The fastest-growing city in San Diego County is one of the most obscure — it’s Vista, the North County community that’s struggled for decades with a profile that’s about as dull as its name. As we told you last week, it’s now in the county’s 100K club, having just topped 100,000 residents.

Vista is an unusually divided city, cut in two by Highway 78, which serves as a kind of border wall between the poorer northern neighborhoods and the upper-middle-class master-planned communities of Shadowridge to the south.

Alon Levy, our Paris-based commentator on urban issues, writes in a new VOSD analysis that Vista is lower middle-class overall and a sign of the future: “residents of Vista mostly work locally, where there are many jobs, but that do not pay well. This spells out a future of California growth that is not particularly exciting: exurban, lower middle-class but not impoverished, low-income but not desperate. This is likely to dampen the state’s economic growth, as more and more people are pushed away from the most productive cities.”

Opinion: Consider SoccerCity’s Southern Exposure

The artist’s rendering of the proposed SoccerCity San Diego complex in Mission Valley portrays a glossy and glowing collection of buildings and playing fields. The reality, of course, will be at least a bit different. Huge projects never turn out quite as they’re envisioned.

Critics of SoccerCity sure hope so. Some, such as a local cranky soccer-dismissing sports columnist, want to kill the project while others are raising a plenty of concerns that they want resolved before it passes the goal line. In a VOSD commentary, Lawrence A. Herzog, associate director of San Diego State’s Center for Latin American Studies, says critics are missing one important point: the potential for a tighter bond with Mexico and its millions of soccer fans.

He writes: “What better way for San Diego to stake out its identity as a multicultural city-of-the-future than to build one of the region’s most innovative and largest urban development projects with a nod toward Mexico’s 5 million soccer fans in northern Baja, who — oh, by the way — live within a two-hour drive of Mission Valley?”

He adds: “Let’s be clear on what we are actually criticizing. San Diegans need to tamp down on the apparent cultural bias against fútbol.”

Politics Roundup: Challenges for County Finances

The county is facing several big challenges on the financial front, including the potential needs to bolster the pension fund for retired employees with taxpayer money and pay for services that would have been picked up by the state if it didn’t have its own budget woes. (U-T)

The county grand jury thinks members of the San Diego Unified school board should have term limits and be elected directly from their geographic districts instead of by school district voters as a whole. The timing of the report makes it a bit moot: The City Council recently shot down a proposal to change school district elections. (Times of S.D.)

The city of San Diego boosted its workforce by more than 4 percent from 2015-2016, the U-T reports. “At the same time, total pay for employees jumped to $806.6 million from $726 million, an 11 percent spike. City officials said an additional pay period falling within the 2016 calendar year contributed to the increase.” Still, that number is higher than several other big California cities.

RIP, South Bay’s Voice of Outrage

San Diego Reader correspondent Susan Luzarro has died at the age of 68 of brain cancer. She wrote about the South Bay, chronicling the unsolved murders of her parents. And she decried suburban encroachment on her beloved lower Sweetwater Valley on the northern edges of Chula Vista where we both grew up, writing with fury about the loss of nature and the onslaught of “noise poison” from the freeway.

“When you fall in love with someone, your life becomes enmeshed with theirs: ribbon and hair, sinew and bone, sickness and health. This valley, this visual gateway to the city of Chula Vista, is a piece of crap now,” she wrote in 2002. “It makes me sick to think of the potential this valley once had. … Who can tell the many ways the natural world feeds us?”

North County Report: Issa Weighs in, at Last

Rep. Darrell Issa didn’t make a good impression when he snapped to the press that it was “none of your business” how he planned to vote on the GOP health care reform bill.

But he did eventually decide, as this week’s North County Report explains. Like almost all Republicans in the House, he was a yes: “Few people are attracting as much national attention for their vote as Issa, partly because of the timing of his vote, the fact that Issa was front and center at the Republicans’ celebration of the vote at the White House and also because the 49th District is seen as one that could flip Democratic in 2018.”

He will have an opportunity to get roasted when he holds another community meeting on May 31.

 The New York Times is tracking the opinions of members of Congress on the president’s wow-worthy firing of the FBI director with ultra-brief excerpts of their comments so far. (My favorite is an Ohio congresswoman whose response — “Wait…What?!?” — is listed under the “Questions or concerns” column.)

Two of our local House reps, Democratic Reps. Juan Vargas (“many red flags”) and Scott Peters (““something that happens in dictatorships”) are calling for an independent investigation. Issa, however, is quoted as saying the director “had lost my confidence long ago.”

Quick News Hits: A Tree Runs Through it

Officials say lead has been found in the water from a drinking fountain at Birney Elementary School in University Heights. (NBC 7)

• Per Times of S.D., “the California Coastal Commission Wednesday unanimously approved a modified permit for San Diego’s Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant, saving the city nearly $2 billion, according to local officials.”

 Longtime local disc jockey Chris Cantore is out at sports station Mighty 1090 AM.

• Heard on the police scanner: “The [reporting party], who goes by Jesus (as in Christ), would like an ambulance b/c his feet hurt.” (@SanDiegoScanner)

 Never mind bats in your belfry. How about a tree in your garage? There seems to be one in a bright and airy 1961 Del Mar home that’s selling for a cool $2.6 million.

There’s plenty of wood elsewhere too, including beamed ceilings and teak paneling, Curbed informs readers. That’s not all: Several rooms are “illuminated by generous glazing.”

That reminds me of the old saying: May the sun be ever at your back, and may your glazing always be generous.

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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