Close Florida Drive Now. Right Now.

balboa canyon

As I recently wrote about, Balboa Park is a city treasure, enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. It is also home to many high-speed roads which greatly diminish the quality of the park, use large amounts of high-value land, and pose health dangers immediate (being crushed by a car) and long-term (developing asthma and other disease due to very poor air quality in San Diego). It is time to eliminate the most superfluous high-speed road in Balboa Park – Florida Drive.   [Read more…]

Zurbarán and Sorolla: Welcomed Guests At the San Diego Museum of Art

By Alejandra Enciso Guzmán

“St. Francis in Prayer in a Grotto” by Francisco de Zurbarán and “By the Seashore, Valencia” by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida are the ‘newbies’ welcomed to the San Diego Museum of Art. The inclusion of these two influential artists’ works continues to build on the strength of the museum’s renowned permanent collection of Spanish art.

Earlier this month there was the unveiling of “By the Seashore, Valencia.” Several personalities for the arts community were present for the important event which falls perfectly into the celebration of the Balboa Park Centennial as well as the museum’s 100th birthday.   [Read more…]

5th Annual Love Thy Neighbor Toy Drive Takes Place This Weekend

 By Brent E. Beltrán

This weekend the 5th annual Love Thy Neighbor Clothing & Toy Drive takes place at the Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park. For the past five years Ruben Torres and some of his close friends have organized this event to bring a little joy during the Christmas season to youths in San Diego and Tijuana.

South Bay native Ruben Torres continues to give back to the community he loves. He says, “God gives us two hands, one to receive with and the other to give with. I’m honored to see the community come together to give and to be a blessing to the needy.”

Toys will be collected for the children of the YWCA as well as families of The Training Center in Spring Valley.

This year’s main event takes place on Sunday, December 14 from 12-8pm and is hosted by radio DJ Beto Perez of 95.7 KISS FM and features an art show curated by Ruben Torres and Wendy Wolf.   [Read more…]

Audit Says Nobody Broke Any Rules at Balboa Park Centennial Because There Weren’t Any Rules

By Doug Porter

The City Auditor’s office has released its report on the failed Balboa Park Centennial Celebration. Despite spending more than $3 million dollars between 2012 and 2014 and having nothing to show for it in the way of actual results, there was no actual wrong-doing involved. Really.

There were two substantive reports in local media. UT-San Diego’s Jeff McDonald (who did some terrific reporting on this story early on) had a terse but tough account. Voice of San Diego’s Andrew Keatts went all gonzo on it, with much more detail and a dash of irreverence thrown it.

The “no-fault” determination was reached because the terms and conditions leading up the creation of Balboa Park Celebration, Inc (BPCI) were broad and ill-defined, we’re told. The 55 page review of the group’s activities did note a failure to follow city contracting rules in hiring most of its highly paid consultants and a lack of compliance with the terms of the 2011 agreement with the city. No problema.

This was all apparently okay because the City Attorney said so. At least that was the understanding BPCI was operating under following an email exchange in March 2013.   [Read more…]

New EPA Power Plant Rules: Here Comes the GOP’s Climate Change Denial Onslaught

By Doug Porter

Climate change was a major issue in the 2008 elections. Both the Republicans and Democrats made proposals aimed at reducing carbon based emissions.

Here we are six years later and, after watching Congress dither around the topic, President Obama has issued an executive order to significantly cut carbon pollution from power plants. The goals proposed are modest compared to those supported by Presidential candidate John McCain and included in the 2008 GOP platform.

CNN was the only cable network of the big 3 covering the EPA announcement this morning. (Fox News was covering…Benghazi!)   [Read more…]

Balboa Park 2015 Centennial: Rising from the Ashes?

By Doug Porter

Let’s start with some good news for a change. (Because the last item in this column is truly depressing!)

Activist David Lundin, along with representatives from the Balboa Park Committee of 100, the Save Our Heritage Organisation and preservationist/developer Sandy Shapery have joined together to craft a major event for the Balboa Park Centennial celebration in 2015.

Today they’ll be talking up a Community-conceived, planned and organized long weekend event [dates to be determined] in Spring of 2015 to both celebrate the Park’s past and work to secure its future. While specifics have to be determined, subject to public input, the general idea is to “Spring to the Past” throughout the park.   [Read more…]

Living Publicly with the Trumpet

By Bob Dorn

I started practicing the trumpet in the park near my home back in 2009, about the time I thought I’d acquired enough control over the horn to avoid embarrassing myself.

I’d been at it a total of about 11 years, not counting the month- or 2-month-long abandonments that flowed from extreme frustration with the difficulty of the instrument. Tom Harrell, one of its best contemporary players and a much admired composer, has said, “(T)he hardest part of playing the trumpet is the physical act of making the sound.”

It’s a six-foot-long metal tube about one-half an inch in circumference which is interrupted by three cylinders – valves – that can be opened and shut by the fingers in seven different combinations that alter the distance air travels through the tube in degrees precise enough to change the tones the tube produces. Lip tension can raise those tones but most – not all – the notes produced by altering the lip tension require a change in the fingering.

That’s all there is to it. Like teeth are all there is to a shark.   [Read more…]

Balboa Park Conservancy Avoids Confrontation Over Transparency

By Doug Porter

Activist David Lundin and others were in attendance last night at the Balboa Park Committee Board meeting ready to ask serious questions about the Balboa Park Conservancy, the group now charged by the City of San Diego with trying to salvage the 2015 Centennial Celebration.

Responding to charges made earlier that the Conservancy was violating its own charter by failing to have two annual public meetings, the group claimed their reports made in meetings of the Balboa Park Committee fulfilled the requirement.

Alas, hopes for a window into the Conservancy’s inner working were dashed last night as, for the first time in more than seven years, the meeting was cancelled in its entirety because quorum of the Balboa Park Committee Board failed to appear.

After a 30 minute wait the Board chair announced the cancellation, saying it was “illegal to open the meeting, even for informational or no-action items.”     [Read more…]

Earth Day with Trumpet Player: Mr. F Doesn’t Race Jaguars, and Bret Knows The End is Near

By Bob Dorn

Separated from each other by temperament — and some 30 or 40 minutes — Mr. F and Bret find their ways to a place in the park I don’t normally choose for my practice sessions. The car was out of gas, and the benches out front of our condo were empty, so… The thing is, it’s Earth Day, and how long will I be left to myself?

Mr. F (not his name, by the way) is shy and awkward (despite the hearty urban male fist bump he’ll be offering once he’s comfortable) and it takes him three or four minutes to get within some 10 feet of me – clearly inside the inter-personal radius — and he can’t make eye contact as he circles.

He was wearing a showy stadium jacket, altogether appropriate for the chilly Earth Day morning, with Jaguar racing emblem and crew designation and other racing signs. I asked him if he raced Jaguars; he looked away and murmured something. The competition between his behavior and his strange camouflage is causing noticeable dissonance. He has approached and retreated.   [Read more…]

Nobody Who Works Full Time in San Diego Should Live in Poverty

By Doug Porter

If you believe the San Diego’s Chamber of Commerce latest outlook, as reported on KPBS,  on the region’s economic health you’d better wear sunglasses because the future’s that bright. Business looks great, especially for the minimum and sub-minimum wage tourism, entertainment and hospitality sector.

On the other hand if you delve into the study entitled “Making Ends Meet 2014,” released this morning by the Center on Policy Initiatives and United Way of San Diego County, keep a box of tissues handy.

Their research quantitatively demonstrates that the cost of a basic, no-frills lifestyle without public or private assistance is beyond the reach of 38% of all working age households in San Diego County. That’s 300,000 households. Even with someone working full-time year-round, or with multiple part-time earners, about 1 in 4 households in the region have incomes too low to cover the basic costs of living.   [Read more…]

It’s ‘Pin the Tail on Filner’ Week in San Diego

By Doug Porter

‘Blame Bob Filner’ seems to be the catchphrase of the week here in San Diego. Months of demonizing our former mayor in the media have seemingly created an atmosphere where it’s possible to deflect political and legal problems by simply blaming The.Worst.Mayor.Ever.

I don’t argue the point that he screwed up. He’s suffering the consequences. And it’s my educated guess that there’s more legal troubles headed his way. But this business of trying to blame him for all of San Diego’s ills has got to stop. What’s next? Can we blame Filner for the lack of rain? Or too much rain, if that should happen?

If you believe reports in the Daily Fishwrap and other local media, the ex-mayor is now supposed to take the fall for two of our city’s new found embarrassments-an illegal campaign contributions scandal and a floundering Balboa Park centennial– in what seems to me to be an obvious effort to protect other officeholders.   [Read more…]

The Dark Side of the 2015 Balboa Park Celebrations

By Doug Porter

A non-profit group set up by the city to create a world class year long celebration of the centennial of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition  in Balboa Park hasn’t produced much of anything concrete to date, despite spending millions of dollars in public monies. And they’re making the claim that their lack of progress is nobody’s business.

Citizen activist David Lundin’s inquiries into the machinations of the group responsible for planning the Balboa Park Centennial Celebration have stirred up quite a fuss. After reading reports about difficulties and missed deadlines by the entity (Balboa Park Celebrations, Inc) he filed a series of requests for documents (ala Public Records Act).

The resulting exchange was simply stunning in its arrogance and hostility. My response from reading the email exchange between Lunkin and the group is that something must be seriously amiss with this group.

  [Read more…]

Organizations Commemorate 20th Anniversary of Zapatista Uprising

Enero Zapatista Committee Organizes Month Long Series of Events

By Brent E. Beltrán

Twenty years ago on January 1 an unknown, rag tag rebel group walked out of the fog and rain forest of Chiapas, Mexico and into the imaginations of millions of Mexicans, indigenous people and lefties throughout the world.

On that fateful day, from below and to the left, the Ejercito Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (EZLN/Zapatista Army of National Liberation) made their first of many appearances upon the world stage.

Named after the great Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata the Zapatistas demanded work, land, shelter, food, health, education, independence, freedom, democracy, justice and peace not just for themselves but all Mexicans and oppressed people throughout the world.   [Read more…]

Virtual Mayoral Forum- Part 2: Looking Back on the Plaza de Panama Controversy

Welcome to Day 2 of the SDFP Virtual Mayoral Forum. (See Day 1, Asking about managed competition, here.)

With input from our many contributors, editors put together a series of eight questions we felt were unique, not too opened ended and not trite. We’re publishing one response from the candidates per day (Monday-Friday) so readers can see the verbatim responses side by side.

We emailed the questions to the addresses listed with the City Clerk’s office as contact points, knowing most of the minor candidates wouldn’t respond. What we didn’t count on were two of the big names (Fletcher & Faulconer) refusing to participate. We can only assume–and, believe me we’ve tried to get them involved– their non-response sends a message about their openness to the citizens in this city. You can decide what that message is. (We’ll still be glad to add responses and delete this paragraph. It’s not too late!)

The complete questionnaire can be found here.   [Read more…]

Commemorate Día de los Muertos throughout San Diego – Long Live the Dead!

Día de los Muertos Commemorated for Thousands of Years in the Americas

By Brent E. Beltrán

Los días de los muertos have been commemorated for thousands of years in the Americas. It started in what is now México and has spread throughout the United States and the world. Today these days are celebrated by people of many different colors and cultures.

November 1 is Día de los Inocentes (Day of the Innocents) when deceased children are honored and November 2 is known as Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) where we pay tribute to adults who have passed away. These dates correspond with the Christian holidays of All Saints’ Day and All Soul’s Day.   [Read more…]

Multinational Corporations Seek to Rule Over San Diego’s Barrio Logan Community

“We may be poor, brown folk but we have organized to take on the state, city and industry numerous times and have won. This may be our biggest battle yet, a battle for our very existence.”

By Doug Porter

For thirty years, San Diego’s Barrio Logan community existed without a community plan. There was no law, no order when it came to land use and zoning.  Having prospered in chaos for so many years, nearby maritime industries are threatening the region’s economy unless they get their way.

Historically speaking, in the minds of the downtown-centric elites any regulatory structure was simply not necessary in Barrio Logan. After all, the community was just chock full of “them”, as in people of color, mostly of Mexican heritage.  Children were exposed to toxic emissions, the nearby waters used to dump heavy metals and other pollutants, and the robber barons of the shipbuilding industry looked away.   [Read more…]

Barrio Art Jam and Barrio Film Festival Set to Go Off this Weekend

Barrio Logan at the Epicenter of Grassroots Arts & Culture Movement

By Brent E. Beltrán

Word is out that Barrio Logan is a thriving, happening community that treasures its art and culture. Not a week goes by without some type of artistic happening taking place within this predominantly Mexican neighborhood.

Places like Chicano Park, Voz Alta, The Roots Factory, Glashaus, Bread & Salt and even the placita at Mercado del Barrio feature a variety of arts and culture events that showcase the desire to create and present. This weekend is no different.

The first annual Barrio Art Jam and the second annual Barrio Film Fest are going down simultaneously. The neighborhood may be relatively small but there is plenty of artistic space for both of these grassroots ventures to thrive.   [Read more…]

Serving Witness on Labor Day – San Diego City Worker “George”

George is a Greens Keeper at the Balboa Park Golf Course for the City of San Diego.

He is 28 years old, and for the past 7 years he has worked to keep the City’s public golf courses beautiful and functional for all San Diego residents and tourists to enjoy.

His day begins at 5:30 a.m. During his shift he may do everything from mowing the greens and tees, to maintaining his equipment. George takes a great deal of pride in his work. Most people don’t know that the grass on a golf course is as short as onetenth of an inch. George has to be precise in his work to be sure he doesn’t cut more than one third of that “tenth of an inch” – or the grass could dry out and become brown. That mistake would be noticeable for days and could affect the prestige of the course.   [Read more…]

San Diego Pride Parade 2013: Freedom to Love and Marry

By Doug Porter

This year’s San Diego Pride celebration was extra special for many of its participants.  After years of political organizing, lawsuits and personal angst, the door are open once again in California for same sex couples to celebrate their love through the institution of marriage, following rulings by the Supreme Court last month.

Nearly 200 individuals, community groups, churches and corporations participated in this year’s Pride Parade.  Celebrities Brad and George Takei, along with LaToya Jackson did the honors as Grand Marshals. The theme for 2013 was “Freedom to Love and Marry”.

Photos by Haley Joy Porter   [Read more…]

KNSJ Goes on the Air with Filner, Frye Speaking Out

By Bob Dorn

Several hours into its maiden voyage yesterday, July 04, radio station KNSJ-fm, broadcasting live from Balboa Park’s World Beat Center was pleasantly interrupted by his honor, the Mayor of San Diego, Bob Filner, looking lean and I’m not saying mean, because he was among friends there.  Real friends.

Floyd Morrow, former San Diego city council member and Marine who had promised the station Filner would show up, grabbed Filner in a hug.  The mayor had no bodyguards hovering nearby nor tightsuits with clipboards and iPads in hand surrounding him, and he was relaxed.

Spontaneous hoots of encouragement echoed through the giant old water tank that Worldbeat Africanized and made its home decades ago, and which, for this Independence Day, was the broadcast studio of KNSJ.   [Read more…]

Pumping Up Filner’s Flaps for Fun and Profit

By Doug Porter

City Councilman Kevin Faulconer joined the flail on Filner fray today with a UT-San Diego op-ed chock full of the sort of doom and gloom spin that would do Karl Rove proud.

‘The sky is falling!’ He says, ‘The streets are full of potholes!’ And…(my favorite)… ‘Bankruptcy looms!’

Yes indeed, citizens, Faulconer tells us, the Mayor’s ‘Bullying’ is taking a harsh toll at City Hall.  You, the people, are ‘unheard victims’.

Gosh, it sure is coincidental about how the word ‘bullying’ (used in the print edition headline) has been showing up on the GOP’s playlist lately.

Is the Mayor feuding with smaller sized children? Has he actually threatened anybody with harm? Are the ‘victims’ of this maniacal madman weak and defenseless?   [Read more…]

The Carl DeMaio Campaign – Reform San Diego Koch Connection

Tell your friends, DeMaio said, that they don’t have to “live in socialism.”

By Doug Porter

A report focusing on the thin line separating the Carl DeMaio for Congress campaign organization and the political advocacy group, Reform San Diego has shed new light on the former City Councilman’s relationship with Americans for Prosperity, a conservative 501(c)4 organization that spends money in support of Republicans and against Democrats. Funded by billionaire conservative brothers Charles and David Koch, the group spent about $36.3 million in the 2012 federal elections.

The KPBS/inewsource story, authored by Claire Trageser and Brooke Williams, starts out with a vignette from fundraiser for DeMaio’s long-time political advocacy group, Reform San Diego, held less than three months after his defeat in the mayoral race. DeMaio has described the group as a “grassroots 527 Super-PAC campaign organization.”

It turns out that Americans for Prosperity have been ‘members’ of DeMaio’s ‘coalition for reform’ for several years now.   [Read more…]

SD For Free: North Park’s Summer Concert Series in Bird Park Begins June 15th

North Park’s corner of Balboa Park plays host to the 11th annual bi-weekly concert series from June 15 – August 10

A weekly column dedicated to sharing the best sights and activities in San Diego at the best price – free! We have a great city and you don’t need to break the bank to experience it.

Address: Bird Park (north-east corner of Balboa Park at intersection of 28th Street and Thorn Street).

Best For: Date night, family outing, summertime hanging, a peaceful evening with a view

Time and Date: 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM every other week starting on June 15 and ending August 10

Additional Information: Website

Balboa Park encompasses 1,200 acres in the heart of urban San Diego. The area around El Prado comprised of the San Diego Zoo and most of the museums in the park is typically thought of as the ‘heart’ of Balboa Park.

However, there is much more to the park and the various neighborhoods on the fringe of the park have their own ways of claiming Balboa Park as their own.
  [Read more…]

Las Monthly Ondas June Edition: Taco Shop Poets Dream of Sugar Skulls

Read Tacos. Eat Poetry.

By Brent E. Beltrán

Has it already been twenty years since a band of guerrilla word slingers thought to share poetry with taco shop patrons? Apparently so, as the Taco Shop Poets are back in poetic motion for a gig at The Front in San Ysidro.

Founding Taco Shop Poets member Adolfo Guzman Lopez told me “it’s been 20 years since the idea for taco shop poetry was put in motion. We’re presenting the group’s 2011 book Sugarskull Sueños at the Tijuana book fair and what better place to reflect on our personal journeys as Mexican Americans, Chicanos, Latinos, cuarentones, border vatos, and fathers than a homegrown community space in San Ysidro.”

Originally started as a large, loose knit group of mostly Chicano and Latino raconteurs the Taco Shop Poets almost singlehandedly helped recreate the California spoken word poetry scene. They eventually whittled themselves down into a tight collective of border bards that have toured the nation and beyond. Their influence on the Chicano poetry world can still be felt today even though they’ve been relatively dormant the past few years.   [Read more…]

San Diego Monsanto Protest Draws Big Crowd to Balboa Park

By Doug Porter

I wasn’t too surprised by the lack of coverage of San Diego’s demonstration against Monsanto this past Saturday. If you read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, you’ll realize that successful protest movements rarely get proper credit or acclaim for their influence.

Our local daily fishwrap, aka UT-San Diego, couldn’t be bothered to send an actual reporter to Balboa Park on Saturday. They relied instead on an Associated Press account in Sunday’s paper that mentioned Los Angeles and perhaps there were some other protests…yada, yada, yada… The Los Angeles Times coverage at least mentioned that there was a protest in San Diego.

Come inside for more San Diego coverage and photos from around the world   [Read more…]