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Local business improvement districts — neighborhood coalitions that assess fees on businesses — have been worrying a lot about the homeless lately. But their approaches are far from identical.
As our Lisa Halverstadt reports, some are trying to help the homeless while others simply want them to move along.
“Security officers hired by business districts order homeless folks to leave storefronts in Hillcrest and Ocean Beach, while outreach workers offer help in City Heights and downtown neighborhoods,” she reports. “The approaches differ but the motivation behind the business groups’ efforts is consistent: There’s a need to better deal with homeless folks, and business groups can’t afford to wait for government officials to help.”
The executive director of a business coalition in Hillcrest is pretty blunt about the approach there: “We encourage them to go somewhere else through annoyance. We sort of do to homeless people what they do to our customers.”
Eliot Hirshman, Out
San Diego State University’s president, Eliot Hirshman, let it be known Wednesday that he would be leaving his job this summer to take the lead of a small school in Maryland called Stevenson University.
Apparently Stevenson used to be a “sleepy commuter school” near Baltimore. In recent years, with a new name, it has grown significantly.
The timing is significant. While it is not at all unusual for a major university to lose its leader after six years, the move comes right as SDSU begins grappling with its most significant local political and land-use challenge in recent memory. University leaders are very interested in the future of the land under and around Qualcomm Stadium.
Yet without a new president, and with a lame-duck one on the way out, it’s hard to picture how the university will take a major role in the discussion until a transition is completed.
Opinion: An Independent Probe Needed
In a VOSD commentary, two representatives of the left-leaning Quality of Life Coalition, which opposed the failed transit-oriented Measure A last November, blast the San Diego Association of Governments over its botched-projection scandal. “It is only through an exhaustive independent investigation with an investigator chosen by outside stakeholders, an apology issued by the board for deceiving San Diego families and meaningful reform to the agency’s governing structure that the agency can restore that trust,” they write.
North County Report: Big Drug Bust
This week’s VOSD North County Report leads with news of a major drug bust that led to the arrests of 46 people linked to heroin and meth trafficking, among 55 people thought to be responsible for up to 25 percent of the heroin sold in North County.
Also: Rep. Duncan D. Hunter is veering from the Trumpian line on major Coast Guard cutbacks, the rural community of Bonsall is trying to figure out how to build a new high school after voters rejected a bond measure, and medical marijuana fans in Vista are going back to the drawing board.
• An environmental attorney from Orange County named Mike Levin has announced his candidacy to run against Rep. Darrell Issa, potentially complicating matters for Democrats who might hope for smooth sailing for fellow Democratic candidate Darrell Applegate, who came out of nowhere to near vanquish Issa in November, the U-T reports. Levin is the former head of the Democratic Party in Orange County.
GOP Obamacare Replacement’s S.D. Effects
Some San Diego County residents who get their insurance though the state Obamacare exchange, especially those with lower incomes, would actually receive higher subsidies for coverage under the new House plan, the Kaiser Family Foundation finds. For example, a 27-year-old who makes $30,000 would get a $2,000 credit in 2020 instead of $1,080 under Obamacare.
Recipients may need the more generous tax credits: Critics say the Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act will jack up prices in the market for individuals seeking coverage.
Before the replacement bill was introduced, inewsource found that 370,000 people in the county were in danger of losing health insurance if the Affordable Care Act was repealed without a replacement.
State News Roundup: L.A. Rejects Anti-Growth Measure
• L.A voters turned out in non-droves and defeated a landmark measure that would have clamped down hard on growth and the high-density dreams of urbanists. “Much of L.A.’s establishment — politicians, labor unions, business groups — opposed Measure S, and cheered its defeat,” the LA Times reports.
Meanwhile, L.A. County voters approved a measure that will boost sales taxes to combat homelessness. “Advertising for the measure promised it would move an estimated 45,000 homeless families and individuals into permanent housing during the first five years, while preventing 30,000 more families and individuals from becoming homeless,” the Times reports.
• For many of us, the Grapevine just refers to that long mountainous stretch of I-5 north of L.A. that boils over car radiators (don’t ask me how I know this) and gets funky when the northbound and southbound lanes reverse their positions. But there’s more to the Grapevine than a road: An earthquake estimated at magnitude 7.9 struck to the north in 1857 and damaged Fort Tejon; it was felt from north of Sacramento to San Diego, where it caused “great consternation.”
Now, a new report says a new major quake is coming. It’s overdue, might last for two minutes, and “could damage aqueducts that ferry water into Southern California from the north, disrupt electric transmission lines and tear up Interstate 5.” Of course, there would be damage in L.A. and perhaps here too.
“There’s no getting out of this,” an expert says, although it could still be decades before we get smacked again.
• “Some 700,000 Californians are currently being exposed to contaminated water at home or at school, according to the latest data from California’s Water Resources Control Board,” NBC reports, and “more than 3,000 of those residents are living in the San Diego region, often in poorer, rural communities located within areas of Potrero, Pauma Valley and Borrego Springs.”
Our Own Tom Waits and a Lesson in Life
The NY Times talks to Chula Vista native and rock icon Tom Waits about his art and hears a nice story about how he worked in the backcountry town of Jacumba as a firefighter in the late 1960s when a call came in. He’d been trained, but not quite for this.
“It was late and all of a sudden the aroma of fried chicken envelops our truck and we begin to slow and there it is, roaring and crackling: a chicken ranch on fire,” he said. “The old farmer couple, Mom and Pop, are holding each other in silhouette as their world burns. … The captain says: ‘WAITS!!! Take that hose and start putting out some of these chickens.’ So there I am aiming at these flying, screaming, burning chickens, and I had never seen a chicken fly before, but boy can they fly.”
This story has greater meaning. “It was an emergency, and when dealing with emergent behavior there is nothing to do but respond,” he told the paper. “I was in the moment. And it was not the fire I imagined or dreamed of. It was the fire I got.”
Quick News Hits: Relaxasaurus Rex
• Jimmy Dore, a comedian and very liberal national talk show host went after local Rep. Scott Peters for his vague response to a constituent at a Town Hall who asked what the Democratic Party stands for. The question, and debate about it, has been haunting Democrats since the election and through various side contests, like the race for chair of the Democratic National Committee.
• You might assume Mickey Kasparian, the powerful local labor leader facing various accusations, would love to kick the press around in public. But he’s bailed on a Society of Professional Journalists “Report Card on the Media” forum.
• Residents in a North Clairemont neighborhood have discovered that their homes sit on what used to be a World War II practice bombing site, and a U.S. Army Corps of Engineer official warned those at a meeting to remember to “Recognize, retreat, and report” any suspicious objects that could be old munitions. (SD Reader)
• The city will lose a bit of money on Chargers ticket royalties. (10News)
• Here’s an idea: Instead of repairing potholes, save money by replacing street pavement with dusty, crunchy gravel, even in upscale neighborhoods. They’re doing it in Omaha, the NY Times reports. Nobody likes it, but cities are getting creative to deal with decay: “In Youngstown, Ohio, officials closed off some uninhabited streets. In Gary, Ind., some of the city’s parks could close — a process city officials call “renaturing” — after years of neglect. And in one Michigan county, a deteriorating bridge was torn down, not replaced.”
• Heard over the police scanner this week: “She has no weapons. Nor any pants.”
• Pooches are going to a La Jolla meditation class with their humans where the instructor tries to teach the owners how to “identify their dogs’ doshas, or three different energies, or constitutions, believed to govern the body and mind.”
Turns out “the dogs in the class were often so present and relaxed,” KPBS reports, “that they spent much of the time slowly drifting off to sleep.”
All together now: Bowwww. Wowwww. And repeat.
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.