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San Diego International Airport / Photo by Dustin Michelson

At the current rate of growth, the San Diego International Airport could reach its upper capacity for airplanes in 2035. But the issue of what to do about our constrained airport, which only has one runway, goes way back. In 2006, everyone was talking about moving the airport to Miramar. That tall order seemed realistic when compared to the prior idea of building a floating airport in the ocean.

Officials warned of a coming crisis where too many flyers crowded an airport trying to manage too many planes. Then the 2008 financial crisis hit. Then planes got bigger. The dire predictions never came true.

Now, with all the most ambitious ideas defeated, experts are turning their attention to the idea of relying on Tijuana and reinforcing the McClellan-Palomar airport in Carlsbad so it can handle some larger commercial planes. “Making better use of Tijuana and Palomar would squeeze more capacity out of the region while dropping prices,” Maya Kroth writes.

Sanctuary: San Diego Explained

The California Values Act is a state law that limited how local law enforcement agencies can interact with federal immigration enforcement personnel.

It includes limitations on using Border Patrol for translation services, or giving space in their facilities to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. That approach is the opposite of what President Trump is looking for, and threats of lawsuits are beginning to fly. Maya Srikrishnan and NBC 7’s Monica Dean take a wide view at California’s new law and what it means in our most recent San Diego Explained.

Money Goes From Toilet To Tap

A lawsuit filed against the City of San Diego claims the city improperly decided to use municipal sewer funds to pay for a new smart water meter program. “Approximately $33 million dollars used to pay for the more than $67-million dollar meter project came from sewer ratepayers or the Municipal Sewer Fund,” NBC 7’s Tom Jones reports. The lawsuit seeks reimbursement for ratepayers, citing California’s Proposition 218, which requires the public have input on any public spending other than what the money was originally designated for.

Six-Figure Pensions On The Rise

San Diego’s pension obligations to its retirees continue to grow, with an increasing number of pensioners now pulling down six-figure annual payments from the systems. The Union-Tribune’s Jeff McDonald reports on how 513 retirees collected payments north of $100,000 in 2017, a 60 percent climb compared to the 320 retirees who collected that amount in 2014. “San Diego County had even more big earners, with 811 pensioners above that threshold,” McDonald reports.

The obligation to the pension takes a real bite out of government coffers. For the current fiscal year, the City of San Diego poured $325 million into the pension fund, or almost nine percent of all its spending. “The city’s required contributions will climb by $30 million or more in coming years,” McDonald notes.

As our Ashly McGlone reported earlier this year, the share of pension obligations that are unfunded — the difference between money in the pension fund and the amount promised to pensioners — at both the city and the county decreased in 2017 thanks to a bull stock market, but are still short a combined $6.25 billion.

Hot Spots For Dog Citations

San Diego is often viewed as a dog-friendly city, but when it comes to police enforcement of dog rules, around 600 San Diegans from 2015 to 2017 probably weren’t feeling the love when they were ticketed for violating rules about having dogs in public parks. KPBS’s Claire Trageser reports on where the most common places to get ticketed for breaking doggy rules are. The are all public parks where people may often want to walk their dogs.

With 256 tickets, the most often cited area was in Mission Bay, where dogs are outright banned in non-designated areas between most daylight hours. Balboa Park chalked up 145 citations, with many of those violations likely being off-leash violations.

Lightning Round

San Diego officials are investigating whether 911 call centers can be merged with other emergency call centers in the region. (Union-Tribune)

New census survey numbers show that yet again, more people are leaving San Diego than are coming here. (10 News)

But while more people are leaving San Diego than moving here, San Diego’s population still increased by 20,000 people last year, driven by natural population growth (when births outpace deaths). (

People in Escondido want to know if the North County Transit District is allowing their facilities to be used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. (KPBS)

• KPBS talks with the general manager of LimeBike’s San Diego operation about the company’s new dockless bike program and some of the limitations they are encountering here.

• An inmate at a state prison in Otay Mesa was dead for days before prison staff noticed. (LA Times)

• The LA Times reports state officials are ramping up efforts to figure out how to make it easier to clean up lead paint. A recent study is sparking new concern over the risks of even low levels of exposure to lead.

Corrections: An earlier version of this story said the unfunded pension liabilities at the city and county increased in 2017. They decreased.

This story also originally said KPBS interview LimeBike’s CEO. It was LimeBike’s general manager for San Diego.

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

Seth Hall

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

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