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Oceanside faces big issues in the absence of its mayor, The Coast News is still searching for an editor and more in our weekly roundup of news from North County.
After months of weekly gatherings outside Rep. Darrell Issa’s office in Vista, the city is looking to keep protesters on a dirt patch across the street from the office, rather than on the sidewalk and lawn outside the building.
The protest’s organizer, Ellen Montari, had secured an event permit through April, which is required in the city for groups larger than 50 people. When she went to renew the permit, the city changed some of the requirements, apparently for public safety reasons.
The weekly protests have drawn as many as 800 people at a time, the Union-Tribune reports, which can present problems on Thibodo Road, outside Issa’s office, where visibility is limited for drivers. The building’s management has also complained about people being on the lawn and damaging sprinklers, and parking illegally.
Issa’s office told the Union-Tribune they hadn’t filed any complaints with the city, but there are other tenants in the building.
One of the suggestions the city posed was moving the protest to Melrose Drive, about a mile away from Issa’s office.
“We know they have the right to demonstrate,” Vista city spokeswoman Andrea McCullough told the U-T. “We are coming at it from a safety angle.”
The U-T reports that Montanari said even if the city was successful in getting her to move, it wouldn’t change much.
“If I stopped, people are still going to come,” she said.
On Monday, the city of Oceanside announced that Mayor Jim Wood is hospitalized, and would be on medical leave through Aug. 9.
Wood was recently re-elected to his fourth term as mayor, and the Union-Tribune reports that Wood has already suffered two strokes while in office, in 2011 and 2012. Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery said the “general consensus” is that this latest absence is also due to a stroke.
Lowery said he was initially told a week ago that the mayor was just “exhausted,” and that Wood sometimes works himself to a point where he needs a few days off.
In 2015, The Seaside Courier reported that a week-long absence – during which no one from the city had heard from Wood – had been shrugged off as “exhaustion,” though Wood later said he had a minor stroke.
He was also absent at the end of 2014, and the newly elected councilman had to fill in for Wood at SANDAG meetings, and during “tin cup week,” when local officials plead for support from federal agencies in Washington D.C.
Oceanside is currently facing some of the largest issues the city has seen in years, including a switch to district elections, allowing medical marijuana operations and redesigning Coast Highway.
Lowery said those are “significant, five-vote kind of issues,” and he expects that Wood’s leave might push back some timelines, but not the switch to district elections, which the city is under a timeline to adopt before triggering a lawsuit.
If you’ve noticed some hiccups at The Coast News recently – like stories in the paper not appearing online, or dormant social media accounts – there’s good reason.
At the end of April, Managing Editor Tony Cagala announced his departure after six years at the helm. (Disclosure: I write for Coast News, too.)
Since then, the North County paper has had some trouble finding a replacement.
In May, Coast News hired two editors, who have both since left the paper.
Publisher Jim Kydd put out a statement in an email through his son, Associate Publisher Chris Kydd.
“Our previous Editor left after 8 years to pursue a long time career goal of writing a book, his first passion. Now we are looking for a new Editor to help us continue our good local news coverage that we have been doing for 30 years,” Jim Kydd said.
Neither Kydd addressed the one-week stints of the paper’s recent hires, but on Monday, the position was relisted on a popular journalism job board.
• Rep. Darrell Issa scheduled a town hall for June 3, in San Juan Capistrano. (Eventbrite)
• Solana Beach could the first city in the county to establish a community choice aggregation energy program. (Union-Tribune)
• The California Public Utilities Commission is holding public hearings this week on a natural gas pipeline that would stretch from Rainbow to Miramar. (KPBS)
• The North County Transit District plans to cut or change over a dozen bus routes. The agency also approved a fare hike from $2, to $3, which still needs to go before the San Diego Association of Governments for final approval. (Union-Tribune)
• The Surfside satellite wagering facility at the Del Mar Fairground was design to hold 5,000 people, but only attracts a few hundred people at a time. The board of directors unanimously voted to make it a new concert venue this week. (KPBS)