist Stops Giveaway, Hates ‘The Kiss’

Our weekly Culture Report leads off by checking in with local artist Bob Matheny, who had been giving away some friends’ paintings and some of his own sculptures in his own “alley gallery” behind his house. The freebies have dried up, but he’s still mounting sculptures on a fence.

They’re models of bigger projects that he hopes will replace the waterfront’s much-hated “The Kiss” statue. From his lips to somebody-in-power’s ears…

Also in the Culture Report: An art district may call Lemon Grove home, Filipino food is having a moment, and boozy milkshakes are coming to Hillcrest.

New State Law Roundup: Drop Those Phones!

Times of San Diego has a handy list of new laws that will take effect in California on Jan. 1, including one that makes it illegal (but with only a $20 fine) to hold your cell phone while driving. And “a new law will require all single-toilet, public bathrooms to be gender neutral.”

• Motivated by new state gun laws, people are rushing to buy firearms, the Press Democrat reports: “Nearly one million firearms were purchased in California as of Dec. 9, the most recent state data available, compared to just over 700,000 guns sold in all of 2015. Sales have likely soared beyond one million guns since then. Semiautomatic rifle sales have more than doubled.”

Quick News Hits: Restroom War, Circa 1964

• Politician Ed Reinecke, who quit as California lieutenant governor in the wake of a scandal tied to San Diego, has died at the age of 92.

“He was indicted for lying about a 1972 phone call with John Mitchell, President Richard Nixon’s attorney general…,” the AP reports. “The perjury charge stemmed from conversations between Reinecke and Mitchell about telecommunication company ITT’s offer to underwrite the 1972 Republican Convention.”

As we reported in a history flashback earlier this year, the GOP’s 1972 convention was supposed to be in San Diego. But a bribery scandal over funding of the convention — featuring a “Please Destroy This” memo — “sent the White House into a spasm of gay-baiting and assassination plotting” and humiliated San Diego so much that it created a new slogan (something about a “finest city”) to make itself feel better.

• If you’re hoping San Diego will rename a street after you — I know I am! — be aware that the city is defanging the whole idea. “Instead of actually changing the name of a street,” the U-T reports, “San Diego will post a second sign at affected intersections identifying that city street as also an honorary street for a particular person or organization.

• In a VOSD commentary, Democratic activist Shawn VanDiver considers the newly disclosed accusations against prominent and controversial local labor leader Mickey Kasparian.

• The world’s science community is mourning the death at 88 of groundbreaking astronomer Vera Rubin. A Washington Post obituary notes that while she proved that dark matter exists, she still had to deal with the shadow of sexual discrimination.

In 1964, she was the first woman officially allowed to use North County’s famed Palomar Observatory. “When she arrived, she discovered that it did not have a women’s restroom,” the Post reports. “’She went to her room, she cut up paper into a skirt image, and she stuck it on the little person image on the door of the bathroom,’” astrophysicist Neta Bahcall told Astronomy magazine. “She said, ‘There you go; now you have a ladies’ room.’”

You gotta wonder if the other astronomers saw stars — and missed the one standing in front of them.

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 randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com...

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