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    ROOM TO ROAM: SeaWorld plans to double size of orca environment
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Aug 20, 2014 | 5277 views | 1 1 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    An artist’s rendering shows the concept for SeaWorld’s new orca-tank expansion that would nearly double the current space of the killer whales’ environment by building a 10-million-gallon tank.          SeaWorld courtesy renderings
    An artist’s rendering shows the concept for SeaWorld’s new orca-tank expansion that would nearly double the current space of the killer whales’ environment by building a 10-million-gallon tank. SeaWorld courtesy renderings
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    The planned expansion of the orca tank at SeaWorld is expected to give visitors spectacular close-up experiences with the animals. SeaWorld courtesy rendering
    The planned expansion of the orca tank at SeaWorld is expected to give visitors spectacular close-up experiences with the animals. SeaWorld courtesy rendering
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    SeaWorld’s answer to animal-rights activists’ charges that its killer-whale exhibit is commercial exploitation came Aug. 15 as the marine-mammal park announced plans to nearly double the size of its existing San Diego orca environment. SeaWorld San Diego is to be the first of three SeaWorld parks to engage in the “Blue World Project,” which calls for the construction of a 10-million-gallon tank environment that is set to open to the public in 2018. Park officials said the 50-foot-deep exhibit with a 1.5-acre surface area is expected to give park guests more access to viewing killer whales underwater and would allow the animals increased engagement with park experts. Plans for the tanks also include a “fast-water current,” which would allow the orcas to swim against moving water. “Through up-close and personal encounters, the new environment will transform how visitors experience killer whales,’” said SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. president/ CEO Jim Atchison in a statement. “Our guests will be able to walk alongside the whales as if they were at the shore, watch them interact at the depths found in the ocean or get a birds-eye view from above.’’ SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. has also pledged $10 million in matching funds for killer-whale research and plans a ”multi-million dollar partnership” to focus on ocean health, officials said. The research includes projects to understand killer whales’ hearing ranges and gain information into their nutritional status and reproduction. “For 50 years, SeaWorld has transformed how the world views marine life. The unprecedented access to marine mammals that our parks provide has increased our knowledge of the ocean and inspired generations,” Atchison said. “Our new killer-whale homes and research initiatives have just as bold a vision: to advance the global understanding of these animals, to educate and to inspire conservation efforts to protect killer whales in the wild.” Not everyone was thrilled by the news of SeaWorld’s orca-tank expansion. Martha Sullivan, a volunteer community organizer who’s been actively lobbying for the retirement of SeaWorld orcas, said SeaWorld’s decision is all about the marine park’s bottom line — not altruism. “SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. reported revenues in 2013 of $2.4 billion,” said Sullivan. “The $10 million included in its ‘Blue World’ pitch for supposed ‘research’ to benefit wild orcas is 0.004 percent of their revenue. Big deal. No aquarium, no tank in a marine land, however spacious it may be, can begin to duplicate the conditions of the sea,” said Sullivan, quoting legendary underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau. Sullivan claimed that, of 137 orcas captured in the wild since 1961, 13 remain alive (three in San Diego), with an average lifespan of four years in captivity.  “One of the three survivors here in San Diego, Corky, is the longest-held orca in captivity in the world, at 45 years this Dec. 11,” she wrote. “Kasatka and Ulises, the other two wild-caught orca survivors in San Diego, have been in captivity for 35 years.  When do these performing animals get to retire?  “SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. is willing to spend several hundreds of millions of dollars to double the surface area of its orca tank in San Diego and add 15 feet of depth to the new half of it and subject the orca and other animals held nearby to the tremendous disruption of major construction over three years,” Sullivan concluded. “SWE Inc.’s priorities are very clear.” SeaWorld has taken a number of hits — both financially and in terms of public relations — in recent months. Animal-rights activists continue to regularly picket the park, protesting against orca captivity. Point Loma activist Alana Coons and others are petitioning the City Council to ask it to direct SeaWorld to only use fireworks alternatives for their nightly summer shows.
 In the wording of an online petition drive protesting SeaWorld’s pyrotechnics displays, Coons claims, “SeaWorld is damaging the quality of life of hundreds of thousands of San Diegans who live within a 20-mile radius on a nightly basis every day for three months straight … The fireworks at SeaWorld constitute animal cruelty … We are asking the San Diego City Council to ban the fireworks at SeaWorld and ask them to switch to laser-light shows, which are kinder to animals and the environment and show a courteous and decent neighborly behavior to San Diegans.” SeaWorld’s stock has also reportedly dropped 33 percent recently because of declining attendance. In March, a controversial bill designed to ban orca shows in California was introduced, but an Assembly committee delayed action on it to conduct further study. For more information on the Blue World Project, visit www.seaworld.com/blueworld.
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    cobric1
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    August 20, 2014
    Doubling the size of a concrete prison won't make any difference. These Orcas need to be in the ocean swimming free!
    City struggles to uproot illegal pot shops in PB
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Aug 20, 2014 | 985 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Staff photo
    Staff photo
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    There’s a stalemate in the battle over medical-marijuana dispensaries in Pacific Beach, as seemingly one unauthorized cooperative opens or reopens for every one that closes. Generating continued frustration for local residents and legislators alike, the issue has the attention of District 2 City Councilman Ed Harris, who said recently that of the 63 illegal medical dispensaries operating citywide, 17 are in the beach areas — with a preponderance of those shops in Pacific Beach. Harris said shutting down unpermitted medical-marijuana dispensaries is not a simple matter, however. “Closing down illegally operating medical-marijuana dispensaries is time consuming and often involves months of litigation,” Harris said.  “There is a great deal of money to be made in this business, and often dispensary owners do whatever they can to remain open.  That said, I am confident the City Attorney’s Office will get all of these shut down.” Meanwhile, Harris said, “I have asked city staff to report on their efforts to close down these dispensaries during the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Council Committee meeting on Sept. 18 in order to make the process more open and transparent to the public.” He said Neighborhood Code Enforcement officials and the City Attorney’s Office are actively working on shuttering these illegal storefronts. Harris said that within the last month, the city has closed the dispensary adjacent to St. Brigid Church on Cass Street.  However, no sooner does one dispensary shut its doors before another emerges to take its place, said Scott Chipman of Pacific Beach Planning Group. “We have a new pot shop at 841 Turquoise St. called Dank on Turquoise,” said Chipman. “Another pot shop opened around June 30 at 1737 Garnet Ave. in the alley called Left Coast Collective.” Both Dank on Turquoise and Left Coast Collective were contacted for comment and their side of the story, but declined comment or did not respond. However, Eugene Davidovich, who represents the industry as a spokesman for the Alliance for Responsible Medicinal Access (ARMA), offered his own take. "The notion that medical marijuana patients are drug addicts is ignorant, insulting and flies in the face of much evidence to the contrary," Davidovich said. "That cannabis has a number of medicinal benefits for a number of serious conditions — with relief of symptoms like tremors, seizures and nausea — is simply no longer in dispute. What we need now is to ensure San Diego patients are able to go to well-regulated cooperatives for their medicine. "ARMA understands the need for patients to have uninterrupted access to their medicine and because there are currently no licensed cooperatives in the city, patients have no choice but to go to an unlicensed shop," he said. "This issue underscores exactly why ARMA advocates for good, sensible regulations. Once there are licensed cooperatives in the city, there will be no more need for patients to go to the unlicensed facilities. Cooperatives that are compliant with the new, strict laws will be great neighbors, both because of the rules and the level of difficulty and investment needed to secure a permit. These will not be fly-by-night operations, rather they will more resemble pharmacies and will not be unwelcome in their communities." Davidovich said he realizes the importance of medical-marijuana dispensaries operating at a higher standard. "ARMA urges the public to embrace the process and regulations that will result in well-operated, licensed dispensaries as the best hope for seeing the less scrupulous operators close up shop, either by city code enforcement action or by virtue of the fact that permitted cooperatives have a market advantage," he said. "Research has shown that regulations help to protect safe, responsible access for patients to their medicine and reduce crime and complaints in neighborhoods." Meanwhile, Chipman claimed medical marijuana dispensaries are a sham. “I don’t understand why drug dealing is illegal on the street corner but when it’s behind a glass door it’s being permitted,” he said. “If I set up a hot-dog stand in front of one of these pot shops, how long would I be allowed to do that? A couple hours? Days? Months? Some of these medical-marijuana guys are opening for months — and years — sometimes just changing the letters in their name and reopening.” Pointing out marijuana “is not allowed to be sold legally in California,” Chipman said he felt what dispensaries are doing qualifies as “drug dealing.” Chipman said a neighborhood coalition he belongs to, San Diegans for Safe Neighborhoods, has tracked Pacific Beach pot shops for more than five years. “We have spent hundreds of hours watching who goes in and out of these stores,” he said. “Ninety-plus percent are males under the age of 35 and the other 10 percent are females under 35. These stores are nothing but drug dealers behind glass doors. We have filed code-compliance complaints on all of them, and it appears to take many months — or even several years — for the city to be effective at closing them.” He maintained that dispensary regulations need to be stiffened. “They must strengthen the operational regulations, raise the age limit to buy to 25 and prohibit hash-oil products,” he said. “It is disappointing that landlords join the unscrupulous and rent to illegal businesses to enrich themselves regardless of the impact on our youth and communities.” Chipman contends the “medical” component of dispensaries is a formality. “A guy with dreadlocks in a white lab coat does not a caregiver make,” he said. “I am shocked at the City Council for falling for this complete ruse. Show me one place where a primary caregiver is distributing out of a dispensary.” On a separate front, there are presently 38 applications for legally permitted medical-marijuana dispensaries citywide that are being reviewed under a new ordinance adopted by the City Council earlier this year. That ordinance allows conditional approval for a maximum of four dispensaries in any of the nine City Council districts, said Edith Gutierrez of the city’s Development Services Department. Of those “legal dispensary” applications, 18 — or nearly half — are in City Council District 2. There are no applications in council districts 1, 4, 5 and 9 because of zoning restrictions under the new ordinance. At present, City Council District 3 has two applicants, District 6 has nine, District 7 has four and District 8 has five. “Applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis,” said Gutierrez. The new city ordinance allows medical marijuana dispensaries in industrially zoned areas. They are not allowed within 1,000 feet of churches, public parks, schools, child-care centers, city libraries, minor-oriented facilities, residential-care facilities or other medical marijuana-consumer cooperatives. An initial deposit of $8,000 is required by the city of all marijuana medical dispensary applicants.
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    Council torpedoes Faulconer’s veto on minimum-wage hike
    by STAFF AND CONTRIBUTION
    Aug 20, 2014 | 394 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Courtesy photo
    Courtesy photo
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    At a special meeting called during its August recess, San Diego City Council voted 6-2 on Aug. 18 to override Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s veto of the city’s hourly minimum-wage ordinance, which provides incrementally increased pay over three years and five days’ earned sick leave. The law is aimed mostly at helping low-paid restaurant and retail workers. The ordinance sets San Diego’s minimum wage at $11.50 per hour, implemented over three years, to increase to $9.75 in January, $10.50 in January 2016 and $11.50 in January of 2017. Wages will then be modified to the Consumer Price Index beginning in January 2019. The ordinance was originally passed by the City Council along strict party lines, 6-3, on June 14 before being vetoed by Faulconer on Aug. 8. The city charter allows the council to reconsider any resolution or ordinance the mayor vetoes and can override the mayor’s veto with six votes. Republican City Councilwoman Lorie Zapf was absent and did not vote on the override. San Diego is among several cities across the country joining a push by Democrats and labor groups to increase the minimum wage at the local and state level as Republicans in Congress oppose raising the current federal minimum-wage floor of $7.25 an hour. The California minimum wage is currently $9 per hour and will climb to $10 in July. The San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce has promised to try to roll back the wage increase through a referendum. It has until Sept. 17 to gather 34,000 signatures to qualify the referendum for the June 2016 ballot. Council President Todd Gloria said that will require city officials and residents to debate the issue for nearly two years.
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    PB Hot Rod, Classic Car show: a bounty of bikinis, wheels
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Aug 20, 2014 | 715 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    As is the case with many car shows, bikinis and bikini contests will be among the hot draws for eventgoers. Courtesy photo
    As is the case with many car shows, bikinis and bikini contests will be among the hot draws for eventgoers. Courtesy photo
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    The Batmobile from the first “Batman” movie, starring Michael Keaton, will be among the jewels on display at this year’s Pacific Beach Hot Rod and Classic Car Show in the heart of PB on 
Aug. 24. 	                     Courtesy photo
    The Batmobile from the first “Batman” movie, starring Michael Keaton, will be among the jewels on display at this year’s Pacific Beach Hot Rod and Classic Car Show in the heart of PB on Aug. 24. Courtesy photo
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    This year’s Pacific Beach Hot Rod and Classic Car Show is gearing up to be one of most entertaining yet, with a bikini contest, a Michael Jackson impersonator and more than 200 classic cars and motorcycles on exhibit. A signature beach community event, the show runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 24 on Garnet Avenue between Mission Boulevard and Dawes Street, as well as along Bayard Street between Garnet Avenue and the alley and on Cass Street between Garnet Avenue and the alley. Highlights of the show include the nitro-burning Wild Thang dragster that shoots flames 30 feet in the air, along with the Michael Keaton Batmobile and Christine from the movie of the same name both on display. It’s the sixth year for the car show themed “Charger Steve’s Wild Rides & Classic Car Showdown.” Now in its fifth year in Pacific Beach, the event is presented by Sycuan Casino. “There will be all different types, styles, makes and years of cars, plus many vendors in case you want to purchase some new shades or a T-shirt. We’ll have a mix of everything,” promised Charger Steve, who hosts and promotes the annual event. The classic car show initially was held at the Del Mar Fairgrounds but has since found a permanent home in Pacific Beach. “I shoot for the stars,” said Charger Steve, who said putting on the annual PB event is “my first love and really quite the accomplishment.” New this year to the car show is the Keaton Batmobile, which Charger Steve described as “an amazing vehicle that is just awesome to look at.” Also on display will be the actual car used in the thriller big-screen movie “Christine,” perhaps the most famous haunted-car movie of all time, inspired by the Stephen King novel. “We’ll have some really nice choppers on display,” said Charger Steve, adding the “hit of the party,” as usual, will be the Wild Thang dragster spectacle. “It’s a fan favorite for sure and it will be back this year,” he said, adding Wild Thang’s operators overcame adversity to make sure the attraction appeared again at this year’s show. There will be a variety of entertainment, including at least one performer guaranteed to knock your socks off. “We have a really fantastic Michael Jackson impersonator who is really astonishing that we’re looking forward to,” said Charger Steve. He said the bikini contest hosted annually by Hollywood Tans is always a crowd pleaser. Steve added there will be entertainment throughout the event, including music, magic and dance. The winner of the car show will be announced at 3 p.m. A car aficionado who has become an event promoter, Charger Steve said classic car shows are becoming increasingly popular. He runs a similar, much smaller car exhibit in El Cajon on Wednesdays and says his once-a-year-Pacific Beach show is like having “a car show on steroids.” For more information, visit wwwchargersteve.com or www.carclubcouncilofsandiego.com.
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    Building a world-class sandcastle: the pros will show you how
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Aug 06, 2014 | 37167 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Professional sandcastle builder Rusty Croft, who is featured in the Travel Channel’s “Sand Masters,” will be on hand in Mission Beach  Aug. 17 to teach folks how to build world-class creations for themselves.   Courtesy photo
    Professional sandcastle builder Rusty Croft, who is featured in the Travel Channel’s “Sand Masters,” will be on hand in Mission Beach Aug. 17 to teach folks how to build world-class creations for themselves. Courtesy photo
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    Sandcastle master builder Rusty Croft puts some creative touches on one of his creations. He will be in Mission Beach Aug. 17 to show sandcastle lovers how to make their own masterpieces. Courtesy photo
    Sandcastle master builder Rusty Croft puts some creative touches on one of his creations. He will be in Mission Beach Aug. 17 to show sandcastle lovers how to make their own masterpieces. Courtesy photo
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    If you’ve ever wondered about the techniques and creativity behind mind-blowing sandcastles, Mission Beach’s upcoming Sunday, Aug. 17 centennial celebration sandcastle event will actually teach you how to do it. One of 10 dynamic events held throughout 2014 to commemorate Mission Beach’s centennial, guests are invited to two sandcastle-building sessions to be held a 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. in front of Belmont Park at 3146 Mission Blvd. Thus far, the centennial celebration has featured a monument and plaque dedication, a classic car show and a viewing of the movie “Jaws.” Yet to come is a volleyball/horseshoes beachfest in early September. The yearlong celebration culminates Sept. 27 with a Centennial Festival at Belmont Park/Ventura Place. Next up on Aug. 17 is “How to Build a Sandcastle,” where San Diegans can learn from the pros: the Travel Channel’s “Sand Masters.” Participants will take instruction from Rusty Croft, a professional sand sculptor who has worked with an international sand team. Croft’s professional sand sculpting career began in San Diego in 1997, where he worked with an international sand team creating a world record-setting sculpture, “The Lost City of Atlantis.” He has since been invited to sculpt in more than 15 different countries. “People don’t want us to be finished,” said Croft of his work and that of his colleagues. “It’s an enchanting, fun medium.” Croft said the art form has natural appeal. “People are instantly engaged in it,” he said. “They can relate to it.” On Aug. 17 in Mission Beach, Croft said he’ll be teaching would-be builders “everything they need to know to make a world-class sand sculpture.” He offered a couple construction tips. “The key element is water. You really can’t have too much,” Croft said. “If you’re ever having trouble with your sculpture or it’s failing, stop and add more water.” Croft said the most basic way to start is to fill a bucket full of sand and water and just “take big handfuls and hand stack it, plop it down, over and over. You can make towers, arches and walls.” With sand sculpturing, Croft said the best way to carve is to “start at the top and work your way to the bottom.” Tools used can be as simple as stainless steel kitchenware. You can even use a straw to “blow out the crumbs,” he said. “The most important thing is just to have fun and take your time,” Croft said. Croft noted that putting in light-dark contrasts using details like stairs and structures like towers, adds definition, interest and intrigue to the sculpture. “The deeper and darker you make it, the better it gets,” Croft said. Croft is now the co-owner of Sand Guys, based in Carmel. He works for the “Silicon Valley elite” creating sand sculptures for the likes of Yahoo, Google and Facebook. He has been on “Good Morning America” and featured in national publications like Sunset, Phoenix Home and Garden, and American Lifestyles Magazine. Croft is currently the host of the Travel Channel’s new hit show, “Sand Masters.” The origin of Mission Beach dates to June 14, 1914, when a syndicate headed by John D. Spreckels and managed by George S. Barney submitted a subdivision map surveyed by D.A. Loebenstein to the Common Council (now known as the City Council) of San Diego for approval. On Dec. 14, 1914, the first official map of Mission Beach was signed and adopted. For more information about the centennial celebration and individual events, visit www.missionbeachcentennial.org.
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    News
    DeMaio, Peters to square off for state's key 52nd Congressional District seat
    GOP CONTENDER TOUTS PLATFORM OF REFORM IN CAPITOL Former San Diego City Councilman and ex-mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio, a Republican who is running against Democratic Congressional Dist. 52 incumb...
    Aug 20, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend
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    Sports
    Race officials revving up for San Diego Bayfair Festival in September on Mission Bay
    San Diego Bayfair officials report it will take a workforce of 700 volunteers to put on this year’s popular hydroplane boat racing and entertainment festival, set for Sept. 12 through 14. “They cov...
    Aug 20, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend
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    Arts & Entertainment
    Must Hear
    Comedy has returned to Pacific Beach! Wednesdays at Reds Saloon are now dedicated to laughs and fun, with touring comedians topping off each night. On Aug. 27, the club will feature a set from Nebr...
    Aug 20, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend
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    Business
    Downtown hotspot tailors its brand just for Pacific Beach By FRANK SABATINI JR.
    Slow-cooked meats, Trader Vic’s mai tais and craft beer are among the creature comforts calling patrons back to the two-level space formerly occupied by Nick’s at the Beach on Thomas Street. After ...
    Aug 20, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend
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