San Diego’s San Ysidro neighborhood, right on top of the Mexican border, is almost three-quarters Latino, but a shared heritage among neighbors doesn’t always translate to a shared background. Some are longtime Americans, others are new to the country and lack the paperwork they need to get a house and get a job.

In the latest part of our series exploring hidden homelessness in the South Bay, our Maya Srikrishnan explores the special challenges and Catch-22s that face some struggling Latino families. “I can’t get my green card without an address, I can’t work without a green card and I can’t afford an apartment without work,” says one resident who had a green card, but lost it and has struggled to obtain a replacement.

“They struggle with finding housing and they go from shelter to shelter just so the kids could have a good education,” says a homeless liason who works for the San Ysidro school district. “They’ll sacrifice everything that they have. I mean, I have a family that is considered homeless, but [the mother] has two jobs and she’s renting a small little room with four kids. But she’s doing this so her kids can get a better education.”

These struggles aren’t relegated solely to undocumented residents: Even legal immigrants have trouble accessing help they’re entitled to “due to complex application rules, confusion over eligibility criteria, limited English skills and fear that participation may disqualify other family members from obtaining permanent residency,” Srikrishnan writes.

Stephan Named Interim DA

To the surprise of no one, the County Board of Supervisors appointed District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis’s hand-picked successor, prosecutor Summer Stephan, to replace Dumanis, who’s quitting. Stephan will take over on July 7 and is already running for a full term as district attorney in the 2018 election.

Stephan responded to critics who were charged that she was being given an unfair leg up in the process on a recent episode of the VOSD podcast. And she also sat down with VOSD’s Sara Libby to detail her positions on a host of criminal justice issues, including Prop. 47 and whether ICE agents should remain in local jails.

• County supervisors also approved a three-pronged approach to boost affordable housing. Lisa Halverstadt explored how the county is shifting priorities in this area in a series of stories last week.

Chula Vista May Get a Convention Center of Its Own

Amid a massive boom of convention center expansions across the country, Chula Vista — one of the 100 largest cities in the nation and perhaps the most little known of them all — may finally build a convention center of its own after talking about it for decades.

The plan is to open the $1 billion, 275,000-square-foot convention center by 2022. That’s small for a convention center, comparable to those in Milwaukee and Jacksonville. The largest ones have millions of square feet.

Will the Chula Vista convention center cannibalize the nearby San Diego convention center? Nope, says a tourism official, who says they attract different types of conventions. The San Diego venue, he tells the U-T, is for a “premium” kind of customer. “I don’t see them saying now I can go to Chula Vista and save $50 a night (for a hotel stay).” Ouch!

Styrofoam Recycling to Finally Begin

At last! San Diego residents, at least those who don’t live in apartments, will soon be able to recycle styrofoam containers. They’ve been banned in some cities, but San Diego still allows them.

The U-T story includes this incisive quote from a restaurant official: “I always say it keeps our hot foods hot and our cold foods cold.” Keep always saying that!

Don’t Harsh My Mello(-Roos)

inewsource is jumping into an investigation of Mello-Roos taxes, those weirdly named and often-bewildering property taxes that are common in California’s newer neighborhoods. They pay for things like school construction, parks and fire protection, and audits of spending aren’t required.

One early finding: The North County city of San Marcos has an eye-popping 92 (!) Mello-Roos tax districts out of 246 in the county. Eleven properties somehow pay into seven Mello-Roos districts.

Culture Report: Goodbye Mo`olelo Theater Co.

This week’s VOSD Culture Report leads off with news of the demise of the Mo`olelo Performing Arts Company, which made a mark by supporting productions with diversity on and off stage.

Also in the Culture Report: An update on the Death for Food guy, comedian and actor Bill Murray is coming to town (well, Escondido), a troupe somehow plans to make the Constitution funny via a “humorously informative journey through the first 10 amendments” (the one about the housing of soldiers is a laugh riot) and the San Diego International Fringe Festival is starting.

Quick News Hits: Talk About Sleepy Streets

“Commissioner Timothy Alan Simon, a key figure in the 2012 hearings to determine a rate hike for San Diego Gas & Electric ratepayers to cover the costs of the 2007 wildfires, accepted thousands of dollars in gifts at the time, according to the California Fair Political Practices Commission,” NBC 7 reports. “In 2012, Simon accepted gifts and travel-related payments from about 40 sources worth approximately $21,000.”

 San Diego County’s unemployment rate is down to a stunningly low 3.6 percent. (City News Service)

 Sen. Kamala Harris is the rising liberal star we have, but she may not be the rising liberal star that progressives want. (Slate)

 The city’s getting a new honorary street name, right here and not in a galaxy far, fa … no, darn it, I won’t do it because every other journalist on earth (and beyond) seems to be making that reference.

Yup, a street in Clairemont is being named after Mark “Luke Skywalker” Hamill, who lived there for a few years while growing up.

Speaking of street names, the Reader has unearthed a delightful story from 1983 about colorful local street names. It explains why we have a Caminito de Pizza (typo on “piazza”) and Sam-O-Reno Road (a developer’s private joke) and why we shouldn’t (but do) have a Via Privada (Outhouse Road) and a Caminito de Oi Vay (oy gevalt!). And: Upas, the namesake of a high-profile mid-city thoroughfare and part of an A-to-W series of tree streets, is a type of poisonous tree only found in New Guinea.

We also had a Maiden Lane, Hasty Lane, Pajama Drive, Climax Court and Slumber Road — but sadly, not in that order. Because then we might need a Baby Boulevard.

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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