The president wants a bigger and more beautiful border wall. But how are things going at the border we already have? Our Mario Koran took a look in person, riding along with the Border Patrol and going into the dank, dark underground — 90 feet down — to visit a drug tunnel.

Koran writes about what he learned during his voyage in a new VOSD story. He finds that a surging drug cartel is trying to take over a rival’s territory and smuggling routes, including in Tijuana, but it may not be able to handle the logistics of drug tunnels.

Plus: Concerns over rogue Border Patrol agents, a neighborhood where smuggling runs in the family (from grandfather to son to grandson) and the reasons why fences, not concrete, are the mainstay of border barriers.

Hundreds of Teachers May Get Jobs Back

Cindy Marten, the superintendent of San Diego Unified, announced the other day that more than 700 teachers may not need to be laid off after all, but she didn’t say why, and no other information was available other than a hint that the district’s early retirement program played a role. The program tries to produce money to pay cheaper, younger teachers by getting rid of expensive older teachers.

(Remember that’s the savings effort that will actually cost the district more money than it ever saved in just five years.)

In a VOSD story, our Ashly McGlone explains what we know and don’t know.

Opinion: Homeless Camps, Yes. Unsafe Tents or Shelters, No,

In a VOSD commentary, former legislator and recent failed mayoral candidate Lori Saldaña and small business owner Martha Sullivan say a proposed “mega-tent” to house the homeless is a bad idea because of safety risks, and temporary shelters have many problems of their own.

Instead, they say it’s time to embrace a strategy tried in Seattle: “A coalition of homeless advocates of which we’re part, Voices of the City Coalition, has been advocating for the implementation of a campground where people can safely park and sleep in their vehicles, tents and small cabins. The campground could be housed in the parking lot at Qualcomm Stadium, or at the Chargers Park training facility.”

But the homeless would still have to follow rules and work: “Everyone has duties and chores at Seattle’s camps, they must follow a code of conduct and they are accountable to the community.”

North County Report: District Drama in Oceanside

Ocean Hills is an upscale, gated retirement community on the eastern edges of Oceanside near Vista’s own upscale Shadowridge neighborhood. Its residents are largely sheltered from the problems of urban Oceanside and neighborhoods like “South O,” where the Coast Highway, homelessness and Airbnb-type rentals are hot topics.

But now the two communities will joined at the geographic hip. Oceanside is creating City Council districts, and one will unite Ocean Hills and South O, very different places with very different interests. In this week’s VOSD North County Report, our contributor Ruarri Serpa delves into why these they’re being forced to be friends.

Also: The city of Vista has gotten a lesson in the First Amendment, Del Mar may backtrack on banning Airbnb-type rentals in the face of a lawsuit and the Buena Vista Lagoon has turned into an eyesore.

• Poway is considering City Council district boundaries of its own.

Housing Battle: Left vs. Left vs. Left in S.F.

The left in San Francisco — in other words, San Francisco — is divided over how to make the famously expensive city cheaper to live in. There’s no more costly place to rent in the country, not even San Diego.

Who are the players? Slate has a helpful run-down. There are those who can’t stand new development (renters and homeowners), those who want new homes to lower costs (YIMBYs, the Yes, In My Back Yard crowd) and the Democratic Socialists of America, who hate the YIMBY movement (a “libertarian, anti-poor campaign to turn longtime sites of progressive organizing into rich-people-only zones”) but have similar goals.

McMansions are back. McOMG. (Washington Post)

Quick News Hits: To Serve Man

• The northeast section of Mission Bay might get a revamp. (KPBS)

• The Salk Institute has created a new endowment to preserve its landmark campus architecture. (The Architects Newspaper)

• There comes a time in every guy’s life when your straight pals start breeding all over the place. Then, a few years later, it’s vasectomy time. That’s when men head to… Planned Parenthood? Yup, one local clinic holds a vasectomy day every Wednesday, handling the snip-snip for 17-20 men each time, the U-T reports. That’s why the TV there plays ESPN that day instead of soaps. (U-T)

• Somebody went to the county fair and ran off with a slightly disturbing 20-pound statue of a chortling Humpty Dumpty. It was stolen from the Fine Art Exhibition. No word on whether any suspect has cracked. (U-T)

• Balboa Park’s Museum of Man doesn’t mind embracing the grotesque parts of human history. In the past, it’s put on exhibits about torture, including one from Italy that included a guillotine, an iron maiden, a “knee splitter” and a “head-crusher,” and a very modern electric chair. (The museum scrubbed the exhibit’s anti-death penalty message in an attempt to be non-political.)

Now, the museum is debuting a new exhibit about the fun topic of cannibalism. As CityBeat notes, it “includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide who gets eaten first.”

Don’t look at me. I’m all gristle.

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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