Letters to the Editor: September 2018

Posted: September 7th, 2018 | Featured, Letters to the editor, Opinion | No Comments

Weed shop woes

[Ref: SDRC advertisement]

I was expecting the legalization of marijuana to have an effect in Downtown San Diego. On my trip to federal jury duty, I could not help but notice the billboard for marijuana along 9th Avenue. What really disappointed me was to see your paper have a front and center advertising space for a local dispensary. Your paper is free and accessible to anyone who may decide to pick it up. This includes minors such as me. I was days before my 20th birthday. Seeing this adds to the normalization and usage of marijuana to our local community. It is seen as fine to buy and acceptable. I wonder why we chastise cigarette advertising but go ahead with promoting marijuana. Is smoking another “natural” plant really going to benefit our lungs or our heart health? I hope that you will consider the negative consequences that marijuana consumption will have on our community and remove the marijuana advertising.

—Sincerely, Carl Hughes

Short-term vacation rentals are not above the law

On behalf of every San Diegan who can’t find housing they can afford to buy or rent, we call on the City Council and City Attorney to begin immediate enforcement of the laws already on the books regulating short-term vacation rentals. They have been ignored for far too long. Our elected leaders should not cower in the face of large corporations with deep pockets who are breaking current laws, denying citizens housing that is affordable and neighborhoods that are peaceful and safe. We cannot delay while big corporations spend millions to stop vacation rentals from being regulated. Working San Diegans can’t afford to wait.

—Keith Maddox, Executive Secretary Treasurer, San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council

—Brigette Browning, UNITE-HERE Local 30 President, Executive VP San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council

Sidewalk rage, out of control

I’ve sent several emails today after spending the last three weeks staying at the Marriott Marquis Hotel and Marina in Downtown San Diego and becoming increasingly offended and practically attacked by literally dozens if not hundreds of these dangerous-to-pedestrians electric motor scooters racing at their top speeds of probably 20 mph all over the sidewalks (not streets or bike lanes) of Downtown San Diego. They should only [be] on city streets and in bike lanes. The owners of these scooter companies are large Asian concerns who are trying to quickly jam them down the throats of city residents throughout Europe, North America, and elsewhere for their own inconsiderate profits!

The scooters are most frequently driven by irresponsible youth, even children (many probably below 12 years old) and also by their idiotic parents and a few adults who secure the scooters for these kids by credit card registration and by lying/ignoring the rental rules. But my concern is not … not about the safety of the riders by enforcing helmets and driver licenses but is about the danger to the safety of pedestrians who have the sidewalk right of way by designs and city law.

Bottom line, “No motorized vehicles to be on pedestrian sidewalks, excepting handicapped” is an official San Diego city law.

Otherwise we could definitely expect sidewalks to be filled with motorcycles, electric golf carts, even the increasing number of electric cars mowing down all pedestrians everywhere every day. The renters/operators of these scooters selfishly choose their own freedom and safety over the legal rights of pedestrians.

Walkways and sidewalks at Seaport Village and along the marina in front of the Marriott and Hilton and along the entire Embarcadero and throughout Downtown San Diego are for pedestrian use — not as a playground for irresponsible, inconsiderate children and adults who don’t even know the meaning of yield. I’ve requested some of them to yield to pedestrians and they quickly sass me back — at best!

This absurd situation is clearly out of control. Our rights and laws really must be enforced by law officers and the time is NOW, if not yesterday! Pay for the personnel for stopping these infringements by high fines. I’ve been in and seen many near-misses of serous collisions with pedestrians. I’ve heard of several serious ones that have already occurred. I understand that Coronado and Newport’s Balboa Island has eliminated them because the renters/riders are irresponsible law breakers who would clearly exceed the speed limit and consistently run stop signs and red lights. Their mantra seems to be “do what you want if you can get away with it.” To understand my concerns, just start walking on any sidewalk/walkway Downtown.

—Jerry Wayne, San Diego

Petition – Moratorium on Ride Share Motorized Scooters in San Diego

As has been recently reported by San Diego 10News, injuries caused by the unsafe use of motorized scooters in our neighborhoods are now a daily emergency room occurrence. The truth is the vast majority of scooterists are tourists, making enforcement especially difficult and with little or no impact on the behavior of the batch of tourists that arrive on subsequent weekends. The elderly, the disabled, children and pets are especially vulnerable to being mowed down on our sidewalks and in our parks despite regulations prohibiting their use on both, regulations they blatantly ignore as more often than not, there are no meaningful consequences. Given the vast majority of scooterists are tourists and not commuters, our city officials are, in fact, choosing to protect the amusement of this select group to the detriment of the personal safety and freedoms of those of us who work and live here as well as pedestrians and motorists visiting our city. Now, those who want to return safe walkability to our neighborhoods have a voice! A group of concerned residents and business owners are currently circulating a petition, drafted by the recently organized Marina Neighborhood Alliance, that appeals to city officials to place a moratorium on ride share motorized scooters until a pilot program can be established to ensure proper oversight, enforcement, and infrastructure while placing the financial responsibility for it on the scooter vendors, not San Diego taxpayers. To be clear, the petition is not about banning scooters. Rather, it seeks to encourage our city officials to step up and demonstrate leadership on behalf of its citizenry, as has already been done by the Cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Monica, Long Beach and Beverly Hills, to name a few. Any company seeking to do business in the City of San Diego should be required by our city officials to respect our way of life, in this case, safe and walkable neighborhoods, and to abide by our laws. If you would like to help ensure that motorized scooters work for all San Diegans and visitors to our city, riders and non-riders alike, then please go to Change.Org and search “San Diego Scooter Chaos” and sign our petition. Let’s urge our city officials to do the right thing by all who live, do business and vacation in San Diego! Thank you!

—Jill Pfeiffer, Member Marina Neighborhood Alliance

California’s new energy imperative: In Trump we trust?

Toni Atkins is used to managing her way through the chaos that is the end-of-session in the Legislature and knows better than most how to keep her head down and her options open.

As president pro tempore of the Senate and before that as speaker, she’s also learned something about the fine art of suspended animation, that is, to refrain from making any commitments until the last possible moment. This is what leaders do to preserve maximum maneuverability in the waning days of August in the Capitol, when their members’ intractable positions suddenly become malleable and all things seem possible against the hard deadline of Aug. 31.

By now, Atkins has heard all of the arguments for and against Assembly Bill 813, the latest legislative gambit by the California Independent System Operator to remake itself into a Regional Transmission Organization (RTO) and expand its operational footprint into a dozen or more western states. She knows which organizations have lined up in support or opposition to the bill, and she is familiar with the competing socioeconomic analyses that either depict the sky as forever blue or falling in a western-wide heap all around us.

She has talked to proponents, who earnestly, if amazingly, believe that California ceding its energy autonomy to a multi-state RTO at this critical juncture in the nation’s history is somehow tactical, even strategic. But all of their best talking points are borrowed from the essential building blocks of energy deregulation, that madcap experiment in market manipulation of two decades ago that resulted in rolling blackouts and cost California ratepayers roughly $20 billion.

She has also checked in with opponents, who have their own legal theories on federal preemption, the Supremacy Clause and what they view as the metaphysical certainty that the formation of this new RTO will also create an energy capacity market, as it has under every other RTO in existence. When that happens, there will no longer be such things as “preferred” or “socially responsible” resources.

AB 813 says this collision of federal and state energy policies will never occur, but just a couple of days ago, the Trump administration unveiled its long-awaited plan to roll back Obama-era restrictions on coal-burning power generation. A couple of weeks earlier, the president announced that fuel standards are going to be relaxed so that cars can emit more pollution.

How likely is it, do you think, that the Golden State’s progressive renewable portfolio standards and enlightened climate goals will survive the arranged marriage with this president and an evolving federal energy policy that seeks not to decarbonize the electric grid, but to double down on carbon by throwing a so-called lifeline to coal?

That’s why Atkins needs to quietly put an end to this madness by leaving AB 813 exactly where it is, parked in the Senate Rules Committee. There will come a time when a regionalized grid makes as much sense in Wyoming or Utah as it does in California, but that time isn’t now; in fact, it’s hard to conceive of a worse time for the Legislature to cast its fate – and California’s energy future – to the prevailing winds.

The Legislature has been down this road before and energy ratepayers ended up paying for it.

Now it falls to the president pro tempore to ensure that California doesn’t set the same trap for itself yet again.

—Kevin E. Kelley

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