skip to main content









Donation Heart Ribbon

Roundtable: More On Balboa Park Flameout; Minimum Wage; Homeless Housing Under Fire

KPBS Roundtable

Roundtable: More Balboa Park; Min. Wage; Housing Debate

Aired 3/28/14 on KPBS Midday Edition.


Mark Sauer


Angela Carone, KPBS News

David Rolland, San Diego CityBeat

Sandhya Dirks, KPBS News


Apology For Balboa Park Debacle

Plans for a new, scaled-down celebration of the centennial of the Panama-California Exposition — perhaps including a giant sheet-cake and face-painting — were announced Friday.

But that hasn't stopped journalists and San Diego pundits from continuing to chew over the very public failure of the former very grand plans.

After spending $2.6 million in taxpayer money to plan and raise funds for an extravaganza for the 100th anniversary of the Panama-California Exposition – and having pretty much nothing to show for it – prominent San Diego lobbyist Nikki Clay and two other board members of Balboa Park Celebration, Inc., (BPCI) apologized to the public on KPBS.

Nikki, her husband Ben Clay and many others, including PR consultant Gerry Braun and the group's last CEO, Julie Dubick, received — are still receiving — verbal cream pies from all corners for dishing out money to outside consultants while lacking the fundraising and organizational expertise to pull off a $35-million party.

The captains of this Titanic endeavor have been accused of insularity, negativity, incompetence and, especially, exclusiveness. They, in turn, point out that the whole complex process was made even more impossible with first, the election of Mayor Bob Filner; second, his interference; and third, his resignation in disgrace.

Is Minimum Wage Too Minimal?

The middle class is shrinking and the poor are getting poorer.

For those working for minimum wage, even 40 hours a week does not guarantee an escape from poverty in expensive San Diego. According to a new report from the Center on Policy Initiatives, 37.8 percent of all households in San Diego County are not able to afford the basics (food, shelter, transportation) without assistance and therefore are living below the standard for self-sufficiency.

Council members Todd Gloria, Sherri Lightener, Myrtle Cole and Marti Emerald have announced a campaign to put a city-sponsored initiative on the November ballot to increase the minimum wage from the current $8 an hour to an as-yet-to-be-determined higher amount ($13/hour has been suggested) and give workers up to five paid sick days.

The state of California will raise the minimum wage to $9 per hour this summer and to $10 per hour ($20,800 a year) in 2016.

Often, proposed raises to the minimum wage meet fierce opposition from the tourism industry and retail. Jerry Sanders, president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, among others, is opposed.

Transitional Housing vs. Housing First

Housing first means providing the homeless with permanent housing before addressing any other problems, such as substance abuse and mental illness. Transitional housing requires that the homeless stay in temporary housing until they have completed programs or treatment for their other problems.

There currently is a debate over which approach is the more effective.

The influential Father Joes Villages is a leader in transitional housing in San Diego, where it is the current preferred model for dealing with homelessness. The federal government, however, is looking toward housing first as the better (and less costly) of the two approaches. It is expected that soon the feds will allocate funds for homelessness only to housing first programs.

President Obama, along with many cities and states, have set a goal of ending homelessness by 2015. If San Diego stays with transitional housing, the city may not only miss the deadline, but will lose federal funds in the process.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.


Avatar for user 'twells'

twells | March 28, 2014 at 12:24 p.m. ― 2 years, 12 months ago

The assumption that a single person making minimum wage should have their own 1-BR apartment is ludicrous ... if you have a skill set that only allows you to demand a minimum wage you need to have roommates. Using this as a benchmark skews the argument. Same can be said for someone raising a family on minimum wage ... minimum wage is entry level work. You should not assume you can raise a family on skills that command minimum wage.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Pat Finn'

Pat Finn, KPBS Staff | March 28, 2014 at 1:22 p.m. ― 2 years, 12 months ago

twells -- 40 hours weekly at $8 per hour is $320/week, or $1,386/month in gross income. With four in an apartment renting for $1,000/month – probably a one bedroom – that’s $250/month, leaving $1,136 (or whatever is left after deductions) for utilities, food, transportation, medical care, etc. Whether people assume they can raise a family on minimum wage or not, CPI reports that 170,363 households in San Diego County with one or more children cannot make ends meet without government assistance.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'DeLaRick'

DeLaRick | March 28, 2014 at 2:42 p.m. ― 2 years, 12 months ago

If a person just goes to work and doesn't get out much, that person will not understand how vital lower paying jobs are to the service/hospitality sector and our economy on the whole. Someone making $50K during the day is not going to put on a smock at night to serve someone who makes $100K. We can't have an economy like Las Vegas' where you're either getting into bed or making one to earn a living. Society benefits when people pay sales taxes, regardless of their socioeconomic level.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'JeanMarc'

JeanMarc | March 28, 2014 at 3:15 p.m. ― 2 years, 12 months ago

Minimum wage jobs were never intended to provide a "living wage" for anyone. They are made for people who are in school, like a 16 year who wants to work a few hours a week or a college student working part time to have spending money. I don't know why people think that doing a job literally anyone can do deserves more pay. This is about supply and demand, and the commodity is labor. If 100% of humans can do your job, your labor is not scarce, thus it is not valuable. If you want your labor to be worth more, then educate yourself, join a trade, etc.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | March 28, 2014 at 4:15 p.m. ― 2 years, 12 months ago


I don't know why people think that doing a job literally anyone can do deserves more pay.


Could you spend your days cleaning public toilets? I couldn't, at least not easily. Just because a job pays poorly doesn't mean (1) it isn't a necessity and (2) it's not hard work.

And I hear people saying that bit about the 16 year olds a lot, but where do you get this from?

You say low-wage jobs were "made" by someone - by whom?

They weren't designed for a specific demographic, they are a reality of a functioning society.

Nobody is suggesting people with low-wage jobs should be living in mansions and eater lobster, but I don't understand for the life of me why so many, mostly conservatives, are so afraid of the concept of a minimum living wage.

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | March 28, 2014 at 4:27 p.m. ― 2 years, 12 months ago

Ooops! I thought this article was about The Flame across from Balboa Park!!!

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'Missionaccomplished'

Missionaccomplished | March 28, 2014 at 4:34 p.m. ― 2 years, 12 months ago

Great line, delaRick!

( | suggest removal )

Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | March 29, 2014 at 6:39 p.m. ― 2 years, 12 months ago

A minimum wage of $15/hour is an insult to those currently earning $15/hour. A person who has no skills is that way due to choices. If you have a family and are flipping burgers for $8/hour, you need a vasectomy.

( | suggest removal )