Journalism won’t die if you donate. Support Voice of San Diego today!

Mission Beach / Image via Shutterstock

Back in 2015, when San Diego was tapped as the host for the first-ever World Beach Games, most people across the country probably thought “A beach event and San Diego? Makes a lot of sense.

But here in San Diego, it was what came after that made sense to me.

On Election Day 2018, when we surveyed voters across the city about what was driving them to the polls, voters in Mission Beach told us then-Councilwoman Lorie Zapf lost their support because she supported bringing the games to San Diego. “After Labor Day, the beach belongs to the residents,” one told us.

Beach residents adamant that about keeping people out of their community? Makes a lot of sense.

Then this week came the abrupt news that San Diego was out as the host, and that the games will be moved to another city – one that has “the financial guarantees necessary and a proven track record to host a world-class event,” the Association of National Olympic Committees told Reuters. Ouch. But then again …

San Diego couldn’t get a major project done? Makes a lot of sense.

Whether it’s celebrating the anniversary of the event that launched Balboa Park, or even just reimagining how people experience the park, or crafting rules to regulate vacation rentals (because, as we’ve established, beach residents need to be aggressively protected from other humans), or keeping the Chargers, San Diego consistently proves itself incapable of getting big things done.

Even local politicians sometimes can’t mask their frustration at this phenomenon. When Rep. Scott Peters argued that San Diego should vote to construct a downtown stadium for the Chargers, baked into his argument was the idea that the city needed to finally, for once, get something across the finish line: “If we fail to make the most of today’s opportunity, it will be a colossal failure of imagination and civic and political leadership,” he wrote.

After vacation rental rules imploded at the City Council for seemingly the millionth time, Councilman Chris Cate openly wondered whether San Diego government was capable of doing anything.

Now, the beach games were not a city government endeavor. But they do represent an embarrassing entry in whatever is the opposite of a resume – an accounting of our inability to accomplish tasks that for other cities would be relatively routine.

Now we’ll never know the joy of experiencing beach wrestling and beach karate.

What VOSD Learned This Week

As difficult as Central American migrants seeking asylum in the United States have it, there’s at least some infrastructure to support them: shelters, advocates who speak the language, churches where they can worship. There’s virtually none of that set up to accommodate the growing number of African migrants arriving in Tijuana.


Last week, Will Huntsberry revealed that the state flagged major concerns with the way the San Diego Unified School District educates and reclassifies English-learners. This week, he obtained a document showing the district pushed principals to reclassify at least 75 percent of qualifying students as fluent in English. The district says it was a goal, not a quota.


Sen. Toni Atkins’ staff tried to edit the part of her Wikipedia page that detailed her role in the demise of SB 50, a violation of the site’s conflict of interest policy. Meanwhile, a YIMBY movement is forming in … North County?


Boosters of Measure A, a tax increase passed in Chula Vista last year, promised the money would go to bolstering police and fire staffing. But hiring has been basically stagnant – though money isn’t really the problem.


Lol, San Diego: There are still no regulations in place guiding short-term vacation rentals. Lisa Halverstadt spelled out the three paths to getting some, and the unique hurdles each faces.


On the podcast, we discussed what exactly AB 392, the bill to rewrite the standards on police use of deadly force, would change. The Washington Post’s Wesley Lowerey, who covers law enforcement from a national perspective, stopped by for a special podcast episode in which we put some of these issues in a national context.

What I’m Reading

Line of the Week

“But older Americans have already enjoyed an affordable college education, a choice of affordable neighborhoods, skies full of monarch butterflies, and oceans with fish living in them. So when it comes to addressing the fact that reality has changed—that housing near good jobs is no longer affordable, that going to college now entails decades of debt, that Miami will be underwater in 30 years—their resistance to address the changing reality reads as a collective shrug of self-interest. I got mine.” – California’s housing crisis is a crime against the young, by the old.

Sara Libby

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

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.