The assumption behind the Trump Administration’s push for a border wall is that it’s needed to keep immigrants from coming here illegally. But what if it isn’t?

That’s the contention of two UC San Diego economists. “In fact, there is good reason to expect that the flow of immigration from Mexico is about to drop sharply — wall or no wall,” writes VOSD contributor Kyle D. Navis, a grad student. “Indeed, while it might seem like large volumes of Mexican immigration are a foregone conclusion, the flow has not always been as large, and is expected to fall sharply in the near future, as presaged by the declining rate of border crossings since 2007.”

But there’s a hitch: Trump is very skeptical of free trade pacts, and his efforts to build up American industry at the expense of other countries could hurt Mexico, which might drive more immigration.

Minimum Wage Hike = YMCA Rate Hike

All members of the YMCA in the county will see a slight hike in monthly rates because a new minimum wage law is forcing the organization to pay its employees more, our Adriana Heldiz reports.

The YMCA is a significant local employer. Last year, it had 896 full-time workers and another 4,206 who work part-time.

Schools Chief: Cut or Else, Even if Money Comes

Cindy Marten, the superintendent of San Diego Unified, told the U-T editorial board that “even if the state provides more money than now expected, the district should stick with the number of job reductions it now is considering to create what she called a structural, long-term solution to balancing the budget,” the paper reported.

Marten said layoffs could lead to almost 1,400 employees losing their full or part-time jobs with the district. Last week, we estimated that 1,500 full-time equivalent jobs would be slashed to make up a budget shortfall of $124 million.

In L.A., a Showdown Over Growth

Los Angeles voters — well, at least the few expected to bother to cast a ballot — were to decide the fate of development in that city yesterday. Measure S called for a two-year halt in projects requiring City Council approval.

The L.A. Times explains: “Organized to stop the ‘reckless approval of outsized development practices,’ the Measure S campaign has identified more than 50 projects from West Hills to Boyle Heights, pinning them with labels such as ‘instant ghetto,’ ‘vulgar stucco pile’ and ‘black-lung lofts.’” Meanwhile, the measure’s “opponents take a familiar line: Stalling development will kill jobs, exacerbate the housing shortage and drive up rents.”

Meanwhile, I’m naming my new band Vulgar Stucco Pile.

Hello, 12,000 Legislators?

A Rancho Santa Fe businessman named John Cox is running for governor as a Republican and seems to have money to burn with $1 million in a campaign exploratory committee, The Sacramento Bee reports.

In 2012, the U-T reported, he pushed for a plan to greatly increase the size of the state legislature to “roughly 12,000 representatives elected at the neighborhood level, who then select 120 members of a ‘working committee’ to go to Sacramento… Final bill approval would come from the broader group, working from home, casting up-or-down votes on a secured computer network.”

• “California will no longer keep death row inmates in solitary confinement for years only because of their purported gang affiliations, according to a lawsuit settlement announced Monday,” the AP reports.

But the windowless solitary confinement unit will remain, with inmates allowed to kept there for up to 5 years. One inmate reportedly had been in solitary confinement for more than a quarter-century.

Culturecast: Inside Balboa Park’s ‘Fruit Loop’

A public art series called Parkeology is chronicling tales of Balboa Park, and its latest project focuses on memories of the Fruit Loop, a hot spot for gay cruising and illicit (and anonymous) sexual activity on the park’s southwestern edge. The road even goes one way instead of two because officials wanted to prevent car-to-car flirtation.

VOSD’s Culturecast podcast dropped by to hear audio memories played in cars at Marston Point. You can listen to the podcast by our arts editor Kinsee Morlan here.

“You could think of that era of cruising as a negative but the fact of the matter is, people were coming here because it was a time when being gay was illegal,” says one of the artists. “I think this history is actually really important because it speaks a lot about an era and the way people socialized and connected.”

San Diego has a fascinating secret gay history, as I explored in a VOSD story published during last year’s gay pride celebration. We were home to gay bars as early as World War II, while police raids and gay-baiting investigations weren’t uncommon.

In his obscure song “Balboa Park,” Bruce Springsteen chronicled the lives of Latino hustlers who came to the park looking for action, “where the men in their Mercedes/Come nightly to employ/In the cool San Diego evening/ The services of the border boys.”

Culture Report: Making It Easier for Arts to Get Money

This week’s Culture Report leads off with an effort to make it easier for arts organizations to apply for chunks of money from proceeds from a city tax on hotel guests. The idea is to make the process less intimidating and get the word out so more groups can apply for money.

Also in the Culture Report: A racy opera, Chicana identity, and a March 16 VOSD event about San Diego’s craft coffee boom (which is continuing to, um, percolate). And, oh good gracious, bossy local restaurants aren’t trusting diners with salt and pepper.

Quick News Hits: Will the Border Wall Do Windows?

There’s confusion and uncertainty over exactly how big the Tijuana sewage spill was last week. Meanwhile, there’s video evidence that the spill continued after officials said it was over. (U-T)

The former Union-Tribune complex in Mission Valley, once home to a newsroom, printing presses and an eccentric publisher’s historic car museum, will become a “330,000-square-foot creative office center,” the U-T reports. (The paper is now based downtown.)

The $25 million Trump University class-action suit, centered in a San Diego federal court, may not be finished after all. (NY Times)

Parts of the Trump border wall could be “see-through,” a national budget official declared this week, although there doesn’t seem to be any information about whether that means it’ll be like a fence or have windows.

If it’s the latter, sounds like a good time to buy stock in Windex.

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 ( Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at and follow him on Twitter:

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