By Doug Porter
A San Diego judge has issued a tentative ruling that could halt city plans for building a parking garage in Balboa Park and associated renovations of the Plaza de Panama. Oral arguments will be heard in front of Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor on Friday, whose preliminary written decision reflected a clear reluctance to derail the project.
At issue is the legal interpretation of a single phrase, “reasonable beneficial use.” Since the plans included removal of a section of the historic Cabrillo Bridge, the Save Our Heritage Organisation sued, citing (among other things) San Diego’s municipal code, which says the city cannot touch an historic structure unless it’s ruled to have no reasonable beneficial use. In approving the project, the City Council said this was the case as part of the approval process.
From SD City Beat, which broke the story yesterday:
But in his tentative ruling—which could become final this Friday—Taylor shreds the city’s case.
Referring to the arguments the city and committee put forth that denying the project would someday affect the regional economy or lead to untenable future road conflicts between vehicles and pedestrians, Taylor wrote, “Setting aside for the moment the inherently speculative nature of such predictions, these arguments seek to add words to the Municipal Code that are not contained therein.”
Relying on such “future facts,” the judge said, is “largely beside the point.”
The significance of the ruling, should it stand, goes beyond the City’s plans for the Plaza de Panama area. Two significant public events, Earth Day and December Nights have been told by officials that they will have to relocate while construction for this project is underway. Residents in the neighborhood abutting the west side of BalboaPark (where these events have been told to relocate) are up in arms over the potential disruption to traffic, parking and public safety.
The organizers of Earth Day events are unsatisfied with the proposed relocation, and are exploring other options including taking legal action against the City of San Diego. Supporters of the proposed renovations for Plaza de Panama are hoping to have construction finished in time for celebrations marking the centennial anniversary of BalboaPark in 2015. Even if the judge changes his mind, it’s probable appeals will prevent that from happening. From KPBS:
In his ruling, Taylor wrote that he was “reluctant” to find against the city because he was aware that it might cost project supporters generous private donations. The “positives from the project seem to far outweigh the negatives,” the judge said.
The judge also conceded that the final decision on the issue would be made at the appellate level.
Amgen, Genentech Battle to Block Generic Drug Sales
Two Southern California companies are leading the fight to block the sale of generic biological drugs in statehouses around the country, a move that could cost consumers big money and even undermine the financial basis for the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
The New York Times reports today that, by playing on fears these new drugs may be unsafe or unreliable, pharmaceutical companies are hoping to persuade legislatures to impose restrictions guaranteeing their profits even after patent protections expire.
The crux of the issue is that biologic drugs are created using biological rather than chemical processes. Generic versions of these drugs, called biosimilars, are not literally identical to the original product; although they are tested to make sure they have the same effect.
Biosimilars have been available in Europe for several years, and are expected to be available in the United States in about two years. From the Times account:
In statehouses around the country, some of the nation’s biggest biotechnology companies are lobbying intensively to limit generic competition to their blockbuster drugs, potentially cutting into the billions of dollars in savings on drug costs contemplated in the federal health care overhaul law.
Two companies, Amgen and Genentech, are proposing bills that would restrict the ability of pharmacists to substitute generic versions of biological drugs for brand name products.
Genentech, which is owned by Roche, makes Rituxan, Herceptin and Avastin, the best-selling cancer drugs in the world. Amgen makes Enbrel, the anemia drugs Epogen and Aranesp, and the drugs Neupogen and Neulasta for protecting chemotherapy patients from infections. All have billions of dollars in annual sales and, with the possible exception of Enbrel, are expected to lose patent protection in the next several years.
Sickening Stuff About the Fight Over Gun Control
The New York Times is up this morning with a story about the lives of the policemen and first responders in the aftermath of the school shootings in Newtown , Connecticut last month. Really, really, sad stuff.
“Words can’t describe how horrible it was,” said Detective Joudy, who has been with the department for 27 years.
As he left the building that day, Officer Tom Bean, who had also been off duty when he rushed to the scene, realized he had not told his wife where he was. He fumbled for his phone in the parking lot, and called her. “That’s when I broke down in tears, crying,” he said.
More than a month later, the officers continue to feel the pain of that day. Some spoke reluctantly, not wanting to compare their torment with the agony of the families of the children and adult victims. But they also worried about their ability to do their jobs, as they continue to suffer. They said they omitted some details out of sensitivity to the victims, and to protect the investigation as it continued.
Pro-Gun Activists Heckle Newtown Parent of Dead Boy
It was a proud day for the gun rights set in America (sarcasm intended). They tried to shout down the father of a six year out boy who was killed in the December 14th school shootings.
Neil Haslin spoke from the heart as he held a picture of his dead son before a hearing of the Gun Violence Prevention Working Group at the LegislativeOfficeBuilding in Hartford, CT. on Monday. As he gave his emotional testimony, tearfully pleading with lawmakers to improve mental health options and to ban assault weapons like the one Adam Lanza used to murder his child and 25 other people, his speech was interrupted by dozens of audience members, The Connecticut Post reported.
“I still can’t see why any civilian, anybody in this room in fact, needs weapons of that sort. You’re not going to use them for hunting, even for home protection,” Heslin said.
Poll Shows Public Support for Gun Regulations
A Gallup survey conducted Jan. 19-20 reveals public support for all nine of the proposals for controlling gun violence made by President Obama. The questions in the poll did not tell respondents that all nine proposals come from Obama’s recently released plan to reduce gun violence; however, the wordings used to describe them intentionally follow the White House’s “Now Is the Time” plan descriptions.
Republican Nightmare Coming True in July
White people in California are rapidly aging and Latinos are expected to become California’s largest demographic group this year. From KPBS:
It’s been expected for a while, but now the California state government has pinned a date — July 2013 — when both whites and Latinos are expected to make up 39 percent of the population. After that, Latinos will be on top. Inside the section demographic information, part of Jerry Brown’s 2013-14 Budget Summary released this month, it says most of the state’s Latinos are young.
More on the Death of Football
But the handwriting is on the wall. Either the game as it’s currently played changes or the courts will eventually find a way to make it so costly that it won’t be worth it. And my fear is that the changes (the more likely course) will make the games unpalatable.
Here’s Baltimore Ravens safety Bernard Pollard delivering a dire prediction about the future of the NFL to CBSSports.com:
“Thirty years from now,” he said, “I don’t think it will be in existence. I could be wrong. It’s just my opinion, but I think with the direction things are going — where they [NFL rules makers] want to lighten up, and they’re throwing flags and everything else — there’s going to come a point where fans are going to get fed up with it.
“Guys are getting fined, and they’re talking about, ‘Let’s take away the strike zone’ and ‘Take the pads off’ or ‘Take the helmets off.’ It’s going to be a thing where fans aren’t going to want to watch it anymore.”
From Think Progress:
Last week, after researchers published a study further linking chronic traumatic encephalopathy to football, the Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates called it a death knell for football, though unlike Pollard, he predicted that death would come from the supply side:
There’s something more; presumably, if they really learn how to diagnose this, they will be able to say exactly how common it is for football players–and maybe athletes at large–to develop CTE. This is when you start thinking about football and an existential crisis. I don’t know what the adults will do. But you tell a parent that their kid has a five percent chance of developing crippling brain damage through playing a sport, and you will see the end of Pop Warner and probably the end of high school football. Colleges would likely follow. (How common are college boxing teams these days?)
After that, I don’t know how pro football can stand for long.
On This Day: 1845 – Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” was published for the first time in the “New York Evening Mirror.” 1850 – Henry Clay introduced in the Senate a compromise bill on slavery that included the admission of California into the Union as a free state. 1972 – Smokey Robinson left The Miracles.
Eat Fresh! Today’s Farmers’ Markets: Coronado (1st St. & B Ave., Ferry Landing) 2:30 – 6 pm, Escondido (Grand Ave. btw Juniper & Kalmia St.) 2:30 – 6:00 pm , Mira Mesa (Mira Mesa High School 10510 Reagan Rd.) 3–7 pm, Morena District (1240 West Morena Blvd.) 3 – 7 pm, Otay Ranch – Chula Vista (2015 Birch Rd. and Eastlake Blvd.) 4 –8 pm, Pacific Beach (Bayard & Garnet) 2 – 6:30pm, UCSD/La Jolla (UCSD Campus, Town Square at Gilman/Meyers) 10 am – 2 pm (Sept. 25 through mid-June; closed for winter, spring and summer breaks)
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