Alexis Leftridge, a 22-year-old woman who’s lived on the streets and been arrested or cited at least 15 times over the past two years, mostly for blocking the sidewalk in downtown with her tent. She went to jail three times, spending nights there while pregnant.

“They’re spending money on putting us in jail instead of spending money on putting us into programs or housing that will help us get off the street,” she tells our Lisa Halverstadt.

She has a point: The city is indeed devoting extensive resources to enforcing the law against the homeless in a way described by critics as capricious. “Police citations and interactions have especially soared in downtown San Diego, where a business group’s most recent count tallied more than 1,200 living on the streets in those neighborhoods alone,” Halverstadt reports. “There, chaos and confusion are palpable. … What’s acceptable one day may not be the next. And some homeless people appear to attract more attention from police and security teams than others for reasons that aren’t always clear to them.”

Learning Curve: The GATE Gap

A prominent critic of the school program for talented and gifted kids known as GATE says “gifted programs are some of the most racist, elitist, classist and discriminatory programs in the nation.” The numbers give weight to the critic’s arguments.

As our Maya Srikrishnan explains in this week’s Learning Curve, “in 2016-2017, although Latinos make up more than 44 percent of the overall enrollment at San Diego Unified, they made up only 33 percent of the GATE program. For black students, the disproportionality is even worse, with an 8 percent overall enrollment rate, but only a 3 percent enrollment in the GATE program.”

Asians make up a big chunk of the GATE population — 14 percent of the total, more than 4 times the percentage of blacks.

The critic, a Vanderbilt University professor, has found evidence that white teachers are less likely to refer black and Latino students to GATE programs.

Pro, Con on Giving Big Cities a Bigger Say at SANDAG

Local state legislator Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher wants to revamp SANDAG, the scandal-plagued coalition of local governments that handles issues like planning and regional roads. She wants to give more power to big cities like San Diego and Chula Vista via Assembly Bill 805 (which isn’t connected to the freeway, by the way).

In a pro-AB 805 commentary, Cori Schumacher, a member of the Carlsbad City Council, notes that the bill also empowers “local transit agencies in northern and southern San Diego County through new funding mechanisms.”

She writes that “SANDAG’s current regime is digging in their heels here, not because of governance issues, but because they simply cannot see a financially secure future without cars and the sales tax revenue they generate.”

In a con column, Haney Hong and Cameron Gyorffy of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association write that “there are alternative ways to ensure that SANDAG corrects its mistakes moving forward that don’t need to pass through the capitol.”

Meanwhile, in the U-T, Poway Mayor Steve Vaus and Coronado Councilwoman Carrie Downey write that “this should scare everyone — the same politicians in Sacramento responsible for California’s crumbling roads and fraying infrastructure want to ‘fix’” SANDAG.

Politics Roundup: Hunter in Trouble?

A Democratic challenger to Rep. Duncan Hunter (the younger) in his GOP stronghold East County district raised more money than Hunter over the second quarter of the year. But the amount is small for a race that could cost millions if it becomes competitive: Ammar Campa-Najjar raised $165,000.

A competitive race would be pretty stunning. “Republicans account for nearly 43 percent of registered voters, while Democrats have 27 percent, and another 24 percent do not belong to a political party,” the U-T reports.

San Diego has approved its first marijuana shop in a year, the city’s 16th. (U-T)

A candidate for governor with no statewide name recognition will stay that way: David Hadley, a former GOP assemblyman from Orange County, had joined a couple other semi-prominent Republicans but has bowed out because he doesn’t think he can win. (L.A. Times)

Quick News Hits: My Kingdom for a Space

The Kept Faith sports podcast wonders if the Padres are doing too well for their own good in the latest edition.

 Rolling Stone chronicles the rise of Comic-Con.

 More refugees come to our county than any other county in the state, even L.A. County, but the numbers are small. (CALMatters)

 “An immigrant rights group in San Diego is partnering with pro bono attorneys to provide free legal advice for people who do not have legal U.S. immigration status,” KPBS reports.

 Average apartment rents in the San Diego region have topped $2,000 a month, Times of S.D. reports, as vacancy rates remain upward of 96 percent. There might be a slight ray of hope for renters, says an expert: “A warning sign may be in place, since job growth has declined in April and May.”

 A new study suggests that marijuana shops don’t boost crime in their neighborhoods and may actually decrease them by making the streets around them more crowded and less friendly to criminals like burglars. (The Cannifornian)

 In the wake of the disturbing viral video of a police dog biting a suspect, the U-T delves into why San Diego cops don’t order their police dogs around with voice commands.

 The “land of fruits and nuts” now has four official state nuts — the almond, pecan, walnut and pistachio. But the L.A. Times says the nuts are actually seeds. It also answers another question: It seems nuts that there are four state nuts, so why is that?

 Parking is a common annoyance in these parts. There’s too little of it, drivers say. There’s too much of it, claim urbanists who want to encourage more transit use. And everyone’s miffed when many people call dibs on parking spaces at the bay or beach with folding chairs, grills and traffic cones. (Next time I see this, I’m going to assume the chair or grill is abandoned and take it home with me.)

Now, patrons of the San Diego section of Reddit are agog over two posts that chronicle the best and the worst of local parking: Lots with giant spaces with plenty of room for hoggy gas-guzzlers and lots with tiny spaces that require larger drivers (ahem) to acrobatically wiggle out of their seats when there’s a car in the next space.

Very useful. Now to the big unanswered question: Has a compact car ever in the history of time parked in a “compact car” space? Maybe you’ve seen this in the wild. Pictures or it didn’t happen.

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:

Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.