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The Grantville trolley station / Photo by Sam Hodgson

By far the most jarring transition when I moved to San Diego from Washington D.C. was going from a city with plentiful public transit options to one with, functionally, none.

I live in the city’s urban core and work downtown – yet the nearest bus stop to my home is more than a mile away, and the closest trolley stop is … I don’t know, actually. It’s too far to bother tracking.

Everyone seems to agree that San Diego’s transit options are lacking.

The disagreement is fierce, however, when it comes to what that means.

Some Republican officials have effectively decided that because public transportation in San Diego is bad, it should stay bad forever.

That was made clear in a press conference this week in which supporters of the effort to repeal the gas tax seethed over the idea that the government spent money to improve public transit and instituted policies meant to encourage people to use it, or to walk or bike rather than driving.

KPBS’s Andrew Bowen captured one particularly telling argument against using gas tax funds on public transportation.

In what was almost a parody of a privileged person turning her nose up at transit, congressional candidate Diane Harkey actually said the idea of being forced to take transit or ride a bike made her feel unclean and would impact her ability to wear high heels (emphasis mine): “It’s forcing you to take bikes, get on trains, hose off at the depot and try to get to work. That does not work. That does not work with my hair and heels. I cannot do that and I will not do that.”

Last week, Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey argued in a VOSD op-ed that local officials should shift their priorities to focus on roads and highways over transit: “In short, taxpayers are paying more for a service that fewer people are choosing while their own commute times are increasing. The disproportionate funding of public transit is highway robbery.”

It’s a bizarrely defeatist argument.

Virtually every politician running for any office imaginable offers a pitch along the lines of: “I will make things better.” Instead, these politicians seem to be saying, “Because transit is bad, we shouldn’t even bother trying try to make it better.”

It’s not the kind of argument that would send me running to the polls.

After all, once I ran there, I’d be forced to hose off at the depot.

What VOSD Learned This Week

California really, truly out-California’d itself this week. First, there was this story about how environmentalists rallied to kill a proposed public art piece because it depicted Public Enemy No. 1: plastic straws. Then, Ry Rivard described a scandal in the Yacht Club world involving – I kid you not – shellfish poaching, a boat called the EZ Rider and a man named Jesse James. Finally, supporters of the gas tax repeal described their disdain for non-car methods of transit. We talked about the Very California week on the podcast, including the Chargers’ continued struggles in L.A. and how they spurred, naturally, whispers of a return to San Diego.

♦♦♦

A new caravan of Central American migrants has made news this week as it moves north from Guatemala into Mexico. But what happened to the members of the caravan that arrived in April, and similarly dominated the headlines? Maya Srikrishnan tracked the outcomes for several members of the group, and found some who stayed in Tijuana, some who are languishing in detention and some who are trying to build lives in the United States as they await their asylum hearings. One member of the caravan, inspired by a migrant chant, created a song that has become an anthem for their movement.

Meanwhile, the California State Bar is cracking down on fake lawyers who prey on immigrants desperate to avoid deportation.

♦♦♦

“You listen to me,” County Supervisor Ron Roberts bellowed at a man who dared to suggest that county supervisors could do more to help the homeless. Roberts’ tantrum – complete with aggressive finger-wagging – helps explain why both candidates in the race to replace him have said the county … should be doing more to help the homeless.

Even for politicians who are more accepting of that premise than Roberts, one factor impeding progress on housing issues is that the data detailing the scope of the crisis is so bad.

What I’m Reading

Line of the Week

“She and Mod Sun, 31, spend nearly all of their time together. He’s adventurous, which she likes: Recently, they both got tooth jewelry — crystals semi-permanently attached to their teeth. At first, she got a ‘disco ball’ tooth but had to scale it down to three crystals because they started to fall out in her food when she was eating at Chili’s.” — This profile of actress/social media star Bella Thorne made me feel incredibly, impossibly old. Also hungry for Chili’s.

Sara Libby

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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