Commentaries: A Selection

“You have to be involved in terms of what’s happening in your own neighborhood and what issues are there.”

— Barack Obama

My published news commentaries reflect my views as a San Diego community activist who co-founded the SoNo Neighborhood Alliance, a non-profit launched in 2016 that worked to give residents and small business owners a seat at the table where decisions are made that impact their neighborhoods. Here are samples:

Balboa Park Has Become a Dump Site for the City of San Diego

OB Rag, June 18, 2024

“San Diego politicians always profess their undying devotion to Balboa Park. But they never show their love. The result is a downward spiral of Park deterioration, and official negligence is entirely to blame for it.”

Nice Neighbors: Citizen Watchdogs on the Prowl:

OB Rag, June 12, 2024

You can ferret out short-term vacation rentals (legal or not) in your neighborhood using “an interactive website that is stunning in its sophistication.”

Dispatch from an ADU War Zone

OB Rag, June 5, 2024

The story of a massive construction stalemate, “one of many battles sparked by a city government that rewards landholders who alienate their neighbors by overstuffing their lots.”

Why We Support San Diego’s Elected Community Groups

Times of San Diego, January 3, 2024

“Mayor Todd Gloria, with the complicity of all nine City Councilmembers, is poised to remove elected CPG members and replace them with unelected members of his own choosing. That is not democracy. That is autocracy, and it is exactly why we are running as challengers to Gloria, Sean Elo-Rivera, and Stephen Whitburn in the March 2024 primaries.”

Hey, Let’s Make Hillcrest More Crowded!

OB Rag, October 31, 2023

“The ‘strong mayor’ autocracy that runs San Diego has decided that one of District 3’s most congested communities just isn’t congested enough. Uptown Planners is expected to advise against this. But Board members do not expect the City to listen. As one member said, ‘This is a developer land grab, enabled by the Mayor.’”

The Destruction of the Little Red Bungalow

OB Rag, October 10, 2023

“Here is the takeaway: When elected officials tell you they can’t do anything because their hands are tied, you tell them: Untie your hands, and find another line of work, because you are not cut out for the job you were elected to do.”

The War on Planning Groups

OB Rag, September 19, 2023

This is called “overturning elections.” … This assault on local democracy was done at the direction of ‘strong mayor’ Todd Gloria. And our City Council either helped lead the charge or stayed quiet on the sidelines.”

San Diego Officials Must Consider These Key Questions Before Rebuilding the Civic Center

San Diego Union-Tribune, July 5, 2023

“Gloria seems to think San Diegans should just get over 101 Ash Street. They haven’t, and they won’t. That 19-story albatross will haunt every future city real estate deal, not just because of city leaders’ epic negligence, but because of their cavalier ‘Hey, I was misled’ attitude about the debacle.”

Opinion: San Diego City Hall needs to show us proof these housing policies work

The San Diego Union-Tribune, March 8, 2023

Isn’t it exclusionary when a city pledges “housing for all” and instead delivers a glut of expensive condos that working-class families of color can’t buy?

Opinion: San Diego leaders more concerned about appearance of action than actual progress

The San Diego Union-Tribune, January 27, 2023

Stealth Local Government Forces San Diegans to Read the “Fine Print”

Times of San Diego, August 27, 2021

“San Diegans unschooled in reading the fine print have lost hundreds of millions of dollars to painful experience: the public pension fiasco, the Chargers ticket guarantee fiasco, and more recently, the 101 Ash Street and inflated hotel purchase fiascos. Now a batch of stealth government ploys is costing San Diegans two commodities that are as precious and finite as money: public road space and neighborhood open space.”

Balboa Park Is “For All to Enjoy” Without Controversial New Projects

Times of San Diego, February 5, 2021

“We don’t understand complaints that the park needs help drawing visitors. The Park seems more popular than ever. If City Hall wasn’t so godawful at managing public finances, it might not be desperate enough to try wringing money out of the park through pay-to-play schemes that cater to high rollers and enrich special friends.”

Union-Tribune’s Endorsement of Todd Gloria Infuriates Women

Times of San Diego, October 21, 2020

“Wrinkling its collective nose at Bry’s ‘harder-edged style,’ the editorial board offered this suggestion: ‘Bry might well be a tougher manager who is better at making City Hall more transparent and accountable — perhaps a Mayor Gloria could use a chief of staff like her.’ The most troubling message in the Gloria endorsement is the outdated idea that women should agree to tackle an organization’s worst problems while relegated to subordinate status.”

Why We’re Launching District 3 for Barbara Bry

OB Rag, September 30, 2020

“Many of us supported Todd Gloria early in his career. We thought he showed great promise, and back then, he did. Then higher office beckoned, and special interests came calling.”

“Why 30th Street Bike Lanes Will Hurt Community”

San Diego Union-Tribune, June 19, 2019

“High-wage jobs are clustered in large employment hubs north of Interstate 8. How many people currently ride bikes from their North Park homes to their jobs in Kearny Mesa or Sorrento Valley? Without a large shift of weekday commuters from cars to bikes, bike lanes along 30th Street will only benefit cyclists who bike for recreation or for short trips. People who lack the stamina for distance biking will only get worse traffic and dirtier air.”

Faulconer Could Learn a Lot About Transit Realities by Going on a Bus Ride

San Diego Union-Tribune, January 25, 2019

“Like many East Coast expats who were mass transit devotees, I am heartsick that San Diego, a global hub of innovation, can’t follow the example of less celebrated cities by constructing a viable system for getting people from place to place. We keep hearing that maybe someday our transit system will somehow catch up to our transportation needs. But we’ve yet to see a serious plan with a timeline and a firm commitment of resources.”

Neighborhood Planning Groups Are Not Closed Off to New Voices

Voice of San Diego, June 28, 2018

“Trying to pit renters against homeowners or seniors against millennials shows a complete unfamiliarity with residential quality-of-life issues. If the natural light that streams through a window is blocked by a four-story condo tower, the resulting darkness will be just as depressing for renters in their 20s or owners in their 60s. And weekday commuters of all stripes will suffer equally when new housing stacks up traffic and further clogs rush-hour roads.”

Bike Commuting Plan Faces Bumpy Road

San Diego Union-Tribune, July 14, 2017

“The most popular mode of commuting to work, at 75 percent, is driving alone. The least popular, at 0.9 percent, is biking. If bike lanes are not populated with hundreds of new riders, taxpayers will feel swindled. And in neighborhoods where car lanes, parking spaces and trees are removed to accommodate bike lanes, residents will feel duped and outraged if those add-ons are underutilized.”