Like most San Diegans, I’ve largely blocked out the long, excruciating charade that was the Chargers’ attempt to build a new stadium in San Diego.
One thing I do remember, though, is that it was a discussion dominated almost entirely by men. Let’s go to the tape:
Now, the Chargers are gone, but we’re again faced with a decision about the Mission Valley stadium site.
And as Scott Lewis laid out in his epic behind-the-scenes look this week at how SoccerCity and SDSU partnered on a deal that eventually fell apart, decisions about a significant city asset and the future of a central San Diego neighborhood are being made almost entirely by wealthy white men. (The cherry on this sundae is that the lone woman who was often involved in these talks, Megan Collins, a top aide to then-SDSU president Elliott Hirshman, was of course jokingly referred to by some of the men involved as an obstinate harpy they called “chief of no.”)
It’s not that there are no women involved in the plans for SoccerCity or SDSU West. The mayor eventually looped Kris Michell in to the negotiations. At Politifest, land use expert Marcela Escobar-Eck will make the case for SoccerCity. There are several woman on the Friends of SDSU steering committee, the group backing SDSU West.
But it seems clear that the plans have been largely shaped by a core group of powerful men.
There’s another diversity worry, too.
Given that this is a debate about the future of a significant piece of land, there’s a notable absence of the very people who have a stake in such a discussion: the young people and families who want to make a home here.
To the extent that young people have been looped into this conversation at all, it’s in references to future students of SDSU – a nameless, faceless blob.
There are young people living and working here now who wouldn’t be best served by a campus extension in Mission Valley or a development centered on a soccer stadium. And they too deserve to have a say in how major city assets are used.
What VOSD Learned This Week
We ran many stellar stories, but I first want to shout out our awesome newsletters, which all happened to contain some fascinating reporting and insights this week.
In the Environment Report, Ry Rivard highlighted how some major discussions about the future of our power systems are happening behind closed doors. In the Culture Report, Kinsee Morlan pulled out some new examples of the exodus of artists from East Village. In the Learning Curve, Will Huntsberry talked to Tracy Thompson, who runs education programs for incarcerated youth, about the messages and methods that resonate with the kids he works with. In the Sacramento Report, I summed up how Caltrans plans to improve San Diego’s rail connections.
FRED, the service that ferries people throughout downtown in electric golf carts, is free for riders but is quite expensive to operate. It costs far more per rider than services like buses or the trolley.
The Plaza de Panama plan to revamp Balboa Park gets a lot of attention, but there’s a separate proposal to turn a different parking lot into a public plaza within the park.
There’s been a flood, if you will, of bad news about the city’s troubled water department lately. The latest: The city auditor discovered the department was using a strange and flawed process that might have enabled leaders to hire friends and family members. Instead of reforming the process, the department stopped hiring people altogether.
Juvenile detention centers have grown so empty in San Diego and throughout California over the last several years that officials are trying to figure out what to do with all the free space.
I rounded up some of Maya Srikrishnan’s reporting on how the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy has wreaked havoc on San Diego’s federal courts.
What I’m Reading
- “The reading wars are over, and science lost”: This is a fascinating examination of why public schools overwhelmingly teach kids to read using methods that aren’t backed by science. (TLDR version: Phonics are good!) (Center for American Progress)
- Per usual, Rebecca Traister’s take on the Serena Williams debacle was a very cathartic read. (The Cut)
- If you have to cry in public, Starbucks is the best place to do it. (Eater)
- Shot: The original “Murphy Brown” is eerily relevant today. Chaser: This scathing, epic takedown of Les Moonves is something I think will resonate with all women – that feeling of knowing someone is treating you unfairly, even if you don’t have anything tangible to point to. (The Ringer, Hollywood Reporter)
- “Heads, you’re dead; tails, you’re also dead”: the infuriating way the NRA characterizes the deaths of black men killed by police. (The Atlantic)
- Thank you, kind internet gods, for this Caity Weaver profile of Maya Rudolph. (New York Times Magazine)
Line of the Week
“From the state with 84 percent of the U.S. fresh water but none for its residents to drink, I am Miss Michigan Emily Sioma.” – She didn’t become Miss America, but with that fiery intro, Miss Michigan won my heart.