San Diego sits at the southwestern corner of one nation and the northwestern corner of another, a binational hot spot where speaking Spanish can be very helpful for a variety of workers. But while employers often seek bilingual applicants locally, they frequently can’t find them.

What’s the problem? “Employers, language experts and teachers point to one root cause: a public education system that restricted bilingual education for the past 18 years,” write VOSD’s Adriana Heldiz and Mario Koran in a new story.

Last fall, state voters approved a ballot measure that will make it easier for schools to embrace bilingual education. But it will take a while for things to change. Right now, only two school districts in the county offer students a strong bilingual pathway from grade school to high school.

But don’t many English-learners already speak Spanish? Yes, but critics of the current system say some suffer from “language shame” about their native Spanish and fail to learn to speak, read and write it at an advanced level.

Inside the Mayor’s Homeless Strategy

Some of San Diego’s most outspoken advocates for the homeless say permanent housing is the ideal solution and deserves almost all the focus. But what should happen now? In a new story, VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt explores the thinking of Mayor Kevin Faulconer and others.

Faulconer seems to want to have it both ways, Halverstadt writes: He wants to embrace the permanent housing solution, but also create short-term beds.

As the city’s homeless czar explained this week, “her goal to add hundreds of new, temporary shelter beds — at least 300. She described efforts to assess many potential locations. She’d like to see those beds open within 90 days of finding a site, and have them stay open for about two years.”

The shelter beds might even be under a tent, an approach that Faulconer was happy to abandon a while back.

But a homeless advocate recently expressed his fears about the city’s priorities: “I am deathly afraid that if we try to do both (permanent housing and shelter), we are going to do the emergency shelter and not the things we need to do to solve homelessness in this community.”

Push to Fix City’s Insane Sidewalk Policies

As we put it in a helpful headline a few years ago, “Illogical Sidewalk Policies Still Illogical.” In general, the city of San Diego requires property owners to keep sidewalks repaired, but taxpayers are on the hook if there’s a lawsuit over an accident.

“We want to revamp the policy in such a fashion that it works,” Councilman Mark Kersey said in 2013. Now, in 2017, another councilman, David Alvarez, is singing an identical tune.

Why now? As the U-T reports, Alvarez’s call for change comes in the wake of the city’s $5 million settlement in the case of a bike rider who suffered serious injuries when he “was launched 28 feet on his bike by tree-damaged sidewalk in Del Cerro.”

SDSU Has Its Own Ideas for Qualcomm Property

San Diego State wants to buy or lease a big chunk of the football stadium property in Mission Valley, the U-T reports, with an eye on building its own stadium.

So is SDSU trying to prevent the SoccerCity project from reaching the goal line? Not exactly, says the university’s athletic director, but the words of the university’s “needs” statement tell the real story: There’s no mention of Major League Soccer.

Politics Roundup: Council Rejects Board Vote Revamp

The City Council rejected a Republican-supported plan to change how San Diego Unified school board members are elected, and to impose term limits (there aren’t any now). Such a move could have upended the board’s labor-backed board.

The County Board of Supervisors won’t support a state bill that would dramatically change the way SANDAG is run.

The county may get rid of some of its property that it doesn’t need to provide space for affordable housing. (City News Service)

County Supervisor Ron Roberts is now chair of the Regional Task Force on the Homeless and told us last week he’s committed to looking at what the county can do to help with the housing crisis.

The Sacramento Bee reports on how endangered Republican congressmen in California like Rep. Darrell Issa are distancing themselves from the president. The Bee tries to have some fun by describing Issa’s North County/Orange County district as “a stretch of sunshine, sand and smoothies,” which would come as news to his constituents in places like Vista and Rancho Peñasquitos.

Issa is “a lonely Republican voice calling for an independent investigation of ties between Trump associates and Russia,” the Bee says.

Culture Report: So Sew We All

This week’s VOSD Culture Report leads off with news about a new sewing-centered public art project that began a few months ago with “a series of workshops at 32 schools, homeless shelters, senior centers, after-school programs and other community centers. Over 1,000 people showed up to the various workshops and used giant looms to weave together ripped-up old T-shirts into sculptural works of art.”

Also in the Culture Report: A new Comic-Con museum in Balboa Park, a variety of fates for artifacts at the soon-to-be-defunct Hall of Champions and the departure of the executive director of Balboa Park’s San Diego Art Institute.

• The Old Globe Theater got a shout-out of sorts in this week’s episode of the FX show “Feud: Bette and Joan.”

In a scene that takes place during the filming of the classic horror film “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” Bette Davis wonders aloud about the bona fides of young actor Victor Buono. The film’s director assures her that he’s legit and has performed at the Old Globe in San Diego. “I’m sure his Falstaff is the talk of Tijuana,” she snaps.

Davis learns to like Buono, a San Diego native who earned a supporting actor nomination for his role in the movie.

Quick News Hits: Smile, You’re on Carlsbad Camera!

“Two mothers are seeking a restraining order to keep to a teacher away from their children and dozens of other parents also have complained about him to San Diego Unified School District trustees,” the U-T reports. They allege that the teacher, who works at Longfellow Elementary in Clairemont, is a bully.

The principal said in a statement that the concerns are “serious,” and “we have established a co-teaching model where a second teacher is in the classroom to make sure students can continue to learn in a safe, nurturing and welcoming environment.”

 Here’s a sentence I didn’t expect to ever read: “Some residents say the 7-Eleven … will make the neighborhood more expensive.” It appears in a Reader story about concerns about gentrification in San Diego’s Cherokee Point neighborhood, “in the middle of North Park and City Heights, off of 36th Street.”

 Two decades have passed since the Heaven’s Gate mass suicide in Rancho Santa Fe. What’s happened since? “The mansion was razed, the name of the street where it sat changed to discourage looky-loos, and Heaven’s Gate settled into its place as a bizarre footnote in San Diego County history. For sociologists and religious studies scholars, though, Heaven’s Gate remains in orbit.” (That last sentence doesn’t make a lot of sense, but I appreciate the wordplay effort.) (U-T)

 The North County city of Carlsbad is planning to install license plate-reading cameras at 14 intersections, the U-T reports, so it can capture images of every car that enters the city.

Privacy advocates are not pleased, and a resident warned of “mass surveillance.” But city officials say they won’t misuse the information.

This brings up important questions: Can we trust Carlsbad? Are some local cities more or less trustworthy than others? It’s hard to know for sure, but let’s just say that I’m not lending La Mesa any money. It knows what it did.

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

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

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