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Morning Report: Art Venues Face Fire Safety Crackdown

Mayor touts homeless vet assistance but many don't have homes yet, U-T columnist blisters Chargers owner, city settles family's lawsuit over prominent case, Tijuana debates Uber, and S.D.'s two college football bowls get rated.

This month’s deadly warehouse blaze in Oakland is focusing attention on fire safety at venues where artists and performers gather. Here in San Diego, three arts venues — Glashaus and La Bodega in Barrio Logan and Bread & Salt in Logan Heights — are being told they can’t host public events because of problems discovered by inspectors.

While warehouses often give artists a cheaper place to live, work and perform, they “can be chock full of code and fire violations like inadequate emergency exits, poor ventilation and lack of sprinklers,” our Kinsee Morlan reports. “Artists sometimes live in these warehouses illegally, or they hold illegal events that pack in more people than can safely exit in an emergency.”

The owner of Bread & Salt says the venues are being unfairly targeted, a charge that the city fire marshal denies. The fire marshal said the inspection of La Bodega came from an anonymous tip not long after the fire in Oakland, and inspections at Bread & Salt and Glashaus have been ongoing.

In other arts news, we’re out with episode five of Culturecast, VOSD’s public-radio-style podcast covering the intersection of arts and gentrification in Barrio Logan. Coincidentally, the episode focuses on Bread & Salt, an arts space inside an old bread factory on the border of Barrio Logan and Logan Heights.

“I sat inside the warehouse for an entire day,” our Kinsee Morlan reports, “and talked to artists, architects and developers about what people are, or should be doing to address gentrification.”

One of those who stopped to chat is photographer John Mireles, who doesn’t find gentrification to be “this evil, horrible thing”: “If change is bad, when do we want this process of change to stop? Is it OK to stop when it becomes a very low-income neighborhood?”

This episode is the last of Culturecast’s Season 1, which focused on Barrio Logan. Stay tuned for Season 2, which will move to other neighborhoods and issues in the world of art and culture.

This week’s Culture Report has some news: A 25-foot-tall squatting metal man, made up of letters from eight different alphabets, is slated to appear at a busy downtown intersection. The public art sculpture is called “Pacific Soul.”

Also in the Culture Report: The Don Diego clock tower at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, an example of Googie architecture, will be demolished. A columnist thinks 2017 won’t be a great year for beer. And everybody’s coming out with Best-of-2016 lists.

About Those Homeless Vet Program Numbers …

Mayor Kevin Faulconer held a press conference press conference Tuesday to announce that 700 homeless vets are “enrolled” in the Housing Our Heroes program, part of the city’s effort to end homelessness among vets. But, as our Lisa Halverstadt reported last week, “just 439 have moved into apartments or homes.” There’s a big difference between being enrolled in the program and actually getting housed. A big reason for that is San Diego’s incredibly tight rental market.

A spokesman for the mayor said the city wants to encourage more landlords to rent to homeless vets. As we’ve reported, it can often be difficult for any homeless person, veteran or not, to actually find housing with a voucher.

The mayor also announced Tuesday that homeless providers will be opening up more beds “when extreme cold weather conditions strike.”

A new report says San Diego is the 10th worst major metro in the country for renters, with 57 percent paying a third or more of their income on rent. “That’s higher than New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago and Portland,” the U-T reports.

The worst metro for renters? Miami.

U-T Columnist Rips Chargers

Not too long ago, the U-T was a skeptic-free zone when it came to giving the Chargers a new place to play. The newspaper’s position on building a new stadium was simple: Yes, now, please!

The U-T has new(ish) owners, a new editorial perspective (they endorsed Hillary Clinton) and more tolerance for alternative points of view. Case in point: A scathing column by veteran sports writer Mark Zeigler.

“So now Dean Spanos says he’s closer to moving the Chargers to Los Angeles than staying in San Diego,” Zeigler writes. “Here’s a one-finger, two-letter suggestion: Go. Move. Do it. Dare you.”

Ziegler thinks Spanos isn’t going anywhere. “See if he’s really going to be the second team in a metropolis that hasn’t embraced the first. See if he’s really going to play for a few seasons in a 25,000-seat stadium and sacrifice all that ticket revenue. See if he’s really going to rent in someone else’s palace. See if he’s really going to cultivate a whole new fan base and sign new corporate sponsors and build a new training facility. See if one of the cheapest owners in the NFL is really going to pay the $550 million relocation fee? See if he’s really going to a place where he’ll have the third most popular NFL team (behind the Rams and Raiders) while competing for market share with two NBA, two Major League Baseball and two NHL franchises along with two major colleges.”

Another sports writer, Tom Krasovic, is calling for a small stadium downtown, one with just 45,000 seats. I seem to vaguely recall that we already have a small stadium downtown, but maybe I’m hallucinating.

Settlement in High-Profile Cop Case

Nearly two years ago, we broke the story of a family’s stunningly violent encounter in 2014 with San Diego cops who mistakenly thought brothers Luis and Diego Lobaton were breaking into a business. They were actually returning to their family’s City Heights store, and no crime had been committed.

“As the brothers, along with Luis’ girlfriend, walked back to the store from up the street, they were followed by two San Diego police officers. Four more officers soon joined the scene. In a brief but violent encounter, Diego was handcuffed and detained as he opened the door to the store, and Luis was punched repeatedly by an officer who barreled inside with other cops and arrested him,” our contributor H.G. Reza reported. “Hedy Julca, the Lobatons’ mother and the owner of the store, tried to get between two officers who were pounding on Luis Lobaton. An officer wrestled her to the floor. She, too, was handcuffed and arrested as another son, 3-year-old Bruce, watched from close by.”

Now, the Reader reports that the city has tentatively settled a lawsuit by the family against four officers. The amount hasn’t been disclosed, but it will be if the City Council approves it.

Quick News Hits: Bowled Over

San Jose, the third-largest city in California and one of the largest in the nation, has a pension scandal on its hands: City retirees were apparently overpaid about $1.5 million, and now they’re supposed to pay it back through lower future payments. (Mercury News)

Like many cities in the U.S. and elsewhere, Tijuana is grappling with the rise of Uber and the corresponding fury of taxi drivers who are losing business. Now, the U-T reports, an Uber crackdown may be put on hold amid talks between the company and city officials.

The University of Minnesota’s football team briefly threatened to boycott the Holiday Bowl amid a flap over sexual assault allegations and player suspensions. The team has decided to play after all.

But will the game matter? The news site 538.com has ranked 40 of this year’s bowl games, from the Fiesta Bowl (No. 1) to the unimpressively named Heart of Dallas Bowl (No. 40).

Our own Holiday Bowl places pretty high at No. 15, just above the Music City Bowl, while our Poinsettia Bowl ranks down at No. 29.

There’s no ranking for the Taco Bowl because it does not exist. This, it must be said, is an outrage. Maybe we can add it to our bowl offerings next year? The stadium might be really, really available.

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 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

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