Shopping carts and other belongings sit along the curb of an East Village street. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Those new dockless bikes are sitting on sidewalks all over the place, thrilling riders with their convenience and annoying pedestrians when they’re left in the wrong place. Now, a new issue is percolating: Are the cops letting wayward bikes off the hook while targeting the property of homeless people?

“San Diego police do not cite the companies that own the bikes for encroachment violations,” reports our Lisa Halverstadt in a new VOSD story. “City officials say they’re doing their best to respond to a sudden bicycle boom, but homeless advocates think it’s unfair.”

As one advocate puts it, “you have a statute that says you can’t leave anything there on any public property and the only people who get the tickets are homeless people.” Another says “if (the city) were consistent, they would be confiscating all these bikes and throwing them away, and fining the company.”

That’s not happening, obviously, although the city is reaching out to the dockable bike companies and asking them to shape up when it comes to wayward bikes. A police captain adds: “These bikes have surfaced in the last few days downtown. This is just evolving.”

Politics Report: Democratic Hopes to Oust Hunter

Republicans got smacked big time by that congressional race in Pennsylvania last week in a district where the president won by 20 points. Looking locally, our most GOP-heavy congressional district featured a Trump victory by 15 points. So is the 50th district, now held by embattled Rep. Duncan D. Hunter, territory for a Democratic pickup?

It’s a bit iffy. One possibility is that two Republicans will make it to the fall run-off. The Cook Political Report ranks the district as competitive, but still “likely Republican.”

This week’s VOSD Politics Report talks to the two strongest Democratic candidates for Hunter’s seat. They both provide some eye-opening comments.

In a quote that’s sure to attract notice from gun owners and maybe show up in campaign ads, Ammar Campa-Najjar, who worked for the Obama Administration, recommends that military storage policies become standard for firearms: “A mental health check, background check and then you store arms in an armory when you’re not using them.”

Meanwhile, Josh Butner, a Jamul-Dulzura school board member and former Navy SEAL, points to his military service and offers this shocker that may actually play well in the 50th district: “It should be a requirement to have served to even run.”

Also in the Politics Report: A quick interview with Antonio Martinez, a San Ysidro School District board member, who’s running for City Council. Plus: News about a Democrat running to replace County Supervisor Bill Horn in a Republican-friendly district and Democratic hopes for flipping a North County assembly seat.

Stung SDPD Promises Probe Into Citation Plan

Newly minted San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit is facing his first crisis — the uproar over “a program intended to reward officers for drug-related arrests and citations in communities near the border with Mexico,” as the U-T describes it.

He’s launching an investigation, the paper says, but he still defended the supervisor who proposed it, saying the person had “the intent of motivating our officers and focusing their efforts on drug enforcement within our community … in direct response to numerous community complaints regarding this drug activity.”

The program came to light via a 10News report last week based on details from an anonymous police officer. Critics say the program is unjust, and they want an independent investigation by the attorney general’s office.

An initial police statement given to 10News said “all ideas brought forward are vetted through our approval system and we are confident everything was done correctly in this instance.” That statement seems to, as they say, no longer be operative.

 “Nearly five years after the first of a series of police raids on San Diego strip clubs, a federal judge Friday ruled that a Municipal Code section allowing such ‘inspections’ is illegal,” Times of S.D. reports. Aggressive raids in 2013 and 2014 “threw a national spotlight on San Diego police tactics — raising questions about constitutional rights and whether the dancers were held against their will.”

A trial is expected later to determine how much taxpayers will pay dancers at the clubs.

• SDPD cops caught on video fooling around at the border wall prototypes could be in hot water. (KABC)

More Politics News: Saldaña and Kasparian Are Cozy

Earlier this year, County Supervisor candidate Lori Saldaña declared she had “no plans” to accept any contributions or endorsements from the San Diego Working Families Council while its president is influential labor boss Mickey Kasparian, who’s been facing sexual harassment charges. Now, she’s accepting its endorsement, the U-T reports, and her campaign made sure the media knew about it with a quote from her saying she’s “honored.”

What changed? Nothing really, she told the paper: “I said, literally in a tweet, that I had no plans…I had no plans to ask for it because they had no plans to offer,” she said. As U-T columnist Michael Smolens notes, “There are parallels here to Saldaña’s actions related to the sexual harassment scandal that forced Bob Filner from the mayor’s office in 2013.”

Opinion: Give East of Downtown a Break on Homeless

In a VOSD opinion piece, Logan Heights resident Brittany Kaszas says the neighborhoods east of downtown have taken on enough of the burden of the homeless and shouldn’t be the site for a new 22,000-square-foot storage facility will serve 1,000 homeless people.

“While the facility’s proximity to the school is by far the most compelling reason for contesting the plan,” she writes, “it’s also important to note the city has made promises to the areas east of downtown to decentralize homeless services for decades, but it has done little to keep those promises…The location next to a school, in a residential neighborhood, and in an area that has been promised protection from the city and the federal government is unacceptable.”

Watchdog Roundup: Big Raffle Prize Is Rarely Awarded

The company hired to power-wash city sidewalks during the hepatitis A outbreak repeatedly overbilled the county. (U-T)

• Ronald McDonald House Charities of San Diego makes a bundle each year from its high-profile raffle of a dream house in La Jolla, even though it hasn’t actually awarded a dream house since 2005, the U-T reports.

“Charity watchdogs have criticized the contest because it appeared the nonprofit had incentive not to sell enough tickets,” the paper says. “Last year, it was roughly 25,000 tickets short of giving away the main advertised prize and 11,000 short in 2016.”

Quick News Hits: A Restroom to Remember

There’s been a hung jury and mistrial in the high-profile murder trial of Tieray Jones, the father accused of killing his 2-year-old stepson, Jahi Turner, 16 years ago. The disappearance of the boy prompted a huge search, and authorities spent days poring through tons of trash at the Miramar landfill in search of his body. (NBC 7)

The U-T explores the fallout from the breakdown of Broadcom’s bid to buy Qualcomm.

The U.S. Supreme Court will consider a California case this week that pits anti-abortion pregnancy centers against the state, which requires them to prominently post a notice that says this: “California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services (including all FDA-approved methods of contraception), prenatal care, and abortion for eligible women. To determine whether you qualify, contact the county social services office at [phone number].”

At issue, as The Washington Post explains, is this: Is the law a violation of free-speech rights?


Yesterday’s Politics Report misstated the profession of Michelle Gomez, a Democrat running for the Fifth District County Supervisor seat. She is a paralegal, not an attorney. Jacqueline Arisvaud, a board member on the San Dieguito planning group, is another Democrat in the race.

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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