Signature-gatherers can raise some serious cash in California. And San Diego keeps providing them lots of work opportunities.
The plan to redevelop the Qualcomm Stadium site as a soccer and SDSU football stadium plus housing and other amenities will soon start gathering signatures. If the group backing the plan, FS Investors, gets enough signatures to put the plan on the ballot, the City Council could have the option to just bypass a public vote and OK the plan outright.
If that happens, it likely won’t be the end of things, writes Scott Lewis.
In a new story, Lewis games out the politics of the plan, and predicts it could meet the same fate that has challenged so many big projects and plans in San Diego over the last few years. One Paseo, the minimum wage, Barrio Logan’s community plan, a mall in Carlsbad: They all had to contend with voter referendums that either killed them, delayed them or forced them to scale back their ambitions.
“Mega developments in San Diego face three potential sources of opposition. Opposition will arise from either a) neighborhood activists, preservationists or environmentalists b) competing developers and business interests or c) political institutions,” writes Lewis.
In the case of the SoccerCity proposal, “it looks like all three potential sources of opposition to the project have lit up.”
That means a referendum is definitely on the table.
Opinion: School Foundations, for Better and Worse
In a VOSD commentary, Andy Hinds, a local freelance writer and public school advocate, writes about his family’s decisions to join North Park parents who were appalled that progressive types were abandoning their local elementary school, “pretty much considered a no-go zone among the landed gentry.”
His family’s choice has turned out well, he writes, and Jefferson Elementary “has improved every year,” in part to support from a school foundation now led by Hinds. School foundations presents parents with a lose-lose situation, Hinds writes: Either leave your kids’ school without resources, or possibly amplify the difference between the haves and the have-notes.
But “parents have to do so much work for something that our taxes are supposed to cover,” he writes. “It’s exhausting [and] it shouldn’t be necessary. The even suckier thing about foundations is that they are, to some extent, undeniably complicit in perpetuating inequity.”
For background about how school choice works (and doesn’t) in San Diego, check our explainer here.
Guilt-by-Association Prosecution Still Haunts 2 Men
A couple years ago, we reported on how Facebook posts — a potential sign of affiliation with a local gang — threatened to land a young man in prison. “Being documented as a gang member isn’t a crime on its own,” our Sara Libby reported, But if District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis was successful, “she’d effectively make it one — because anyone documented as a gang member could be held responsible for the crimes of any other member, so long as the crime benefited the gang somehow.”
The man, Aaron Harvey, and another target, rapper Tiny Doo, drew attention for what appeared to be prosecution based on guilt by association, not actual deeds.
Plenty has happened over the past couple of years. Both men spent seven months in jail before a judge tossed the case, and now they’re suing the city over their arrests. “I thought I was going to die,” Harvey tells KPBS about his time in jail, where he says violence was common.
“You got to hold all that in because at any moment in time when it goes down, it goes down. So your tears … your scared-ness, you got to live to see another day. You’ve got to live to see another court date,” he said.
For more on the whole saga around Harvey and Tiny Doo, check our coverage here.
• “Four years after San Diego police first raided Cheetahs strip club in Kearny Mesa, a settlement may be at hand in the legal fight between the city and club dancers — avoiding a jury trial sought by both,” Times of San Diego reports.
Strip club raids raised “questions about constitutional rights and whether the dancers were held against their will,” the news outlet reports. A lawsuit alleges that “certain … officers made arrogant and demeaning comments to the entertainers, and ordered them to expose body parts so that they could ostensibly photograph their tattoos.”
The city denies wrongdoing by cops.
Will Reclaimed Sewage Taste as Sweet?
CityLab ooks in on how our much-ballyhooed recycled sewage water recycling program is doing. “If there is ever a city in need of water, it’s San Diego, where roughly 85 percent of its supply comes from sources often hundreds of miles away,” a new story says.
But what about hesitancy from residents who fear drinking you-know-what? “No matter where you live” here, a city official says, “you’re already drinking recycled toilet water.”
Well, yeah, we do drink water that’s been in reservoirs where various animals have done their business, and the water that runs into reservoirs isn’t exactly pristine. But toilets too? Seems so. “Las Vegas does treat and discharge their wastewater into Lake Mead, which is one of the areas where we pull our water,” the official says.
As we reported earlier this week, there’s a complication brewing locally: “Cities and water districts in East County, North County and the South Bay have lined up to oppose the city of San Diego’s ambitious plans to turn sewage into drinkable water.”
The issue: Cities send their sewage to San Diego for treatment, and their costs may go up if there’s more sewage recycling.
Environment Roundup: Scientists on the March
A magazine called The Scientist chats with three young people — a scientist, a lawyer and an entrepreneur — who are organizing a non-partisan April 22 “March for Science” in San Diego. “Scientists need to show that we are you; we are your neighbors,” says the scientist, Robert Cooper.
• A new study of wildfires over 20 years in the U.S. “found that humans not only set the vast majority of the fires, but also started those fires in cooler and wetter conditions than they would typically occur.” (Pacific Standard)
• Local mushrooms are, well, mushrooming. Thanks to the rain, mushrooms are growing like crazy, thrilling the mushroom fans at the San Diego Mycological Society, the folks behind the Fungus Fair. (I think I’ve waited my whole life to write about a Fungus Fair.)
It’s a far cry from the drought years, when “mushrooming in San Diego was for masochists,” says a mushroom enthusiast in an interview with KPBS. (That sentence is another career high!) But the growth in the fungus among us can be dangerous: Some local mushrooms are poisonous to humans and pets.
North County Report: How SANDAG Officials Are Dealing With Scandal
This week’s VOSD North County Report leads with news about how North County reps responded to the scandal over botched revenue projections at a regional coalition of governments. The coalition’s board is filled with elected officials, and some from North County (including Poway Mayor Steve Vaus, and San Marcos Mayor Jim Desmond) were more vocal about what’s next than others.
Also: The campaign of the Democratic rival to Rep. Darrell Issa — yes, the virtually unknown guy who nearly grabbed Issa’s seat — is in hot water over what looks like a big campaign finance mess: Nearly $400,000 in cash was left off year-end reports with no explanation, and election officials are asking plenty of questions.
Quick News Hits: Great! Car Deals! Foreverrrr!
• CNN reports that eccentric hotel magnate, right-wing icon and former Union-Tribune owner Doug Manchester says he’s been named ambassador to the Bahamas by the president. Manchester is a big supporter of President Donald Trump, although Trump reportedly mixed up his nickname (“Papa Doug”) and accidentally called him Papa John at a rally here last year.
• “Objections from the state’s Coastal Commission have prompted San Diego to scale back two attempts to streamline development approvals in the city’s coastal zone.” (U-T)
• A new report finds that people who rent their homes out via Airbnb in San Diego reaped a cool $70 million in 2016. The city got $7 million in taxes from 357,300 guests.
• There’s an effort afoot to “shelter hundreds, possibly thousands of undocumented people in safe houses across Southern California.” (CNN)
Meanwhile, Politifact California finds that U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris is mostly right when she says “studies have shown Latinos are more than 40 percent less likely to call 911 when they have been a victim of a crime.” She made the claim while bashing the president’s immigration policies.
• Caltrans touted its local road construction projects, but work may slow down after 2021 unless federal officials pitch in with more money. (KPBS)
• The Daily Aztec, the student newspaper at San Diego State, is surveying readers about what should happen to the football stadium site in Mission Valley.
So far, the leading option is “SDSU purchase site for ‘West campus’ and smaller football stadium.” But the snarky runner-up option is much more fun: “Permanent used car tent sale.”
In the style of all those TV and radio ads, let me declare my endorsement: “Vote! For! Permanent! Used Car! Tent Saaaale!”
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.