The Mid-City region of San Diego can feel a bit frenetic—a hurried avenue carries motorists, transit and pedestrians past a bevy of international restaurants and markets, most covered in bright paint, wrought iron and advertisements in multiple languages. But local artist Dominique Guillochon finds calm in this part of town with his camera lens. By framing just light and colors, he hushes the streets and finds beauty in the unassuming details.
In a departure from traditional philanthropic awards, the Gary and Mary West Foundation awarded $50,000 to a youth-run Web design company in City Heights for jobs—not job development alone. The grant allows DiverseCity Tech—a group of young entrepreneurs performing an e-vitalization of mom-and-pop shops in the immigrant neighborhood—to hire three paid interns who will quickly navigate the ranks to become new media professionals before they’re old enough to order a drink. The program is a project of the San Diego Futures Foundation and aims to revitalize area businesses through websites and social media, meanwhile providing a similar path to self-sufficiency for its young employees.
The San Diego Unified School District, which spans affluent coastal communities and troubled inner-city neighborhoods alike, faces a $142 million deficit next school year. With the recent failure of Proposition J, a tax measure that would have helped bridged that gap, district officials are looking for places to make deep cuts. Laying off counseling staff and teachers, asking schools to share principals, and compounding magnet complexes into comprehensive schools are among the suggestions. This, coupled with state cuts to mental health services in schools, has students and teachers at the Crawford Educational Complex in City Heights worried their funding will be slashed in ways that ignore the special needs of the many refugee and immigrant students in the community.
La Mesa, with a population of nearly 60,000, sits on a series of hills just east of San Diego. Its scenic character masks health statistics that are the worst in San Diego County, with 40 percent of the adult population overweight and an additional 23 percent considered obese. The area also has the highest rates of adult diabetes and heart disease. But now the city has written a strategic wellness plan that engages schools, health providers, businesses and faith communities in an ongoing effort to create the healthiest city in the region.
Residents and activists hoping to reduce the number of stores selling alcohol in San Diego’s City Heights neighborhood are worried that the latest U.S. Census numbers could make their job harder by bolstering the population figures used to justify the addition of new liquor outlets.
The community of Boyle Heights has been selected for a federal grant that could lead to $1 million or more to improve education in the area by focusing intensely on children’s needs from the time they are born until they graduate from high school. The idea, tried most famously in New York City’s Harlem Children’s Zone, is to give kids all the support they need – inside and outside of school – to succeed academically.
For nearly seven decades, the Pearson Ford car lot at Fairmount and El Cajon Boulevards in central San Diego was a piece of San Diegans’ collective conscious. Its familiar jingle echoed unchanged on radios throughout the county until the cars cleared out in 2008. Now, with the empty land awaiting redevelopment, the site evokes tension more than it does regional nostalgia. That’s because it sits at the crossroads of three communities that each represent a distinct socioeconomic stratum in San Diego and, thus, harbor different hopes for what might fill it in. Wealthier residents in Kensington and Talmadge want a departure from the social services that have dominated redevelopment in the area since 1994, while those in City Heights fear such a departure might fuel gentrification and an exodus of low-income residents.
Farmers markets across California are reaching out to low-income residents with programs that allow food stamps and WIC vouchers to be exchanged for fresh produce.
San Diego is stuck in a tight spot when it comes to parking. As the city gears up to change its parking requirements for new construction, debate has centered on whether to house people or to house cars.
San Diego’s safety net is in tatters. There is no county hospital and no school of dentistry. In order to receive County Medical Services, the health care program for indigent adults, people have to sign a lien against any future property they might own. And so, a “student-run” program has become part of the safety net.