In 2014, San Diego voters threw out Barrio Logan’s newly-approved community plan. The shipbuilding industry had sponsored the referendum over a dispute about a new buffer zone the community plan created between heavy industry and residential zones.

Since then, zoning for the neighborhood has been the same anything-goes plan as it has been since 1978. The mayor and other supporters of the referendum promised they would go back to Barrio Logan and get it right.

Now planners think maybe they could just settle the dispute about the buffer zone. After all, the rest of the plan was not very controversial.

Andrew Keatts reports that effort began at a meeting on Wednesday. “It did not go well,” Keatts reports.

How Human Smuggling Works at The Border

Victor Clark-Alfaro knows a few things about smuggling immigrants from Mexico into the United States As director for Tijuana’s Binational Center for Human Rights, Clark-Alfaro has spent decades working with human smugglers in the field to understand migration patterns from Mexico. After so many years of learning, Clark-Alfaro says he could probably smuggle people across the border himself.

In an interview with Clark-Alfaro, Mario Koran digs into what the current state of human smuggling across the border looks like, how it works, and why its happening.

Smuggling mostly starts with the person who needs help getting a recommendation from someone they trust for a successful smuggler. Some smugglers go by foot through the desert, others in cars through border crossings, and still others via boat. “It’s all about how much money you have,” Clark-Alfaro says. “It’s like a catalog and you choose what you want.” Costs run between $6,000 and $14,000.

While the U.S. continues to wrestle with how best to control human smuggling from Mexico, Clark-Alfaro says no such effort exists on the Mexican government’s side. “There are networks of corruption,” he says. “Smugglers, like anyone else committing a crime, understand they need to bribe authorities in order to stay in business.”

The Learning Curve: A District That Partners with Charters

Usually the relationship between a school district and the charter schools it oversees is competitive, if not adversarial. But the Chula Vista Elementary School District is bucking that trend by operating in a cooperative way with its charters, in what their superintendent calls a partnership. The superindendent “views the charters as a sort of research and development laboratory for the district, since charters can try new things on a small scale,” Maya Srikrishnan writes.

A closer relationship between a charter and the school district has some benefits. Instead of feeling left out of opportunities, one charter’s director said he feels like he is included in professional opportunities with the district and feels the relationship is more open, and that he is able to sit down with the district to discuss finances.

Disappearing Art: San Diego Explained

After a catastrophic fire in Oakland last year claimed the lives of 36 people who were in an art studio, cities all over the country started looking around for similar spaces that were operating in substandard conditions. Art spaces like San Diego’s Glashaus are known for providing inexpensive places for artists to work or hold events, but the venues all to often aren’t operating safely. Kinsee Morlan and NBC 7’s Monica Dean look into two popular art spaces in San Diego and what city officials are doing to ward off disaster in our most recent San Diego Explained.

Opinion: Community Choice Aggregation Poses Too Many Unknowns

San Diego released a report in July studying the feasibility of taking away from SDG&E the authority to buy electric power for consumers in San Diego and giving authority instead to a newly-created government agency. Lynn Reaser, chief economist at the Fermanian Business & Economic Institute at Point Loma Nazarene University, writes that her institute was hired by Sempra to perform an analysis of the study and found some big concerns.

Her institute “found flaws in all of the study’s conclusions regarding the feasibility of community choice aggregation for San Diego and a notable lack of supporting data,” Reaser writes. “In calculating the financial outcomes of 11 possible outcomes, only two cases show a positive financial outcome.”

• The San Diego County Taxpayers Association is seeking further data about the assumptions and modeling strategies that were used in the city’s July report. KPBS points out most of that data was already released with the report.

Moratorium Sought on RV Ordinance

A group of disabled homeless people called Disability Rights California is threatening to sue San Diego if the city won’t put a moratorium on its 2014 ordinance that bans RVs on city streets or public parking lots after 2 a.m. The Union-Tribune’s David Garrick reports the group contends that RV prohibition, as well as the city’s prohibition against sleeping in vehicles in general, violate the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

“City Attorney Mara Elliott discussed the potential litigation with the City Council this week during a session closed to the public,” Garrick reports.

Tiny Chance for Tiny Homes

One big idea to address the home affordability crisis in San Diego is to build lots of tiny homes in places where they are close together so that residents can afford to build the house as well as the land to put it on. A tiny home is anywhere from 100 to 400 square feet and costs around $50,000. But KPBS’s Alison St. John reports the idea of tiny homes has a long way yet to go, since there’s no legal framework that allows for them. “There is no definition in San Diego County code or California code for what tiny houses are,” Bowen writes.

Meanwhile, the idea of a tiny home community is appealing to many people who may be taken in by entrepreneurs promising a result they can’t deliver, as recently happened in Escondido.

Lightning Round

• Diabetes patients in California and in San Diego particular are having their lower extremities amputated at an alarmingly increasing rate. (inewsource)

• Major construction on the 5 and 805 freeways south of Route 905 will block access to the San Ysidro Port of Entry. Closures start at 3 a.m. on Saturday. (Times of San Diego)

• A report presented to a City Council committee on Thursday says San Diego needs to build 20,000 housing units a year for the next 10 years, and about half of the units should go in the communities of Mira Mesa, Mission Valley, City Heights, North Park and Uptown. (Union-Tribune)

• One audience at a recent La Jolla town council meeting was unimpressed by the vacation rental proposal put forward by Councilmember Barbara Bry. She proposed allowing homeowners to rent our their places to visitors for up to 90 days per year. The group wants to enforce an outright ban on vacation rentals instead. (La Jolla Light) The City Council, though, seems poised to do the opposite and allow whole home vacation rentals all year with new special permits. Four council members have signed on to that proposal. They only need one more vote.

• Peter Navarro was once a regular contender in San Diego political elections. These days, his advice to President Trump on the topic of trade policy is so important, Trump asks “Where’s my Peter?” when Navarro is absent. (Politico)

• A homeless man who was severely beaten with a skateboard in North Park has died of his injuries. The attacker is still at-large. (Union-Tribune)

• China may have suspended sponsorship for students to attend UC San Diego because of the Dalai Lama’s regular visits to the college. (Patch)

• One expert on public places and public parks visited San Diego’s Downtown neighborhoods and was so unimpressed he said the best thing about San Diego is that we haven’t done much of anything. (Union-Tribune)

Correction: We had the wrong reporter from KPBS on the tiny homes story.

Seth Hall is a local writer and technologist. You can email him at or follow him on Twitter: @loteck.

Seth Hall is co-founder of the community group San Diego Privacy, which is a member of the TRUST SD Coalition.

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