For five years, a dozen architects and designers have sat in a Little Italy office and gone about their business of designing buildings, all for nothing. Well, for now, at least.

As our Kinsee Morlan reports, the RED Office firm relies on “sweat equity” — work now, make money later. A lot later. They’ll get a piece of the action from the rent that tenants pay in their buildings.

“As it turns out, working for free comes with some hefty risks and challenges,” Morlan writes. “Employees at the firm have spent the last five years working without pay on time-consuming projects that ultimately fell through.” They have other jobs that keep them afloat.

Also in our story: Why is an apartment complex known as “a mullet”? How big is a “micro loft”? And how does architectural outsourcing fit into all this?

As the U-T reports, a church-owned apartment complex in Pacific Beach is up for sale, but owner Christ Lutheran Church has worked out an arrangement to make sure it still offers low rents to seniors. The bait for a buyer: It’s being sold for $9.5 million, less than it’s worth.

Opinion: Let’s Fix the Food Waste Mess

A new city law is scheduled to soon set fresh requirements on firms that help small restaurants get rid of their food waste. Environmentalists are crying foul, saying the rules will kick small businesses in this line of work to the curb.

In a VOSD commentary, Sarah Boltwala-Mesina, executive director of a nonprofit that created a collective devoted to wise management of food scraps, says her business and others would need to shut down.

“We need to crack open the door to the waste market so the long line of innovators and entrepreneurs waiting on its other side can legitimately enter this marketplace,” she writes. “Business models that feed people, animals and soil in our communities need to coexist alongside the more traditional approaches of waste reduction and recycling.”

Lie Detectors Under Fire in Border Patrol Hiring

The House voted on Wednesday to waive lie detector tests for applicants for Border Patrol jobs; about two-thirds of applicants fail the tests, which ask about topics like previous wrongdoing.

On one hand, wannabe agents have confessed to major crimes during the tests. But there are also big questions about whether the lie detector tests work, and critics “contend that the use of lie detectors has gone awry and that many applicants are being subjected to unusually long and hostile interrogations, which some say can make people look deceptive even when they are telling the truth.”

North County Report: Henpecked

As the U-T put it, a “20-foot-tall inflatable chicken bearing a resemblance to President Donald Trump” showed up at a town hall meeting held by North County’s Rep. Darrell Issa last week. So did lots of very angry people. The event is the top news in this week’s VOSD North County Report. Meanwhile, the ACLU says the city of Vista has gone too far in its efforts to control protests outside Issa’s office.

The North County Report is also full of unhappy transportation news: The county grand jury says ticket machines at Coaster and Sprinter stations are an unholy mess, changes at Oceanside’s transit station are raising hackles and the well-traveled Route 78 in the backcountry will be closed for 10 days to keep a hill from collapsing.

Quick News Hits: Mansplaining Alert!

The Keep The Channel Open arts podcast features our very own arts editor Kinsee Morlan in its latest episode. Among other topics, she chats about the strengths of arts in San Diego and how to expose kids to culture.

 Chula Vista is adding firefighters amid sub-par response times and a claim by a union leader that it has the worst staffing level in the state. (NBC 7)

 “Nine school districts have sued San Diego County for millions of dollars, claiming property tax payments to schools were miscalculated after a raft of legislation in Sacramento, including termination of the redevelopment agencies.” San Diego Unified is among the districts. (Courthouse News Service)

 The opioid drug fentanyl has killed 20 people in the county so far this year. Meanwhile, we’re getting more details about the hepatitis A outbreak. (NBC 7, Outbreak News Today)

 The U-T reports: “Mental Health Systems, the San Diego charity that last year was the subject of allegations of misconduct and lavish spending on luxury hotels and limousines, failed to properly account for more than $140,000 in federal housing funds, a new audit states.”

 New data says revenue into the county and city retirement pension funds was way down in 2016 — we’re talking tens of millions. (U-T)

 A horse named “J-Lo” may have a nice new life these days after being rescued from abuse, but she seemed determined to prove that she’s still Jenny From the Block: She got loose and ran around Fiesta Island for hours from Tuesday night into Wednesday morning until she was re-captured. (NBC 7)

 Yesterday, I explained the phenomenon of “blow dry bars” — salons specializing in hair blowouts — to Morning Report readers. Who knew? Plenty of people. Turns out our readers of the female variety are more than familiar with this phenomenon.

Did u really just mansplain blow dry bars in the @voiceofsandiego Morning Report?” asked Ashley Lewis, wife of VOSD editor Scott Lewis, in a tweet. “So adorable. Next you’ll discover lip gloss.”

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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