While crime rates remain low, the San Diego Police Department has big challenges, including a staffing crisis, a departing police chief and a perception problem lingering from multiple scandals. Now, the city’s cops are taking crime-fighting in a new direction: They’re targeting liquor sales, especially in crime-friendly areas like downtown and Ocean Beach.

As our contributor Jonah Valdez reports, the police department is outright opposing a lot of liquor sales permit applications. That’s different from the department’s longtime approach of asking business for concessions like shorter hours. The rationale, he writes, is simple: “More businesses serving alcohol could mean more alcohol-related crimes such as DUIs, underage drinking, vandalism, fights and public urination.”

But there are concerns that a crackdown would be more harmful to downtown business interests than the hypothetical gain of not having as much vandalism, fights, public urination, etc.

San Diego has a colorful history of hypocrisy over hooch: A scandal over illegal liquor at a convention during Prohibition “put the mayor and police chief on the hot seat, embarrassed the American Legion and sent a bunch of men into the welcoming arms of the county jail warden,” as we told you in a 2011 VOSD story.

Council Supports Cannabis Supply Chain in City Limits

The San Diego City Council decided to allow up to 40 businesses citywide that can cultivate, distribute, manufacture or test cannabis products. The mayor’s staff had suggested only allowing testing or just two facilities per City Council district. Shelley Zimmerman, the police chief, also pushed the Council to only allow testing.

But by a 6-3 vote, the Council endorsed an ambitious plan to permit many more facilities. They must be 1,000 feet from schools, libraries and other sensitive locations. The Council did not, however, demand a buffer between marijuana facilities — a distribution facility could be next to a testing lab, for example.

Republican Councilman Mark Kersey joined the Council’s five Democrats to support the new rules.

Councilman Chris Ward made the motion and later cited the voters who supported Proposition 64 last year, which legalized marijuana in the state. “They told us they expect us to move forward to responsibly construct and implement the rules to make adult marijuana use both safe and accessible, and today the council took another important step to provide regulatory certainty for everyone involved in this industry,” he said in a written statement.

Here’s our FAQ on the state of marijuana in San Diego.

State News Roundup: SANDAG Bill Advances to Gov’s Desk

The governor will now get to make the call on a bill that would shift power toward large cities like San Diego and Chula Vista on the San Diego Association of Governments, a scandal-ridden coalition of local agencies that handles things like transportation planning. Encinitas city leaders decided to support the bill, Coast News reports, unlike several smaller cities in the county that argued it’d rob them of power.

Gov. Brown is feeling a bit iffy about state legislation that aims to keep law enforcement from enforcing immigration laws. He “has been in talks with elected county sheriffs over possible changes to the bill, SB 54, after expressing reservations about signing the legislation should it come to his desk, telling NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ that some people here illegally who have committed crimes ‘have no business being in the country,’” the L.A. Times reports. New amendments added to the bill Monday would stop federal immigration officials from having office space in local jails, something that would mark a huge shift in San Diego.

As Sly and the Family Stone wisely warned us, it’s a family affair: “About 1 in 5 employees at a California tax department works with a relative,” the Sacramento Bee reports, based on the findings of a new audit.

When a Hurricane Blew Through San Diego

While it’s not uncommon for distant hurricanes to affect our weather, extreme weather of the tropical storm variety is quite rare in Southern California because our ocean waters are so chilly. But researchers think that an actual hurricane, estimated at Category 1 strength, hit our fair city in 1858. “Roofs of houses, trees, fences etc. filled the air in all directions. The streets, alleys and roads…were swept as clean as if a thousand brooms had been laboriously employed for months,” a newspaper report said.

According to the Weather Channel, this was the only hurricane to hit the West Coast in recorded history.

In 2004, researchers estimated that damage would be around $500 million ($660 million in today’s dollars) if a similar storm hit today. Earlier this month, we looked at a yikes-worthy megaflood scenario that estimates $25 billion of damage in San Diego County alone if the state gets hit by a series of strong winter storms. It’s happened before.

Another tropical storm hit SoCal in 1939, killing dozens of people at sea and causing especially strong damage in Long Beach.

You be you, Weather Channel co-founder, climate-change-denial enthusiast and former TV weatherman John “K-Uuuuuu-S-I” Coleman. Never mind the facts.

Quick News Hits: If It’s Not One Thing, It’s Your Mother

Only residents in Minnesota, Hawaii and Utah are happier than Californians, according to a new ranking. “Compared to other states, California residents have low rates of depression and play a lot of sports, which offsets one of the lowest rates of income growth,” Times of S.D. says.

 A big chunk of University Avenue in City Heights is getting a pedestrian-friendly makeover. (U-T)

 To learn more about the art installation of a giant baby overlooking the border wall in Tecate, check this Reader story.

 A Sumatran tiger cub from a zoo in Washington D.C. is heading here to start a new life at the former Wild Animal Park after his mother rejected him. The unnamed cub will have a potential friend here waiting for him — another tiger cub that was confiscated at the border.

“Having another tiger that is about his age to interact with will be tremendously beneficial to the both of them,” says a zoo curator in a statement. “They’ll be able to play, wrestle and learn how to be tigers together, which is instrumental to his long-term social development.”

First, though, he was scheduled to fly to San Diego Monday on a nonstop flight. “Sir, would you like chicken, fish or elephant calf?”

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 (asja.org). Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com...

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