Morning Report: Small Cities, Big Climate Dreams - Voice of San Diego

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Morning Report: Small Cities, Big Climate Dreams

Inside the city’s code compliance woes, San Diego Unified assures parents school choice isn’t ending and a depressing fact about happiness.

Pressured by state climate goals and unforgiving court decisions, small cities in San Diego County are slowly starting to assemble their individual plans for addressing climate change. Maya Srikrishnan reports cities like Santee and La Mesa are confronting the reality that their climate plans are going to involve difficult trade-offs.

La Mesa’s plan, for example, could be “vulnerable to a lawsuit, since it doesn’t commit the city to reducing its emissions levels.” These so-called “aspirational” climate plans have run into problems in courts, with judges demanding hard goals akin to plan the city of San Diego is working on, which commits the city to being accountable for results.

Santee is still mulling its climate plan, and it remains to be seen which approach it will take. “Santee’s planning department gave the City Council a list of options to include in a climate plan, like putting solar panels on all new residences, and expanding bike routes,” Srikrishnan writes.

The Learning Curve: You’ve Still Got Choices

We’ve written previously about what your options are if you don’t want your child to attend the school in your neighborhood: you can apply to send your kid to some other schools elsewhere. The program is popular with parents, but Mario Koran reports that many parents have been wondering lately about the future of school choice. “We need to think very carefully before we take away choice from parents,” said San Diego Unified Board Trustee Kevin Beiser recently.

The school district is pushing forward plans to make neighborhood schools more attractive, so fewer people will need the school choice program. But Koran finds immediate concerns over the district acting to end school choice are a misunderstanding of why there are fewer “choice” seats at some schools. Among other things, “Lower class sizes means that schools take in fewer students overall,” Koran writes, which translates to fewer seats available to choice students. Things like portable classrooms being removed also cut down on the number of available spots.

Code (Non)Enforcement: San Diego Explained

When you’ve got nagging or even urgent issues in your neighborhood that involve buildings or non-criminal behaviors, city leaders often want you to report the issue to the city’s code enforcement division. Think: noisy neighbors, abandoned property or exposed electrical wires. Code enforcement has a goal of responding to the highest-priority items within two days, but a recent audit found the department is rarely able to hit that goal, and they’ve got a ton of other systemic failures to boot. Andrew Keatts and NBC’s Monica Dean unearth some of audit’s most important findings in our most recent San Diego Explained.

Fewer Strings Attached, Please

Pat Libby, a local management consultant to nonprofits, writes to express yearning for the days when people chose to support nonprofit companies simply because of the company’s stated mission and leadership. These days, Libby writes, technology has made philanthropy all about accountability and demonizing the administrative costs of an organization. “Just like every other organization on the planet, good nonprofits must have a strong administrative backbone to support the mission-driven activities they offer.” Measuring the success of a nonprofit company is complicated, Libby notes, and “isn’t exactly like serving burgers.”

“Let’s treat our contributions to nonprofits like real gifts,” Libby writes.

Chargers Rake in Patriotism Bucks

Senators from Arizona on Thursday revealed how the U.S. military has paid $6.8 million to professional sports teams over the last four years for “flag unfurlings, recognition of ‘hometown heroes,’ color guard ceremonies and national anthem renditions,” the Union-Tribune reports. Among the payments was $435,500 paid to the Chargers for what the senators called “paid patriotism.” “It wasn’t merely out of a sense of honor that teams were giving military members a portion of their grand stage,” the Union-Tribune writes. The Padres, for their part, confirmed they do all their patriotic displays for free, which turns out to be oddly un-American.

• Petco Park was recently turned into a 9-hole golf course (temporarily, of course). (KPBS)

• Over at the county, local bicycle blog BikeSD writes how the county spent $56,250 per parking space to build a 640-space underground parking garage underneath the county administration building while converting existing surface parking spaces to a new park. “In total, between the two projects $54.5M was spent on moving parking spaces and $18.5M was spent on the actual park that people enjoy,” writes John Anderson.

Weed Killer Meets Killer Weed

Something for marijuana users to consider next time they reach for a puff: Since the feds consider weed to be illegal, the Environmental Protection Agency isn’t regulating the use of pesticides on pot sold to consumers. No one is actually sure what is safe for people to be consuming, and there’s no guarantee your herb isn’t covered in poisonous chemicals. Somehow I doubt people are washing out their buds in a colander. (KPBS)

• Mexico, on the other hand, has signaled it is ready to legalize recreational pot use. (NBC 7)

News Nibbles

• This map visualizes 10 years’ worth of traffic deaths right down to the neighborhood level. This is the most dangerous time of year for those.

• The Union-Tribune has more details on the man who turned Bankers Hill into a shooting gallery for hours on Wednesday.

• Soon it will be election season, which means it’s time to argue over funding public pensions in San Diego. (KPBS)

• Some folks are wondering if Gov. Jerry Brown misused state workers when he had them assess his personal property for possible oil drilling. (Associated Press)

Another challenger has appeared in the race for the 52nd Congressional District against incumbent Rep. Scott Peters. (KPBS)

Happy Talk

Dear fellow 30-somethings, something terrible is happening. Somehow, despite the advent of the internet, smart phones, IMAX, yoga and farm-to-table dining, our parents reported being way happier than we are when they were our age. According to a study from SDSU, “Adults age 30 and older have seen a five-percentage-point drop” in the number who report being “very happy.” Many folks cite “insecurity” (especially of the economic type) as a reason. (KPBS)

To combat the decline, experts suggest getting more sleep and exercise. The connection between those activities and increasing economic security is fuzzy to me. No, I’m sticking with that modern invention I know unfailingly lifts the spirits: hilarious cat videos.

Seth Hall is a local 30-something writer and technologist. You can email him at voice@s3th.com or follow him on Twitter: @loteck.

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