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Morning Report: Amid Rising Suicides, Concern Over Bridge Lighting Project

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Hundreds of people have jumped to their deaths from the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge because it’s an icon, and the annual suicide toll has skyrocketed over the last several years. Now, there are plans to make this suicide magnet even more iconic, and critics are speaking out [1].

At issue: Should a $10 million plan to dramatically light the bridge go forward before authorities figure out whether they want to take major action toward a suicide deterrent like a fence or net?

The lighting “will draw more people to the bridge,” said Wayne Strickland, a retired Coronado firefighter who leads the Bridge Collaborative for Suicide Prevention. “They need to put up a fence or a net… and get it done before they even think of doing the lights.”

The Coronado City Council agreed, recently refusing to bless the lighting project because suicide prevention should be the top priority. But a spokeswoman for the port, the main driver behind the lighting project, said it’s unknown if the lighting will have any impact on suicides.

As I explain in my new VOSD story [1], there is some good news for those who have been trying to reduce the bridge’s deadly toll. Caltrans, which manages the bridge, has finally agreed to explore suicide deterrent options, although they’re likely to take years and tens of millions of dollars to put into place.

My story [1] also explores last year’s bridge, suicide toll (the second-highest in history), lists a pair of prevention ideas that aren’t catching on, and checks in on a massive deterrent project at the Golden Gate Bridge, which may be the only bridge in North American with deadlier suicide record than the Coronado bridge.

Politics Roundup: SDSU West Boosters Signal Virtue

In a bid to show that their motives are pure, developers behind the proposed SDSU West project say they won’t take part in construction efforts [2]. (U-T)

Last year, our Andrew Keatts uncovered the way some of the city’s biggest developers swarmed against SoccerCity [3], a competing development proposal for the former Chargers Stadium property that’s likely to share the ballot with SDSU West. Many of those are the same developers now pushing SDSU West, and who have now pledged to the U-T not to work on the project. They told us the same thing last year.

• Ten local residents have been ordered to give up their guns [4] because they appear to pose a danger to themselves or others; a new law allows certain people like parents to ask for this. Proposed legislation [5] would allow school staffs and co-workers to also ask that guns be removed. (U-T, L.A. Times)

• The U-T has stories about prosecutors working to target drug dealers [6] linked to drug overdoses, the latest on the San Onofre nuclear power plant settlement talks [7], and a faster pace [8] for the ongoing undergrounding of power wires in San Diego. And NBC 7 checks on complaints about a recycling plant [9] that draws the homeless in Point Loma.

• What on earth is happening in the governor’s race? As Politico explains, a former top aide to Hillary Clinton has filed the paperwork to run, but she’s made no announcement [10], “and she is not returning reporters’ calls. She’s raised no money and has no apparent political apparatus — a bizarre campaign opening more characteristic of a fringe candidate than a political professional.” She did, however, just quit a top state job.

Fluffy Keeps Staring at Her Paw for Some Reason

It’s illegal for veterinarians to prescribe medical marijuana to animals — presumably in a form that would be eaten, not smoked — but a legislator wants to change the law [11]. (L.A. Times)

• Other proposed legislation will prevent emergency responders from being sued [12] for illegal practicing veterinary medicine if they resuscitate a pet. (sfgate.com)

• At some point, a custom-made head of the San Diego Chicken, now known as the Famous San Diego Chicken — became separated from the custom-made body of one of the most famous mascots in sports. Now, the head is up for auction online [13], NBC 7 reports.

“I could identify that indeed it was … except for, I don’t know why, there’s a big long red tongue that comes out of it,” the guy behind the chicken says. “I had nothing to do with this whatsoever.”

• Here’s some gray whale smoochy-smoochy [14] caught on video the other day.

Quick News Hits: Food Fight!

The Washington Post [15] and the Union-Tribune [16] both ran remarkable stories over the weekend about claims that local hotel magnate Doug Manchester reigned over sexist, boorish and “toxic” atmosphere at the U-T when he was its eccentric owner earlier this decade. Manchester, a crony of Donald Trump, is up for an ambassadorship to the Bahamas.

Check the VOSD website later today for a closer look at the accusations and the takeaways we can learn from them.

An outside firm is investigating that high-profile encounter [17] between a La Mesa cop and a Helix High student. “A video showed him body-slamming the female student and pinning her to the ground,” the U-T reports.

• The county is suggesting that pregnant women get the whooping cough vaccine [18] as reports of infections come in. Newborn kids can get sick. (NBC 7)

• What can you do with a burrito? Well, you could make a casserole out of it [19], as we learned the other day (hmm). Or you could just argue about it a lot.

Locals took the latter option over at the San Diego page of the website Reddit. The fight began [20] when some guy declared that “the burritos here are complete crap compared to the SF bay mission style burrito. It hurts my soul and makes me weep man tears.”

For the uninitiated, Mission-style burritos are gigantic, somewhat akin to the over-stuffed Chipotle burrito. Then this user went one step further: those chain Chipotle burritos are actually better than those at our beloved local taco shops. Fighting words!

Outrage ensued (“hisses at you like you’re a ballet villain”), and the argument intensified to the fine points of burrito design (“rice in burritos is blasphemy” and “I hate beans in mission burritos”). There’s even a can’t-we-all-get-along-and-enjoy-burritos-of-our-choice contingent.

Amen. Let us all eat in peace, even those of you who are completely and utterly wrong in every way about the beans and rice.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. He is also immediate past president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com [21] and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga [22].