A Look at San Diego’s Infrastructure Blues


By Doug Porter

While there is near-universal agreement about the sorry state of San Diego’s infrastructure, building a consensus on the ways and means of getting the job done has proved to be challenging.

The Mayor’s office has been very public about wanting a deal to build a new football stadium, but conversations about how to keep the roads to that stadium in shape and the pipes carrying all the recycled beer away have been muted.

And then there’s the Convention Center, where monies that could have been used for keeping the building in shape were gambled on an improbable expansion plan.   [Read more…]

Humble Heart Thrift Store: Thrift, Coffee, Love

humble heart 2

By Avital Aboody

The Humble Heart Thrift Store will be celebrating its 5th birthday on August 10, 2015. Five years ago, Michael Modrow Jr. was laid off from his job as a manager at Midas where he had worked for seven years. To get by, he started doing yard sales at his home, selling off a handful of personal things that he had collected over the years. Mike is an active member of his church. Upon hearing about Mike’s situation, the church offered to give Mike permission to sell the variety of donated items that weren’t a good fit for distribution to the homeless, such as furniture.   [Read more…]

Public Scrutiny Turns Civic San Diego Board Testy and Defensive

civicsd board meeting

Civic’s Community Benefit Policy enactment a study in #democracyfail

By Anna Daniels

The Civic San Diego Board of Directors and President Reese Jarrett scored a victory at their April 29 board meeting. Civic San Diego, which describes itself as a “city-owned non-profit that is the entrepreneurial development partner for targeted urban neighborhoods” approved its own Community Benefit Policy with one dissenting vote after two hours of board discussion and public testimony. The one dissenting vote was cast by Dr. Murtaza Baxamusa, who described the policy as “toothless, meaningless and unenforceable…It is the job of the City Council to tell us what to do … this is 1,300 words, non-enforceable and not approved by the City Council. ”

The Civic San Diego Board determined in the meeting that they could set their own policy without City Council review but would provide it to Councilmember Myrtle Cole’s Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee.

While the board vote was a victory for the policy’s passage, it was apparent that some board members were surprised– and clearly resentful–that Civic San Diego has had to fight so hard to avoid City Council oversight and that it has been subjected to so much public criticism.   [Read more…]

SDFP Is Going All in for $15 Today!

By Staff

SDFP editor Doug Porter will be spending the day at the locations listed below. He’ll be tweeting throughout the day, so check our twitter feed. Doug’s column The Starting Line will return tomorrow with lots of news and analysis of today’s events.

Here’s the list of times and locations for protests on Wednesday:

7 am – Fast Food Worker Strike: 2345 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA
8:30 am – Fast Food Worker Strike: 2829 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA
11 am – Security Officer Event:750 B Street San Diego, CA
Noon – State Workers Event: 1350 Front St, San Diego, CA
1:30pm – City Heights Rising Event: 3795 Fairmount Ave, San Diego, CA
3:30 pm – Home Care Worker Rally: San Diego State University 5500 Campanile Drive San Diego, CA (Between the music building and open air theatre)
4:30 pm– The Big Event: San Diego State University Scripps Cottage Lawn near Hepner Hall 5500 Campanile Dr, San Diego, CA   [Read more…]

Civic San Diego and Its Stakeholders

By Anna Daniels

Who are Civic San Diego’s stakeholders? Who are the people and institutions who have the most to benefit from their success? And who has the most to lose if they are not successful? The answer depends upon whom you are talking to—CivicSD and its surrogates; City of San Diego elected representatives; or community residents and resident based organizations.

Community residents and community based organizations from areas of the city which have been designated by CivicSD as their immediate focus for economic revitalization have been particularly vocal on this matter, but they are hardly the only ones.

Community voices have been articulating the need for an enforceable city policy regarding the kinds of community benefits that must be generated in tandem with CivicSD’s economic development projects, as well as additional City of San Diego oversight of development activities. They have called for more transparency and accountability in CivicSD’s operation.

In short, those communities which are already fully aware of the economic and social problems that they face, are asking to be recognized as stakeholders and to be given the participatory power to shape the development process.   [Read more…]

Pushback on Civic San Diego Accountability: Here Comes the “Uncertainty” Ploy

By Doug Porter

A showdown is in the works over community input on plans by Civic San Diego to absorb neighborhoods beyond downtown for permitting and planning development projects. For the moment we’re talking about Encanto and City Heights. I doubt it will stop there.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez has introduced legislation to clarify the ability of non-profit groups like Civic San Diego to perform permitting work for local governments, as it’s uncertain what legal authority in California law the organization has to approve building projects on behalf of the City of San Diego after redevelopment’s demise. Specifically AB504 calls for the City Council to have final say on projects.

The “uncertainty” defense is being rolled out on behalf of Civic San Diego (and the developers who love it) by former Mayor and Chamber of commerce CEO Jerry Sanders, along with Kris Michell, president and CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership by way of a commentary published earlier today by Voice of San Diego. Used with great success in previous campaigns to pull the wool over the eyes of San Diegans, this sort of effort is supposed to instill fear the local economy will be damaged if (fill-in-the-blank) happens.   [Read more…]

Community Blight or Benefit : Thoughts On the Civic San Diego Roadshow

By Jay Powell

Over the holidays, as I happened to be exploring the East Mesa of Balboa Park, I was surprised by a new feature on the horizon a few points west of due south. It seemed that a very tall structure had just popped out of the ground in the vicinity of the East Village neighborhood of downtown. I came to learn shortly thereafter that this could easily be only the beginning of a wall of tall buildings rising up from East Village in front of the southern vista of the Coronado Bay Bridge and the Coronado Islands as viewed from vantage points such as “Inspiration Point “ in Balboa Park.

While the latter point is a somewhat neglected part of the park, the view still managed to inspire me to find out how this structure was able to pop up in that picture.

At a “Community Benefits Consensus Project” workshop a few weeks later in January Civic San Diego presented storyboards of some projects that they thought best exemplified how a development can provide “community benefits.” The board that caught my attention featured “The Pinnacle,”a 480 foot tall luxury condominium project at the corner of 15th and Island Avenue. So now the beast had a name and a story.   [Read more…]

National Bicycle Tourism Conference Kicked Off in San Diego

By Dave Rice

The four-day-long National Bicycle Tourism Conference kicked off in San Diego on Wednesday, November 5, with conference organizers hoping to highlight the region as an increasingly bike-friendly locale for residents and visitors alike. This is the first in the conference’s 25 years of operation that San Diego was selected to host.

Prior to the start of the conference, the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition staged a five-mile tour encompassing portions of downtown and Coronado, meant to highlight the nearly-complete Bayshore Bikeway, a 24-mile loop around the bay that’s been under development since 1976, as well as various other improvements that resulted in Coronado being named in 2013 to a nationwide list of certified “bike friendly” city.

The tour kicked off in front of the county administration building, where Supervisor Greg Cox greeted a handful of cycling activists, local media, and national cycling press, offering encouragement for completion of the Bikeway and adoption of more cyclist-friendly policies countywide.   [Read more…]

The Return of Comic-Con International: Revenge of the Press Release

SDFP Writer Inundated with Comic-Con Related Emails

By Brent E. Beltrán

Last year I covered Comic-Con for San Diego Free Press. I wrote five articles in a series I called Adventures in Comic-Conlandia: A Nerds-eye View. You can read them here: Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV & Part 5. This was my first attempt at writing about something I had loved since I started attending back in 1986. Though grueling I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and will cover the event again this week. I plan on being not so ambitious this year.

Sometimes Comic-Con sneaks up on you. You don’t know it is here until trolley station signs are written in Klingon or you’re standing in line for a happy hour beverage next to a Stormtrooper.

For me that wasn’t the case this year. You see, I’ve been inundated with press releases for the past month and it’s picked up even more within the last week. I’ve been sent hundreds of emails from the various media, toy and comic book companies that want to get the word out about their latest film, action figure or storyline.   [Read more…]

San Diegans Rally on Behalf of Central American Refugee Children

Acceptance and Love in the Face of Bigotry and Hate

By Brent E. Beltrán

On the evening of July ninth approximately 200 people from San Diego gathered for a rally and vigil at the Federal Building Downtown to show their solidarity with the refugee children of Central America.

The rally, called Demonstration in SOLIDARITY with the National Action for the Children and a Vigil for Love, was part of a series of actions across the US showing support for the children.

The refugees came to the forefront of America’s consciousness after bigots decided to block the buses these children were riding in. The buses were transporting these unaccompanied minors to get processed at an immigration facility in Murrieta, Ca.

The blocking of the buses unleashed a moral crisis in Murrieta and across the country as angry, mostly white people, let loose their bigoted ways against children whose only crime was to escape the violence of their own countries, much of which was instigated by past US policies in the region.   [Read more…]

Distilling the Essence of a Tune: Jeff Hamilton Trio Sunday at the Saville Theater

by John Lawrence

The Jeff Hamilton Trio with Jeff on drums, Tamir Hendelman on piano and Christoph Luty on bass will perform Saturday, September 29, at the Saville Theater on the campus of San Diego City College at 5 PM. If you only go to one jazz event this year, this should be the one.

Jeff Hamilton is a truly amazing drummer, a major star in the jazz firmament. Jeff was voted the Numero Uno jazz drummer in Modern Drummer Magazine’s readers’ poll. Jeff’s prestidigitation on the drum set will have sticks and/or hands flying in a way that hardly seems humanly possible but always with consummate taste and rooted in the jazz tradition.

Jeff’s marriage of power and precision, his dynamic range from whispers to raging torrents, will leave you breathless and definitely wanting more. But most of all he’s known for his melodic solos.   [Read more…]

Flags and Flogging at the Filner Recall Rally

By Tom Hunter

There were two American flags held up by the children of Filner recall organizer Michael Pallamary, and much talk of scripture, but the free puppies were a no show.  Very little was said of the sins of the Mayor, although we were asked to love and pray for Bob Filner as the trapdoor was slamming open.

They had a good crowd of a hundred or more, but they definitely were not all there to scorn Mayor Bob. The spectacle was part of the draw.  There was a feisty lady standing all of 4’6″ tall who just couldn’t take the Filner disparagement anymore later on and just lost it, letting the pulpit have it with both barrels.   [Read more…]

Filner Supporters Speak Out, Calling for Due Process

By Tom Hunter
About 50 Mayor Bob Filner supporters and assorted press gathered at the Community Concourse plaza Thursday afternoon to demand Mayor Filner be given due process in response to charges of sexual misconduct.

Press conference organizer and longtime progressive advocate Enrique Morones opened with a comparison between Mayor Filner’s record on human rights and that of Nelson Mandela.  One theme stressed by every speaker was that everyone including Mayor Filner deserves to face his accusers and receive due process.   [Read more…]

If the Story Was “Mayor Walks on Water”, the UT-San Diego Headline Would be “Filner Can’t Swim”

The Watchdog Yips at the New Public Library

By Doug Porter

It really is true that no stone can be left unturned in UT-San Diego’s quest to denigrate Mayor Bob Filner. This week’s “Watchdog” example involves a reporter with a questionable background, a moving company and an abysmal level of ignorance on the subject of libraries.

For those of you who haven’t been keeping up with such things, the main branch of San Diego’s Public Library is moving into a new building. Not only are collections and reference materials long-buried in the bowels of the old building being cleaned up and rediscovered, additional genealogy collections from archives throughout the region are being merged into the new facility.

Moving the contents of the old location into the new digs is a huge task, and it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that a company specializing in such tasks was retained to handle the job.  After all, you wouldn’t want two guys and a moving van moving a collection that includes thousands of rare resource materials, many of them unique to the region.   [Read more…]

San Diego Gets Another Black Eye: Goldsmith’s #ChalkGate Prosecution Gets World-Wide Coverage

“Chalk-U-Py” Protest, Petitions Follow Judge’s Gag Order in Bank of America Graffiti Trial

By Doug Porter

Things are going out of control for City Attorney Jan Goldsmith. His office’s decision to prosecute 40 year old Jeff Olson for using children’s washable chalk to scrawl protests on sidewalks adjacent to Bank of America branch offices has garnered world wide notice. And it’s not the kind of publicity the Downtown Tourism folks appreciate.

A newly organized group calling itself Liberals for Liberty has announced plans to create a chalk mural of the Constitution with focus on the First Amendment in front of the San Diego Hall of Justice.  A Facebook page set up for the event calls for local artists to meet up Saturday (June 29th) at the courthouse, 330 West Broadway, San Diego.

At Change.org, a petition went up Friday morning calling upon City Attorney Jan Goldsmith to drop the prosecution of Jeff Olson for chalk graffiti, citing “an obvious abuse of power and a wasteful use of the resources of the City of San Diego.” The influential Daily Kos blog has also announced a petition, saying “prosecuting people who chalk political messages on vandalism charges is a blatant abuse of power.”   [Read more…]

Downtown Doublecross Foiled– Mayor Filner Calls Out Hoteliers Attempt to Sabotage Tourism Deal -UPDATED

‘The City of San Diego will not be held hostage”

By Doug Porter

Once again we’re seeing headlines proclaiming Mayor Filner to be responsible for causing the San Diego Tourism Authority to close down. 

We’re hearing about how people’s jobs will be affected by a “squabble”.

We’re being told via the Daily Fishwrap editorial about a “crippling blow to a major pillar of the San Diego economy.”


Mayor Filner has demanded that the tourism agency live up to its end of a bargain struck back in April that, among other things, directed 5 percent of Tourism Marketing District (TMD) revenue to the upcoming celebration of Balboa Park’s centennial. That deal came after several months of very public and ugly struggle.

UPDATE: TMD agreed to fund Balboa Park celebration; Mayor agreed to release funds. I’m not sure whether Balboa Park got the funding they expected. TMD officials claimed revenue shortfall. (I predict a One Exclamation Point! press release from Filner shortly)   [Read more…]

Restaurant Review: Rama Thai

Rama Thai
327 Fourth Avenue
San Diego, CA. 92101  (Between J & K St.) 
Phone: (619) 501-THAI (8424)

By Judi Curry

What a week this has been.  Out of town guests have prompted me to go out to eat at places I have wanted to try for a long time.  Then comes along a new date – yeah! From an online site, no less, and Mike suggested that we go to one of his favorite Thai restaurants downtown.

So rather than have to fight to find a parking place, he picked me up at my home in OB, drove to his condo near the Santa Fe train station, and then we WALKED the mile or so to the RAMA THAI. (And yes, we walked back, too!)
  [Read more…]

The Starting Line – Anti Gay Editorial Shakes Up City Council Race

The stench of hate rolled over South San Diego this week as the Voice and Viewpoint, a newspaper that has traditionally represented the opinions of the old school Black community, made their endorsements for the District 4 City Council special election, slated for March 26th. (See more SDFP coverage on this contest here.)

Read it for yourself:

Dwayne Crenshaw, who lists himself as a Community Nonprofit Director/Educator looks and sounds like a great candidate, however, Mr. Crenshaw has a tremendous amount of baggage from the issues surrounding his days with the Coalition of Neighborhood Councils (CNC). His openly confessed gay lifestyle is at odds with a great deal of the District’s African American residents in spite of his family’s history in the community. His positions in leadership and advocacy in the Gay community does not lead itself to the building of the kinds of coalitions between the religious and civic community that the Fourth District has enjoyed in the past and needs to build on during this critical period of restructuring. Mr. Crenshaw is not our choice at any time for this position.

Crenshaw responded forcefully over at SDGLN.com, pointing out the history of anti-gay bigotry directed at his campaigns. In the 2004 campaign, the V&V went so far as to say he ‘had bad judgment because God’s judgment was against gays’.   [Read more…]

SD For Free: Brunch with Mayor Bob

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.

  1. Location: City Hall Lobby – 202 C Street, San Diego, CA  92101 (Downtown)
  2. Free Hours: 1st Saturday of each month from 9:30 AM to Noon, starting February 2nd
  3. Best For: Pardon requests, autograph seekers, the politically active, pothole complaints
  4. Website: http://www.sandiego.gov/mayor/

In addition to many other items in his first State of the City address on January 15th, newly elected mayor of San Diego Bob Filner announced  that he will hold ‘open hours’ on the first Saturday of each month to be available to the public.  These open hours will take place in the lobby of San Diego City Hall and run from 9:30 AM to Noon.  Residents don’t need an appointment and are welcome to come and share whatever is on their mind.   [Read more…]

The Starting Line – The Sound of One Hand Clapping at UT-San Diego

We’ll start off today by talking about UT-San Diego, always one of my favorite topics. With advent of the New Year there are changes afoot at our local daily newspaper, changes that have me scratching my head… But hey, they’re the experts, right?

I learned via Twitter yesterday that Manchester’s minions are now required to gain management approval should any TV or radio station ask them to comment on pretty much anything. It seems as though UT-San Diego has done a deal with Clear Channel, one of the mega-corporate media meisters. Although they operate a half-dozen or so outlets locally, what we’re really talking about is giving KOGO (home to Rush Limbaugh and other righties in San Diego) and XTRA Sports radio first shot at any UT staffers.

  [Read more…]

The Starting Line – Want to Make San Diego More Bike Friendly? Lose the Helmets!

There’s been a lot of discussion in San Diego lately about making the city more bike friendly.  Mayor Sanders held a media event not long ago touting a public “bike sharing’ program, a low cost rental system that could encompass downtown, the beach areas and midtown by next spring.  Three bike ‘corrals” that allow riders to safely park their bicycle in crowded urban neighborhoods have been opened recently. And it would appear that the people in charge of the area’s roads are starting to take a more serious look at making the streets more user friendly to riders.

From the venerable New York Times Sunday Review comes an article suggesting that, if we truly want to succeed in making the San Diego area more bike-centric, we should look at what many will consider a heretical idea: lose the helmets.   [Read more…]

The Starting Line – Poll Shows Filner Gaining in Mayoral Race as The City Goes to Hell

Mayoral candidate DeMaio continues to consolidate his support among the downtown business types that he campaigned against during the primary. The ‘reformer’ who was going to take on the ‘entrenched interests’ in San Diego is now actively courting the Chamber of Commerce types. So it came as no big surprise yesterday when current Mayor Jerry Sanders swallowed his pride and appeared before the press to bless DeMaio’s candidacy.

Meanwhile, in the only good news I have to report today, a Survey USA poll released yesterday by TV 10News indicates Congressman Bob Filner is widening his lead over City Councilman Carl DeMaio in the race for San Diego’s top spot.  Voters reached by telephone for the survey favored Filner over DeMaio by a 12 point margin, 50 to 38%, with the Congressman showing significant gains among women, Hispanic and white voters over the past month.  The poll says that 12 percent of voters remain undecided and that those who formerly supported candidate Nathan Fletcher now support Filner by a 2 to 1 margin..   [Read more…]

Ruocco Park – San Diego’s Newest Park, Right on the Waterfront

An official ceremony at 10 a.m on Thursday, Sept. 20, featured San Diego officials cutting the ribbon to welcome the public to Ruocco Park. Located at the intersection of West Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway, the park covers 3.3 acres and offers views of the San Diego Bay, Coronado Island, and downtown San Diego.

Ruocco Park was funded jointly by the Port of San Diego, the San Diego Foundation, and the downtown Hyatt. The Port contributed $3.3 million and the Hyatt contributed $.5 million. The San Diego Foundation contributed $3.5 million, $1 million of which is reserved for funding future maintenance. The funds from the San Diego Foundation allowed for the installation of public art and upgrades to the park that would not have been possible with the Port and Hyatt funding alone. Ruocco Park is the 18th public park located on Port land and brings the total amount of land dedicated to parks to 153 acres.

(Photo gallery inside)   [Read more…]

The Starting Line — Bubba-licious: Clinton Schools Republicans with Arithmetic, History

“Now, people ask me all the time how we got four surplus budgets in a row. What new ideas did we bring to Washington? I always give a one-word answer: arithmetic.”

 Former President Bill Clinton took the stage at the Democratic National Convention last night and systematically dismembered the Republican Party’s memes, schemes and misrepresentations that make up the body of their work in building a case against the Obama administration and for electing the men at the top of their ticket. In a fifty minute speech that strayed significantly from the version released in advance to the press, the former chief executive effectively used all the rhetorical skills in his arsenal to argue for another four years of Democratic control of the White House.

I have plenty of reservations about Bill Clinton’s tenure as President; his role in de-regulation of the financial industry and his shortsightedness about the repercussions of NAFTA immediately come to mind. But when it comes to his ability to mount a political offensive, nobody in recent memory can top the combination of ah-shucks populism and wonk-like command of facts that was on display last night.   [Read more…]

Whatever Happened to Downtown Artists? The Experiences of Three Creative Souls Who Survived

By Jim Bliesner

It is a familiar story to hear about how artists settle in unwanted areas of major cities, occupy unused space, and begin to create excitement and a sense of uniqueness and a creative spirit. Eventually developers arrive to capitalize on the aura. What happens to the artists who were the urban pioneers? I interviewed three artists who are downtown or were there in the past. Their experiences cover a period of twenty or thirty years and provide lessons for artists today.   [Read more…]