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Local FIRST Lego League team Electric Doritos wins tournament, advances to FLL Southern California Championship

Electric Doritos team members recently won the Champions Award at the the FLL Qualifying Tournament. (Hailun Zhou) Local FIRST Lego League team Electric Doritos wins tournament, advances to FLL Southern California Championship Dec. 5, 2023 The Carmel Valley-based FIRST Lego League (FLL) team #26610, the Electric Doritos, will advance to the FLL Southern California Championship after winning the FLL Qualifying Tournament on Dec. 3 at Poway High School. The second year Explore team won the Champions Award.The team is composed of a group of third grade friends who all attend the Solana Highlands School: Micayla, Onni, Lexi, Karthik, Mildrey and Austin. Denham McCall and Simone Merlin are the teams coaches.

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Team Blue Dragons wins Championship award at First Lego League Challenge qualifying event

Team Blue Dragons of Carmel Valley wins the Championship award at the qualifying event of the First Lego League Challenge. (Gaurav Verma) Team Blue Dragons wins Championship award at First Lego League Challenge qualifying event Dec. 5, 2023 Team Blue Dragons, an all-girls team of 6th graders from Ocean Air Elementary and The Bishops School, won the Championship award at their qualifying event of the First Lego League challenge, held at San Dieguito Academy on Nov. 12. Team Blue Dragons built and programmed a Spike Prime robot with custom-designed, unique attachments to complete multiple missions.As a part of the FLL challenge competition they developed an innovative project. To share their love of music with individuals with hearing loss, they prototyped a glove-like device that could enable people with auditory challenges to feel music. To ensure that their project would be practical, they consulted with many experts, including sign-language teachers and faculty from the University of California, San Diego.The team presented their project and robot design at the competition and answered questions from the judges. The team members (in alphabetical order by first name) are Anbe Yeh, Anoushka Kukreja, Clara Swart, Iris Li, Jia Verma, and Lauren Shin. Prachi Verma was their coach. Team Blue Dragons was partly sponsored by Qualcomm, Inc.

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San Diego Chess Club shines at 58th American Open Scholastic Chess Tournament

Ainysh Khanna, Henry Fletcher receiving 2nd place team trophy from Ret. Colonel Leandro Bailey (Gordon Fletcher) San Diego Chess Club shines at 58th American Open Scholastic Chess Tournament Dec. 5, 2023 In a display of strategic prowess, the San Diego Chess Club (SDCC) recently participated in the 58th American Open Scholastic Chess Tournament held in Anaheim on Nov. 25-26. A total of 42 young chess enthusiasts from SDCC took on the challenge, competing against 800 students across 20 divisions.One standout performance came from Earl Warren student Henry Fletcher, who secured an impressive third place in the K-9 U1000 division. Henrys strategic finesse was particularly evident in the fifth and final round, where he drew with the first-place finisher, Junxi Pan. Henrys stellar finish, combined with Ainysh Khannas commendable 13th place, contributed significantly to the overall success of the San Diego Chess Club. The teams collective efforts earned them a well-deserved second-place finish, trailing behind the Ivines Wingchess Club.Notable achievements were also celebrated in the K-6 division, where SDCCs Sarthak Gattani clinched the first-place position, showcasing exceptional skill and dominance. Francis Gio Ordanza secured a commendable third place in the same division, further highlighting the talent within the San Diego Chess Club.For those interested in delving into the vibrant world of chess in San Diego contact Irina at the San Diego Chess Club at [email protected] or [email protected]. The clubs success at the 58th American Open Scholastic Chess Tournament not only exemplifies the dedication and skill of its members but also reinforces the thriving chess community in the county. Visit www.sandiegochessclub.org for more information. Report by Gordon Fletcher

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Del Mar City Council censures member Dan Quirk, saying he misrepresents city's positions

Dan Quirk (Courtesy) Del Mar City Council censures member Dan Quirk, saying he misrepresents city's positions North County Newsletter Phil Diehl Dec. 5, 2023 The Del Mar City Council voted 4-1 Monday, Dec. 4, to censure their colleague, Councilmember Dan Quirk, saying he's made statements to other agencies and the media without making it clear he was speaking for himself and not the city.Quirk has been critical of the San Diego Association of Governments and the North County Transit District, particularly those agencies' efforts to reroute the train tracks off the eroding Del Mar bluffs and onto a new route through a tunnel to be bored beneath the city.He opposed the censure, which is a formal statement of disapproval, saying most people understand he's voicing his own opinions and not those of the City Council majority, and that there was no need for additional disclosures."The spirit is, hey, let's have an open-minded discussion about transportation and transit," Quirk said at Monday's meeting, and that people normally assume such statements are a person's opinion."I don't see anything in the Del Mar city code or guiding principles that says you should provide this disclaimer," Quirk said.Quirk's statements have caused problems for the City Council and city staff, Councilmember Dave Druker said. He and Councilmember Terry Gaasterland placed the censure on the agenda."The reason ... is we have gotten in so much trouble with other agencies," Druker said. "Staff has to take time to explain to these other agencies that this is not the position of the Del Mar City Council (and that) there is another position, this is what the majority of the council has agreed to, and Councilman Quirk is basically presenting his own viewpoint."In a recent interview on KUSI television, Quirk was identified as a Del Mar City Council member and he used the official city logo as his video background. During the interview, Quirk talked about the expense of the tunnel, low ridership on the train, and the need for a cost-benefit analysis before the project proceeds.In other interviews, he's said SANDAG needs to look at a "no train" option.Quirk and his identical twin brother, Steve, who ran unsuccessfully for the Del Mar City Council in 2022, have formed the Surf Line Trail organization with the goal of turning the train tracks into a 61-mile-long pedestrian and bicycle trail from San Diego to San Clemente."We are on a mission to bring the Surf Line Trail to life," states the brothers' website www.thesurflinetrail.org, which publicizes the idea and encourages people to join the organization.The censure is not an effort to censor Dan Quirk, council members said."Dan's opinions are not a problem," said Councilmember Dwight Worden. "If he wants to call SANDAG a fraud, that's fine, that's his right. What is a problem is when statements are made in a context where there is an inference that he's speaking for the city, for our official city policy, or for the majority of the council."That's been the problem, and on two occasions we've had to write corrective letters to dispel that," Worden said. "That's not a good look for a city or for Dan or for us."When a council member speaks in support of city policy, which happens often, no disclosure is necessary, he said."If you want to diverge from that and you want to express a viewpoint that differs from adopted city policy, that's when you are obligated to make the disclaimer," Worden said.Three residents addressed the council in support of Quirk, including his brother."A call for censure is ridiculous and highlights the un-seriousness and hypocrisy of council members Gaasterland and Druker," Steve Quirk said."SANDAG is clearly a troubled organization with a long history of scandal, fraud, controversy and misinformation that Councilman Quirk is correctly pointing out," he said. "The motion to censure Councilmember Quirk should be dismissed, and instead he should be featured in the new 'Profiles in Courage' for speaking truth to power."Earlier this year, the council sent a letter to SANDAG confirming that the city has not taken an official position on an alignment alternative for the tunnel, is not advocating for the rail to be discontinued, is not accusing SANDAG or its staff of illegal activity or fraud, and that it supports public outreach and engagement efforts for the realignment project.

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New library in Pacific Highlands Ranch making progress

The Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch Library is making progress. (City of San Diego) New library in Pacific Highlands Ranch making progress Karen Billing Dec. 4, 2023 Under construction since last summer, the new Pacific Highlands Ranch Library is taking shape, set to open its doors to the community in fall 2024.The 18,000 square-foot library will feature reading nooks for all ages, a childrens area for storytime and crafts, an outdoor reading patio, study rooms, a makers space, a community room and an outdoor civic space linking to the Village at Pacific Highlands Ranchs public promenade. The library will also include the integration of public art by San Diego artist Janelle Iglesias, wrapped around an outdoor courtyard. The terra cotta tile installation will be comprised of words in the languages of people who have inhabited the land where the new library is sited: English, Spanish and Kumeyaay.The Pacific Highlands Ranch branch will be the 37th location in the citys library system, aiming to serve the communities of Pacific Highlands Ranch, Del Mar Mesa, Torrey Highlands and Black Mountain Ranch.

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Local teacher and coach's 335-mile 'Rungiving' journey raises $10,000 for Monarch School

Kevin Hopp on the run in Pacific Highlands Ranch. (Kevin Hopp) Local teacher and coach's 335-mile 'Rungiving' journey raises $10,000 for Monarch School Karen Billing Dec. 4, 2023 Local runner Kevin Hopp went on an inspiring athletic adventure, running nearly two marathons a day over the Thanksgiving week. His 335-mile "Rungiving" raised funds for Mollys Angels, who pledged to donate $1 for every mile that Hopp and his team logged to San Diegos Monarch School, which serves unhoused students downtown. Hopp was on his feet for 72 hours and nine minutes of running that week for Mollys Angels, a family nonprofit founded in memory of his former Canyon Crest Academy student Molly Belinsky.Hopp posted his routes on his Instagram, @HoppCantStop, and much to his surprise, people came out to meet him in bulk every day former students, running buddies, fellow teachers and total strangers.This is not about me, this is bigger than me. Why they were doing thisfor Molly, for Monarchit became much bigger than just running and that very much motivated me, Hopp said. Id never experienced something like that before I have never felt that my running has had much of an impact on others. It was so cool to have such a big impact.By the time he had completed his week on Nov. 26 at Discovery Lake in San Marcos, he and the people running with him had logged a total of 3,815 miles, tracked in a spiral notebook he kept in a ziplock bag in his hydration pack. Paired with other cash donations made directly to Mollys Angels, that amounted to $5,000 raised. An anonymous donor then matched the total and a $10,000 check was presented to Monarch School on Nov. 28. What I saw was a community coming together for his cause, to support Kevin, said Solana Beachs Sheila Belinsky Weinstock, founder of Mollys Angels and Mollys mother. Kevin was like this extraordinary team leader and people just wanted to come out and run with him It came at a time when the world is so unsettledTo say, Hey we can make a difference in our own community, right here, right now, how cool is that? It was beautiful to witness.Hopp is a semi-retired math teacher at Rancho Santa Fes High Bluff Academy and cross country coach at Diegueno Middle School, who works at the Fleet Feet running store in the Village at Pacific Highlands Ranch.Hopp actually started out as an age group swimmer, where he estimates his endurance was born. While high school swimmers were encouraged to play water polo, Hopp picked cross country instead, where he ran his first miles. College, marriage, kids and career soon took over and his athletic endeavors faded to the background.One day in 2012, the then-42-year-old Hopp was struggling to carry his sleeping six year old to her bedroom and he realized just how out of shape he had become. Determined to get his fitness back on track, he promised he would run a 5K the next morning.All I did was get 10 houses down the street and I turned around and walked back home very discouraged, he said. I had been an athlete, I knew what I needed to do and that was consistency. Ten houses became 12 and thats really how it started.For almost two years, he kept up his running and kept it as something just for himselfhe didnt really talk to anyone about his running. It wasnt until he sought out running groups and started training for the Silver Strand Half Marathon with a group of CCA teachers that he started talking running to other runners. He found out that his 20-mile-a-day habit (10 miles in the morning and 10 miles in the afternoon) wasnt the average running routine. But it worked for him and he, fortunately, had never been injured. The ultra-endurance, the resilience, was his superpower.Hopp started as a teacher in the San Dieguito Union High School District in 2000, working at La Costa Canyon High School until Canyon Crest Academy opened in 2004. Hopp was part of the hand-picked founding staff of CCA that taught an enrollment of 250 students in a collection of portables in the parking lot while the school was being built.In 2015, he moved from CCA to Oak Crest Middle School, where he also took over coaching the cross country team. He took a program that had about maybe 15 kids the year prior and grew it into about 80 young runners. Now a coach at Diegueno, he tries not to over-coach or weigh runners down with advice that gets them too into their heads its more about making them fall in love with running the way he did: They have to enjoy the process of it and the emotions of practicing and seeing what feels good to them. In those early days of CCA, Molly was Hopps student from 2005 to 2009. As the school was so small, class sizes were about 10 students, which created an opportunity for teachers to form incredible connections. He had Molly for freshman algebra 1 and onto algebra 2 and was her math teacher every year she was at the school.She was more of an artist, she wasnt a math person, but we really bonded, he said of the relationship he formed with both Molly and her mother, one that continued after she graduated. I dont think I did anything special to have Molly connect to mebut its meaningful as a teacher when you connect, to know that youre making a difference in that students life. Thats the whole point of being a teacher.Molly and Hopp stayed in touch through the years he knew Molly had been struggling with depression, drugs and alcohol, and Belinsky Weinstock said he was always there for her.In 2018, Molly died at the age of 28 from an accidental overdose of heroin laced with fentanyl. Before she died, Molly had created the Pay it Forward Foundation with her mom and her sister Dani, with a mission to help young women who have experienced abuse. For her family, Mollys Angels is now a way to continue to fulfill Mollys mission, to help underprivileged youth and young adults by supporting organizations like Monarch School and Voices for Children.Loving it forward is the Mollys Angels motto and the logo is a hummingbird.Strange running eventsHopp keeps a log of his weekly and monthly mileage: It is high, he admits. In August, he tracked 300 miles, September was another 225. Octobers tally was 357. What he did on one Thanksgiving week was about as much as he ran in the months leading up to it.To the average runner, this 335-mile feat sounds crazy but Hopp is not an average runner: Ive done ridiculous distances in the past, said Hopp.In 2018, he ran the San Diego 100-Mile Endurance Race, which finished the week before school got out for the summer. Despite having just run 100 miles, he felt good and with his school duties effectively over for the year, he decided to go out for a run.I thought I would run for an hour, he said. I just started running and the next thing I knew, I had done a marathon. I decided I would run a marathon a day until the school year started.that was the beginning of doing these strange running events.All told, Hopp ran 70 marathons in 70 days.Unbelievably, this years Rungiving feat was actually his second time doing a Thanksgiving week mileage binge. Last year, he participated in the Rabbit running apparel companys Run it Forward Challengefor every 10 miles run during the week, the company donates an item of clothing to Soles 4 Souls, a nonprofit that provides shoes and clothing to homeless adults and youth.Last year, Hopp did 302 miles, which resulted in 30 articles of clothing donated. As he ran the miles himself and others competed as a team, he was disappointed when he didnt win the most miles ran for the Run it Forward Challenge. This year, he recruited two friends for his team, aptly named Unstoppable. The runners each finished the week above 100 miles and with 549 total miles, the team won the Challenge.With the Unstoppable teams help, this year Rabbit was able to double last years contribution, donating 1,123 pieces of apparel to Soles 4 Souls. This Rungiving contribution was on top of the $10,000 he raised for Monarch School. For 2023, Hopp set a goal to run 350 miles.After learning about Hopp's Run it Forward goals and how much it matched up with Love it Forward, Belinsky Weinstock wanted to get behind Hopps effort and help make it a bigger community event. She said she would pledge $1 per mile but was worried it might not amount to enough if he only ran 350 miles. But Hopp told her he was sure he could get a few others to join in for matching miles that would bump up the donation amount. Belinksy Weinstock told him: Youre the math teacher, so Ill trust you.Hopp planned his Rungiving week well in advance and posted maps of his running routes to social media, spread further by Mollys Angels. The posts made it clear where he would be about every five miles, in case anyone wanted to meet up and join in. He wasnt quite sure what to expect but the response was heartwarming.On the first day, he left his house in San Marcos at 4 a.m. to run the 25 miles to the Fleet Feet store in Pacific Highlands Ranch. He was shocked that as the sun was barely rising in Encinitas, a woman he had never met came running up to him. She was a former teacher, she knew what he was doing and she wanted to join.We got a mile together, uphill unfortunately, and it was really, really neat, he said. She got the ball rollingPeople just started showing up.When he got to the 101, a friend was there waiting to run. By the time he got to the store, he had a pack of 11 people running alongside him. After working a full day, when the store closed at 6 p.m, people were waiting to run him part of the 25 miles home.Every day it just grew and grew, he said.He would run that same impressive 25-mile route four times that weekstarting near Palomar College to Las Posas to San Marcos Boulevard, to Rancho Santa Fe Road which turns into Leucadia Boulevard-Olivenhain Road to the 101 coast, to Del Mars dog beach and across the street to meet up with the Coast to Crest Trail. El Camino Real was the scariest part, getting across that narrow, aging bridge to drop into Gonzales Canyon, which connects to the store in about four miles.After his two-marathon Monday, on Tuesday, Hopp ran the five-mile loop at Miramar Lake for a total of 33 mileshe was short on mileage that day due to a doctors appointment. He was thrilled when a former Monarch School student who is now a teacher at the school showed up to run with him at 5:30 a.m. in the dark of morning. Jake Thompson, a San Dieguito Academy freshman that he had coached on the Diegueno cross country and track teams, even had his parents drive him out to Scripps Ranch to run.On Wednesday, he ran to the store and ran a five- mile loop from the store on the top of every hour of his workday and he returned to the store again on Thanksgiving Day for their free community Turkey Trot.To get there in time for the three-mile Turkey Trot, he left his home at 1 a.m. and there were actually people waiting to run with him at 2 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning. The husband and father of two was given a firm 1 p.m. deadline to get back home in time for the familys Thanksgiving feast so after working at the store after the run, a group took him about seven miles to a parked car and a ride home for turkey and pumpkin pie.Friday was one of his more ambitious dayshe started at Oceanside Harbor and ran all the way to the Torrey Pines Gilderport, 27 miles away. He ate lunch with friends, enjoyed the view about an hour and then started on the return trip, all the way back to Oceanside. He was running from 6 am to 9 p.m.People showed up along that run the entire day, I was in tears most of the time running, Hopp said. When someone dropped out, there was another. Throughout the week he had been running on about two hours of sleep a night so for the last day he wanted to be as close to his house as possible at Discovery Lakethe .08- mile loop also made it convenient for people to join in as much as possible. Belinksky Weinstock had the idea to make that day a celebration, to get as many people as possible outside running with Hopp. While she cannot run due to back issues, she had no problem getting out to walk a few miles on the final day at the lake on what turned out to be a beautiful day.Im surprised my body can do it, Hopp said reflecting on his new weekly mileage PR. The community aspect was the best aspect, it was so rewarding I didnt expect them to show up. You dont realize how you can have an impact on somebody`After the impact Hopp had on her daughter, Belinsky Weinstock is not surprised. Theres was a connection so unique that Molly even named her cat after himthe 17-year old cat Gilligan Gaylord Hopp AKA Mr. Hopp is still alive and living with Mollys 91-year-old grandmother.Hes a special man, hes unique, said Belinsky Weinstock of Hopp. Hes sincere, authentic, caring and endearing.And there was something kinda Forrest Gump-ian in the way people were drawn to him and inspired to follow.It helped him a lot, to keep going, she said of the people who showed up along the way. And I needed it too.Suffering the loss of a child is painful and it can feel lonely and sad, she said. One of her ways of coping is using Mollys Angels to connect with the community, to spread the vision of loving it forward, to see Mollys name attached to something positive and joyful, to ensure her daughter is remembered.We battled. She battled with drugs and depression for so long and its heartbreaking and I wish I could bring her back, Belinsky Weinstock. I think of the good times but I cant bring her back. Doing this is honoring her memory and keeping her spirit alive forever.On this Rungiving, Hopp was thankful for his community and for his body and for his angel, Molly.That Sunday over Discovery Lake, it felt like magic when the clouds seemed to form the shape of a hummingbird, the logo for Mollys Angels.I felt Molly was with us the whole time, her mother said.

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With Montgomery Steppe’s swearing-in, county supervisors have a key fifth vote, and plenty on their plate. Here’s what to expect.

El Cajon, CA - October 18: Monica Montgomery Steppe speaks during a public candidate forum for the county District 4 supervisor at Cuyamaca College on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023 in El Cajon, CA. (Meg McLaughlin / The San Diego Union-Tribune) (Meg McLaughlin/The San Diego Union-Tribune) With Montgomery Steppes swearing-in, county supervisors have a key fifth vote, and plenty on their plate. Heres what to expect. Emily Alvarenga Dec. 3, 2023 As soon as Monica Montgomery Steppe is sworn in as San Diego Countys first Black woman supervisor Tuesday, a board that had been short one member since May will begin to act on a slew of crucial policies including contentious proposals on migrants and on behavioral health. With her arrival, the roughly 700,000 people in District 4 will get a representative after six months without one, and the board will get a key third Democratic vote after six months with an even partisan split.Among the issues on its plate Tuesday is an item the board will revisit after it stalled in October when only three supervisors were present the bare minimum needed to meet quorum. Joel Anderson's proposal would bar people with certain criminal convictions from a county program that offers immigrants facing deportation free legal defense.Both Anderson and Supervisor Jim Desmond had voted against that program last year when the board voted to launch it. Desmond was absent from the October meeting , and the board declined to consider Anderson's propos ed update.The board will also weigh what issues to prioritize for the county's remaining federal pandemic relief fund s from the American Rescue Plan Act. One proposal would allocate more to local nonprofits serving asylum seekers arriving in the county after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Supervisors voted 3-0 in October to allocate $3 million meant to last through the end of the year; the additional funds would be expected to last through March. MODULE: This is a much better situation: Temporary migrant welcome center moves to new San Diego location But the board will also consider whether to reallocate $8 million in ARPA funds to hous ing unsheltered people being treated for substance -use disorders. It voted unanimously last month to voted to create a pilot program to find housing for about 100 people enrolled in county-funded outpatient treatment, focusing initially on North County. Under the new proposal, the ARPA funds would fund housing through the program for two years, Desmond 's motion says.A nd the board will consider whether to delay implementing a new state law , set to take effect Jan. 1 , that dramatically expands the criteria for involuntary mental health holds. Local hospitals worry it could result in so large a surge of such holds, especially among homeless San Diegans, it could swamp already overburdened emergency rooms. MODULE: New law allows more involuntary mental health holds. Should San Diego County delay its implementation? A Democratic majority revived The nearly 700,000 residents of the heavily Democratic District 4, which stretches from Clairemont to Spring Valley, have not had a supervisor since Nathan Fletcher resigned in May amid allegations of sexual misconduct.Fletchers election five years ago represented a major turning point for the board, long dominated by Republicans. The former Republican had bec ome the first Democrat elected to it in years when he defeated former District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis for the open seat in 2018. Mesa College political science professor Carl Luna previously told The San Diego Union-Tribune he doesnt expect Montgomery Steppes election to have a huge partisan impact on the board but does expect her to bring a more progressive tone and social justice orientation, as well as a voice of her current City Council constituency, especially those in southeastern San Diego.Thad Kousser, a professor of political science at UC San Diego , noted that Montgomery Steppe will be representing nearly five times as many people as she did as a city councilmember which will mean more communities with different interests, who want different things . Balancing those competing interests could be both Montgomery Steppes biggest challenge and key to achieving her policy goals , he said.An d at the county, she'll face a very different partisan reality than on the all-Democratic city council.Democrats can't fragment into different coalitions, Kousser said. They all have to stick together, all three of them, if they want to get something done.Th at will be particularly true, he said, heading in to next years election, as Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer , a Democrat, is challenged by Republican former Mayor Kevin Faulconer. MODULE: Michael Smolens: This supervisorial race will be different from the last one, but . . .Soon, Montgomery Steppe will be asked to weigh in on other county business that has been on hold since May, such as its long-paused search for a new chief administrative officer.The countys top executive oversees a budget of more than $7 billion and workforce of about 20,000 executing board policy, managing labor agreements and negotiations and directing operation of county departments spanning health, land use, finance and more.The board may also soon revisit other measures that they deadlocked on earlier this year, including a package of gun-safety measures and more recent efforts by Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer to crack down on anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers and to back a proposed constitutional amendment on gun control. All three votes deadlocked along party lines.Voice of the communityMontgomery Steppe will become not only the first Black woman ever to serve on the county Board of Supervisors but also the first Black person elected to the body in over four decades since Leon Williams became the first in 1982.Williams, now 101, told the Union-Tribune Friday hes pleased his successor in that regard is someone he says will advocat e for social justice. I think there's still a lot of work to do to create better human relations and a fair and just society and she's capable of working on that, he said.Montgomery Steppe was selected in 2021 to represent San Diego on a statewide task force exploring the idea of reparations for African Americans in California.After over two years of research and public hearings , the panel issued its final report in June , recommend ing compensation to eligible Black people of California for the harms of slavery.Assemblymember Reginald Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles, a fellow task force member, said Montgomery Steppe always came prepared and kept the body on task. There were times where we would get bogged down on some issues, and she could go back to the actual report and almost quote verbatim what was in it, which was very helpful, he said. He said she excelled not only at condensing information but at articulat ing it to help both her colleagues and constituents understand.Secretary of State Shirley Weber , the task force's architect, called Montgomery Steppe really the voice of the community ," pointing to her work on the council steering city resources to traditionally underserved communities.Coming from the community, she can help build a bridge when it comes to education, said Francine Maxwell, chairwoman of Black Men and Women United San Diego, a grassroots group that meets weekly to discuss issues affecting Black people. Theyve never had an elected official that would take the time to sit with them to educate them on how they make policy.Barry Pollard, whose outreach program the Urban Collaborative Project has pushed to expand health services in the city's southeast, shares those hopes. MODULE: Community organization working to expand health care services in southeastern San DiegoPollard said he has hit roadblock after roadblock trying to secure support for opening an after-hours urgent care in the area. I dont see the sense of urgency (at the county), Pollard said. It is like business as usual.He and Maxwell both say the county has neglected its responsibility on behavioral health and regional health disparities.My hope is that Monica will shine a spotlight on this, Pollard said. She's very persuasive because she speaks authentically, she speaks from the heart and she doesn't play these political games."

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Solana Beach approves accessory dwelling units ordinance

Solana Beach City Hall (Karen Billing) Solana Beach approves accessory dwelling units ordinance Luke Harold Dec. 2, 2023 Solana Beach City Council members approved an accessory dwelling unit ordinance on Nov. 29 with a provision that deed-restricts them as lower income housing for 25 years.The council had previously considered a deed restriction of up to 99 years, but felt it would disincentivize homeowners from building them.I think we might see more residents being willing to deed restrict their ADU if it were for basically a generation, instead of an entire lifetime, Solana Beach Mayor Lesa Heebner said during the meeting.With the state government turning to ADUs to help alleviate the housing crisis, cities have been modifying their local ADU laws to try to maximize the benefits and implement design standards although many aspects of the state laws override the local control that cities have on ADU policy.The Solana Beach ordinance includes update definitions for accessory dwelling units and junior accessory dwelling units, modifications to height limits that are consistent with state law, and other clarifications in the Solana Beach municipal code. The ordinance also eliminates a ban on ADUs on properties within environmentally-sensitive habitat areas, the Hillside Overlay Zone, and the Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone, according to the city staff report.Cities such as Solana Beach and Del Mar have also been talking about how to best use new ADUs to meet their state-mandated housing goals. Through the sixth cycle Regional Housing Needs Allocation, the city of Solana Beach has to provide zoning for 875 new housing units across all income levels.According to a city staff report, 31 ADUs have been built in Solana Beach from 2020 to 2022. None have been constructed in 2023, but three permits were issued and another 22 are under review. The report also says that the city is on pace to permit 70% more ADUs than expected for the citys housing element.

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Del Mar to consider ordinance that requires ADUs to be used as housing units

Del Mar City Hall (Karen Billing) Del Mar to consider ordinance that requires ADUs to be used as housing units Luke Harold Dec. 2, 2023 The Del Mar City Council is scheduled to consider an ordinance Dec. 4 that would require accessory dwelling units to be used as housing, as opposed to home offices or other purposes.Council members have discussed the possibility of requiring ADUs to be used as housing multiple times in recent years, but they had questions about whether the states Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) would allow it.In September, the citys Planning Commission recommended in a 3-2 vote that the council adopt an ADU ordinance with a provision that requires them to be used as dwelling units. But Del Mar City Attorney Ralph Hicks told the Planning Commission that the city has received pushback from HCD in requiring any wording of insisting that theyre housing units.While that is aligned clearly with the legislative intent, you hear HCD strongly pushing back on that, Hicks told Planning Commissioners at that Sept. 13 meeting.HCD spokesperson Alicia Murillo said in an email that the agency has not discouraged the city from taking this route or indicated a lack of support, but also noted that state law does not require ADUs to have tenants.Even as cities are allowed to count new ADUs as housing units toward their state-mandated housing goals, there is no process to verify if they actually are contributing to the housing stock.While the creation of ADUs contributes to the development of more safe, affordable housing, State ADU Law does not compel homeowners who add ADUs to occupy them with residents, Murillo said. If a local jurisdiction included such a requirement in its ordinance, HCD would evaluate that requirement during its review of the ordinance.Del Mar City Manager Ashley Jones said via email that the city decided to proceed with an ordinance that requires ADUs to be used for housing based on the Planning Commission vote and support from residents.According to a city staff report for the Dec. 4 council meeting, residents have said the ADU process was being misused to enhance private coastal views, built for office space, or constructed for recreational use.The Planning Commission and City Council noted that this type of ADU development is in direct conflict with the legislative intent of ADU law, which is to create additional dwelling units and a net-increase in Californias housing stock that can accommodate additional households and provide new housing choices including lower cost dwelling units, Jones said.As part of the states sixth cycle Regional Housing Needs Allocation, which runs from 2021 to 2029, the city of Del Mar has to provide zoning for 175 new housing units. That includes 113 affordable housing units.

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San Diego housing production must triple if the city is to meet its state-mandated goal, new report says

Horizontal shot of a new apartment complex under construction. (Carolyn Franks/Carolyn Franks - stock.adobe.com) San Diego housing production must triple if the city is to meet its state-mandated goal, new report says David Garrick Dec. 2, 2023 San Diego is falling far short of its goals for production of new housing , despite a wide range of developer incentives and regulatory rollbacks in recent years, according to the city's 2023 Annual Report on Homes.Housing production must more than triple for the city to meet its state-mandated goal of 108,000 new units permitted for construction by 2029. And the problem is particularly bad with low- and moderate-income housing, the report says.San Diego is nearly on the desired pace for market-rate housing for people with higher incomes. But the pace of low- and middle-income units must be 15 times faster than in 2021 and 2022.Another concern raised in the 11-page report is that new housing isn't being spread into more areas of the city . More than half of the new homes approved in 2022 were concentrated in just three neighborhoods: Mira Mesa, North Park and downtown.City officials said there's some good news in that trend, emphasizing that city incentives encourage such clustering so more people will live in neighborhoods with relatively strong transit options.They said the report makes it even more imperative for the city to approve more incentives, such as those proposed by Mayor Todd Gloria in his Housing Action Package 2.0.The package, which the City Council narrowly rejected Nov. 13, is scheduled for another hearing Tuesday, Dec. 12, likely with some revisions.Critics say that instead of adopting more incentives that don't make much impact, city officials should analyze why the existing incentives aren't working.Some have suggested a vacancy tax that would encourage landowners to pursue housing projects by taxing them annually based on the number of units that could be built on their property.One bright spot in the report is that the number of housing units approved rose year over year, from 5,032 in 2021 to 5,314 in 2022.But city officials noted that that leaves San Diego more than 97,000 units short of the 108,036 required in the city's state Regional Housing Needs Allocation covering April 2021 through April 2029. That means production would immediately have to more than triple to more than 16,000 units per year and stay that high for six years a pace the city hasn't achieved in recent memory. Between 2010 and 2020, the city averaged about 4,200 new housing units per year.Another reason for concern is the dwindling effectiveness of two key incentives density bonuses for market-rate projects that include some rent-restricted units, and incentives for accessory dwelling units, also known as backyard apartments or "granny flats." Only 651 ADUs were permitted in 2022 , down 25 percent from 871 in 2021. The communities where the most ADUs were permitted in 2022 were Clairemont, North Park, City Heights, the College Area and southeastern San Diego.The number of homes approved under the density bonus program also fell between 202 1 and 202 2, with the number of new rent-restricted units approved under the program dropping by 22 percent, from 371 to 290. City officials said the program, which lets developers build more units than a property's zoning allows if they agree to include low-income units, has still been effective. Since the density bonus was enhanced four years ago, the average number of rent-restricted units has been about 300 per year. During the five previous years, the average was 30 units.City officials said the new report will be presented to the City Council this winter.When it was presented to the council's Land Use and Housing Committee on Nov. 16, Councilwoman Vivian Moreno said she was most troubled by how far behind the city is on production of moderate-income housing.Only 62 total units of moderate-income housing were approved in 2021 and 2022 one-third of 1 percent of the 19,319 units the city must approve of that type of housing by 2029."If we want San Diego to continue to be a place where middle-income residents can live, we need to change this," Moreno said. "They are the backbone of our workforce."The city defines moderate income as 80 percent to 120 percent of the area's median income. For a family of three, the range in 2023 is $99,250 to $126,150.San Diego also is far behind on housing for low-income residents. Only 438 units have been permitted 2.5 percent of the 17,331 required by 2029.And the city is even further behind on housing for very-low-income residents, with 645 units permitted 2.3 percent of the 27,549 required by 2029.On market-rate housing, the city is nearly on pace. Just over 9,200 total units were approved in 2021 and 2022 21 percent of the 43,837 such units that must be permitted by 2029.The report says 87.3 percent of the housing units permitted in San Diego in 2022 were market-rate.Of the 5,314 new homes permitted in 2022, 1,426 were downtown, which includes Little Italy and the East Village. That was followed among the top five communities by 735 in North Park, 555 in Mira Mesa, 305 in Linda Vista and 253 in the Midway-Pacific Highway area.For rent-restricted units permitted in 2022, the five leading neighborhoods were Linda Vista with 192, Rancho Bernardo with 175, the eastern suburban neighborhoods designated by the city as Navajo with 123, Encanto with 46 and downtown with 35.Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, said the report was disappointing but added that the city can only do so much and must hope developers start to move more quickly.He praised city officials for keeping the council aware of progress and challenges."Producing these kinds of reports is invaluable to understanding what's happening on the ground," LaCava said. "Every time we do a snapshot like this, it gives us more information to say whether the programs are working." La Jolla Light staff contributed to this report.

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