Midterm election results bring changes to San Diego
On Tuesday, Nov. 4, San Diego voters — or at least some of them — headed to the polls to decide state, local and national races, as well as several propositions, during the final midterm election of Barack Obama’s presidency. Only one-third of San Diego County’s registered voters submitted a ballot, and the state’s voter turnout was the lowest in decades.
San Diego’s lone City Council race went to Republican newcomer Chris Cate, who bested Democratic opponent Carol Kim by a margin of nearly 10 points. Council Democrats will now hold a 5–4 majority on the Council, a downgrade from the veto-proof 6–3 supermajority held for a brief period following Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s inauguration this spring.
Rep. Susan Davis (D–53), who represents the coverage area of Uptown News, easily defeated Republican challenger and retired Navy SEAL Command Master Chief Larry Wilske by more than a 10-point margin. Davis was first elected to represent the district in 2000.
The state-backed Proposition 1, which will authorize a $7.5 billion bond for various water infrastructure projects, passed by an overwhelming margin. San Diego County Water Authority chair Mark Weston told KPBS that the bond contains $70 million directly available to San Diego, with another $3 billion that San Diego County plans to compete for.
California voters also approved Proposition 47, which will soften penalties for lower-level drug and property crimes, among other violations. Authored by former Police Chief Bill Lansdowne but opposed by other local law officials, including Lansdowne’s successor, Shelley Zimmerman, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office said the measure will save state and local criminal justice systems hundreds of millions annually. The Los Angeles Times reported that the measure will cut penalties for one in five of the state’s criminals.
Nationally, Republicans won the necessary number of seats to gain a majority in the U.S. Senate and increased their majority in the House of Representatives. Conservatives now hold a majority in two out of the three federal branches of government.
Kensington Commons now open
Last month, tenants began moving into the 47,000-square-foot Kensington Commons mixed-use apartments, located on Adams Avenue in the heart of Kensington’s commercial district.
The first floor of the building will be devoted to commercial tenants: UPS, Pacific Dental and Stehly Farms Market, which sells local, organic produce, according to Wermers Multi-Family Corporation, the project’s general contractor.
The development faced opposition from surrounding residents when its plans were first unveiled in 2006. After a lawsuit settlement, plans were ultimately revised, reducing the project’s overall square footage and removing an underground public parking lot. Tenants will still be provided with parking.
The development was designed by Kensington architect Allard Jansen, who resides in the adjacent Kensington Park Plaza, which he designed and constructed in 1999, according to UT San Diego. Rent prices for the 34 one- and two-bedroom apartments range from $2,350 – $2,700.
James Irvine Foundation issues $1m grant to enhance Balboa Park
On Oct. 29, it was announced that funds from a $1 million grant issued by the James Irvine Foundation would go toward several technology upgrades in Balboa Park.
Money will be used by the Balboa Park Online Collaborative (BPOC) to double the size of the park’s Wi-Fi network, enlarging it to roughly 250 acres. The increase will make the network “one of the largest and fastest free public Wi-Fi spots on the West Coast” according to a press release from Mayor Kevin Faulconer.
The BPOC and the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership will also use the funds to create a smartphone app offering self-guided tours around the park, its museums and cultural institutions. Several other tech-related upgrades are also slated to utilize the grant money.
Local minimum wage increase sent to voters
The minimum wage ordinance passed earlier this year by the City Council will now require passage by San Diego voters in June 2016. After a successful petition campaign led by the right-leaning San Diego Chamber of Commerce to block the ordinance, the City Council was forced to either rescind the measure or put it on a citywide ballot; they chose the latter.
“Minimum wage opponents delayed the implementation of the minimum wage increase by funding a deceitful referendum campaign,” Council President Todd Gloria, who authored the ordinance, stated in a press release. “The result is that 172,000 San Diegans will have to wait at least two years to get these necessary raises that will help them keep a roof on their heads and food on their tables. I look forward to a campaign based on facts, rather than the lies told during the signature gathering process.”
The ordinance would raise the minimum wage to $11.50 over a three-year period and guarantee employees the right to earned sick leave. Meanwhile, the statewide minimum wage, currently $9 per hour, will bump up to $10 per hour on Jan. 1, 2016.
‘Museums on Us’ program grants free admission to participating institutions
Bank of America and Merrill Lynch credit and debit cardholderscan now take advantage of a free program, “Museums on Us,” the first full weekend of each month. By showing a credit or debit card from either financial institution (along with photo ID) park visitors will get free general admission to participating museums, aquariums and more. In San Diego, Birch Aquarium at Scripps (2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla), the Museum of Photographic Arts (1649 El Prado, Balboa Park) and the San Diego Museum of Art (1450 El Prado, Balboa Park) are part of the program, which has 150 participating locations nationwide. To see upcoming “Museums on Us” dates and a full list of participants, visit museums.bankofamerica.com.
North Park Sonic to open Nov. 10
Sonic, “America’s Drive-In,” will open its second San Diego location on Nov. 10 in North Park. Located at 2829 El Cajon Blvd. near Utah Street, the franchise will have an interior dining space, in addition to the typical carhop and drive-in.
Sonic originated in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in 1953 and now has over 3,500 restaurants in 43 states. This will be Sonic’s eighth location in San Diego County.
The location’s franchisee Max Gelwix also opened a National City location in June, reported the San Diego Business Journal.
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Correction: It was stated in “Kensington Commons now open” that Wermers Multi-Family Corporation was the owner of Kensington Commons. They were the project’s general contractor.