Roundtable Analyzes Trolley Density Study, New California Laws, Latest Opera Chapter

Friday, October 16, 2015
By Mark Sauer, Pat Finn

SD's not-so-smart trolley system

"Smart growth," a concept touted often by San Diego officials and planners, is honored more in the breech than in reality, according to a recent study by the Center for Law, Energy and the Environment at UC Berkeley's School of Law.

The study, released last week, used the trolley system to analyze how California cities combat climate change and economic inequality through their planning and development. San Diego received poor grades.

The city and the region pay lip service to the idea of smart growth, or creating density around public transportation, but they almost never follow through by increasing housing.

Recent plans to increase density and the building-height limit at two new trolley stops in the Clairemont area produced a revolt among residents, and the city backed off. Other transit stations outside the city center remain underused.

The city has had 30 years to plan to capitalize on its major investment in transit by increasing ridership through planning, but hasn’t done so.

How many bills become many laws

Gov. Jerry Brown signed more than two dozen bills into law at the end of the session, while also vetoing a hefty number.

The “right to die” law allowing physicians to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to the terminally ill; rules for the growth, transportation and sale of medical marijuana; the “motor voter” automatic voter registration law; a law mandating the collection and release of data on the racial makeup of all those encountered by police; and the equal pay law are among the important bills signed into law by the governor.

Brown vetoed several bills which would have created new crimes, one allowing terminally ill patients to try drugs still in the testing process, another which would have expanded pre-school, and several which offered new tax credits.

San Diego’s legislators – including Democrats Lorena Gonzalez, Marty Block, Toni Atkins and Shirley Weber, and Republicans Rocky Chavez and Joel Anderson, were successful in the bill-signing derby.

SD Opera director no hero In New York

David Bennett, the man who was chosen in March to lead the San Diego Opera into a new — and financially stable — era after the opera came close to collapse in 2014, has a bit of explaining to do.

Bennett has been blamed for the recent sudden closure of the organization he was hired away from, the well-regarded Gotham Chamber Opera in New York.

A surprise cache of unpaid bills and fines totaling more than $600,000 and never entered on the books or reported to the board was discovered after Bennett left. Bennett issued a statement saying the board never grasped the organization’s perilous situation.

The San Diego Opera Board says it is 100 percent behind Bennett.