mercado del barrio barrio logan
Until recently, the Mercado del Barrio mixed-used project in Barrio Logan struggled to fill up its commercial space. Now the commercial space is almost entirely rented out, but Councilman David Alvarez said it could have been used for housing in the interim. / Photo by Kinsee Morlan

San Diego has plenty of empty storefronts and plenty of people who need an affordable place to live. Now, politicians are dreaming of how they can prevent the first problem and alleviate the second.

“Councilmembers David Alvarez and Scott Sherman are proposing temporarily relaxing a rule requiring developers to build ground-floor retail space in new projects,” our Kinsee Morlan reports in a new story. “They want to couple it with rewriting the city’s live-work rules to open up who can live in the converted commercial spaces. They’re two of a series of proposals in the duo’s plan aimed at combating the city’s housing shortage.”

Two local developers tell us they like the idea, and the city’s already experimented with getting rid of the retail space rule in downtown.

One hitch: The proposal would only change the rule for 10 years. It’s not clear if the city would force landlords to evict residents in these new potentially more affordable living spaces at that point.

All Eyes on Qualcomm Broadcom Meeting

Broadcom has lined up almost all the financing it needs to complete the takeover of Qualcomm. Bloomberg called it the biggest debt financing ever for such a merger.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Qualcomm’s only hope to avoid the purchase may be to complete a mega-purchase of its own and acquire NXP Semiconductors NV for $39 billion. But that deal is not going very fast.

CNBC reports that leaders of both Broadcom and Qualcomm are expected to sit down together Wednesday. Broadcom’s CEO cited an $8 billion fee he’s pledging to pay if somehow the deal doesn’t go through. In a CNBC interview, he said it was proof of how serious he is to close the deal. “You know, I’m kind of a frugal guy. You think I would sign up to pay $8 billion if there’s even a second thought?”

Broadcom is offering $80 per share for Qualcomm, which yesterday traded at about $67 per share.

Border Report: No Compromise?

There’s talk of a compromise that will trade a boost in border security for temporary protections for the endangered recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. But some of those who would benefit — people brought here illegally as children — are fighting the idea of a deal.

“If you’re an immigrant at the border, adding more agents along the border means more agents will be roaming around our neighborhoods,” says activist Dulce Garcia, an attorney and DACA recipient in San Diego. She spoke with our Maya Srikrishnan, who reports on the current situation in this week’s VOSD Border Report.

Also in the Border Report: A sidetracked solution to sewage pollution at the border, an N.Y. Times story raves about the Tijuana food scene but misses the facts about crime, the demise of those iconic “immigrant crossing” signs and more.

Opinion: Bring New Voices Into Community Planning

In a VOSD commentary, La Mesa Councilman Colin Parent, who’s also executive director of Circulate San Diego, a transportation and housing advocacy group, highlights a new report by his organization about “how to reinvest in neighborhoods by recommitting to community planning.”

“The community planning process in San Diego creates barriers to participation for new residents, who are often renters, or young people without the advantages of long tenure in their neighborhood,” he writes. “The process also poses challenges for those who work, care for family members or have other obligations… Our recommendations include minimum thresholds for how elections are structured and how meetings operate.”

New MTS Chair Hints at Ballot Measure

Georgette Gómez, a progressive Democrat who sits on the San Diego City Council, made waves by becoming chair of the stodgy Metropolitan Transit System, which runs buses and trolleys in a large swath of our region.

In a U-T commentary, we learn what she wants to do: She seeks improvements in areas such as “streamlining ticket operations, offering youth bus passes, and introducing an electric bus fleet. We can also improve our bike facilities, increase bikesharing at transit stops to address first/last mile access, improve our signage at transit hubs, and expand rail service to regional destinations such as the airport.”

She also wants to look into a ballot measure to raise money.

Politics Roundup: Issa Drama and Preservation Plan Riles Residents

• Politico has an odd, thinly sourced story about how U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa has been ensnared in a colleague’s messy divorce. The story’s only major revelation is that Issa’s friend, U.S. Rep. Mark Turner, from Ohio, “approached Issa (R-Calif.) in the Capitol last week and handed him a letter seeking a deposition as part of his divorce proceedings.”

Somehow this leads to a denial from Issa that he was having an affair with Turner’s wife, Majida Mourad. But the story barely established it as an allegation.

• As the U-T reports, a plan to preserve hundreds homes in several historic parts of North Park, South Park and Golden Hill is riling residents who say they were left out of the loop and are being stuck with too-strict rules.

How strict? Well, “critics say the new districts limit or prohibit ordinary renovations like adding double-paned windows and building a new front porch.”

The critics include at least three councilmembers. The mayor’s office says it’s open to changing the way things are done.

Chula Vista may try to boost its sales tax to support police and fire. (Times of S.D.)

Gary Kreep, a Superior Court judge, is known for his high-profile support of the debunked anti-Obama “birther” cause. While he’s faced multiple accusations of misconduct during his term on the bench, he’s now running for another 6-year term.

Critics say he was elected last time because too few voters were paying attention. This time around, he’s one of only two judges who are facing election challenges, the U-T reports.

Four attorneys are running against him, including current and former prosecutors.

Despite the potential weaknesses of her advanced age and lack of progressive cred, Senator Dianne Feinstein is sitting pretty — at least for the moment — as she tries for another term, Politico reports.

Legislators Want Annual Dam Inspections

“California lawmakers unanimously passed new legislation Monday to inspect most dams and reservoirs annually, one year after state officials ordered emergency evacuations for hundreds of thousands of residents living below the Oroville Dam,” the L.A. Times reports.

Currently, the paper says, “state inspectors are required to examine the condition of dams, but don’t have specified timelines.”

As we reported last year when part of Northern California’s Oroville Dam threatened to collapse, even this far-away dam is crucial to our water supply here. Dam safety is an issue locally too, especially considering the deadly history of deadly dam breaks here (two in South Bay collapsed in 1916, killing at least 19 people) and in Los Angeles. That’s where the state’s second-deadliest disaster (trailing only the San Francisco earthquake in 1906) killed as many as 600 people when a dam broke in 1928.

In 2016, the director of the state Division of Safety of Dams starkly warned the water board that operates South Bay’s Sweetwater Dam that it had made the wrong choice by not paying for repairs to a spillway: “The consequence of a failure is extreme.” The board changed its mind.

Remembering the Murder of an S.D.’s Mafia Boss

The U-T is running front pages from its past, and the one from the Union on Feb. 11, 1977, has a memorable headline: “San Diego Crime Boss Is Slain Gang Style.”

Here’s the first paragraph: “Frank Bompensiero, 71, described as one of the top three Mafia bosses on the West Coast, was shot to death last night gangland­style, a few steps from his Pacific Beach home.”

The Reader is also remembering Bompensiero (“The Bump”) and his killing. It features an interview with an unidentified woman who says My late husband played a role in Bompensiero getting whacked.”

Quick News Hits: Proposed Aztec Replacement’s for the Birds

Take that, Big Composting! The city is making it easier for communities to create small composting operations. (KPBS)

A La Mesa police officer’s rough treatment of a high school student last month, caught on video, “sparked student walkouts, a march on police headquarters, heated exchanges at town halls and three separate investigations,” the U-T reports.

XLNC1, a joint American-Mexican radio station that’s the closest thing we have to a classical music outfit, is going off the airwaves after 18 years. (AllAccess)

Local beer giant Stone Brewing announced via YouTube that it is suing MillerCoors, Co-founder Greg Koch said in the video that MillerCoors is trying to brand its Keystone beer as “Stone.”

Students have voted to keep the Aztec mascot at San Diego State, while professors want it to go: They called for the elimination of “the human representation of an Aztec and the use of spears or ‘weapons that connote barbaric representations of the Aztec culture,’” the U-T reports.

Now, alumni will weigh in.

Perhaps a non-aggressive, non-human, locally relevant mascot is in order. Maybe an animal that, like football players on the field, is able to make “crude, primitive vocalizations, such as grunt, wheeze, or hiss.”

Introducing… The San Diego State Condors! Fly, Condors, Fly.

Hmm. Back to the drawing board?

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

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

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