Last fall, California voters legalized marijuana for adult use. Forgetting for a minute it’s still banned by the federal government, state law says you can have marijuana and grow your own personal plants. But governments up and down the state are trying to figure out where you can buy it.

In the unincorporated areas of San Diego County — towns like Lakeside, Fallbrook and Ramona — new pot shops have been banned and medical marijuana shops are on the way out.

But marijuana access advocates aren’t backing down. They’re pushing for a 2018 ballot initiative that would allow pot farms and shops. And in Vista, marijuana boosters are again pushing a citywide ballot measure that would allow as many as 10 medical marijuana shops, one per 10,000 people.

A new VOSD story by our contributor Jared Whitlock explains what voters may get to decide and hears from an anti-drug activist who’s feeling victimized by bold marijuana advocates even though they’re having a mighty hard time selling and growing their product in much of the county: “My experience has shown me that the industry is not necessarily willing to work on any regulations. They want to force their will on cities.”

Mayor’s Hotel Tax Hike Faces Immediate Opposition

A prominent local labor union opposes San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s bid to increase hotel-room taxes to pay for streets, homeless services and, mostly, a convention center expansion. Brigette Browning, who runs the hotel and restaurant workers union said her group may actively work to defeat Faulconer’s upcoming ballot initiative, which won’t pass unless more than two-thirds of voters say aye. She said she hasn’t even talked to the mayor’s office (they told us they tried to call).

Our Andrew Keatts explains how opinions are shaping up. The local GOP is against the measure because it opposes all tax increases. The Republican Party leader, Tony Krvaric, said he’s not sure if the group will consider an exception.

• The mayor’s revised budget for the next fiscal year includes more revenue and more spending thanks to a change in projections. Faulconer is pushing for arts organizations to take less of a hit than earlier expected. Also, he wants the city to spend $100,000 to find a new police chief and $150,000 to figure out why cops aren’t sticking around or joining the force. (City News Service)

• “Longtime public relations executive Bob Nelson is stepping down as a Port of San Diego commissioner, citing conflicts with his new business partnership and an interest in promoting an upcoming convention center expansion ballot measure.” (U-T)

SDSU Provokes a Statement Brawl with SoccerCity

It has been a while since we’ve seen an exchange of formal statements as hot as what happened Tuesday over the proposed development for land under Qualcomm Stadium.

The first statement in the volley came from San Diego State University. The school announced it would no longer be negotiating with developers who want to ask voters to sell them the land and approve a soccer stadium, housing and related development this November. “Unfortunately, a fair, equitable deal that would provide opportunity for the long-term success of SDSU and Aztec football, as well as a transparent deal for the citizens of San Diego, could not be reached,” it said.

FS Investors, the group pushing the plan, returned fire with a nasty shot at Elliot Hirshman, the university’s lame-duck president, who is moving to a college in Maryland: “One would have hoped an issue of this magnitude would warrant a meeting with the new administration, and yet the person making this decision will be at a new East Coast university safe from the aftermath his lack of leadership has created.”

The next one came from Mayor Kevin Faulconer, siding, in a way, with FS Investors.  He warned that the city could not keep Qualcomm Stadium open past 2018 to host SDSU football and noted the ballot measure was likely happening “… this decision has unfortunately put the university in a situation where this process will move forward without their involvement.”

Later the U-T’s Kevin Acee quoted Padres Chairman Ron Fowler, who said Petco Park would not be available for SDSU football beyond 2019.

SDSU’s VP Bob Schulz had said at a public panel that SDSU would be willing to shoulder the city’s annual costs at Qualcomm Stadium until a new stadium for the school could be built. He also acknowledged SDSU doesn’t need the land around Qualcomm Stadium for many many years and would prefer to buy it and commercialize it until it did need the land.

At Gompers, a Tarnished Success Story

inewsource is out with a probe into accusations that San Diego’s much-lauded Gompers Preparatory Academy is inflating grades and thus leaving some of the students who move on to college unprepared. Eleven former teachers say “the director’s actions have set up kids for failure postgraduation and left a slew of educators traumatized and heartbroken… Teachers and students told inewsource that despite Gompers’ university-focused charter, they are well-versed in stories of recent graduates who felt unprepared, and, as a result, dropped or failed out of college.”

Culture Report: Looking Up to Brain Cells

This week’s Culture Report leads off with a story about a collaboration between local scientists and artists from San Diego and Tijuana. In one partnership, a Salk Institution scientist told an artist about her work reprogramming cells. He then created images of neurons that will appear on a skylight.

“I’ve heard it over and over again, that we’re such a cultural desert and there’s nothing going on,” says the coordinator of the project, referring to the popular pastime of bagging on local culture instead of creating local culture. “We think of ourselves as a sleepy beach town, and yet we have so much to offer. We just need to cultivate it, and we can do that by getting people excited about the art and the science.”

Also in the Culture Report: Fish prints, a Lake Hodges “monster,” a new local female artist collective, that controversial downtown brewery that may or may not offer craft beer (you decide), and “BBQ war stories.” Saucy!

Quick News Hits: Did Issa Flip One?

Local building starts are down, possibly because builders are too busy building new apartments. (U-T)

• The San Diego City Council has now formed an official committee to grapple with the homelessness crisis.

• As the airport continues to be divided between a cramped, second-class Terminal 1 for Southwest’s discount passengers and a roomy, gleaming Terminal 2 for almost everyone else, the airport is prioritizing a $229 million project to make it easier for international passengers to deal with immigration and customs at Terminal 2. (U-T)

• North County’s often-clogged Highway 76 (no, not Highway 78) now has four lanes between the I-5 and I-15 and is supposed to be safer. (U-T)

• Here’s some news: There’s still a Sears at ye olde University Town Centre mall (aka Westfield UTC). Here’s some more news: Not for much longer.

• A reporter says Rep. Darrell Issa silently gave her the finger as she asked about the latest Trump imbroglio. He politely says he respects the reporter and did no such thing. And a semi-witness has her own tale.

Surely he was just reaching up to scratch his nose. Happens to me all the time when I’m watching the news.

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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