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Inspiration Point in Balboa Park / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

San Diego is preparing to issue a request for proposals to redevelop a largely under-the-radar part of Balboa Park, Inspiration Point.

The area is now a parking hub and home to the Veterans Museum.

The call for proposals is a response to the park’s long-running funding woes, reports VOSD’s Lisa Halverstadt.

City officials say they are open to a variety of cultural, recreational and performing arts concepts – everything from shops and museums to hotel or restaurant space. But park activists are already riled up, concerned that the proposal will conflict with Balboa Park’s master plan.

  • Brendan Dentino, the co-chair of the YIMBY Democrats of San Diego County policy committee, writes in a new op-ed that a post-Plaza de Panama plan for Balboa Park  should maintain that plan’s focus on a human-centered design, opening roadways for pedestrians and cyclists.

Council Looks to Prevent Another Beiser Situation

San Diego Councilman Chris Cate and Councilwoman Vivian Moreno are looking make it possible for the San Diego Unified School District to remove elected board members without going through a recall.

Their proposal comes as Kevin Beiser, a district trustee, has signaled he doesn’t intend to resign from the board, after four men accused him of sexual assault and sexual harassment more than a month ago. He returned to the board Tuesday night without acknowledging the allegations, and has still not said anything publicly about them since an initial denial. It likewise appears he is still pursuing his City Council campaign.

Right now, school board members can only be removed from office through a recall, which requires signatures from 15 percent of registered voters in the district to qualify for the ballot.

Cate and Moreno, in a memo to Council President Georgette Gomez, are asking the Council to consider placing a measure on the March 2020 ballot that would allow the board to remove members if they are convicted of a felony or serious crime, if they’re physically or mentally incapacitated or for dereliction of their official duties.

The city previously amended the charter in the same way, but only applying to Council members, the mayor or city attorney. That change was precipitated by a similar dilemma when former Mayor Bob Filner was accused of sexual misconduct and the city had no easy way to remove him from office.

Cate and Moreno’s push would also clarify that all city recall rules extend to school board members as well. County Registrar Michael Vu had previously hesitated to declare that was the case, due to a lack of specificity in the city code, before concluding it was.

Moreno Says Homeless People in Her District Aren’t Her Constituents

In an interview with KPBS, Councilwoman Vivian Moreno explained why she voted last week to advance a revised version the city’s ban on people living in cars. During the public meeting, Moreno requested that the mayor’s office limit new homeless services in her district.

“I represent District 8, and the calls and the emails that we’re getting — my response, or my comments that day and my vote that day reflect what my constituents have asked of me,” Moreno told KPBS.

Moreno said she does not view homeless individuals who stay in her district as her constituents because they do not reside there permanently, but told KPBS that she wasn’t sure whose constituents they actually were.  

If tensions over a homeless storage facility in her district are any indicator, some residents in the district agree with Moreno. Months after the facility opened, residents lined up to complain about how trash and bad behavior from homeless people had increased since the facility opened, the U-T reported in September.  

In March, Halverstadt spoke with residents of Moreno’s district about homelessness in their neighborhoods. A pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe, a Catholic church blocks from the storage center in Moreno’s district recounted attempts to steal from the church’s outdoor donation boxes.

Moreno’s district also includes some of the schools with high proportions of homeless students, like Perkins K-8, where nearly a third of the students are homeless, and schools in San Ysidro that cater to so many homeless students that they offer services like showers and assistance for parents.

Oceanside Wants Its Own Vacation Rental Rules

Oceanside is proposing short-term vacation rental rules to beef up enforcement and set limits in residential zones, the Union-Tribune reports.

Oceanside’s Mayor Peter Weiss told VOSD last week that he is concerned that a state bill written by Assemblywoman Tasha Boerner Horvath, who represents North County cities, would curtail efforts to pass regulations tailored to individual cities.

Horvath’s bill would bar vacation rental platforms like Airbnb and VRBO from listing San Diego County vacation rentals that fall into both residential and state coastal zones on their sites for more than 30 days a year unless a full-time resident is on site

“If any city wants to adopt their own regulations, they should have the ability and authority to do so,” Weiss told VOSD.

Gifted Programs Create Segregated Systems Within Schools

The Atlantic digs into a specific type of school segregation: the disparate population of black students who are in gifted programs. San Diego Unified gets a dubious shoutout, for having only 3 percent black students in the gifted and talented education program.

VOSD’s Maya Srikrishnan dug into the gifted program disparity at San Diego Unified a couple of years ago and how the district was trying to increase participation in the program for students who fell into underrepresented groups. In addition to the disproportionate participation of black students, Latinos were also underrepresented, Srikrishnan found. While they made up 44 percent of the overall student population at San Diego Unified, they made up only 33 percent of students in gifted programs.

Our Air Ain’t Great. But at Least We’re Not L.A.

San Diego ranked sixth on the American Lung Association’s annual assessment of metros with the worst ozone pollution, due to wildfires and climate change, Times of San Diego reports.

The assessment notes that San Diego experiences an average of 45 high-ozone days a year.

As Ry Rivard noted, the worst city by way of ozone pollution, Los Angeles, by contrast, had 209 unhealthy days for sensitive populations, 83 days unhealthy for everyone and 12 very unhealthy days. L.A. also has terrible problems with visible particulates, which San Diego does not.

In Other News

The Morning Report was written by Maya Srikrishnan and Jesse Marx, and edited by Sara Libby.

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