Roundtable: Filner Speaks; Local Gun Control; Building Heights; Chargers Hires
January 18, 2013 1:04 p.m.
Katie Orr, Metro Reporter, KPBS News
Tony Perry, San Diego Bureau chief, Los Angeles Times
Andrew Keatts, Land Use Reporter, Voice of San Diego
Bernie Wilson, Reporter, Associated Press
SAUER: Amita Sharma is standing by, in Riverside, covering a court hearing. How are you this afternoon?
SHARMA: I'm doing well.
SAUER: You're covering the Sara Kruzan case.
SHARMA: She spent part of her childhood in San Diego. In 1995, she was convicted of first degree murder for killing her pimp, this is a pimp who molested her when she was 11 and raped her when she was 13 and forced her into prostitution when she was 13. She was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, and advocates for sex trafficking victims in San Diego, Southern California, and the country have been pushing for her release over the last several years.
SAUER: And you're there covering a pivotal hearing today.
SHARMA: A judge approved a settlement agreement negotiated by her attorneys and prosecutors in Riverside County where her case was first handled. The settlement reduces her first degree conviction to side, which makes her now eligible for parole. And under the terms of that agreement, the District Attorney's Office has agreed to remain neutral. In other words, they won't challenge her parole.
SAUER: Okay. All right. Thanks very much for joining us.
SAUER: My guest at the Roundtable today are Katie Orr.
ORR: Hi, mark.
SAUER: Tony Perry.
PERRY: Good to be here.
SAUER: Andy Keatts.
KEATTS: How's it going?
SAUER: And Bernie Wilson with the Associated Press.
WILSON: Hi, Mark.
SAUER: We'd love to have you join our conversation today. The number 1-888-895-5727. Bob Filner promised it would not be business as usual as City Hall. He seems to be making good on that. In his state of the city address Tuesday, he said he's working with labor to lower pension costs, planning a venue for pro hockey games and major concerts! Wow! Before we get to the state of the city there, is talk the mayor will veto the appointment of two commissioners last week at the port. What do we know about that?
ORR: Another week, another argument over committee appointments at City Hall. The City Council has the authority to appoint commissioners to the port authority here in San Diego. The board is comprised of members from five cities, and San Diego gets three of those appointments. So they have -- they were appointing two people to take their spot on the board. And how it happened was the Democrats and the Republicans on the council basically compromised, and they appointed one Democrat and one Republican. And apparently Bob Filner is not happy about this. Voice of San Diego, Scott Lewis, wrote an article that Filner told the port tenants' association that he was going to veto those appointment, and the thinking is that Filner and his supporters wanted the council to wait until the Direct 4 seat was filled again. Right now, it's vacant, and they're in the process of doing a runoff special election to fill it. They are assuming that a Democrat will get that seat. And then if he does, the Democrats will have a 5-4 majority in the council and they won't have to compromise with the Republicans to get someone onto the port. However, the problem with that as I see it is that that seat could be open until June. The special election is set for March 26th. But most people are assuming no one will win it outright so we'll have to have a runoff election which will push if to June.
SAUER: And we don't have anybody representing San Diego.
ORR: We have one representative on there right now. But the other two would not be. Even if mayor Filner vetoes the appointments, the council can override the veto, but the politics of that might be kind of tricky.
ORR: So there's no certainty. Again, Filner was in KPBS on Wednesday, I stopped him and asked if he would talk to me about it and he declined. He said they would have an announcement later this week.
PERRY: What does the new mayor want out of the port commission that he does not think he can get with the folks that the council wants to put on the commission?
ORR: I think it's just about control. He wants to be the one in charge of putting his people, the people he hand-selects on the port commission, and this is the one appointment I think that the mayor does not get to nominate people for, however the city attorney put out an opinion that says the mayor can veto anything the council does.
PERRY: So this is all personal pique? There's no policy that he wants out of this?
KEATTS: I think there is. It isn't clear to me what characteristics or beliefs he's looking for in his appointees. But it is clear that the center point of his economic agenda was expanding the port and get typesetting to a competitive level with long beach. If your starting point is simply that he has that priority, it follows that he would want to prioritize the people that make those decisions.
PERRY: But it does seem to me like a number of his issues, this is federal old stuff. Let's compete with long beach? That's been around a while. The horse is out of that barn, we're probably never going to compete with long beach.
SAUER: Not without drastic infrastructure change.
PERRY: A number of things that he seems to be pushing, it seems like stuff that was around 20 years ago the last time he was on the City Council.
KEATTS: Yeah, and we never did get a campaign that was full of the details of how and in what way these things would happen. It was more just a big-picture idea. Wouldn't it be great if the port was this way?
ORR: And I think a lot of it is a power thing. He is the mayor, he wants his people on the port, he was not happy that the council went forward with these appointments. And even though Todd Gloria, who ended up vote with the Republicans to appoint Marshall Maryfield. He and the other, Raphael Castellanos, they are both for, you know, building up the imports and exports of the port which is something that goes along with Filner's agenda.
PERRY: Isn't everybody?
[ LAUGHTER ]
SAUER: Let's talk about that agenda a little bit and get back to the state of the city. It was unusual when Nathan Fletcher made an appearance.
ORR: Yes, he introduced --
SAUER: A former rival.
ORR: Yes, he of course ran against Filner and Dumanis and DeMaio in the primary. He finished 3rd. And he introduced Bob Filner, had a funny joke of how he had dreams of speaking at the mayoral inauguration, and here he was! Not the way he hoped it would happen, but he introduced Bob Filner who came on and laid out a number of initiatives that he would like to accomplish.
SAUER: One is the work with labor on the hated pension pay freeze.
ORR: Right. He says that he will implement the 5-year pensionable pay freeze that was part of Proposition B, even though he did not support Proposition B, he's taking the line that this is something the voters approved and because he has such a good relationship with labor, he will be able to implement it better than any of his opponents would have been able to.
SAUER: And labor responded and kind of agreed! I mean, labor being Lorena Gonzalez.
ORR: Right. She said it's going to be a hard thing to agree to. Filner also wants to come up to create a 5-year labor contract versus a single-year labor contract, and he says that would also be hard because it takes away some of the leverage. You have to agree to something for five year, and that's it. You're good. But she says it'll be easier to do that with Bob Filner at the negotiating table with them.
SAUER: Okay. So he did get some positive feedback at least initialo on that. Tell us about some of the other initiatives. What about the urban forest?
ORR: He wants to create a new department called the department of healthy, safe, and liveable neighborhoods, and it would carry out a lot of his goals for the city. He wants to create an urban forestry program, he talked a lot about environmental issues, what San Diego can do to fight global warming, things along those lines. He wants to put solar panels on the roof of every municipal building in the city. He is advocating putting a trolley line to the airport, which is something he can't just do, he has to work with SANDAG.
SAUER: A lot of people.
ORR: Right. But a lot of environmentally friendly initiatives, which got environmentalists very excited, especially on Twitter, people were thrilled, labor unions and environmentalists were thrilled with his speech. Todd Gloria said he appreciates all the initiatives, supports them, but it's the money. How are you going to do all of this?
SAUER: I want to remind listeners that the panel on the Roundtable today is Katie Orr, Bernie Wilson of the Associated Press, Tony perof the LA Times, and Andy KEATTS of voice of San Diego. He also mentioned the Chargers. He made the note that it's a 1-year deal, they re-up every year, and pins and needles, and are they going to go?
ORR: Yeah, and I'm sure Bernie knows more about this. But as I understand it, they're at the point where they can leave the city every year.
WILSON: Right, I think it's been January 31st and May 1st or something like that.
ORR: Right. And each year longer they stay, they have to pay less to leave. So they're staying for another year which is good news. Filner says it gives us another year to work out a situation. Although it doesn't give us anymore money to build a stadium.
SAUER: Right. We spoke recently about the shift in gears from this grand plan downtown that Doug Manchester had had, and now it seems that Steve Cushman, longtime member of lots of boards in town, and certainly a leader that someone listens to, and Manchester himself have said maybe we'll just spend $200 million we could raise privately and refurbish Qualcomm for the Chargers. Do you think that's in the works, Bernie?
WILSON: Probably not. Be Mark Fabiani doesn't seem to believe there's any value of going back to the Qualcomm site. And Qualcomm is a dump. But it's football. And this thing's been going on now almost 11 years. Of and as a sportswriter, yeah, I would like to see the Chargers stay. But as a taxpayer, it's got to be done right, especially in the wake of how the whole Petco Park thing came down. An ecstatic city that just got its nose rubbed in the dirt by the Yankees still gave John Moors a new ball park, then he pulled the old bait-and-switch.
PERRY: But is there anywhere in the NFL, a city that required the team to put all of its own money and not public money?
WILSON: Not all of its own money. But --
KEATTS: The closest was the new New York stadium, which is complicated because they still have bond payments from the previous statement that was destroyed. But the New York Giants and the New York Jets stadium has has bumped up against getting to an area where there wasn't quite as much public subsidy. There's certainly subsidy in other rels in terms of service levels with security guards and traffic mitigation that the city usually shoulders the burden of.
SAUER: One last quick question on Filner and the state of the city this week, he announced the city will open an office in Tijuana. What's that about?
ORR: Yeah, this is something he talked about a lot during the campaign. He thinks that San Diego and Tijuana really should be this megaregion. And if the cities work together, we could do things like attract more businesses, attract more tourists, maybe attract an motorcycles. He talked once about a binational Olympics.
WILSON: To which I say good luck.
[ LAUGHTER ]
ORR: Going to happen, yeah.
WILSON: Like the port.
ORR: Right. So he is opening this office February 1st, and it's just part of his efforts to unify the region a little bit more.
SAUER: We're going to shift now. I appreciate it. From the mayor's ambitions to those of the president.
SAUER: Barack Obama addressed the nation with proposals headed by a team from Joe Biden to quell gun violence in America. This came over the atrocity in Newtown, Connecticut. The president signed executive orders on the spot, proposed several more restrictions that will require congressional action. New York Times CBS poll today says this time it may be different, a majority of Americans favor stricter gun control. And breaking news here in San Diego on the gun issue, it turns out this morning this was another officer-involved shooting on east main street in El Cajon. The officer was not injured, are someone was taken to the hospital. So Tony, what actions did the president layout in his plan to come to grips with gun violence?
PERRY: He had some executive actions that he could take generally that clear away the roadblocks between federal departments that have hampered the background checks. The federal government often doesn't play well one department to another, and hadn't been sharing information. He can make that happen. The other than larger ticket item, he's still got to go through Congress. Criminal background checks for everybody buying certain weapons, strengthening the assault weapon ban. Good luck defining what San assault weapon is. And limiting the size of the clip, in other words how many bullets you can buy in a clip so that you can slam it into your AR-15 and continue firing. He did some things by himself, and some things he's got to ask Congress. And the majority of Americans are now favoring some sort of gun restriction, particularly on the assault weapons and the ammunition clips. On the other hand, public opinion polls by themselves didn't create legislation or change policy. If they did, we would have been out of Afghanistan two years ago. For one thing, the question is not who believes what, the question is who will do something about that. In other words, is it vote determinative? Will people vote against a politician because he's not for gun control? We know the national rifle association folks will vote against someone, campaign against someone --
SAUER: Raise a lot of money.
PERRY: Given money to an opponent. So the question is to whom is this issue vote determinative? And it isn't just 60% say this, other and therefore it should happen. Locally, we have had two City Councils step up and speak their minds. The Chula Vista City Council passed a resolution calling for gun control at the national level. And the Del Mar City Council reacting to a citizens' petition asked the San Diego County county Fairgrounds board to please no longer allow a large gun show that they have for some 20-plus years. Now, the Del Mar City Council does not control the Fairgrounds, and to be candid, has very, very little influence over them given a history of Estrangement and agitation over all sorts of things. So I wouldn't look necessarily that the fair board members appointed by the governor will listen to the Del Mar City Council. But it's an indication of how the folks in Del Mar feel about the Fairgrounds within their city.
SAUER: So you mentioned that the influence that the folks there in Del Mar have the Fairgrounds. But there is a movement, Roseanne holiday started banning of this gun show. How many gun shows are in this country that don't have background checks? Like 40%.
PERRY: A whole bunch of them do. And that's another one of these large holes in the background check legislation that is on the books. You could drive a truck full of AR-15s through, and it's one of the things the president is trying to close. Private sales don't have to have the same background, and you can sell all the guns. You do not have the control you do over stores and things like that. And this sale, these sales go on there, and they hold four a year at the Fairgrounds, and they're attended by lots of folks. Of the police are always there sniffing around, seeing if bad stuff is happening. That's an argument in favor of continuing to allow this lawful business to come to the Fairgrounds, this public facility, pay rent and hold their conference.
SAUER: I've never been to a show, either to cover it or -- everybody is shaking their heads. Katie?
ORR: I just think it's interesting. You're talking about this poll about how attitudes may be shifting, and during his speech, Obama was imploring people to call their congressmen, call their representatives if they want to see something change. I think the NRA has something like 4 million members. So what? 2 hundred 96 million Americans that are not a part of the NRA. I'm not saying they don't support guns or whatever, but it's interesting how an hoaringed group of people -- organized group of people can really dictate the conversation. And even if 59% of people -- 54% of people support more gun legislation, it doesn't mean they're going to do anything to let their congressional representatives know that they want anything.
PERRY: The president is a political realist, and he knows that the NRA is not going away, and their zeal to protect their position is not going to lessen. So he is trying to keep the pressure on, if you will, from folks that think there need to be greater restrictions. He knows that the public opinion polls can change over a period of time. He's catching it at a high tide. He wants to keep that tide going, that's going to be difficult. We live in a world in which there's something new every 24 hours, and even a horrific event like Newtown will fade in our memories after a period of time.
KEATTS: I think it's worth hooking at the way he's worked in passing other legislation in his tenure. The healthcare debate, the starting point in the negotiation began with universal single-payer. And that was systematically pulled back in a way that gave cover to some of the more moderate voters that were able to go back to their districts and say I'm voting for this new legislation, but I was able to bring you back a victory. I stripped away the single-payer option, and we provided this other thing. I don't know how the politics played, but that was what their thinking was. So if you look at all these different elements that he's proposing now, you could imagine a world in which he allows some of -- some people who are in more competitive districts where this won't play so well, and he can pull off the assault rifle ban and they can say, look, we were able to pass universal background checks, but you gun owners, I was able to give you this victory of pulling the assault rifle ban off the table.
SAUER: We've got a caller. James from Encinitas. Go ahead.
NEW SPEAKER: Hi there, guys. I am a proud member of KPBS, but I'm also a curios and relics collector in area of firearms. And I wanted to correct you, because I know you don't want bad information to go out over the air. State of California law, whether at a gun show or anywhere else, any rifle or pistol or any firearm must be transfer only through a federal FFL, a federal licensed dealer. There is a 10-day waiting period, there is a background check, that's at the Del Mar gun show, that's at anywhere you go. There are FFLs all over the gun show that will take your application, and they will deliver the gun at their FFL offices 10 days later after you passed the background check on a state and federal level.
SAUER: All right. Thank you. I appreciate it.
NEW SPEAKER: That's important information.
SAUER: I appreciate your call.
NEW SPEAKER: We are not Alabama.
SAUER: I agree. I appreciate your call. And you've anticipated the next question I well.
PERRY: The background checks are full of holes. And nearly everyone admits that. And 10 days, 12 days, if they haven't really looked at your background doesn't really mean a lot.
SAUER: But California does have some laws that plug some of the loopholes.
SAUER: We have to talk state to state and the federal level.
PERRY: This is the argument in favor of allowing the Fairgrounds to continue allowing this very large gun show four times a year.
SAUER: Right. So let's talk about high-capacity magazines. That's in the national debate now. And we're talking about in a matter of seconds, that horrible, horrible situation in Newtown, where so many children in that case mostly can be shot and killed in just seconds because you've got so many bullets in a semiautomatic weapon.
PERRY: Sure. Of the AR-15 is the civilian equivalent to the M-16 that the Marines use, and it does have a clip that can be jammed in very quickly so you can continue firing. The people than more about this say that's a bit of a hype, because even without a fast-moving clip like that, you can reload fairly quickly. This may be one of those things that sounds like it would stop something from happening, are one of these horrific events. But in reality, if someone is bent on doing this, can still fire off a lot of bullets very quickly.
ORR: I think that gets to the whole topic of mental illness and how we treat it in this country and how we address, and the stigmas associated with T. A lot of people will say, you can make all the regulations you want. If somebody is ill and decides they want to do something, I'll find a way to do it.
PERRY: And privacy regulations, both at Virginia tech, and later in Colorado. Privacy considerations kept university officials, they say, from flagging one of their students who was kind of nuts.
KEATTS: And some of these executive orders that he signed or is intending to sign, address these issues. I can't speak to whether they'll address them successfully or how they do it, but these speak to these mental health issues and privacy issues, and how the state works with psychologist and people who treat mental health.
PERRY: And he wants Congress to get off the dime and approve up or down a director for the alcohol, tobacco, and firearms, which has been blocked because of NRA opposition. And an agency without a full-blown director is less effective, they say, than one who's just acting.
SAUER: Right. Oped in the New York Times yesterday by the former prime minister of Australia talking about a horrific shooting there, 35 dead, and they came in with restrictions, got everyone on board throughout the country, and how effective it's been. Haven't had mass shootings since then. So it can work in some developed areas. We're going to have to leave it there.
SAUER: Back on the Roundtable, I'm Mark Sauer. My guests are Katie Orr, Tony Perry, Andy KEATTS, and Bernie Wilson. Drive down the hill at Ocean Beach or west toward the sand, Pacific beach, to La Jolla, and it's apparent that the bells only go so high. It's been that way for decades. 30-foot height limit, shaped our city and our lifestyle. Andy, for one of your first projects as a reporter for land use issues for voice of San Diego, you looked into this 40--year-old ordinance. Is there some kind of community to overturn?
KEATTS: No, no there isn't. Although there are many people who alleged that there was some kind of conspiracy afoot merely by its appearance in the press again. But no, it was just a round number. It's 40 years since it passed. It seemed like a good time to take a look at what some of the effects, positive and negative, were.
SAUER: What's so interesting about this law?
KEATTS: It was pretty much -- like a lot of things that come from grassroots activism. It took a major project to alert people to something that they didn't like, that they maybe didn't know that they didn't like. And in this case, it was specifically projects like the Capri by the Sea, it's a 12, 13-story condo flex in Pacific Beach. There's another complex in La Jolla that's similar. And people saw these things and they organized around it and were able to put a ballot on, are Proposition D in 1972, put it on and generated a lot of support, and it passed with only 60% of the vote citywide. In the coastal community, it was over 80%. So very wide mandate of support are in it at the time.
SAUER: Didn't want Miami beach here.
KEATTS: Yeah, they didn't want Miami beach. They looked at the communities like Miami beach and we key key and said we can use this initiative process to make sure we protect the city we want.
SAUER: So what does this ordinance say? What are the limits?
KEATTS: It's a 30-foot height limit west of the 5 with the exemption of -- I mean, it's south of Laurel and a few other landmarks, but basically it works out to little Italy and downtown are exempted. And one of the interesting legacies of it is that because it was a citizens' initiative, you had to make these decisions, and somebody called them arbitrary, like, what 30 feet? Why not 34 or 40? And why Interstate 5?
PERRY: Because there is no life east of I-5.
[ LAUGHTER ]
PERRY: One thing I thought was interesting, you said there's been some talk, why don't we just measure things differently? Are there new measuring tapes that don't count the first 10 feet?
KEATTS: Yeah, there's concern among people within the community, specifically I talked to some people with the Point Loma planning commission who said that the code enforcement with the city seems to have changed. I have to admit, I haven't fully reported this out yet. Basically what it comes down to is it isn't the case that a home or a property has a single point at which you can say this is the -- you know, the level. So is it from the highest point? From the lowest point isn't median point? Where do we begin the 30-foot measurement?
SAUER: Which could change a lot for properties built on a bluff.
KEATTS: Sure. So you have different elements to the bill. You've got what some people say -- this isn't an ordinance for people who live on the beach and want to preserve their views. This is an ordinance for everyone in San Diego so when you drive to the beach, you come oaf a hill and you see the sprawling ocean in front of you. But when you start getting into how are you measuring 30 feet, that's going to have much more of an effect on a property owner across the street who really likes their view, and if you can change the measurement and add 4 feet to it, suddenly you don't have a view. So I think that specific question gets into more property rights for people who live in the area. Where's the overall argument for the view, the citywide argument for the height limit is that we should have this open, level view of the beach from all these different vantage points.
ORR: As someone who grew up in San Diego, I can't imagine how different the city would be if we didn't have those limits. I think it kind of -- everyone says San Diego is a city of neighborhoods, and I think it really contributes to this charm that the city has! The beachy charm that it still has. You can go down, and I love running along the boardwalk and seeing all the old houses. They're not very tall, but some of those places got modernized in other ways. I understand the density argument. But I wonder what you would sacrifice.
PERRY: Have there been legal challenges?
KEATTS: Yeah, it got the stamp of approval from the Supreme Court. So when I say it's 40 years old, it was approved 40 years ago. In reality, it was four years of legal challenge that actually went to the United States Supreme Court and was approved in 1976. Since then there haven't really been any legal challenges, except maybe some developer attempts to skirt certain issues.
ORR: You see the condo complexes on the strand at Coronado, the whole coast would have been filled with buildings like that, you know?
SAUER: You found in your for at least one unattended positive consequence of the restrictions. Architects get more creative.
KEATTS: Yeah, there's this -- developer in design circles, restriction breeds creativity. So you get all these different things you can imagine in your own life, if you have a weird little space under a staircase, and you say what can we do with this? And you find a little nook that becomes an office space. And it's worked out that same way among architects who have needed to come up with different ways. You couldn't just build up. You couldn't get the square footage you wanted by going higher. So they did things like subterranean levels and other interesting design decisions.
SAUER: You think this topic might be a little dry, but your story stirred up a lot of comments! Tell us about that.
KEATTS: Yeah, it's something -- like Katie said, people who grew up here, who move out here, it's really a defining quality of what it feels like to be by the beach in this city. So people take it very seriously and hold it dear, which is perfectly reasonable. There were some thoughts in the piece that, like, well, sure it would be great to have a height limit on the coast or 3 blocks extending out from the coast. But do we need to have a height limit 8 blocks from the coast? Or what if we had 8 blocks from the coast we had a 45-height limit to allow a little bit more density? Or what if we circed off sports arena and said it's not beachfront property by any stretch, and we removed the height limit there? So people who really hold dear the high limit say you start making this exception, you let one person through, you start removing that red line, and it's just starting a series of events that's going to lead to the limit removal.
ORR: But that's --
PERRY: Doesn't it allow San Diego to have more control over its land use on the coast? If there were no limitation, wouldn't we fall under the California coastal commission?
KEATTS: Yeah, you do open up the possibility.
PERRY: And they might want a 20-foot limit!
KEATTS: Yeah, sure.
ORR: Well, we were talking earlier, SeaWorld, when they built their roller coaster, they got an exemption, right?
ORR: But we haven't seen a proliferation of buildings that got an exemption.
SAUER: Let's tough to get a variance on this upon
KEATTS: Yeah, it's tough. It comes down to it's so tough that it's not even worth doing as a developer.
ORR: That was a heated fight, man! People were upset about that!
[ LAUGHTER ]
KEATTS: It's the same folks that think, maybe rightfully so that this isn't something you want to mess with. We have succeeded with other cities have failed, and it's time to just protect T.. The question you need to ask is all policy decisions, particularly in land use, are just a matter of tradeoffs. And the tradeoff, the esthetics of the height limit are clear. You can see them, they're plainly obvious. But it's probably unfair to act as though they come without any cost whatsoever. To say we get this benefit which is fantastic essynthetics and beautiful views, and there is nothing else that happens or flows from there. The reality is it's a very desirable area. People want to live there. If you can't create more units, then they have to either live somewhere else or do so more expensively in that area. Those are the economics of it, and sure, it's well worth the cost. The benefits are clear, and it's worth whatever cost is associated with it. But I don't think it's honest to say there are no costs.
SAUER: And we're talking about density too. But now we're talking about crowding and traffic.
KEATTS: There's an argument among U bannists and developers that goes transit solutions or traffic-related solutions come based on problems. So if you increase density, then you have a market incentive to provide a transit-oriented solution to that density.
SAUER: So that is a consequence.
KEATTS: The argument is look at how congested it is in Pacific beach. And it absolutely is.
SAUER: Parking is a nightmare, right
KEATTS: So the argument goes, yeah, and it would get worse temporarily if you increased density. But then there would be more incentive from SANDAG to provide a trolley line to that area or to provide more adequate bus service or reduce congestion by making Garnett one-way and Grand the other way. That's why we have urban planners. And the argument goes that density would create pressure to force those solutions.
SAUER: But without having more folks in these areas we're talking about, it has an effect on sprawl too.
KEATTS: Yeah, I think it would be unfair to say the high limit created sprawl. In 1972, we were already established as a sprawling-type city. But if you can't live one place, you have to live somewhere else! And I don't think that's very controversial. If people want to live in Pacific Beach, and you can't because there aren't enough supplies there, you go to Clairemont or Kearny Mesa or Northpark. And so maybe that's fine. Not everyone can live where they want to live, and the market reacts to that reality by increasing prices. And if you say that's fine, no one has a right to live by the beach just because they want to, the market has priced it at a higher level, and that's just what it's going to be.
ORR: And one of the benefits as you say in your article of having these limits and not having a built-up coast is sure, I don't live by the beach, but I can be there in 15 minutes and park without a half.
PERRY: You can park at the beach?
[ LAUGHTER ]
ORR: At very odd hours! I don't go near the beach on the weekend. But you know, it gives people the access to get to the beach even if they don't live there. Whereas I think we're talking about earlier, people who live in Miami have to walk through hotel lobbies to get to the beach. So there are tradeoffs in that realm too.
KEATTS: Yeah. So I think the thing I wanted to write about mostly was that here are the tradeoffs, and reasonable people can make whatever decision they'd like from there. But the benefits are obvious. We can see them. They're tangible and they're real. The costs are hidden, and the costs are harder to see. And people might not be quite aware of them.
SAUER: Welcome back to the Roundtable on KPBS. I'm Mark Sauer, and my guests are Katie Orr of KPBS news, Tony Perry of the LA Times, ante KEATTS of voice of San Diego, and Bernie Wilson of the associated press. It was a busy shopping season for NFL coaches. The Chargers fired Norv Turner, talked to a handful of candidates before settling on an assistant from the Denver Broncos. Mike McCoy was an offensive coordinator just like the man he replaced. Tell us about him.
WILSON: Well, he must have interviewed very well.
[ LAUGHTER ]
WILSON: I've never heard somebody say, boy, that guy really put on a downer of an interview!
[ LAUGHTER ]
WILSON: But the phrase that dean Spanos used in both the GM search and the head coaching search was they needed a culture change. They needed to clear out the toxic waste that AJ Smith had built
SAUER: Former GM.
WILSON: Former GM who got fired, and the thing that strikes me is Mike McCoy the new coach is 40, the GM is 40. That in itself is a culture change. Very young. Norv Turner was 60, Albert John Smith 63. Not that age matter, but you get them closer to what the players are. S both Mike McCoy and Tom that levingo have had several years of experience. And I asked Tom about two 40 year-olds running the show, and he said I never thought about it. We both have extensive experience. They both started out in their mid-20s working their way up, and and that's where you get the experience. They both started ground level, moved their way up, are.
SAUER: McCoy has not been a head coach before.
WILSON: No, he has not been a head coach. But he played quarterback in college, he played a little bit in the pros. The CFL, he was in some training camps on a practice squad.
SAUER: Quarterback is such a pivotal position, and he worked a little magic with Denver, did he not?
WILSON: Absolutely. And what was impressive to the Chargers is he was able to adapt to the personnel, meaning you have a fan base in Denver clamoring for Tim Tebow, well, you have to change your offense so he can run the ball 20 times.
PERRY: Is his No. 1 chore then helping Phil rivers regain his mojo?
WILSON: It will be, yeah. But the No. 1 chore hand in hand for Tom that levingo will be to get a left tackle so Philip Rivers isn't throwing the ball into the ground because he can't even throw back to the line of scrimmage because he's under siege.
[ LAUGHTER ]
SAUER: If anybody saw the movie Blind side, knows that the left tackle keeps them from coming.
WILSON: Rivers was retreating and throwing the ball into the ground. The ground can't catch it and advance itself. He was under siege! So it goes hand in hand. And Rivers certainly is fixable. He's just got to have an offensive line in front of him.
ORR: How many years do you think the fans need to give these new guys before they turn the team around? Presumably, we're not going to win the super bowl next year.
WILSON: Probably not. Weirder things have happened. That levingo said you can't turn over a roster in one offseason. Of you have X number of draft picks. Realistically only a certain number free agency can bring in. There is a salary cap. But they have to prioritize, and they're in good shape defensively. But now you get a guy like Ken Whisenhunt as the offensive coordinator, and does Ryan Matthews fit those plans? Now you need a left tackle, a right tackle, a left guard, a cornerback. They do have running backs on the roster, but are you going to have to go out and get a running back in a lower round? Are you going to do it in free agency? Do you need a backup quarterback now?
SAUER: So a real makeover.
WILSON: Yeah, and people kept saying -- people who drink the Kool-Aid said this isn't rebuilding. Well, it is rebuilding! And Norv Turner, a lot of people say did he have the right to throw AJ under the bus on his way out the door? Absolutely. AJ never once last season came to Norv's defense.
SAUER: Being the general manager.
WILSON: Being the general manager. And Norv said that the new guy coming in, the fans shouldn't expect to be in the playoffs next year.
SAUER: Let's talk about that. They had a lot of games that didn't sellout, which means they aren't on local television. How patient will the fans be?
WILSON: Well, I think the fans -- thank God that they didn't hire Jon Gruden. The fans would have expected 16-0, and then 19-0.
SAUER: This being the highly successful coach who won the super bowl.
WILSON: 10 years ago now in Tampa bay, and the business, believe me, the sellouts helped -- or the lack of sellouts, WHICH lead to blackouts, there were four of them, three in a row, and the stadium looks pretty ugly when there's 10,000 empty seats.
SAUER: But you'd have to be there to see it because it's not on TV!
WILSON: Believe me, I saw it. But that factored into deep Spanos's decision to fire the manager, AJ Smith, because it started affecting business decisions.
PERRY: I was surprised when Phil Rivers was quoted as saying he had no relationship with AJ Smith. He never came to him and said team leader, what do you need? Is that levingo going to be different? Will he solicit opinions of his players? Or is he also the kind of my way or the highway?
WILSON: We'll find out. But that levingo can certainly learn from a lot of AJ's mistake. One of my favorite AJ stories is a couple years ago when certain guys made the pro bowl, Gates, Rivers, AJ sent down a gift. And the envelope, instead of having the player's name on it it said "a note from AJ."
[ LAUGHTER ]
WILSON: You got to be kidding me. He should have walked down there and shook their hand and said thank you for what you do, thank you for this, thank you for putting your body on the line every Sunday, and we know it tears you apart. But I appreciate that.
PERRY: Could we lose some folks to free agency?
WILSON: Oh, absolutely.
PERRY: Antonio Gates?
WILSON: No, he's still under contract. But the NFL is a meat market. These guys are commodities to be bought, sold, traded, bartered, are thrown out on the street.
SAUER: Let me ask everybody, how important is it for a city, for the City of San Diego to have a successful team? In this city, it would seem to be postseason, very important. Now you've got a national audience. We of course are a tourist destination. The Chamber of Commerce loves that. Other than the hardcore football fans in San Diego, does it mean much to the overall city?
KEATTS: I'm from Baltimore, and my ravens are playing for an opportunity to go to the super bowl this weekend. From what I hear from home --
SAUER: Pride is swelling.
KEATTS: Pride is swelling, people are excited. But realistically, are the economic benefit is very small.
PERRY: Every academic who looks at it says it's not there.
SAUER: I'm still not going to Baltimore. Of
[ LAUGHTER ]
PERRY: Teams and their cities have these interwoven psychological relationships. I'm still mourning the fact that the Clippers got up one morning and went to dread Los Angeles in the 1980s. Is that worth throwing a lot of tax money at them? But this is modern America. And we identify with these teams, even though they are meat markets and businesses.
ORR: As someone who grew up in San Diego, as I mentioned, our family was more into the pedestrian than the Chargers. Then I moved to Ohio and it was, like, oh, my God! Football! Even the Bengals who aren't very good, everyone watches them!
PERRY: And San Diego has such an easily bruised ego.
WILSON: San Diego soft.
[ LAUGHTER ]
PERRY: If we were to lose the Chargers, the city would go into a funk! And not get out of it. Now, is that worth throwing a lot of tax money at it? I don't know. But I'm worried about psychological funk.
WILSON: It is a civic treasure. There's a local calmness to great cities have NFL teams. Can you play it both ways. My job has taken me to London, Tokyo, Rome, Athens. Athens isn't a great city, it's a historical city. But none of them have an NFL team. However, Oakland, Tampa, Green Bay, Detroit, Houston, they have teams just like San Diego. Are those great cities? I've heard the same columnist rip Detroit, Houston.
KEATTS: The city of Portland is a terrific city. Austin Texas.
PERRY: We don't want to be known as a great zoo with a little city attached.