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Roundtable: Rolando Megadorm, Bitcoin Fever, Holiday Films

Roundtable: Rolando Megadorm, Bitcoin Fever, Holiday Films
HOSTTom FudgeGUESTSJeremy Ogul, Mission Times Courier David Wagner, KPBS News Beth Accomando, KPBS News

TOM FUDGE: I am Tom Fudge, Roundtable starts now. Joining me at the KPBS roundtable today are Jeremy Ogul of the Mission Times Courier, David Wagner of KPBS news and Beth Accomando, also KPBS news. The developers say that they're going to be luxury apartments but the neighbors in Rolando area say it is going to be a megadorm. An issue of more than 300 attached housing units are under construction on the corner of 63rd St. and El Cajon Boulevard. Homeowners in the area have filed suit against the developer in the hopes of either stopping or drastically modifying the dense housing projects. In Jeremy, tell us about Boulevard 63, the big project authority under construction. What is the existing neighborhood like? JEREMY OGUL: The neighborhood that we're talking about is Rolando Village, which is near the university. The historic neighborhood your many of the homes are single-family homes built in the 1930s and 40s and 50s. Many residents there have been to the home since they were built and is very quiet and peaceful neighborhood, and it's got a quaint charm to it and it butts up to El Cajon Blvd. which has a very busy street there is a lot of shopping and commercial and transit that neighborhood. TOM FUDGE: I actually did stop by the construction this morning too before coming to do the show and this thing is huge, it takes up almost the entire square block as far as I can tell. It has a big parking structure and CVS pharmacy is only a block away and so is bonds. You could argue that it's a good place to to put dense development. It sounds like the neighbors do not agree with that. JEREMY OGUL: Neighbors are not necessarily opposed to having new housing the bill for the neighborhood at about six or seven years ago there was another developer that came in to post a project that was going to be product condos for sale your neighbors went through a big process and said that this is something that we can get behind. Project through fell fell through. A new developer came in and now they are proposing a similar number of units but these are all for rent units and said they would feel that this is not going to be a luxury apartments as it is been built but is going to be a dormitory. Which is something that is very concerning to them and the impact that they will that will have my neighborhood. TOM FUDGE: It is not necessarily the size of project but the clientele? I assume this project had to go through of the hoops it was supposed to through the city's approval process. JEREMY OGUL: There are different processes depending on what kind of development you're trying to do and where you're putting your development so as a community we have the zones of different neighborhoods and results tell us what kind of things were going to build their, whether will be residential and commercial. So if you building in a zone that is already residential, then you do not have to go through a combat process. If you try to build something like dormitory where does not zoned for dormitory, then there are every action levels of of a review. TOM FUDGE: But the developer says that this is not at the dormitory. JEREMY OGUL: The conflict here hinges on the question of what is a dormitory? If you look at the city code it is not actually very clear and that is what the judge is going to be deciding in this case. Is a dormitory something that college students live in, or is that something that is only limited to college students pick in this case anybody can live there just college students. TOM FUDGE: But I know that some of the language in the materials for this development have been pointed out as appealing to a specific demographic demographic. JEREMY OGUL: This is no doubt that this is being marketed to college students. Some of the marketing language you can see it's very geared towards very generational. TOM FUDGE: What about and amenities, other amenities of this complex that would make you think it's a geared toward students? JEREMY OGUL: This is a luxury complex every unit is unit comes fully furnished and it comes with a washer and dryer and laminate flooring in the unit with kitchen islands and attached bathrooms to each bedroom. There are two resort style pools and a spa and private cabanas and a lot of extras and add-ons. TOM FUDGE: And you talked to the developer, what did they say in the response to these criticisms? JEREMY OGUL: Their cases that it is illegal for us as landlord basically to discriminate, we cannot say who is allowed to live. Who is not. If the apartment and tenants turn out to be 90% college students there's not much the developers as they can do about that. DAVID WAGNER: I'm sympathetic to the neighbors in this community but I know that from a student point of view there's a big housing shortage for SDSU. JEREMY OGUL: Yes and San Diego State is a commuter school. There in a push over the last ten years or so to expense did housing opportunities and this product project is not directly related to San Diego state, it is a private developer and private project. But it should be beneficial. This will bring housing space for 1800 tenants. TOM FUDGE: What are the deployment developers and what we know about them? JEREMY OGUL: Carmel partners. They do stuff nationwide and they'd found this of that luxury student housing so they built a similar project in San Diego and another product on Linda Vista right across from UCSD. They built projects in Boulder and in Washington DC and in the Bay Area and they found this bitch were if you put all these luxury amenities and you can charge students a lot more others going to be a demand for student housing near it university. TOM FUDGE: No neighborhood residents in this did not go according to the rules and that this development will become a slum in twenty years, and if you back that up? JEREMY OGUL: There's no way to say for sure how it will end up but Carmel partners has a national reputation and there in this for profit and I think that they would ñ I don't think they would love to turn into a slum. There may be some rhetoric for people who are opposed to but who knows. DAVID WAGNER: Thirty just the slots who will be successful? Displaces under deconstruction looks like it is well on its way to become your current apartment complex? JEREMY OGUL: The residents are asking for a judge to say to the developer that you did not get the permits that you needed to build this. That that point they would have to stop construction and leave it as is until they get to this parsec subtract to obtain the necessary permits and that could be as long as a year or two that we have is when framing this setting their is also possible that the judge could ask them to turn down. It's pretty uncommon, some judges are hesitant to ask people to do that. But we saw that with the Sun Road high-rise building a couple years ago where it was near Montgomery Field and they built too high, the developer built the building too high it had to chop off the top of building. Maybe something like that could be the outcome of this. TOM FUDGE: Now for our next subject, what is money really? Is it a greenback or a gold coin? No it's an agreement between people that some kind of currency has all you even if it is not a bill at all, just the idea. Some say that Bitcoin is a great idea especially now that we've entered the Christmas shopping season. Bitcoin is the new frontier of Internet money but is it a frontier that you and your local retailer want to explore? David Wagner, happy Black Friday. Bitcoin has a history, though a short history how did it come about and what is it be used for a until now? DAVID WAGNER: The idea for the coin only goes back to 2008. It originated with a mysterious group of people and the currency came about in 2009. The first couple of years you only saw this kind of libertarian crowd rally around it. The most notorious to part of Bitcoin's history is been around of black market called the Silk Road. Bitcoin has an anonymous nature to it and people think that they're untraceable if they buy the stuff online. TOM FUDGE: But Silk Road is been shut down right? DAVID WAGNER: Yes but there are people trying to rebuild markets like it, this idea of the dark corner of the Internet that no one was paying attention to is kind of gone now. TOM FUDGE: What is Bitcoin worth and who determines its value? DAVID WAGNER: Bitcoin is worth whatever people think it's worth, there's no central bank overlooking it. That is why it is so volatile and it's been on this huge upward trend recently. Around this time last year you could get a Bitcoin for about twelve dollars, and today it's hovering around $1100 a Bitcoin so it's been this hundredfold increase in Bayou. It's amazing, just a month ago is talking to a friend because he bought it a quite what is with about twelve dollars and Keith and it was about $200 about six weeks ago, and I thought I should buy a Bitcoin because, so much, and said this is too shady. Now it's got up about fourfold since then. TOM FUDGE: If Jeremy wants to buy a Bitcoin, if you want to earn a Bitcoin what would you do? DAVID WAGNER: There a couple that you get it back primary will we get is by mining it, where you program your computer to softer keep postbox. That is getting very very difficult to because there's a finite amount of that coin so now people just buy it. You can go to many exchanges online and exchange or dollar for Bitcoin and like what you said it has been on this huge Upward trend that a lot of people have an you cheer stories of the Internet about people who forgot about the Bitcoin they purchased in 2009 and now they have like $1 million. I think the other side of the coin is the fact that is this from the unregulated digital currency and a lot of people who got rich got there but contractors stolen or skimmed off of them and there's no recourse that you have that happens to you. It's the wild West. TOM FUDGE: In light of that let me ask you, what is the attraction of that if I'm a retailer, why would I want to sell things for Bitcoin? DAVID WAGNER: On recent you might want to start excepting Bitcoin is for free publicity. If you're going to start excepting Bitcoin there's a number of blogs that will write about you. Go and buy a ticket to space with Bitcoin. You buy Subway sandwiches with Bitcoin, but more realistically some people say that Bitcoin is an improvement on the credit card industry. Credit cards take a non-negligible transaction, the cost of everything that we buy and Bitcoin will be a little cheaper and a little more direct. That is what people are saying is that Bitcoin promises that. TOM FUDGE: Nobody regulates this and it sounds like it's extremely volatile. What is the con side? DAVID WAGNER: The con side is an zero per consumer protections and if you lose your Bitcoin somehow they're just gone, you do not get them back. The other colonies like you said the price of prices so volatile, it's skyrocketing right now but there's nothing preventing you from the radically crashing back down to nothing tomorrow. The other kind is because the price is so volatile, nobody asked the prices anything in print quite so the idea that it's in a digital currency is kind of misleading. They exist is bigger still priced in dollars celebrity that apply with Bitcoin you do that conversion at the moment they buy something so for this to actually become something that could challenge the US dollar, which is a long way from that. It will have to become more stable and people have to be able to trust it more. TOM FUDGE: U.S. dollars are okay for now. So a retailer in San Diego is accepting Bitcoin? DAVID WAGNER: Yes he was an entrepreneur option entrepreneur behind it does old kind of an ad see what gets you where you can buy had bejeweled and jewelry and peer and except Bitcoin. A year ago you cannot buy much with Bitcoin and you could buy crazy stuff and drugs with it. Now a legitimate business is starting to pop up and selling things that people might want to buy. BETH ACCOMANDO: So if you wanted to buy a Bitcoin at $200 and up to 1100 now, so if you wanted cash and what you do? DAVID WAGNER: There's a ton of exchanges where people go to spy and sell Bitcoin. They offer slightly different prices and those prices are different every hour so I think a lot of people are hoarding Bitcoin to the sea going up and they don't see it crashing at anytime soon so that coin is this weird economy where Bitcoin boosters are trying to get people to spend their Bitcoin on black Friday, but a lot of people are just holding onto them. TOM FUDGE: And some people control a large amount of Bitcoin? DAVID WAGNER: Like a founder of Bitcoin, this mysterious person seems to have when I last checked about $1 billion worth in Bitcoin. TOM FUDGE: Is this just a trendy thing or will the forces and interests of the online community of which they demand some kind of virtual money? DAVID WAGNER: Kind of a copout but I think Bitcoin's a trendy thing right now, the volume of press and buys around it but on the other hand this idea of a more efficient frictionless way of moving money around online is here to stay and I think you see people acknowledging that sing a Bitcoin and is comport the concept of it digital currency has promise, so even if Bitcoin goes goes the way of the beanie baby, this idea of having a easier way to move money around online is here to stay. TOM FUDGE: Thank you David. Now to our final topic, the Christmas holiday season is a prime time for movies. This is what studios tried on art films and hope to win the Oscars that will win a lot of money. We'll talk about the economics of this is industry this time of year and talk about three movies that might be worth a trip to the mall. Moviegoers are ready to bring their frankincense and myrrh to movies, how important is this season to the studios? BETH ACCOMANDO: It's a very important species and character a lot of people on vacation and they go out to the theater especially around Christmas time and whole families got to movies and is also the time of year where they trot out the Oscar hopeful, this is where you can really make or break a film in the sense that if the film gets the nomination they could mean that's what you can put on the DVD covers. They are getting a lot of income from that as well, so they are banking on some of these films to get attention now to help them in the long run. TOM FUDGE: Have there been any outstanding box office performers thus far? What about the new hunger games movie? BETH ACCOMANDO: This is what they call a major miniseries. Hunger Games did very well with over 100 million. I would not call it a surprise hit but it definitely has paid off for the studio. TOM FUDGE: And maybe this question will be a segue into movies were want to talk about, brother any movies that of generated Oscar buzz? BETH ACCOMANDO: Yes, there are a lot. Gravity, Twelve Years a Slave are being touted as Oscar hopefuls and you got critics already saying Sandra Bullock's bound for a Oscar nomination. There's already a lot of stuff they put out there. TOM FUDGE: I think one movie that is generating some, Dallas Buyers Club, you have film clip of this, set it up for us. BETH ACCOMANDO: Matthew McConaughey went through a very physical transformation where he plays it aids patients so he may book not look like you remember him. Basically he looks like a guy that is kind of a jerk and gets this disease at is to obey of thirty days to live in instead of just accepting that, he decides to try and figure out what could help him any action builds this market of trying to get drugs to these patients. Him and Jennifer Garner are in it. TOM FUDGE: Okay, let's look at this clip. [[AUDIO FILE PLAYING]] TOM FUDGE: That McConaughey lost a lot of weight to play the wall, what you think of him and would you think of the movie? BETH ACCOMANDO: I thought the film was excellent and Matthew McConaughey is another film this year, but which is also generating a lot of buzz, so he may be competing with himself for Oscar nominations. It's an excellent film. This will probably make a decent amount of money it is also about a film that cost them quite as much as catching fire in this game, so look perform well that will also get awards, it is did you once ideally both prestige and box office, but sometimes they'll settle for one of the other. TOM FUDGE: Also the film Alaska. BETH ACCOMANDO: Is early film was election which was brilliant. He's recently done that this descendents which got on Oscar nominations and this is an interesting choice for him, it's a picture which is like sideways in the sense, but it's a black and white film which is a bit of a challenge for some audience goers. TOM FUDGE: Let's take a look at the clip. [[AUDIO FILE PLAYING]] TOM FUDGE: Bruce is a wonderful and actor from the 1970s. BETH ACCOMANDO: He's always been more of a supporting player in the 70s he had a few strong roles but it's really wonderful to see him get a showcase will like this that he's brilliant. A lot of his best scenes are in silence. It's just look on his face or his eyes that tell you everything about the character. And inside Welland Davies and this is about folk music kind of at the start of the folk music time and it's an interesting: film that one time they were asked about it and said the we looked at it and it is assumed to have a plot that's when we decided throwing in the cat. The Cohen's did not explain themselves or take questions very seriously so it's meticulously made and as usual and I don't find it as fun as Big Lebowski and Fargo, but it's an exceptionally well-made film. TOM FUDGE: Let us take a look. [[AUDIO FILE PLAYING]] TOM FUDGE: We are out of time and that wraps up another week of stories of the Roundtable. I would like to think my guests jJeremy Ogul, David Wagner and Beth Accomando.

Rolando Residents Riled Up Over "Megadorm"

A group of Rolandans claim in a lawsuit that the city of San Diego ignored its own laws and development rules when it approved a large student dormitory without extensive public review and approval of a new permit.

The developers, Carmel Partners, are marketing BLVD63 (at the corner of El Cajon Boulevard and 63rd Street near SDSU) as luxury family apartments and strongly insist that it is not a megadorm.


The development consists of four four-story buildings, 4,000 sq. ft. of retail space and 332 residential units with a a total of 915 bedrooms.

The attorney for Rolandans for Quality Infill Development says the development does not comply with zoning or land-use regulations, the city's general plan, the Subdivision Map Act and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). This group also says the developers misrepresented the nature of the project, which Carmel Partners denies.

The development is well underway, so what can result from the suit?

Bitcoin: Currency Of The Wild West

It’s hot, it’s digital, it’s sky-high, and nobody controls it.

Bitcoin is a virtual currency that seems to have arisen out of the ether about 5 years ago. You can't buy much with it, with the exception of the odd space flight on Virgin Galactic. It's hard to get, too, but there is a Bitcoin ATM in Vancouver, British Columbia.


You can also speculate on Bitcoin values (which have risen dramatically) and be subject to all kinds of fraud at the same time. And because Bitcoin is digital, hackers are no doubt licking their chops.

But can you use it this holiday season in San Diego to buy a new Xbox for the kids? Maybe.

So what is Bitcoin, where did it come from and who backs it? Why are libertarians attracted to it? Should we (and the U.S. dollar) be afraid of it? And what the heck are the Winklevoss twins doing with it?

Swamped By Movies

At the end of the calendar year, we generally get swamped with movies trying to hook holiday audiences and/or Academy voters come Oscar season.

Some cost gazillions. Few earn them back. The tendency of films to be either small and earnest or huge and splashy is driving a certain type of film — the mid-budget indie (around $20 million) — out of existence.

Is there a correlation between big budgets and box office success? Even a reverse correlation? How important are the big blockbusters to the studios? And what films are worth our time and money this season? We check in on three “serious” films coming out this season: "Nebraska", starring Bruce Dern; "Inside Llewyn Davis," the latest from the Coen Brothers; and the Matthew McConaughey film "The Dallas Buyers’ Club."