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This post has been updated.
Chula Vista, the second-largest city in the county, is home to more people than Buffalo, Reno, Boise or St. Petersburg, Fla. Its mayor is a fan of boosting new housing developments, public transit and tax measures to pay for infrastructure, just the kinds of projects that the coalition of local governments known as SANDAG likes to support.
But Mary Salas, one of the first Latina mayors in the county, and her city are not dominant voices on the SANDAG board. In fact, she and the entire South Bay “continue to take a backseat to more powerful politicians and regional priorities” our Maya Srikrishnan reports in a new profile of Salas. “Salas said she wasn’t able to get a leadership position at SANDAG, even though she was the only applicant.”
Now, environmentalists and liberals are criticizing her, accusing Salas of not being progressive enough. But others see the price that’s paid by those who challenge the local power structure.
“Political and economic power in Chula Vista and most of the region was in the hands of the same demographics for a long time,” says a former city mayor. “Power doesn’t let go of power very easily. I saw people be dismissive of her because she’s a woman and a woman of color. I experienced some of the same things myself.”
Council Wary of Mayor’s Tax Hike
The mayor wants to hike taxes on hotel guests to pay for a convention center expansion and fund homelessness solutions and street repairs. But several City Council members on Monday raised questions about his project, adding to the momentum among critics including some local labor leaders.
As our Lisa Halverstadt reports in a new story about Monday’s Council meeting, five City Council members need to be on board to put the issue on the ballot in a special election this fall.
Democrats on the Council were especially critical, but even a Republican raised questions about whether the issue could get the required two-thirds majority from voters.
No Permit for Border Protest Concert
A German orchestra wants to hold binational concert and protest at the border fence called “Tear Down This Wall!” but the officials on the U.S. side declined, saying there are concerns about public safety and protecting nature. So it will stay on the Mexican side of the border, the Union-Tribune reports.
A park official dismissed the orchestra’s plans to keep the crowd to 25: “You have promoted the event rather extensively, apparently with intent to draw large crowds and to involve activities not previously presented in your proposal.”
Quick News Hits: Signs, Signs, Everywhere There’s (Endless) Signs
• The promoters of the SoccerCity project have enough signatures to force the City Council to approve the project or put it before voters. (City News Service)
• East County’s Gate fire may have been set by people shooting at a target. (U-T)
• “A Los Angeles area developer has become frustrated with her two efforts to build affordable homes at less than half the going rate in San Diego, and she’s taking her business elsewhere,” the U-T reports. She builds “unsubsidized shipping container apartments and 3D-printed ‘urban cabins’ for as little as $150,000 per unit.”
Why is she frustrated? Because of red tape and failed deals.
• The Huffington Post profiles efforts to save the endangered vaquita, a kind of tiny porpoise that lives in the Gulf of California. Its numbers have dwindled to under 30.
• Rep. Duncan D. Hunter’s East County district is a Republican stronghold, but national Democrats now think they can pick him off. (The Hill)
• A City Heights program that helps victims of human trafficking is facing money woes because federal funding isn’t keeping up with the caseload. (KPBS)
• Eater San Diego checks in with the local fishing industry, which is having a rebirth of sorts.
• A fake Onion headline — “Mom Sent On Fact-Finding Mission To Read What Parking Sign Down Street Says” — reminds me of San Diego’s very real and very gigantic no-parking signs. They drew a richly deserved Onion award a few years ago because they’re basically bonkers. (The award came from the local architecture Orchids & Onions folks, which isn’t connected to the parody site.)
Here’s what the signs say in all caps: “No Parking/All City Streets/• Oversized vehicles (exceeding 27 long and 7 high)/• Non-motorized vehicles/• Recreational vehicles/2 AM-6 AM except by city permit/Within 50 feet of any intersection or alley/Visit sandiego.gov.”
Yikes. When she goes on her “fact-finding mission,” poor Mom may need to pack a lunch.
Clarification: An earlier version of this post said Mary Salas is the first Latina mayor in the county. She is one of the first Latina mayors in the county.
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.