Illustration by Adriana Heldiz

A couple years ago, then-Assemblyman Todd Gloria wrote an op-ed for us. In it, he coined the term “San Diego Special.” We immediately became obsessed.

Its definition is rough but essentially aims to label a persistent problem in local government that should be solvable but has stuck around due to lack of vision or leadership. Think vacation rentals, the Convention Center expansion or scooters.

Now, as mayor, Gloria joins podcast hosts Scott Lewis, Andrew Keatts and Sara Libby to discuss these very regionally-specific obstacles. He came prepped with a list of his top-five San Diego Specials. On the show, we compare. And together we try to assess why these problems have persisted, what should be done about them and how any San Diego Special ever gets solved.

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Nate John is the digital manager at Voice of San Diego. He oversees Voice's website, newsletters, podcasts and product team. You can reach him at

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