You might have heard about a controversial affordable housing project in Poway. It would have been for-sale units, with preference given to veterans and there were many veterans on the wait list.
Habitat for Humanity planned the project for land set aside for affordable housing. It was in the works for many years, overcoming hurdle after hurdle.
Ultimately, though, the Poway City Council rejected it.
Maya Srikrishnan watched all the meetings and talked to many people to understand what happened. Unlike other projects, she says, she’s never seen one die so clearly because of one thing: fear.
One resident said the project would not enhance the value of residents’ homes. Another said low-income housing makes them feel unsafe. “At that meeting, [Councilman Jim] Cunningham noted that many of the speakers linked low-income housing with increased crime in their neighborhood,” Srikrishnan writes, despite police predictions of lower than usual crime since the proposed housing would be for sale, not for rent.
Veterans spoke up for themselves during one hearing about the project, expressing disappointment at the organized effort to oppose the project.
“We do not owe them a house in Poway,” wrote one resident in response. That became our headline.
After the story posted — immediately one of our most-read of the month — Poway’s mayor ended up getting into it with critics on Twitter.
School Budget Cuts Mystery
San Diego Unified School District recently warned they needed to fill a gap of more than $116 million in next year’s budget. The district explained where it might find those cuts: $52 million from school sites and $44 million from the district office. Of course, it’s an “ridiculous crystal ball exercise” as one board member complains on Twitter.
But VOSD’s Ashly McGlone wondered about those numbers. Would, say, a $44 million cut to district headquarters be a huge cut or small one? Is it 5 percent of the headquarters budget or 50 percent? How much of the central office is $44 million?
Turns out, district officials can’t — or won’t — tell us how much is spent on these areas.
Stories That Touched a Nerve
One way that Voice of San Diego stood out in 2016 was that we, unlike so many other news websites across the country, did not decide to abandon our comment section. Thanks to our moderators and readers, the comment section of our stories can be a valuable place for the public to voice respectful opinions and add their own context to our reports. Kinsee Morlan put together a list of stories that generated the most discussion this year, and regular readers will not be surprised to see the San Diego Chargers and their zany efforts to get a stadium built atop Morlan’s list. “Far and away, the topic that got people commenting the most was the convadium,” Morlan writes.
Other big conversations happened around how to deal with highway traffic, how schools spend money we voted to give them, and the controversy over police shootings. Oh, and let’s not forget that one time former mayor Bob Filner called us up to chat.
Guy Complained About Airport Noise 20,000 Times, Guy Tired
inewsource’s Megan Woods looked into noise complaints targeting airplanes taking off from the San Diego airport and found the number of complaints ballooned by 600 per cent in 2016. That’s an astounding number that could indicate a serious community problem, except for the fact that about two-thirds of the complaints this year came from one single household. Point Loma resident Steve Crow lodged 20,068 complaints in 2016 (or an average of 55 complaints every day).
“I’ve stopped logging complaints because it wears on you,” Crow told inewsource.
No Room for Homeless
Last week saw a rare combination of cold and rainy weather in San Diego, which had been predicted by the National Weather Service and should have triggered two homeless shelters in San Diego to open up emergency space for the affected days. KPBS reports the city sent out a press release on Dec. 22 indicating the emergency shelters were open from the Dec. 21 until Dec. 24.
But that wasn’t true. Homeless people were turned away from St. Vincent De Paul’s emergency shelter until the night of Dec. 25, and the other shelter only opened its emergency facility on the Dec. 23 and Dec. 25.
• Flu is running rampant. Wash your hands; maybe get a flu shot. (KPBS) (Editor’s note: My whole family got flu shots and the flu has savaged our household over the last two weeks. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.)
• San Ysidro will rezone hundreds of acres as part of a new plan to increase housing and attract new businesses to move there. (Union-Tribune)
• Remember in June when Rep. Scott Peters started broadcasting live video from the floor of Congress, showing Democrats holding a sit-in to protest the lack of gun legislation? Republican lawmakers have proposed legislation to ban that kind of live video streaming by members of Congress. (The Verge)
• “Surreal” was Merriam-Webster’s choice for word of the year.
• If you’re looking for an exceptional meal to capstone your year, San Diego’s local food critics listed out their best meals of 2016, including one meal that was mysteriously “sushi but not sushi, high end that’s casual.” (Eater.com)
Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated the number of homeless people sleeping on the streets downtown in a recent count. It was 1,415.