San Diego

San Diego Free Press’ Swan Song: 9 Awards at Society of Professional Journalists

July 18, 2019 by Staff

It is true that the San Diego Free Press, launched by the OB Rag in 2012, closed itself down and has not been publishing since December 2018. But that doesn’t mean it’s dead or its writers had to leave the country.

In fact, in a Swan Song of its last public appearance, the San Diego Free Press won 9 awards at last night’s annual dinner of the San Diego Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Here’s the list of Free Press winners with links to their contributions:

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The History of San Diego’s Thirty-Foot Height Limit

July 18, 2019 by Frank Gormlie

Last night at the annual awards banquet put on by San Diego’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, OB Rag editor Frank Gormlie won Third Place in the category Daily Reporting and Writing – Housing / Development Story for his article “The History of San Diego’s 30 Foot Height Limit” published at San Diego Free Press in May 2018. (The same article was first posted on OB Rag. The San Diego Free Press is now defunct.) Here below is the article in its entirely:

By Frank Gormlie

Recently – within the context of discussions over the City of San Diego’s plans to bring massive redevelopment to the Midway District on this site – there has been some serious disparagement of the 30 foot height limit, and it’s being blamed for everything from the housing crisis to the lack of affordability at the coast.

So, apparently it’s time, once again, to present some local history – the origins of the 30 foot height limit – and some of the good folks who made it happen.

It all began back in the late Sixties when beach residents began to rebel against a wave of unbridled development occurring at the coast.

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Homeless Numbers Increase in Major California Counties – Except Somehow Not in San Diego

July 15, 2019 by Frank Gormlie

All across California, the numbers of people who are homeless are increasing dramatically – especially in the populated counties – except for San Diego, for some reason.

In the latest count of San Diego County homeless people, conducted on January 25, it was found the homeless population had actually dropped – from about 6 percent to 11 percent (depending on who’s counting) and totaled 8,102 humans.

In late April, the San Diego Regional Task Force on the Homeless released their report, and found 3,626 were in shelters and 4,476 were living on the streets, vehicles, canyons or other open places.

Reportedly, a 5.5 percent drop from last year, the Point-In-Time Count survey states this year’s numbers are down from both last year’s observed total of 8,576 and the 2017 total of 9,116.

As usual, the City of San Diego had the largest number of homeless people in the county: 5,073 humans

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City of San Diego Is Illegally Providing Free Trash Collection for 16,000 Short-Term Vacation Rentals

July 15, 2019 by Source

In an explosive admission that the City of San Diego is illegally providing free trash collection services to up to 16,000 short-term vacation rental units, the interim City Auditor has notified the City’s Chief Operating Officer of this fact.

In a memo dated July 10, 2019, Kyle Elser, Interim City Auditor notified COO Kris Michell, that his office had received a “Fraud Hotline report” that the City was improperly providing free trash pick-up services to thousands of short-term vacation rentals.

Generally, a vacation rental is a property that is leased out for less than a month at a time. Elser and the city use the terms “short-term residential occupancy (STRO)”; and it’s the City’s Environmental Services Department (ESD) that is responsible for trash collection.

In the memo, Elser dropped this bomb:

Our investigation determined that up to 16,000 STRO units receive free trash collection service from the City.

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San Diego’s New Mayor Must Save Our Threatened Neighborhoods

July 15, 2019 by Source

By Colleen O’Connor / Times of San Diego / July 12, 2019

What makes a city strong?

Is it a large police force? Multiple hospitals? Numerous colleges and universities?

Or a concentrated high-tech center of wealth and innovation, plus public libraries?

One might argue all of these make a city strong. Certainly, they are important.

But, I would argue that resilience—amid looming, super-wicked problems—is now the number one ingredient for any city’s survival.

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San Ysidro: Nearly 2,000 Rally and March in Protest Against Trump’s Detention Camps

July 13, 2019 by Frank Gormlie

Between 1,500 and 2,000 demonstrators rallied at Larsen Field in San Ysidro on Friday, July 12, against Trump border policies which have resulted in migrants and children being kept in camps and centers under inhumane conditions.

About 7pm the demonstrators formed up and marched out of the park and along Camino de la Plaza down to the bridge over I-5 at the entrance to Mexico.

The protest was organized by Lights for Liberty and the Coalition to Close the Concentration Camps and was supported and endorsed by a wide arrange of community organizations.

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Lights for Liberty – Close the Camps Protest at San Ysidro – July 12

July 12, 2019 by Source

Lights for Liberty and the Coalition to Close the Concentration Camps – San Diego are collaborating to unify our communities with one event at Cesar Chavez Park at Larsen Field in San Ysidro this Friday, July 12!

This is a peaceful vigil that is being led by a coalition of parents, children, families, and community groups. Bring your signs and join us! Together in unity and solidarity we will shine a light on the horrific abuses of the Trump administration in human detention camps.

Schedule of Events – July 12, 2019

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Navy and SANDAG Agree on ‘Grand Central Station’ for Point Loma’s Former SPAWAR Site

July 10, 2019 by Source

Federal and local government agencies formalize talks around using base for airport transit hub.

By Jennifer Van Grove / San Diego Union-Tribune / July 10, 2019

The Navy is making room for the possibility of a much-talked-about transit center, one that local leaders have dubbed “San Diego Grand Central Station,” at the 70-acre base that overlooks Interstate 5 in Point Loma.

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Five Easy Questions About the San Diego City Auditor

July 10, 2019 by Source

By Norma Damashek / NumbersRunner / July 9, 2019

Question #1: Ever wonder what an auditor does?

I was introduced to the term auditor at an early age. “If anyone asks you what your father does for a living,” my mother instructed, “just say he’s an auditor.” Many years would pass before I figured out that auditor was more than a code word for daddies who ran numbers and booked bets.

Auditors could also be professionals in public and private institutions who assessed financial documents and business transactions for accuracy and legal compliance. Numbers runners, yes, but respectable.

A decade ago, Eduardo Luna was hired as San Diego’s City Auditor. He had the training, experience, and commitment to public service to withstand political pressure while running the office of City Auditor. Luna’s prescribed ten-year term in office recently expired. This summer, a new City Auditor will be appointed. Under City Charter provisions the mayor selects the City Auditor for a ten-year term, subject to City Council approval.

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Book review: ‘Goosestep’ by Harold Jaffe

July 9, 2019 by Source

By Kit-Bacon Gressitt / Excuse Me, I’m Writing

While a tide of new political activists is frothing across the nation, one seasoned revolutionary is quietly practicing his decades-long resistance in Mission Hills. Harold Jaffe, author and SDSU professor, continues his quest to challenge popular perception in his 24th book, Goosestep: Fictions and Docufictions (Journal of Experimental Fiction Books, November 2016).

Jaffe has taught at SDSU for about 30 years, and traveled the world longer. He lives and writes in “what remains of nature” along a Mission Hills canyon.

“There are fewer birds now,” he said. “I think global warming is the prime suspect there. Wilderness being real-estated; land being contaminated; the weather being completely out of sorts; birds, when they migrate here in the winter, find the weather too warm. Without wildness, we’re damned. We must integrate with wild creatures, otherwise this earth is going to be quickly damned.”

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Scott Peters and Juan Vargas Support Impeachment While Susan Davis Wants to Wait

July 8, 2019 by Frank Gormlie

Scanning where San Diego County Congressional Representatives stand on impeachment, Congressmen Scott Peters and Juan Vargas both support the impeachment of Donald Trump.

Back in April, Rep. Juan Vargas was addressing the Mueller Report at a meeting of the San Diego County Chamber of Commerce when he stated:

“We should impeach him”

Vargas was the first San Diego Congressperson to join the growing list of more than 80 House members on board the impeach train. He told The Hill:

“We should start the impeachment process. I think it gets us to a place where we can get this information, and then frankly be able to make a determination.”

“By the time the courts decide, I think I’ll have grandchildren and my daughters aren’t married.”

Then in late June, Rep. Scott Peters, called for Trump’s impeachment, saying the current president has committed “more significant wrongdoing than even the Watergate break-in.”

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Green Calendar for July 2019 by the Ocean Beach Green Center

July 3, 2019 by Source

July Events From the Ocean Beach Green Center

Ocean Beach Green Center, 4862 Voltaire Street, Ocean Beach 92107

Ocean Beach Green Center Event

July 13th Thursday 7 pm Film Night ” From Paris to Pittsburg ” This 2018 documentary about climate change is directed by National Geographic filmmaker Sidney Beaumont and documentarian Michael Bonfiglio. Free of charge

Every Saturday at 10:00 a.m. Climate Mobilization Coalition Meeting. July 6th, 13th, 20th, 27th Ocean Beach People’s Cooperative Community Room, 4765 Voltaire Street. Come help plan for the upcoming Climate Action events. More info


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New Scooter Rules In Effect – Contact Mayor’s Office If You Witness Violations

July 2, 2019 by Frank Gormlie

The City of San Diego’s new rules on scooters went into effect Monday, July 1. Please contact your Mayor’s office to report any violations.

The new regulations include:

Speed limits: In specific geofenced areas, scooters cannot go faster than 8 mph.

In pedestrian-only geofenced areas: scooters are limited to 3 mph with a push message notifying riders to leave that area.

Geofencing in effect for the following areas:

  • beach-area boardwalks,
  • Balboa Park,
  • NTC Park,
  • Mission Bay Park,
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San Diego Is Ideal Venue for Debate Between Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren

July 2, 2019 by Source

By Colleen O’Connor / Times of San Diego / June 30, 2019

San Diego should hurry before Harvard University books it.

What better way to honor the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote?

Or to celebrate the two undisputed first-place winners in the recent Democratic Presidential debates—Senators Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren?

What better way to honor our prestigious local universities?

And how historically appropriate.

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Thinking About Race and the YMCA

June 27, 2019 by Ernie McCray

by Ernie McCray

An issue with racial overtones has come up in San Diego, centered on the Jackie Robinson YMCA located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.

It’s caught my attention because I’m reminded of one other time I associated race with a YMCA.

First of all, though, I must say I love and appreciate YMCA’s.

I mean I was a Y brat as a kid.

I learned to swim and do arts and craft at the Y. I once held the pancake eating contest at the Tucson Y Camp where I also gained an appreciation for horseback riding and archery and backpacking and enjoying singing and roasting hot dogs and marshmallows around an open fire.

But back in those days, the 1940’s, I had to deal with racial overtones at my local Y.

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San Diego Grocery Workers Vote to Authorize Union to Strike

June 27, 2019 by Frank Gormlie

Grocery workers throughout San Diego County have voted to authorize their union to call a strike if negotiations with supermarket chains stall. They were joined in the call by thousands of their fellow workers across Southern California in voting overwhelmingly to give the okay to the leaderships of their union, the United Food and Commercial Workers.

97 per cent of grocery workers in San Diego County voted to approve a strike.

There is no strike yet. But it definitely could happen if the major chains fail to negotiate a new contract successfully with the unions who represent the people who run the stores.

Which major stores are we talking about? Ralph’s, Albertsons and Vons – and Pavilions (an upscale version of Vons). Alone, Albertsons has over a 1,000 stores across North America. This would include no doubt the Vons on Midway Drive.

What is the status of the negotiations? They’re on hold as of right now after weeks of being stalled, but are scheduled to begin again July 10 and go on for several days.

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City Council’s Campland Vote Ignores Will of San Diego Voters

June 26, 2019 by Source

By Colleen O’Connor / Times of San Diego / June 25, 2019

Who are these people on our City Council?

Did they just move here? Do they know nothing of the history of Mission Bay Park?

Don’t they realize that in 1987, 79% of the voters supported Proposition D to preserve Mission Bay Park from increased development, commercialization and loss of open space?

Here is the actual language of that three-decades-old charter amendment:

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San Diego’s Land Barons Are Not Capable of Solving the Housing Affordability Crisis

June 25, 2019 by Doug Porter

By Doug Porter / Words&Deeds

The housing market in San Diego is just a few short steps away from being a disaster. Take the latest guesstimate (8,000) of unhoused humans in the county and city, multiply it by twenty five, and it’s possible to visualize being just one stock market crash away from dystopia.

If your budget is highly stressed because of housing costs, you may as well make contingency plans for being homeless in San Diego.

This includes 28% of the renters (who pay more than half their income for housing) in San Diego County

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Coalition ReWild Mission Bay NOT Down With 5 Year Lease by Campland at De Anza Cove

June 14, 2019 by Source

ReWild Mission Bay Statement Regarding Land Use and Housing Committee Recommendations for Lease Approvals

Members of the ReWild Mission Bay coalition continue to note their disappointment with the City of San Diego’s Land Use and Housing Committee recommendation to extend the lease of the current Campland site in the northeast corner of Mission Bay by five years, thereby precluding the initiation of wetland restoration efforts west of Rose Creek and east of Kendall Frost Marsh Reserve.

The 1994 Mission Bay Park Master Plan called for the relocation of the current Campland site in order to facilitate wetland restoration at the mouth of Rose Creek. The plan was upheld in 2002. Similarly, ReWild Mission Bay coalition members are concerned about the granting of an all-new lease to Campland to manage the Mission Bay RV Park on De Anza Point for five years,

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Indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter Threw His Wife Under the Bus. Now She’s Driving It.

June 13, 2019 by Doug Porter

By Doug Porter / Words&Deeds / June 13, 2019

The chickens are coming home to roost for District 50 Congressman Duncan Hunter. Margaret Hunter changed her plea this morning to guilty to the first count in the indictment, conspiring with her husband to “knowingly and willingly convert campaign funds for personal use.”

Mrs Hunter faces up to five years in jail with a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release, and is cooperating with the prosecution.

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Grocery Strike in San Diego?

June 12, 2019 by Frank Gormlie

Whether there is a grocery strike in San Diego – and other parts of Southern California – could very well be decided on June 24 when union members from 7 different locals vote on whether to authorize a strike or not. If there is a strike, it would be against 3 major grocery chains, Albertsons, Albertsons-owned Vons, and Kroger-owned Ralphs.

The San Diego local, United Food and Commercial Workers Local 135, will vote at the Scottish Rite Center in Mission Valley, near Local 135 offices. If a strike is authorized by the membership, a strike could be called at any time by the leadership.

The other UFCW locals involved in the contract negotiations are Local 8, based in Bakersfield; Local 324 of Buena Park, Local 770, based in Los Angeles; Local 1167 of Bloomington; Local 1428 of Claremont; and Local 1442 of Inglewood.

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New City Budget Includes $500,000 for Expanded Ocean Beach Library

June 11, 2019 by Frank Gormlie


The great news coming out of Monday’s San Diego City Council’s approval of a $1.6 billion budget is an inclusion of $500,000 for architectural work on an expanded Ocean Beach Library.

Insiders may have known about this monetary grant to push the OB Library’s expansion forward, but the report by David Garrick at the San Diego Union-Tribune described it as “among the last-minute additions” during the 2 hour public hearing. This half-million will be, of course, for the coming fiscal year, which starts July 1.

Other budgetary items noted by Garrick and of possible interest to our readers include:

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Why Restoring Wetlands on Mission Bay Is More Important Than Ever

June 5, 2019 by Source

By Jim Peugh / The Times of San Diego / June 4, 2019

The last several years have seen a deluge of news about infrastructure in San Diego. Whether it’s the future of the stadium site in Mission Valley, the extension of the Blue Line trolley to UCSD, or the push among urbanists to revolutionize housing in our city, refining our development footprint has taken up a sizable volume of bandwidth in our civic conversation.

As plans move forward to reshape San Diego’s built environment, it’s easy to overlook how these changes can negatively affect our quality of life and the sustainability of our communities. In the rush to redevelop, we often miss out on opportunities to incorporate green infrastructure

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2 UCSD Doctors Publish Paper Based on Research From Unethically Collected Samples of Veterans Without Their Consent

June 4, 2019 by Source

by Brad Racino & Jill Castellano / inewsource / May 30, 2019

Two prominent doctors associated with the University of California San Diego and the local VA used blood and stool samples taken from sick veterans to bolster a paper published this month in an academic research journal.

The specimens were not supposed to be used, according to the project’s lead researcher, because they were part of a study that unethically collected biological samples from living subjects without their consent, which investigators called “serious noncompliance.”

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Green Calendar for June 2019

June 3, 2019 by Source

June 15th Saturday 2 pm – 3 pm Beginning Vegetable Gardening Workshops Ocean Beach Library 4801 Santa Monica Ave. San Diego 92107 The Master Gardener Association of San Diego County will be teaching Beginning Vegetable Gardening (BVG) Workshops at the Ocean Beach Library beginning on April 6th. Today’s topic is Soils. Learn about what soil needs to thrive and the science of this essential ingredient in gardening. More info:

June 15th Saturday 9 am – 6 pm Youth Climate Action Summit The Youth Climate Action Summit is a one-day event taking place in Hillcrest that will better equip high school students to become climate leaders at their school and in their community. Youth will gain leadership and teamwork skills, knowledge, and support to effectively influence policy and inspire their peers to take meaningful action on climate change and climate justice. More info: sd350/org/youth-summit

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Will San Francisco’s Tech Bro Nightmare Become San Diego’s Future?

June 3, 2019 by Jim Miller

By Jim Miller

Bohemian San Francisco is deader than a doornail. That was the theme of a recent Washington Post piece by Karen Heller, “How San Francisco Broke America’s Heart”, that observed how “the great American romantic city” had been ruined by an army of tech bros and the economic forces they represent. As Heller writes, “everyone agrees that something has rotted in San Francisco,” and it’s not a product of the city’s liberalism, but of a new wave of libertarian capitalism:

Real estate is the nation’s costliest. Listings read like typos, a median $1.6 million for a single-family home and $3,700 monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment.

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State Bill Restricting Short-Term Vacation Rentals in San Diego Passes Assembly

May 28, 2019 by Source

The legislation, which only applies to San Diego County, targets short-term rental platforms like Airbnb and VRBO and would have the effect of prohibiting the rental of second homes on those sites.

By Lori Weisberg / San Diego Union-Tribune

In a major victory for critics of short-term rentals, a bill to sharply curtail them in San Diego County’s coastal communities won approval Thursday, May 23 in the state Assembly. Should the bill ultimately win passage in the state Senate and be signed by the governor, it would hugely transform the home sharing landscape in local jurisdictions that have more lenient rules or none at all, as in the city of San Diego.

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Memorial Day – Remembering Lawrence Edward Webber, Beloved Brother of San Diego Family

May 27, 2019 by Patty Jones

Author’s note: During the last few days I have come to know and develop a deep respect for a man I have never met. I do family history as a hobby and have been doing research on Frank’s uncle, …. What follows is what I have discovered, and what has brought me to tears a few times while collecting it all, here, for Memorial Day.
Lawrence Edward Webber, USMC, MIA – POW – KIA
Lawrence Edward Webber was born in 1920, in Malden, Massachusetts, the son of Frank Webber and Elizabeth Benson. He was the youngest of four children. He had one brother, Frank Webber (long-time local businessman and owner of Ocean Beach Camera, in the Newport Avenue area) and two sisters, Mildred and Dorothea (mother of our own editor, Frank Gormlie).

As a young man Lawrence moved to San Diego, where his siblings also lived, and enlisted in the Marine Corps on May 2, 1939 at the age of 19. He was stationed in San Diego until December 1939 when he was transported to Shanghai, China.

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Duncan Hunter (& Dad) to Crawl Out From Under Their Rocks for Border Issues Town Hall

May 23, 2019 by Doug Porter

By Doug Porter / Words&Deeds

Indicted San Diego Congressman Duncan D. Hunter and his father, former congressman Duncan Hunter, will participate in a joint town hall-style event focused on border issues on Saturday, May 25, 11:30am at the Ramona Mainstage, 626 Main Street.

Doors are open at 11am, the capacity for the hall is 400 people, and it appears entry is on a first come, first served basis. An article in the Union-Tribune says event organizers are expecting protesters.

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The San Diego Connection If There’s War With Iran

May 23, 2019 by Michael Steinberg

By Michael Steinberg / Black Rain Press

On May 9 the US Naval Institute reported, “Due to provocative behavior from Iran and new intelligence…US National Security Advisor John Bolton cited {but did not identify}a “number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings.”

Subsequently the US Central Command ordered the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln strike force from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf, belly up with Iran.

The Navy report also mentioned that the Lincoln, stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, is “set to arrive at its new homeport of San Diego later this year.”

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