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Uptown News Briefs: Feb. 9, 2018

Posted: February 9th, 2018 | News, Opinion & News, Uptown Briefs | No Comments

DAVID NISLEIT APPOINTED AS NEXT POLICE CHIEF

On Feb. 1, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer announced the appointment of Chief David Nisleit – the current San Diego Police Department (SDPD) Assistant Chief – as the next Chief of Police.

David Nisleit (City of San Diego)

Assistant Chief Nisleit has worked for SDPD for three decades in various capacities. Currently, he is responsible for nine patrol commands, the Watch Commander’s Office and the Homeless Outreach Team. He has previously held leadership positions in SWAT; the Gang Unit, the Centralized Investigations unit; and the Western, Northern and Mid-City Patrol divisions.

“As a native San Diegan and someone who has dedicated the last 30 years of his life to this city and department, it is both a privilege and an honor to become the next San Diego Police Chief,” Nisleit said in a press release announcing his selection. “Keeping San Diego one of the safest large cities in America will be one of my top priorities.”

Nisleit will replace Chief Shelley Zimmerman, who has served in the role since March 2014. After a 35-year SDPD career, Chief Zimmerman is stepping down to retire.

“Assistant Chief Dave Nisleit and I have worked together for years. He is hardworking, honest, and fair. I trust him and believe that he will do an excellent job as San Diego’s next chief of police,” Assemblymember Todd Gloria said in a statement after the appointment.
“I have spoken with Dave and he is committed to being a chief of police that collaborates with the community, seeks neighborhood input and builds partnerships with stakeholders.”

The months-long national search to replace Chief Zimmerman began in September 2017. The selection process involved community and professional interview panels, which yielded overwhelming recommendation of Nisleit from both groups.

“The interview panels saw what I already knew about Chief Nisleit: that he is a man of character who cares deeply about San Diego, our residents and our officers,” Faulconer said in the release.

In addition to community policing, Faulconer also noted that Nisleit will focus his efforts on a national recruiting effort to achieve a fully-staffed department.

RECORD FLU DEATHS REPORTED IN COUNTY

Twenty-five more flu deaths were reported in San Diego County in the past week, raising the 2017-18 season’s total to 231 fatalities, the County Health and Human Services Agency announced on Feb. 7.

This is by far the highest number of fatalities in one flu season since the county began tracking fatalities about 20 years ago. The previous deadliest flu season was in 2014-15, when 97 deaths were reported, according to countynewscenter.com.

The victims’ ages ranged from 1 to 101. Of that total, 31 people (13 percent) were younger than 65.

Health officials also reported a spike in influenza B cases.

“A high number of deaths can typically be associated with severe seasons when the influenza A/H3 virus causes most of the illnesses,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, county public health officer. “The flu is still going strong and we’re seeing an increase in influenza B cases, which typically occur later in the flu season. That is why it’s important that people continue getting vaccinated and taking other preventive measures.”

The number of influenza B cases reported last week was 335, or 40 percent of the cases. This is double the percentage of influenza B cases for the whole season, indicating the relatively larger impact it is having now. This season’s flu vaccine offers protection against influenza A H3N2, pandemic H1N1-like and two influenza B strains.

On a positive note, the number of people showing up at emergency departments due to influenza-like illness decreased last week, from 6 percent to 5 percent.

For the week ending Feb. 3, the county reported the following:

Emergency department visits for influenza-like illness: 5 percent of all visits (compared to 6 percent the previous week).

Lab-confirmed influenza cases for the week: 835 (compared to 615 the previous week).

Total influenza deaths to date: 231 (compared to 39 at this time last season).

Total lab-confirmed cases to date: 15,135 (compared to 2,777 last season).

BAD YEAR SO FAR FOR PEDESTRIANS

Three crashes last weekend resulted in one pedestrian killed, two pedestrians seriously injured, and three people in cars seriously injured, according to Circulate San Diego.

On Friday night, Feb. 2, a pedestrian in Loma Portal crossed midblock in the 2700 block of Chatsworth Boulevard, a street with no crosswalk in close proximity, and sustained serious head injuries after being hit by a car.

Also on Friday night, a speeding driver crashed into a minivan on Miramar Road, seriously injuring three with one in life-threatening condition.

The following evening, Feb. 3, an intoxicated driver drove onto the sidewalk on the 6400 block of Parkside Avenue in Paradise Hills, hitting two pedestrians on the sidewalk and killing one of them.

“Eight people walking in San Diego have been hit and killed in 2018 already,” said Maya Rosas, Advocacy Manager for Circulate San Diego. “This tragic loss of life shows that the city urgently needs to invest in safe streets in order to save lives.”

Within the Uptown neighborhood, a senior citizen crossing the street was killed in North Park.

The 78-year-old woman died on Jan. 6 when she was struck by a car driven by a 17-year-old motorist. Authorities said the woman was not jaywalking in the 3200 block of University Avenue and that alcohol was not a factor in the accident.

Other accidents this year have occurred in Normal Heights, City Heights, Downtown, Barrio Logan and Pacific Beach.

Three of the six accidents involving pedestrians occurred in Vision Zero corridors of University Avenue, El Cajon Boulevard and Imperial Avenue.

Vision Zero is a plan with a goal of ending traffic deaths and serious pedestrian injuries in San Diego by 2025.

“Streets should be designed to be forgiving for everyone on the road,” Rosa said. “The city must design streets to emphasize safety and protection from human error.”

Circulate San Diego and a diverse coalition of 20 organizations have promoted the Vision Zero for two years. Mayor Kevin Faulconer and the City Council adopted a 10-year Vision Zero strategy in 2015.

The concept behind Vision Zero is that traffic deaths are preventable — through safe street design, education of safe road habits for all road users, and enforcement of dangerous behaviors for all road users. The program has been successful in other U.S. and European cities. To date, 20 cities across the U.S. have adopted a Vision Zero goal.

In 2017, there was a decrease in pedestrian and all traffic fatalities. However, pedestrians still account for nearly 50 percent of all traffic fatalities. No loss of life is acceptable, and these pedestrian injuries and fatalities show that more work is needed.

PAJAMA DRIVE AIDS FOSTER KIDS

Donations of new pajamas in any size – from toddler to teen – can be dropped off at any Mattress Firm store in San Diego through Feb. 18. Help local foster children and families sleep a little easier (and cozier) this winter.

Use the store locator at mattressfirm.com to find your nearest location.

PHILANTHROPIST MAKES ZOO’S LARGEST SINGLE DONATION

During an all-hands employee meeting at the San Diego Zoo on Jan. 12, philanthropist T. Denny Sanford announced that he is making a $30 million donation — the largest single gift the San Diego Zoo has ever received.

This generous gift will go toward the estimated $69 million cost of constructing a brand-new, completely reimagined children’s zoo, to be named The Sanford Children’s Zoo.

“This project is the most ambitious ever undertaken at the San Diego Zoo and will result in a one-of-a-kind children’s zoo for the 21st century,” said Mark Stuart, president of the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global. “Denny Sanford’s philanthropy is all about making the world a better place for children. Thanks to his transformational investment, San Diego will have the very best children’s zoo in the world.”

When the San Diego Zoo’s current Children’s Zoo first opened in 1957, it was considered advanced for its time. However, when the new Sanford Children’s Zoo is completed, this reimagined 2.3-acre space will give kids greater opportunities to discover the natural world through play, and will be designed in ways to help children develop empathy and better understand and identify with wildlife.

More than 100 species will reside in the new children’s zoo, families will be able to venture through four ecosystems — communities of plants and animals that have unique adaptations for their environment. In each region, children will learn about the animals and their environments in ways that awaken their senses and inspire creativity, exploration, and empathy for nature through play.

As part of the announcement, Sanford officially unveiled The Sanford Children’s Zoo Visitor’s Pavilion, located on the walkway outside the Children’s Zoo. This new pavilion will give visitors and Zoo members the opportunity to find out more about plans for the Sanford Children’s Zoo project, see renderings of what the area will look like, and view an 8- by 5-foot model showing each of the four unique ecosytems that will be created for children and their families to explore.

A fundraising campaign for the new children’s zoo will start immediately. Based on the success of this effort, it is anticipated that the current Children’s Zoo will close in January 2019, as construction begins on the new Sanford Children’s Zoo, which is expected to be completed in spring 2021. To learn more about The Sanford Children’s Zoo project or make a donation, visit sandiegozoo.org/childrenszoo.

CALIFORNIA BALLET HIRES EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

New Executive Director Michael Curry (Courtesy California Ballet)

California Ballet has announced the appointment of Michael Andrew Currey as executive director.

The selection comes after a six-month search led by the board of trustees and Founding Director Maxine Mahon. Currey’s tenure began on Jan. 3.

Currey was most recently the general manager of Ballet West, Salt Lake City, Utah. There he was instrumental in fundraising efforts for that company’s $3 million campaign to produce a new “Nutcracker.” He also oversaw the design and construction of the Jessie Eccles Quinney Ballet Centre, Ballet West’s new home next to the Capitol Theatre in downtown Salt Lake City. Currey was also responsible for the construction and renovation of the Frederick Quinney Lawson Ballet West Academy Trolley Square, Thanksgiving Point and Park City campus locations.

In an over 30-year career in theater, Currey has served in leadership roles at The Joffrey Ballet, New York City Opera, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Maine State Music Theatre and Ballet West.

A San Diego native, Currey was on the staffs of San Diego Opera, San Diego Civic Light Opera (Starlight), and Moonlight Amphitheater before moving east to further his career.

“I am excited to return to San Diego and lead this wonderful company into its next 50 years,” Currey said. “San Diego is truly America’s Finest City, and its natural beauty is only matched by the great cultural arts organizations that have long been a part of the fabric of this great city. I am exhilarated about leading this company to a new level, and working with the wonderful staff and artists to bring sustainable growth to the organization.”

Mahon applauded Currey’s hiring.

“I am delighted to welcome Michael into the California Ballet family. San Diego’s reigning ballet company is clearly in the capable hands of a seasoned and cultured professional,” she said. “California Ballet was built for our community through the love and commitment of our staff, board, dancers and patrons. Mr. Currey will preserve the California Ballet legacy while pursuing an exciting new vision for the classical arts in our fine city.”

Hared Nelson, associate artistic director, said “I’m excited to start the next 50 years of California Ballet Company with Michael Currey as our new executive director. We have a shared vision to grow this company artistically and financially to give San Diego a world class, versatile dance company. Michael brings a professional skill set, and experience that will enhance California Ballet’s mission.”

Currently in its 50th season, California Ballet Company presents professional ballet productions and educational programming to the people of San Diego. The resident ballet company of the San Diego Civic Theatre, California Ballet preserves the classical art form while pioneering new works and encouraging the artistic growth of its dancers and choreographers.

CITY LAUNCHES RESIDENT SATISFACTION SURVEY

The city of San Diego has launched its second Resident Satisfaction Survey to help improve public services. This year’s effort is a follow up to the initial survey, which was completed in 2015.

In order to generate a statistically valid sample size, randomly selected households throughout the city will receive the survey by mail. It can be completed online or returned by mail. Participants will be asked to rate a variety of city programs and staff and offer their priorities of public services.

“I encourage San Diegans to participate and provide us with their feedback,” Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer said. “We work hard every day to serve the community, and this survey helps tell us how we’re doing and what we can do better.”

Results will be tabulated by ETC Institute, the same company that administered the 2015 questionnaire, and the city expects to have a full report of the findings by summer 2018. City leaders will compare this year’s results with the 2015 baseline and recommend process and program improvements accordingly.

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