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    Transients: a thorny dilemma for cops, neighbors, PB library
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Oct 16, 2014 | 11883 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Neighbors near the Pacific Beach/Taylor Branch Library have complained to police for years about homeless encampments and illegal, socially unacceptable behavior. Police have assembled a specialized team to address the problem, but there are no easy solutions to help neighbors take back their beloved library and park from transients. Photo by Dave Schwab
    Neighbors near the Pacific Beach/Taylor Branch Library have complained to police for years about homeless encampments and illegal, socially unacceptable behavior. Police have assembled a specialized team to address the problem, but there are no easy solutions to help neighbors take back their beloved library and park from transients. Photo by Dave Schwab
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    Neighbors say homeless residents stow property and shopping carts in bushes, deal drugs, blatantly smoke marijuana in public areas and use park bushes for toilets. Photo by Dave Schwab
    Neighbors say homeless residents stow property and shopping carts in bushes, deal drugs, blatantly smoke marijuana in public areas and use park bushes for toilets. Photo by Dave Schwab
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    Pressure is growing to do something about the so-called homeless “tent city” that some in the community fear is getting out of hand at the Pacific Beach/Taylor Branch Library. “The library and its park are a magnet for transients,” said Pacific Beach resident Marcella Teran. “The park, especially, has been a hangout for drug dealing, smoking pot and people stowing things in the park bushes and using them as toilets. The surrounding neighbors of Cass, Reed, Thomas and Dawes streets over the last few years have called the police non-emergency line almost on a daily basis due to drug dealing.” Another Pacific Beach resident, David Thomas, who lives a couple of blocks from the library and its park, agreed the time may have come to address the homeless issue more intensely. “While I understand a sizable number of homeless people have no other options as far as living conditions at the moment, I’m rather surprised they are allowed to congregate on the library grounds (grass and sidewalk) areas, especially across the street from a daycare with little kids,” Thomas said. “While I’m sure the majority of homeless on the library grounds are harmless, it doesn’t exactly paint a rosy picture of Pacific Beach when residents and visitors show up at the library and see sleeping bags, shopping carts and so forth all over the place,” he said. “In an ideal world, there would be a central location for homeless to gather to get food, shelter and the help they need to get back into society.” Noting “police have been amazing in listening to our concerns,” Teran said Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman and Northern Division Capt. Jerry Hara have implemented a “Quality of Life Team” to help with the problem. Hara said a team of three officers was dispatched Oct. 9 to do a transient sweep in Pacific Beach, which culminated in six misdemeanor arrests. “One misdemeanor arrest for illegal lodging was a business complaint at 2830 Garnet Ave. in an industrial complex recently renovated to invite new businesses,” Hara said.  “We received a letter of agency (permission to access private property) because of a growing problem of transients overrunning the property. The owners were very appreciative of the quick police response.” Hara said four other misdemeanor arrests were issued during that sweep for illegal lodging/trespassing/violations of court orders and possession of drug paraphernalia at the Pacific Beach Methodist Church at 1561 Thomas Ave.   “There was one other misdemeanor arrest of a 17-year-old girl for daytime loitering and resisting police during selective enforcement of a canyon area involved with illegal lodging and drug activity,” Hara said. “Officers located a male and female off Pocahontas and Ogalala avenues.  When the subjects saw us, they fled up the canyon. We captured the girl, but the male fled.” Hara said the girl turned out to be a methamphetamine user meeting her juvenile boyfriend in the canyon for possible drug-related activity.  “Her parents were notified and she was returned home,” Hara said. Teran said she understands the magnitude of trying to police transients in public places. “The growing problem with homelessness at the Pacific Beach library park and elsewhere cannot be solely managed by police,” Teran said. “A policing strategy has been used to attempt to  control bad behavior on Garnet,  and it’s like herding cats. The police are doing the best they can, but it is not up to them to solve this library problem.” Michelle Clark, the youth services librarian at the Pacific Beach/Taylor Branch Library, said the facility has a “whole list of rules” on appropriate conduct — both inside and outside the building. “People during the day are allowed to be on the lawn,” Clark said. “They can lie down and take a nap. But they can’t be covered up; no sleeping bags or tents. There’s no camping. That’s against our policy.” Asked whether the library grounds was an attractive nuisance for transients, Clark replied, “Sure, it’s a great place to be with the beautiful park, whether the people are homeless or not.” Clark said the library does have a security guard who patrols, adding the facility is open varying hours every day but Sunday. Teran said she is convinced there isn’t one solution for homelessness at the Pacific Beach library, park and elsewhere. “We have to look at this problem from many angles,” she said, adding a recent meeting was held involving neighbors, the library’s manager and her supervisor, police representatives, the neighborhood prosecutor and the District 2 City Council’s office. “The purpose of the meeting was to gather ideas and look at short- and long-term solutions,” Teran said. “We are looking at lighting, sprinkler timing and changing the landscaping, even having exercise classes out on the lawn at certain times of the day, The library and its park have a  great potential to create  a sense of community. I welcome any ideas or suggestions addressing these problems.” Teran can be contacted at marcellateran@gmail.com.
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    Nextdoor.com: social-media site emerges as powerful networking tool
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Oct 16, 2014 | 637 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Pacific Beach residents are taking advantage of social-networking options like Nextdoor.com to raise and discuss neighborhood issues and even to find lost pets as in this post above.
    Pacific Beach residents are taking advantage of social-networking options like Nextdoor.com to raise and discuss neighborhood issues and even to find lost pets as in this post above.
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    Even missing pets part, parcel of growing online attraction Back in the old days, when you lost your pet, your only recourse was to call on friends to help or post the pet’s picture on a flyer nailed to neighborhood telephone poles and hope for the best. Today, with the networking help of community websites like Nextdoor.com and other social media, there are many more avenues to pursue much more quickly than ever before. And coastal residents like Elizabeth “Raz” Rasmussen of Pacific Beach are taking advantage of the ever-increasing reach of modern technology to help locate and secure their treasured lost pets. Rasmussen’s African grey parrot, Carly Lu, has been missing since June 26. Though it’s been more than three months, she’s continuing the quest and remains hopeful of ultimate success. “Carly’s been seen twice in Pacific Beach within the last two weeks,” said Rasmussen. “We know she’s still around here and that she is still fine.” Rasmussen said the social networking ties she’s established on NextDoor have established 17 confirmed “spottings” of Carly in and around Pacific Beach since the bird disappeared. The parrot was seen Aug. 1 at Tourmaline Beach in PB. Rasmussen said Carly Lu was last seen at Bella Pacific Condos in the hills surrounding the In-N-Out Burger near Interstate 5. “She’s in the Loring Street corridor from the beach to the freeway,” said Rasmussen, who said she’s been “plastering posters all over town” ever since with renewed confidence that Carly Lu may yet prove retrievable. Pigeon-size Carly Lu is distinguishable — particularly by her bright red tail. Her call is also distinctive, with its repertoire of whistles, beeps and electronic sounds. Those folks who see or hear the missing parrot are urged to call (858) 699-8368. There’s also a Facebook page called Lost & Found Pets of San Diego and Beyond where people can post about lost and found pets.   “That’s probably a good place to start,” Rasmussen said, adding Nextdoor.com’s website version has a Lost & Found section that’s usually mostly pets. “I know people have found them (pets) through that,” she said. A perusal of Nextdoor’s neighborhood information-sharing website on nearly any given day reveals a host of missing dogs, cats, cockatiels — even tortoises. Here is a list of lost pets listed recently in Nextdoor.com’s Crown Point North Lost & Found section: • “My daughter’s blue-and-white parakeet got out of the house. She is devastated. Call (858) 274-4072.” • “Found cat. So sweet. Sarah Rossetto from P.B. Southwest Central.” • “Found dog. Burak Dogan from Mission Bay.” • “Found: 2 dogs at PB Christian Church, Sept. 15, Kathy Miller, PB North Shore Highlands.” • “Missing black-and-white male cat — Zig, Alyssa Muto from Riviera Sail Bay.” • “Lost dog Maya; large Tan and black female Siberian husky/pit mix, Officer Larry Hesselgesser from San Diego Police Department. Many of the stories on the site result in happy endings. Fido the dog or Felix the cat is often found. Such in the case with Sharon Wampler of Bird Rock, whose missing cat was successfully retrieved through social media. “Thanks to the Bird Rock Community Council’s (BRCC’s) e-blast, our missing 19-year-old cat, Rizelle, was returned recently,” Wampler said. “Apparently, she spent four nights with a family eating salmon and keeping their brown lab[rador] company, feeling right at home. Wampler said the outpouring of supportive emails she received about her lost cat “was astounding.” “We are grateful for the kindness of so many thoughtful and caring neighbors,” Wampler said. One Pacific Beach resident, Jonathan West of PB North Shore Highlands, went so far on Nextdoor.com as to find himself involved in a “shared conversation” with a number of neighbors who had been complaining of having been disturbed by cats. West said he found this “little message” on his doorstep: “I am a cat, somewhat of an unleashed hairball with an attitude, and I have something to share with all you argumentative human types who have decided to text about we cats on your special little social community website. “I roam through your neighborhoods, catching rats, chasing birds away … and now and again making myself available for petting and strange conversations aimed at us, which we don’t really understand. But through it all, we do somehow manage to put up with you humans and I am really quite appalled to find that some of you don’t actually find us to be absolutely adorable … I certainly hope that the rest of you will straighten out those confused souls who have this most unfortunate problem. And that’s about all I’m going to say right now. I’ve got to get back to being the sort of cat that won’t take the time to tell you like it is, because we normally feel you should all understand things like this without any of us having to spell it out for you. “I just have one final word, and I hope you will take it very, very seriously, for all the complex ramifications that it intends to communicate. That word is simply: ‘Meow!’”
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    Mission Bay site among first in city to see reverse-angle parking stalls
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Oct 16, 2014 | 670 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    A couple prepares for some relaxation at Mission Bay Park after parking in one of the new reverse-parking stalls the city is beginning to implement. 			       Photo by Dave Schwab
    A couple prepares for some relaxation at Mission Bay Park after parking in one of the new reverse-parking stalls the city is beginning to implement. Photo by Dave Schwab
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    Reverse-parking stalls at Mission Bay Park are designed to give the motorist a better view of the approaching bicyclist prior to pulling out of a parking stall. Photo by Dave Schwab
    Reverse-parking stalls at Mission Bay Park are designed to give the motorist a better view of the approaching bicyclist prior to pulling out of a parking stall. Photo by Dave Schwab
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    Reverse-angle parking — backward-parking stalls, if you will — is now a reality at Mission Bay Park. “The angle stalls are pointing the other direction; you have to back into the spot,” said Pacific Beach Planning Group member Don Gross. “It’s better for bikes and for any kind of bike facility like a class 2 bike lane [a striped lane for one-way bike travel on a street or highway adjacent to auto travel lanes].” The city currently has two existing locations with reverse-angle parking: 1300 East Mission Bay Drive in Pacific Beach; and Euclid Avenue in San Diego between Monroe Avenue and El Cajon Boulevard. Another at 25th Street between Broadway and B Street is scheduled to have reverse-angle parking soon. “At this point, reverse-angle parking is primarily going to be used on streets that are either heavily used bike routes or existing and planned bike lanes,” said Gary Pence, a senior San Diego traffic engineer who’s getting the word out about the new, safer parking arrangement. “Having reverse-angle parking on the street is safer for bicyclists because the motorist has a better view of the approaching bicyclist prior to pulling out of the parking stall,” Pence said. “Reverse-angle parking also provides the motorist with a better view of oncoming traffic while pulling out. Loading and unloading children into and out of the car is safer because the door of the car acts as a barrier and opens to the sidewalk instead of into traffic. Additionally, loading and unloading at the back of a vehicle takes place on the sidewalk, as opposed to a busy travel way.” Pence said other cities like New York, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Salt Lake City have also had success with this parking configuration. Gross concedes, however, that reverse-angle parking is a tough transition for some. “It’s taking some time to get people to figure out how to use it,” he said, noting “signs are posted” informing people that they need to be “backing in” to the parking space. Gross said it’s encouraging that the city is doing something tangible to make roadways safer for cyclists. “There’s an added benefit down there with getting strollers out and with kids getting out of their cars and heading right to the park instead of walking out into the street and around the car.” Advocates point to reverse-angle parking’s benefits: • Improved visibility and increased field of vision; motorists are better able to see oncoming traffic. • Decreased collisions and reduced threat of runaway vehicles. • Improved safety for children and cyclists. • Improved loading and unloading logistics. • Improved disabled parking. • Increased space, as reverse-angle parking doesn’t require as much space to maneuver, resulting in more parking spaces and additional room for sidewalks, bicycles, et cetera. • Has a traffic-calming affect as it encourages vehicles to slow down.
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    Celebrating Polish culture with class and style
    Oct 16, 2014 | 340 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Members of the Polonez Polish Folk Dance Group perform traditional dances dressed in colorful native outfits, delighting visitors. Photos by Don Balch
    Members of the Polonez Polish Folk Dance Group perform traditional dances dressed in colorful native outfits, delighting visitors. Photos by Don Balch
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    Members of the Polonez Polish Folk Dance Group perform traditional dances dressed in colorful native outfits, delighting visitors. Photos by Don Balch
    Members of the Polonez Polish Folk Dance Group perform traditional dances dressed in colorful native outfits, delighting visitors. Photos by Don Balch
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    Alec Hopkins serves up potato pancakes known as placki ziemniaczane.                     Photos by  Don Balch
    Alec Hopkins serves up potato pancakes known as placki ziemniaczane. Photos by  Don Balch
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    The 19th annual three-day Polish Festival at the St. Maximilian Kolbe Roman Catholic Church in Pacific Beach drew another huge, admiring crowd for immersion in Polish culture: food, dance, song and merriment.
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    Faulconer pitches stepped-up, mandatory water-conservation measures for city
    by STAFF AND CONTRIBUTION
    Oct 08, 2014 | 32229 views | 0 0 comments | 86 86 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Scenes like this water fountain at Balboa Park may become far less common under proposed mandatory water conservation measures. If adopted by the full City Council, the new rules could take effect as soon as Nov. 1. 			    Courtesy photo
    Scenes like this water fountain at Balboa Park may become far less common under proposed mandatory water conservation measures. If adopted by the full City Council, the new rules could take effect as soon as Nov. 1. Courtesy photo
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    Mayor Kevin Faulconer is recommending the city moves to “drought-alert” status, the second phase of citywide water conservation calling for mandatory measures for all residents and businesses. The new measures would go into effect Nov. 1, pending City Council approval. “San Diegans have responded to the statewide drought by conserving water at impressive levels,” Faulconer said in an Oct. 7 statement. “Unfortunately, a record heat wave and a dwindling water supply require us to do even more. I am recommending to the City Council that San Diego adopt mandatory conservation measures to ensure that we all do our part to conserve as much water as possible.” In 2011, the city enacted permanent measures more stringent than those of most cities and water districts throughout the state. And on Faulconer's recommendation and with council approval, the city entered into a “drought-watch” status on July 1, 2014, calling for additional voluntary conservation measures in response to the statewide drought. Water usage in San Diego fell 4.4 percent in August and 5.7 percent in September compared with the same months a year ago. However, other factors, including a significant decline in ground water reserves throughout California, a drop in water reservoirs for the San Diego region, a lack of rainfall and diminished prospects for a strong El Niño and a severe heat wave for the San Diego region in August and September, led Faulconer to call for the second-phase status. Under the new guidelines, the voluntary measures in effect since July will become mandatory. They also call for the additional measures, pending council approval, to go into effect Nov. 1, to wit: • Watering and landscape irrigation using sprinklers will be limited to no more than three days a week on a schedule established and posted by the city. • Watering will be allowed at residences with odd-numbered addresses on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays; watering will be allowed at residences with even-numbered addresses on Saturdays, Mondays and Wednesdays. Apartments, condominiums and businesses will be allowed to water on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. • During the months of June through October, the watering limit is no more than 10 minutes per assigned day; during November through May, the watering limit is no more than 7 minutes per assigned day. • The washing of automobiles, trucks, trailers, airplanes and other types of transportation equipment is allowed only before before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. during the months of June through October and only before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. during November through May. • Operation of ornamental fountains will be stopped except to the extent needed for maintenance. • Potted plants, noncommercial vegetable gardens and fruit trees may be irrigated on any day but only before 10 a.m. or after 6 p.m. during the months of June through October and only before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. during November through May. • Use of water from fire hydrants will be limited to firefighting, meter installation by the Water Department or other activities necessary to maintain the health, safety and welfare of San Diegans. • Construction operations receiving water from a fire hydrant or water truck will not use water beyond normal construction activities. The city plans to enforce the new mandatory measures at no additional budgetary impact to water ratepayers. About 10 staff members in the Public Utilities Department will be tasked with enforcement, which largely calls for educating the public and working with residents and businesses to comply. The city will shift responsibilities for some workers and fill existing budgeted vacancies to ensure proper and adequate enforcement.
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