Community engagement ‘key’ for Vons site
If Vons had continued with the 10-year design vision work of the late Robert Lawrence of R.S. Lawrence Development, the Vons site, even though he became ill, would have been an Orchid [see “Vons Mission Hills receives ‘Onion’ for architecture & design,” Vol. 4, Issue 21]. Community engagement was key: another legacy that Robert gave to the community of Mission Hills. We miss you Bob!
—ICare, via sduptownnews.com
Much to see in Peru
You are so right about the vast array of interesting and beautiful sites in Peru, as well as the innocence of the people outside of the cities such as Cuzco [see “Peru: Inca gold in the 21st Century,” Vol. 4, Issue 21]. Lake Titicaca and the sacred islands are breathtaking (as is the altitude). Chan Chan intrigues as well. Pachecamac provides a unique offering of a very ancient sacred site. I only spent eight days in the country. Would like to return for a month!
—Paul Kochis, via sduptownnews.com
More parks, green technology ahead for San Diego
By Council President Pro Tem Kevin L. Faulconer
I’m honored to work every day with San Diegans to protect our beaches, bays, clean air and environment. We’ve achieved several victories recently that will preserve open space and bring new parks and transportation options to our city, all of which will have a real impact on our daily quality of life.
Greater waterfront access becoming a reality
I’m proud to be at the forefront of bringing new life to San Diego Bay. As Chair of the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan Joint Powers Authority, I’m working on civic projects that replace unattractive concrete along the bayfront with trees, grass and public art. Two significant coastal park projects reached major milestones this fall.
Ruocco Park, located at the corner of Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway, brings 3.3 acres of additional recreational space to San Diego. The park is made possible thanks to generous grants from the Ruocco family and management by the Port of San Diego.
One mile north of Ruocco Park, a parking lot adjacent to the iconic San Diego County headquarters is on the verge of conversion to 8 acres of parkland. The County Administration Center Waterfront Park will feature a children’s play area, garden rooms and interactive fountain. I commend the County Board of Supervisors for adding to the momentum of waterfront redevelopment.
These two parks bookend the North Embarcadero revitalization project centered at North Harbor Drive and Broadway. When Phase I is completed in 2013, we will be able to enjoy a bayside linear park three times wider than today, a pedestrian and bicycle path, public art and groves of jacaranda trees. Combined, these parks will better link us to our most valuable asset – the bay – and provide public space for residents, visitors and future generations to celebrate our connection to the water.
Council says no to power plant on Open Space land
Whether a neighborhood park or natural preserve, we San Diegans love open spaces. That’s why I recently joined San Diego Canyonlands and other environmental groups to reject a proposal to build on 22 acres of open space in the heart of San Diego County. The Quail Brush project would have constructed a 100-megawatt gas-fired power plant near Mission Trails Regional Park and north of State Route 52. The property is designated as open space by the community plan. My City Council colleagues agreed that we must protect San Diego’s limited open space, and recommended the California Energy Commission – the final decision-making body – consider alternatives.
Continuing San Diego’s leadership in clean technology
From biotech to wireless communication to health care, our city is an epicenter of technological innovation. So it should be no surprise that San Diego has the highest penetration of electric vehicles per capita among California cities. In fact, the San Diego region is one of 16 metropolitan areas selected by the Department of Energy for a nationwide rollout of electric vehicle infrastructure.
In October the City Council approved an agreement to bring 117 new electric vehicle charging stations to the region, resulting in a nearly 50 percent increase in locations to charge up these alternative energy vehicles. This venture expands upon a public-private partnership that comes at no cost to the City. Over the coming months, look for electric vehicle charging stations to be installed in many locations throughout the City.
Getting over campaign negativity: volunteer to make a difference in your community
By Benjamin Nicholls, Hillcrest Business Association executive director
It’s the political silly season out there. With only a couple of weeks left before San Diego elects a new mayor, local newspapers and political organizations are digging up any wafer-thin reason to argue why their guy is better than the other guy. As with other local elections, this year I’ve seen that politicians and their surrogates have no qualms making neighborhood volunteers, activists and organizations into campaign fodder.
I am sick of the “fair and balanced” journalism from some publications and the negativity that the political season creates. When I get the campaign blues, I focus on getting involved in community projects. The Hillcrest Business Association’s projects are volunteer-run, and our goal is to improve the neighborhood.
That’s it, no politics and no hidden motives!
This season, HBA volunteers have been focusing on new projects and new events, which have raised thousands of dollars for the community. Just a couple of weeks ago, outgoing HBA Board President Nick Moede and Special Events Committee Chair Johnathan Hale presented a check to San Diego LGBT Pride for almost $24,000 from proceeds raised at the first Pride of Hillcrest Block Party.
Next month the HBA will partner with San Diego’s transgender community to fly their pride flag for the Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20. We’ll raise the United States Flag on Veterans Day. Our landmark flag pole is becoming a wonderful symbol of the diversity of Hillcrest.
The HBA is also gearing up for the holiday season. Our many volunteers on our marketing committee, such as Amy Capano from Cathedral, Ann Callahan from Hillcrest House, Matt Harding from the GSDBA and Johnathan Hale from Hale Media, are busy planning the annual holiday restaurant walk, Hillcrest Taste ‘n’ Tinis, and our annual shop local campaign, SHOP Hillcrest for the Holidays.
This year we’re also planning new decorations for the neighborhood, hoping to install beautiful wreaths on the Hillcrest Sign. That project is coming from the HBA’s beautification committee, lead by Cecelia Moreno from the Crest Café with others including Nick Papantonakis from Snooze Eatery, Nancy Younan from Hillcrest Shell and Michael Brennan from Urban Green.
So if the campaign season is getting you down, I have the perfect cure: volunteer for your local business association. Get involved in a neighborhood committee. We’ve got some great projects coming up.
Find out when our committees meet by visiting hillcrestbia.org or by calling 619-299-3330. It’s the best way to deal with the negativity of the campaign season while making a real difference in your community.
The Center leads community effort to turn out ‘Equality Voters’
By Amber Cyphers Stephens, The LGBT Community Center director of communications
The San Diego LGBT Community Center is in the home stretch of its Equality Voters campaign, an effort to identify, educate and empower Equality Voters.
Just what is an Equality Voter?
“Equality Voters are not single-issue voters: they care about many different policy and political issues,” said Dr. Delores A. Jacobs, CEO of The Center. “As they prepare to vote, they also bring with them a commitment to ensuring fundamental fairness and dignity for themselves and for their family, friends, neighbors and co-workers.”
Jacobs continued: “For Equality Voters, equality is not the only issue, but it is a threshold issue, and perhaps one of the most important things about Equality Voters is that they do actually get out and vote. Our votes do make a difference in elections at all levels,” she said.
“To me an Equality Voter is someone who believes in social justice for everyone,” said Denise Serrano, The Center’s director of public affairs and civic engagement. “I don’t see it as just being the LGBT community. There are these multiple intersections – color, gender, nationality, environmental issues – sometimes they all intersect in one person. But exercising that right to vote is imperative.”
In recent years, The Center has engaged in voter registration and voter turnout efforts. “At The Center, we are non-partisan and non-candidate focused, so we are offered a unique opportunity to just encourage people to exercise their right to vote. We are excited to be working with Environmental Health Coalition, Equality Alliance, San Diego Pride, North County LGBTQ Resource Center, GSDBA and others to energize our whole community to vote.”
Serrano said that she and volunteers who are on the phone and walking San Diego neighborhoods continue to hear a familiar refrain, one they are working tirelessly to change.
“We still hear people saying, ‘My vote doesn’t matter.’ There is still an apathy or a helplessness or just a disillusionment with the process,” Serrano said. “We were really able to counteract that on the day of the Pride parade. We had 100 volunteers out in teams of 10, and they were up and down that parade route as part of a massive effort to register voters and get Equality Voters pledge cards signed. Our volunteers still heard, ‘It’s just one vote,’ but they were able to turn around and say, ‘Look, there’s 200,000 of us here. If everyone here votes for equality, that’s a huge impact.’ People understood that.”
Those volunteer teams, out in force in bright orange T-shirts, have also been at several other community events, on the phone and out in local clubs to register voters and to get them to sign the Equality Voters pledge card, a card that ultimately gets mailed back to them to remind them of their pledge and to vote.
“When people get back that pledge card, it increases the likelihood that they will indeed turn out to vote,” Serrano said.
Volunteers are vital to this effort. They are phone banking at least three times a week until Election Day, Nov. 6. In addition, The Center’s front desk staff and volunteers have been trained and can register voters as well.
“So many people have been turned off by the negative politics of things they hear,” Serrano said. “By not having any partisan or candidate focus, we can truly focus and emphasize the process: how empowering an experience it is to walk into a voting booth and have a say in the direction we all go in.”
And that is exactly the point.
“We have made tremendous gains because people have been active, because people have knocked on doors,” Serrano said. “We can’t afford to be complacent. There is so much on the line for us.”
It’s not too late to join in the effort. To get involved, or for more information, contact Serrano at 619-692-2077 x103 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Preparing for the flu season
By Dr. Michael Siegel, corporate vice president and medical director, Molina Healthcare, Inc.
Though summer vacation and barbecues aren’t far behind us, as a physician for Molina Healthcare, I remind my patients that it is never too early to get vaccinated for the upcoming flu season. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that the public get vaccinated as soon as the new vaccine is offered since the antibodies take about two weeks to provide the full measure of protection. Even if you were vaccinated in years past, you should still get vaccinated because every year the vaccine is not only different, but also modified to protect against the flu strains most likely to be seen the coming season.
When does flu season start?
Flu season can begin as early as October, and typically lasts through May, peaking in January and February. Although the flu usually doesn’t hit until the fall, the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) – two organizations that determine the contents of the influenza vaccine to be developed each year – have been looking toward the next flu season for a while. This is because the vaccine manufacturing process begins six to nine months ahead of time to insure enough supply on hand.
Who should get vaccinated?
The CDC recommends that anyone over six months of age gets vaccinated, especially those at high risk for complications. This includes people with chronic medical conditions like asthma, diabetes and chronic lung disease, pregnant women, children between six and 23 months of age, anyone 65 or older and those who live with or care for those listed as high risk.
Who shouldn’t get the vaccine?
People with severe allergies, especially those with an allergy to eggs, should check with their doctors. Anyone who has had a severe reaction to influenza vaccine previously and anyone who has ever had Guillain-Barré Syndrome (a disorder where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its nervous system) should discuss vaccination with their doctors.
Know fact from fiction.
Many people think of the flu as a severe cold with short-term symptoms that may lead to a few lost work or school days. However, the truth is the seasonal flu can be a serious condition and even fatal in some cases. The seasonal flu hospitalizes 200,000 people in the United States each year and can kill between 3,000 and 49,000 people from complications caused by it. Some people are also afraid to get the vaccine because they believe it may cause the flu. However, injected flu vaccines only contain dead virus so it can’t infect you. The nasal vaccine, known as FluMist, is the one type of live virus flu vaccine, but this virus is specially engineered to remove the parts of the virus that make people sick.
What should you do?
Preventing the flu takes the same care as preventing other forms of illness. I advise my patients to practice good hand washing habits, avoid touching their faces when possible, and cover their mouths when they sneeze or cough. Symptoms of the flu range from mild to severe, but usually begin with a fever and body aches, and often include a cough and/or sore throat, headache, runny nose, fatigue and chills, and potential vomiting, nausea and/or diarrhea. In many cases, the flu will resolve on its own in four to 10 days with plenty of rest and liquids. If symptoms are severe, a doctor can prescribe antiviral medication to help lessen the duration and symptoms.
Take precautions when you are in public to prevent getting the flu, and don’t forget to get vaccinated to stay healthy this flu season.
Have the ‘good debt’ vs. ‘bad debt’ rules changed?
By Jason Alderman, Visa financial education programs director
Before the Great Recession of 2008 overturned many long-held financial beliefs, it wasn’t uncommon for people to differentiate between “good debt” and “bad debt.” The thinking was that certain kinds of debt were worth taking on because you come out ahead in the long run. Buying a home and financing a college education were two notable examples.
But when home values plummeted and the cost of a bachelor’s degree soared into five or six digits, those once-safe investments in your future suddenly seemed risky or unattainable.
Now’s a good time to step back and examine the concept of good debt vs. bad debt and why, in certain cases, acquiring debt may still make sense, provided you plan carefully and don’t exceed what you can reasonably expect to repay.
This simple distinction still applies: taking on so-called good debt can help boost your credit rating or allow you to buy something that will increase in value over time, whereas bad debt often fuels the purchase of items that are disposable, unnecessary or rapidly depreciable.
One of the best ways to build strong credit history is to show lenders you can pay off debt responsibly. You’re more apt to qualify for a mortgage, car loan or other large debt if you’ve demonstrated sound repayment behavior. Just remember: carrying multiple loans or high-limit credit cards could harm your rating, since lenders might worry you’re taking on more debt than you can repay.
The average college graduate earns $47,422 a year, compared to $26,349 for high school graduates – a difference of $21,073. Using simple math, some calculate the difference in total earnings over a 40-year work life as more than $800,000.
However, such estimates don’t factor in the crippling student loan debt many graduates face or their inability to find work in a chosen field during difficult times. But still, the unemployment rate among college grads is roughly half that of high school grads: 4.5 percent vs. 8.4 percent. College is still a worthwhile investment for many people if they don’t go overboard on loans and choose a degree with good earnings and employment potential.
Before the real estate crash, homeownership was considered good debt because historically, when someone finally paid off their mortgage, their home was usually worth much more than the purchase price. For many, this probably still will be true, unless they bought during the market upswing or are forced to sell before prices can recover. After all, mortgage interest rates are historically low and interest and mortgage points are still tax-deductible.
Just don’t buy more house than you can afford. Factor in expenses like property tax, primary mortgage insurance, homeowners dues, utilities and repairs, and if you get an adjustable rate mortgage, calculate how high rates could climb.
What qualifies as bad debt hasn’t changed since the recession, but budget-conscious consumers are paying more attention now. Meals out, excessive vacations, and unnecessary clothing or electronics – wants vs. needs – all qualify if you’re spending beyond your means. Basically, if you can’t pay the bill in full within a month or two, reexamine whether it’s a worthwhile expense; particularly if you don’t have at least six to nine month’s pay stashed in an emergency fund or you’re trying to save for a car or home.
The photographs accompanying Michael Good’s House Calls column titled “Ghost in the house” (Vol. 4, Issue 21) was taken by Sandé Lollis of Elements of Design.