Community leaders in the Encanto area have spent years advocating for a few amenities: local businesses that keep more money in the area, restaurants and grocery stores that offer healthy food and gathering places and generally more stores on main thoroughfares to create walkable areas.

There have been years of studies, plans and promotions. But boarded up storefronts still plague Imperial Avenue.

Now, a handful of new developments are on the way. And as Kinsee Morlan reports in a new story, leaders are concerned the new spaces will leave the community with its same old problems.

“We’re a business desert,” said Kenneth Malbrough, chair of the Encanto community planning group. “So how do we drop in thousands of units and we don’t have enough businesses to serve them? How come nobody outside is looking here? Why are these larger businesses turning their noses at us?”

As dozens of new apartments ready to open, officials with the city and Civic San Diego, the city’s redevelopment arm, are planning bus tours with prospective business owners in hopes they can lure new options into the area. That’s been tried before, with little to show for it.

Meanwhile, some of the business owners who have already set up shop in the area say they’re excited for all the new homes coming on line and are hoping it’s good for business.

Border Report: Trump to Skip Environmental Regulation for Border Wall

In this week’s edition of the Border Report, Brooke Binkowski covers President Donald Trump’s latest move to get the border wall he campaigned on built as quickly as possible.

The 2018 budget proposal calls for 32 miles of wall in the Rio Grande Valley, and Trump’s latest move is to let the project skip a normally required environmental review, even though it passes through a Texas refuge for protected ocelots. He could do so by using an anti-terror law, passed as a recommendation by the 9/11 Commission, that would let the wall go up immediately.

This isn’t a new Trump idea. In 2009, we reported how federal officials used the same argument to avoid environmental protections when they built a stretch of reinforced fencing on San Diego’s border.

When Trump was elected, state leaders like Gavin Newsom threatened to thwart some of his ideas with state environmental laws. As the LA Times found, that’s just not going to happen.

 It’s a busy week in immigration news, too, with a nonprofit group building a new refugee center in Playas de Tijuana, local activists ramping up their support for the 44,000 San Diego residents who are eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, and the New Yorker talks to a veteran officer for Immigration and Customs Enforcement who says the department has gotten more aggressive under the Trump administration.

KPBS reporter Jean Guerrero also wrote Monday about Tijuana’s crackdown on the politically influential yellow taxis that operate at the border, following instances where the drivers harassed tourists in recent weeks. On the podcast last week, Morlan and I spoke with the operators of a tour company in Tijuana who had been caught in the thick of the messy situation.

 A local teacher refused to answer questions from a border patrol agent, as her family captured it on video. (San Diego Union Tribune)

Snopes SOS

Brooke Binkowski, writes our Border Report, lives here and is also the managing editor of Snopes, the popular fact checking website.

Snopes is asking readers for $500,000 in donations after a local company, Proper Media, filed a suit against the site’s creators over ownership of the site. The legal dispute is playing out in San Diego.

Reality Changers CEO Responds to Board Resignations

Last week, the U-T broke the news that several members had resigned in frustration from the board of directors of Reality Changers, which provides college preparation, mentoring and scholarships for students in poorer communities.

The resignations happened after the founder and president, Christopher Yanov, unilaterally appointed several board members to address what he said were long-standing concerns about the diversity of the board. Board members who left said Yanov asked the new board members to make major decisions immediately and one said he refused to find ways to prove his programs were working.

Monday, Yanov responded to that and the concern about the new board members in an email to supporters.

“My only regret is that I spent many years trying to convince the board about the importance of having balanced representation, but my prior efforts were unsuccessful,” Yanov wrote.

San Diego Can’t Monitor Its Efforts to Increase Cycling

The city of San Diego committed itself a year and a half ago to tripling the number of people who get to work by bike by 2020 in certain parts of the city.

Right now, they don’t have any good way to gauge whether their efforts are working, because the cameras they bought to collect data don’t seem to work, as KPBS reporter Andrew Bowen reported Monday.

“City engineers have been watching the footage recorded by the cameras, counting bicycles and cross-checking their numbers with the automated counts gathered by the camera’s software,” Bowen wrote. “The numbers do not match up.”

San Diego Makes Most San Diego Request Ever

SoccerCity, the proposal to redevelop Qualcomm Stadium into an entertainment district built around a soccer stadium that could house a new Major League Soccer team, won’t appear on a ballot until 2018.

That’s a problem for the plan’s backers, who were hoping to get approval before MLS makes its next expansion decision at the end of the year.

The developers launched Monday a pitch to the MLS that San Diego is worth waiting for, creating the hashtag #WaitforSD to help make their case, as City News Service reported.

Former VOSD reporter Liam Dillon and current VOSD CEO had a good laugh on Twitter about how quintessentially San Diego it is that it came to this. With the years and years we’ve spent having the same basic conversations over a convention center, a football stadium, homelessness and our woeful infrastructure, we always seem to be asking someone to wait around while we fail to figure things out on our own.

Two More Enter Race for County Supervisor

The race to replace Ron Roberts on the County Board of Supervisors in the district that covers most of the city of San Diego is getting crowded.

Marcia Nordstrom joined the field as a Republican and Malbrough joined the fray as a Democrat. Nordstrom works in real estate and used to be on the planning group for Pacific Beach, as the U-T. Malbrough is a retired firefighter with the city who, as mentioned in Morlan’s story, is active in community planning in southeastern San Diego.

They join former Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, who was elected there as a Republican but is now a Democrat, and attorney Omar Passons, a Democrat. Passons joined us on the podcast to talk about his candidacy a few weeks ago. Former Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña, who was elected there as a Democrat but is now an independent, has also said she will run for the seat.

In Other News

Parents of Scripps Ranch High School are seeking hundreds of thousands in damages from the San Diego Unified School District after hundreds of Advanced Placement exams were invalidated earlier this year. (U-T)

 It’s been 20 years since San Diego resident Andrew Cunanan’s killing spree that culminated in the murder of Gianni Versace in Miami Beach. (U-T)

 Congresswoman Susan Davis wrote an op-ed responding to the lawsuit over her displaying a rainbow flag outside her office. (Cosmopolitan)

 Missed Comic-Con? Here’s former CityBeat report Dave Maass with his annual look at the 25 best things he saw when San Diego became the epicenter for pop culture this weekend (Rolling Stone)

I'm Andrew Keatts, a managing editor for projects and investigations at Voice of San Diego. Please contact me if you'd like at

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