Summer Chronicles #5: A Field Guide for Getting Lost in San Diego

salvation mountain

By Jim Miller

Back in 2011, over at the OB Rag, I did a column where I had some fun applying the idea of psychogeography to our fair city and played with the notion of the dérive observing that, “The purpose of dérive is to detourn the calculated space of the city, to turn it around and reclaim its lost meanings. The Situationists wanted to see how certain neighborhoods, streets, buildings, or other spaces ‘resonated’ with states of mind or desires. They wanted, as Sadie Plant reminds us, to ‘seek out reasons for movement other than those for which an environment was designed.’”

I then offered “A few general principles to remember…”   [Read more…]

Vacation Rentals in San Diego

Airbnb-billboard

By Frank Gormlie / OB Rag

Besides the Chargers stadium, there is no other hotter issue these days in San Diego than that of the issue of vacation rentals.  And this is particularly true in the beach and coastal communities of San Diego, like OB, Pacific Beach, Mission Bay.

It is an issue that hits close to home and is a personal one for many San Diegans. A good friend of mine just got married up in the Bay Area. He and his wedding party of 5 found a nice, roomy house in Berkeley with such a nice backyard that they held their ceremony there. They had found the place on Airbnb after another real bed and breakfast had cancelled on them at the last moment.   [Read more…]

Protecting Mauna Kea: Notes From the Summit

Ahinahina - Hawai'ian Silversword (Argyroxiphium sandwicense subsp. macrocephalum)

I went to the Thirty Meter Telescope construction site near the summit of Mauna Kea for the first time, today. Four-wheel drive is recommended for the road that twists steeply with hairpin turns up the Mountain, so ten of us piled into a Kanaka uncle’s (older native Hawaiian man’s) pick-up truck to go see the summit. Leaving from the visitor center parking lot at 9,200 feet the road ascends over 5,000 feet to an elevation close to 14,000. While my ears popped, my sense of wonder grew. Conversations around the truck bed stopped as the Mountain’s power over our senses intensified.   [Read more…]

Protecting Mauna Kea: They Hate Hawai’i

Photo by The U.S. National Archives

Trigger warning: This piece contains graphic descriptions of sexual and colonial violence.

Hatred is one of the most misunderstood processes at work in the world today. Cops are killing young people of color while simultaneously maintaining they’re not racists and do not hate the people they’re killing. A growing number of men watch pornography claiming they do not hate women. Millions of tourists visit Hawai’i annually – despite pleas from native Hawaiians to stop – and feel they are so far from hating Hawai’i, it’s their favorite place to visit.   [Read more…]

Grand Canyon in the Crosshairs? Risky Mega-Development Moves Forward

‘The Forest Service is paving the way for foreign investors to exploit America’s most treasured natural landmark all to turn a profit,’ says Earthjustice

Deirdre Fulton / Common Dreams

The U.S. Forest Service is considering approval for a mega-development on the outskirts of the majestic Grand Canyon—a project the superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park has called one of the greatest threats in the 96-year history of the park.

The Stilo Development Group, based in Italy, has proposed a sprawling urban development for the tiny town of Tusayan, near the southern edge of the Grand Canyon, which would include more than 2,100 housing units and 3 million square feet of retail space along with hotels, a spa, and conference center.   [Read more…]

The Chinese in Mexicali

By Barbara Zaragoza / South Bay Compass

Welcome to my “ethnic enclave” tour of the border! I’ve been fascinated by how many different languages, cultures and religious groups exist along both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Today, I focus on the Chinese.

Mexicali is the capital of Baja California and it’s a booming city of around 1 million residents. The city also has a unique claim to fame: La Chinesca or the largest Chinatown in Mexico.

The Chinese influence remains substantial here, even as there are perhaps fewer than 5,000 full blooded Chinese and three times that number of mixed Chinese-Mexicans.
  [Read more…]

The Uptown Battle for Safer Bike Routes

By Doug Porter

There’s a special meeting of the Uptown Planners next Tuesday (March 24) to discuss overriding the SANDAG Regional Bike Plan in Mission Hills and Hillcrest. Cycling advocates are expected to face off against various organizations and people opposed to proposed traffic changes in the area.

This meeting is, I think, symbolic of a larger battle going on over the future of transportation in the city. While all the organizations involved give lip service to the Climate Action Plan’s goal of 18% bike mode share in Uptown by 2035, there are individuals who come across as negative about actually doing anything to achieve the goal.

Despite a growing body of evidence contradicting what some small businesspeople assume about the negative impact of bike lanes, parking spaces and traffic calming measures, when it gets down to an actual plan, all they can say is “no.” (Kinda like the GOP on their alternative to Obamacare, I think.)    [Read more…]

Pedestrians As Safety Hazards

By John P. Anderson

In case we need further proof that drivers and cars will continue to receive priority over every other mode of transit in San Diego, the San Diego Police Department has provided more clear evidence of the supremacy of the car, this time at the specific expense of pedestrians.

If there is a single clearly beneficial manner of transit we should be encouraging at every chance it is walking. Following jaywalking stings in recent years, now the police department is going out of its way to portray pedestrians as dangers to the community and themselves and explaining some steps pedestrians should take to further cater to cars and avoid inconveniencing motorists.   [Read more…]

A View on Cuba’s Opening From the De Facto U.S. Colony of Puerto Rico

The hard questions of the Obam-apertura.

By Ed Morales / NACLA

The “momentous” yet seemingly long-planned announcement that the United States and Cuba have agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations was an odd end to a chaotic year of crises and strife.

From the summer of renewed violence in Gaza and the surge of unaccompanied children on the Mexican border to the anguish of Mike Brown/Ferguson and Eric Garner/Staten Island and the disappearance of 43 students in Ayotzinapa, there seemed to be no end to conflagrations of long-stirring conflicts that expose the myth of American exceptionalism.

The cost of freedom in the first-est of First Worlds that we live in is the increasing precariousness of life outside our borders—a carnage that is often not connected to our comfort, yet is a result of the burgeoning inequality created by the gospel of globalization. Yet now, perhaps one of the sorest points of contention in the hemisphere, the 50-year U.S.-imposed embargo of Cuba, is finally being acknowledged as a mistake.   [Read more…]

In Paradise: For the Time Being

By Jim Miller

I recently had the pleasure of spending some time at Devils Postpile National Monument basking in the stunning beauty of that geological marvel and the accompanying reminder of the deep time that underlies the shallow surface history that we mistake for all that is.

Indeed, if there is a heaven, places like this are surely part of it. Nonetheless, while pondering the unintentional artistry of glaciers it was impossible not to notice how dry the mountains are now after several years of drought.

In and around Yosemite, the creeks, rivers, and waterfalls are drying up far earlier than usual, and the forests are perpetually vulnerable to fire. During my stay, I had to, as one always has to in the summer now, keep my eye on reports of fires—this time one was threatening the western edge of Yosemite near El Portal and had closed the Crane Flat, Bridalveil Creek, and Yosemite Creek campgrounds leaving firefighters to hold the line and keep the National Park open for the time being.   [Read more…]

North Pacific Dispatches: July 30.5? Chronologically Confused

Third in a Series About Life on a Research Vessel 

By Lori Saldaña

On board ship we operate on 2 time zones: Universal (Greenwich) time,8 hours ahead of local (Pacific) time, used when entering all research
data for recording purposes, and California time for our work/sleep/eat schedule.

This can cause some confusion: the computers in the ship’s science lab show the universal time.  This where all the incoming data from the CTD is received at 24 bits of Information per second once the device is lowered overboard, and we write down key data as the device is lowered and raised.

The computer clocks were changed to universal time, but after some late night confusion, I asked the technician to also set them to 24 hour clock. This was done to make it easier to convert local time to international time on the recording logs since we found, after 10+ hours of work, math skills tend to get a bit fuzzy. Plus, after 4 pm, we have to adjust our date as well as time as we record incoming information.
  [Read more…]

North Pacific Dispatches: Mercury, Cesium, Plankton and Whales

Second in a Series About Life About a Research Vessel

By Lori Saldana

Tuesday July 29– I completed my first 12 hour data collection work shift late last night and immediately went to the galley to ingest some calories before sleeping- not usually a good idea, but things are different on board a working ship.

For one thing, food always tastes better at sea. Perhaps its the fact someone else has prepared it for you, and our cook is excellent; she uses fresh fruits and vegetables, delicious and in-season, prepared well at each meal. Roasted squash, made-from-scratch soup,well-seasoned salads and soups on thick, warm bread. It’s nice to have a great deli down the passageway from the science lab!

Add to that: we have been engaging in physical work for many hours on a cold deck. with cold water running around our feet, and at times over our hands, as we gather water samples and look for plankton and trace amounts of mercury and cesium- the first, a persistent and toxic pollutant, the second, a radiation marker linked to the Fukushima accident.   [Read more…]

North Pacific Dispatches: An Alaskan Cruise, Sans Cocktails

By Lori Saldaña

Background: Two weeks ago I got a call from a friend who has captained merchant and research ships around the globe for many years. We’ve known each other’s family for decades, and have done some local sailing off San Diego.

He recently retired from Scripps in La Jolla, and now coordinates research vessels out of Moss Landing, near Monterrey. He called to ask: have you ever been to Dutch Harbor Alaska? What he really meant was: want to volunteer on a research cruise?

So… that’s where I will be for the next two weeks: aboard the R/V Point Sur, helping collect ocean water samples from the Bering Sea off Alaska and northern Pacific, as we cruise back to California.   [Read more…]

Shortchanging Our National Treasures

State and national parks alike are underfunded in this era of tight budgets

By Jill Richardson / Other Words

Fabulous vacations don’t come cheap. Hotels often run at least $100 a night, if not higher. Add in airfare, a rental car, and restaurant meals, and a family vacation becomes a privilege for those with the cash to afford them.

What’s a more affordable option? Heading to a national park, state park, or national forest.

America’s greatest vacation destinations are also our most egalitarian. You still need to get the time off work and transportation, but if you can do that, you can almost certainly afford the price tag of admission — even to the likes of the Statue of Liberty, Yellowstone, or the Grand Canyon.   [Read more…]

San Ysidro Bi-National Multi-Modal Transit Center

By Beryl Forman

The City of San Diego’s 700 block of East San Ysidro Boulevard is likely the most integral property to activate the San Diego/Tijuana Bi-national Border Region, as high level economic dialogue between the U.S. and Mexico unfolds. This block is not only home to the world’s busiest pedestrian border crossing, but also San Diego’s most heavily traveled trolley station, by far.

With up to three hours delay at the border nearly every day, and 7 billion dollars a year lost in economic productivity due to border delays, a grand opportunity lies ahead for this strategically located property. In order to realize this potential, it is important to understand some of the current issues and proposed plans for this site.   [Read more…]

The Unist’ot’en Camp – Preparation: Home, Language, Self

By Will Falk

It is almost time to go.

I am going to the Unist’ot’en Camp in northern British Columbia. The Unist’ot’en Camp is a resistance camp built by the Wet’suwet’en people on the path of seven proposed pipelines from the Tar Sands Gigaproject and where corporations are extracting liquid natural gas from the Horn River Basin Fracturing Projects.

I am nervous. I am excited. I am scared. Mostly, I just want to get started. Writing helps me organize my thoughts, sift through my emotions, and steel my heart, so I offer this up as my trip approaches.   [Read more…]

Managing the Planet One Organizer at a Time: A Kenyan Initiative

By Jim Bliesner

Editors note: Jim Bliesner spent the last month traveling through Africa. This post from the road is about a trip from Nairobi to the Lale’enok research camp near the Tanzania border.

You drive for four hours, south out of Nairobi on a two lane rutted road that spirals down into the South Rift Valley. By the time you reach the bottom of the winding decline and into the Valley floor the “city” has receded into the background and plains stretch into the clouds in all directions.

Black sprinkles of cattle tended by figures robed in bright reds and blues break the landscape. Periodically the car stops while cattle are walked across the road to greener pastures. Now and then a speed bump slows the journey and we are introduced to local vendors selling vegetables, fruits, bright colored candies, tourist trinkets, mementoes of the culture and geography.

We arrive at Olorgesaile the sight of a regional meeting of Maasai landowners assembled to discuss their collective future at the First Annual Maasai Cultural Heritage Festival. The Maasai tribe dominates the geography in the South Rift Valley and is organized into the South Rift Association of Landowners (SORALO) headed by John Kamanga. The movement percolated through the African Conservation Center, a Kenyan national non-profit dedicated to “saving African biodiversity through sound science, local initiative and good governance”.   [Read more…]

San Diego Is Becoming One of America’s ‘Most Bicycle Friendly’ Cities

Statistics from newly released American League of Bicycle report shows San Diego bicycle movement has momentum

From San Diego Loves Green

Bicycle-loving San Diego is more than an idea now – it’s a statistic. In a League of American Bicyclists report released this week, San Diego consistently ranks amongst the top American cities for bicycle commuters and ridership.

San Diego County Bicycle Coalition, an organization that advocates for and protects the rights of all people who ride bicycles, has spearheaded the movement to create a strong bicycling culture in San Diego County.

In the report, Where we ride: An Analysis of bicycling in American cities, the League of American Bicyclists looks at bicycle commuting trends and specific analyses throughout national cities.

Statistics reported on San Diego include:   [Read more…]

OB Bamboo Bicyclist Lives to Inspire “Earth-Friendly Lifestyles”

Activist to Give Away Free Seeds

By Rob Greenfield

This spring I left my comfortable beachside home in sleepy Ocean Beach to wake America up. On April 16th I hopped into a van with a stranger from a Craigslist.com rideshare board, stopped in Santa Cruz to pick up a bamboo bike, and arrived in San Francisco a with a few days to prepare for a 4,700 mile bike ride across the USA.

The journey, coined Off the Grid Across America, was designed to inspire Americans to start living a more earth-friendly lifestyle for themselves, their community, and the earth.

To lead by example I followed a set of rigorous ground rules:   [Read more…]

Bicycle Expressways for San Diego

By JEC

August 11th was CicloSDias in San Diego. Sections of 30th and Fern streets were closed to motor vehicles; cross streets were blocked off and traffic monitors helped motorists cross the river of bicycles. Some say not quite a river, more like a creek.

Bicycling in San Diego has some serious advocates, including the San Diego Bike Coalition. They see benefits for San Diegans if we switch to using bikes more often than cars. As a bike rider, I agree with them. The challenge in front of us is how to grow a bicycle culture.

Along 30th Street I saw many fancy bikes with riders dressed in those colorful skin tight outfits. I also saw some unique forms of self-propelled transportation. I was hoping see folks wearing regular clothes as if they were going to school or work – but then it was Sunday plus CicloSDias is only once a year at that.

Given the agreeable weather, San Diego has been a great place for recreational biking. In the 70’s a familiar (now unfriendly) voice advocated for building bike paths and adding bike lanes. Roger Hedgecock had some success, including getting a path around San Diego Bay built that was recently expanded and improved. Bike friendly policies were promoted. So workers could ride to work employers were encouraged to provide shower facilities and bike storage lockers. I rode 7 miles to work, for a while. Taking a shower at work was less than pleasant.
  [Read more…]

Field of View: A Walkabout in City Heights, Part I

By Annie Lane

After spending a solid three hours wandering the streets of City Heights, I found that it’s possible to do so and still only see a fraction of what the charming, lived-in neighborhood has to offer.

Freeper and longtime City Heights resident Anna Daniels served as my guide, taking me on streets less traveled to see sights like the 47th Street Canyon, where a sign read, among other things, that no guns were allowed. We also visited the nearby Cambodian Buddhist Society of San Diego, its signature orange facade a stark contrast against the blue sky.   [Read more…]

In Search of the Chariot Fire Burn on Mt. Laguna

By Frank Gormlie

Like many San Diegans I watched images of the recent Chariot Fire that began on July 6th destroy sections of Mt Laguna with great concern. That mountain is one of my favorite spots in the county and I waited for the local media to give us an update on the damages that the fire caused to the natural habitat of the area along Sunrise Highway. Not satisfied with the paltry amount of news of the burn since the fire was put out, I decided to head out there myself and do a photo gallery of the destructive havoc wreaked by a wildfire.

On Friday afternoon, August 2nd, I drove east on I-8, heading for Sunrise Highway – the road that traverses Mt Laguna. With camera at the ready, I took notes in my search for the burn, holding my fears in check as I hurried towards the 6000 foot plus ridges that separated the mountains from the desert. There were sections of the mountain that I worried had been destroyed, as reports of the fire had it crossing Sunrise Highway, and eating its way west through pine forest.   [Read more…]

Baja Justice at the Borderline

By Bob Dorn

This week, my best friend and wife and I– the two of us– spent 48 hours on a quick trip to Baja; three of those were spent in line waiting to get back into the U.S.

It was 7:30 a.m. when we had finished looping around the center of TJ and entered the river bed east of the center. We didn’t know at this point that we’d followed “San Diego” signs until they’d disappeared. We were left to ourselves to learn that the left lane would turn into a Left Turn Only lane, withdrawing us from our salvation and guarantor of freedom, the U.S.   [Read more…]