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Amid fresh concerns about transparency at school districts around the county, an appellate court upheld a jury decision to award $1 million to a former employee of the Fallbrook Union Elementary School District, who disobeyed orders to wipe the district’s email archive in 2012.

Ashly McGlone writes that Elaine Allyn accused the district of wrongful termination because she was fired for objecting to an order that she believed would have violated state and federal rules. Two courts ultimately agreed, though they didn’t rule on the legality of the plan to delete archived emails.

While the school district in Fallbrook has fought over its email retention policy, similar concerns amount at neighboring Vallecitos School District in Rainbow.

Vallecitos decided to stop recording its meetings in late 2013, and instead rely on hand-written minutes for the official record. That was a decision made by the Board of Trustees, which never appeared on an agenda or in any meeting minutes. (I was since told by Superintendent David Jones that the recordings for the meetings from that period don’t exist.)

Jones also told me earlier this year that he couldn’t find a policy governing email retention and management in his school district, after I received an incomplete response to a records request.

Meanwhile, a group of volunteers, who were compelled to start bringing their own cameras to school board meetings to get a verbatim record, continue to post the meetings to their website, in light of the district’s actions.

Oceanside Gets Cultural District Designation

Facing competition from hotspots in Los Angeles and the Bay Area, Oceanside – yes, Oceanside – was chosen as one of the state’s 14 cultural districts.

The designation comes with some funding, $20,000 over two years, to try to test ideas to boost tourism in the new cultural districts. (Also chosen in the county were Balboa Park and Barrio Logan.)

Oceanside is home to one of the California Welcome Centers, but also has two historic theaters, surf and art museums, an “artists alley” and a gallery that regularly puts on events that attract a younger, diverse crowd.

It’s also the center of gravity for the North County Arts Network, which has brought people together to boost North County as an alternative arts scene to San Diego.

Opinion: AB 805 Would Empower Local Transit

In a Voice of San Diego op-ed, Carlsbad City Councilwoman Cori Schumacher argues that much of the local opposition to a state bill that would reform the San Diego Association of Governments board comes from an addiction to cars and the sales tax they generate.

AB 805 would, among other things, give more power to San Diego and Chula Vista, the largest cities in the county by tying the proportion of the weighted vote to a city’s population. Smaller cities, unsurprisingly, have largely objected to that.

Schumacher says the bill would also empower agencies, like the North County Transit District, to levy their own taxes and obtain bonds to fund their own projects.

“North County has struggled with insufficient public transit for years, a reality I have experienced personally and frequently as a public transit user. This is not because of a lack of demand, but lack of political will,” Schumacher writes. “The problem exists with the elected officials on the North County Transit District board who are not themselves invested in improving public transit. This has ultimately led to an extended period of limited funding from SANDAG.”

Coast Highway Planning Has Been No Easy Street

Years of planning for Oceanside’s stretch of Coast Highway are nearing the end.

Environmental documents for a road diet and land use changes were released last month, which would put thousands of new homes within walking distance to transit, downtown and the beaches.

There’s a couple forces at work: one is the need to bring life to vacant or poorly used areas along the corridor. Another is the state’s – and the city’s – commitment to reducing greenhouse gasses and fighting climate change.

Part of that means making it safe and convenient for people to get around without cars.

Predictably, not everyone is on board with that idea, or the plan to put dense housing on Coast Highway.

The arguments range from “everything is fine,” to traffic and community character concerns. (Oceanside has a small-town feel, and doesn’t need thousands of homes, one argument goes. But it’s not actually a small town, so it needs a four-lane highway going through downtown.)

A pilot study that resulted in narrowing one section of road and adding bike lanes last year has only fueled resentment to change. Many people say they rarely see bikes in the half-completed half-mile section – they only see traffic. That area is dominated by car washes, tire shops, dealers and RV parks, and is capped on both ends by narrow roads and fast traffic.

Since then, a group of South O residents has banded together to gather signatures in opposition, though at least one Council member remains steadfast on two lanes, while another apparently doesn’t care about the traffic pattern.

A third councilman quipped to me that I should consider jaywalking to cross Coast Highway, where it’s nearly half a mile between crosswalks in my neighborhood.

Also in the News

• Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood should be back on the dais next month, over two months after a fifth stroke necessitated some time off. (KPBS)

• Vista has shut down 15 unlicensed medical marijuana dispensaries this year. (Union-Tribune)

• Thousands of street racers and stunt drivers descended on mall parking lots in Carlsbad and Escondido Tuesday night (Union-Tribune)

• Escondido’s old police headquarters is being torn down to make way for apartment buildings. (Union-Tribune)

• Carlsbad officials are owning up to mistakenly kicking kids out of a park. The city was wrongly informed by neighbors that the kids were part of an organized sports league. (The Coast News)

Ruarri Serpa

Ruarri Serpa is a freelance writer in Oceanside. Email him at ruarris@gmail.com and find him on Twitter at @RuarriS.

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