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    San Diego named most scenic West Coast city in Expedia poll
    by CYNTHIA ROBERTSON
    Jul 18, 2018 | 1853 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Couples watch the day end at Sunset Cliffs. / Photo by Thomas Melville
    Couples watch the day end at Sunset Cliffs. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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    San Diego is known as America’s Finest City, but what exactly makes it the finest? The climate is often the answer, which does ring true. A poll by Expedia.com asked more than 1,000 Americans to name the most scenic West Coast cities. San Diego won the top spot. Lily Rogers, writer of “21 of the Most Scenic West Coast Cities,” an article for the Expedia Viewfinder blog, explained that she had pulled from two questions on the survey for her article. First, the people were asked which region of the country they most wanted to visit. The majority chose the West Coast. Second, an open-ended question was included asking them which destination on the West Coast was the most beautiful. San Diego in general was named most often, with some answers calling out particular places like Del Mar. The questions on the survey implied that the people had been to their suggested location before. Other areas such as Sunset Cliffs or La Jolla were not specifically called out by those polled, explained Rogers. “San Diego County houses so much beautiful coastline, visitors can tailor their experience to their likes. That’s one of the things that make it so special,” said Rogers, herself a San Diego resident. Rogers has many favorite places along the coast, including Harbor Island. “The view of the skyline and the sailboats bobbing in the water shows San Diego in its prettiest light. It’s so quintessentially San Diego – a beautiful space reaching right down to the water,” Rogers said. Having Sunday brunch at the Bali Hai on Shelter Island is a San Diego must for Rogers. “Those views of the bay from the huge display windows are unforgettable,” she said. Rogers’ other favorite San Diego coastal scenery icons include the vantage point from Centennial Park in Coronado, sunsets at the Ocean Beach Pier, and La Jolla Shores. Edna Gutierrez, public relations manager at San Diego Tourism Authority is not at all surprised by the poll’s results. “With 70 miles of breathtaking beaches, the question is ‘why not San Diego?’” she said. “The diversity of San Diego’s offerings is what sets it apart from other destinations and this is not the first honor San Diego has garnered.” Gutierrez explained that in March of this year, Family Vacation Critic named Coronado as one of the Best Beaches for Families in 2018. In October 2017, San Diego ranked No. 1 for Best Beach Destination and Year Round Perfect Weather, according to the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine’s “America’s Favorite Cities” issue. In that same month, Conde Nast Traveler reader’s choice awards ranked San Diego in the Top 10 Best Big Cities in the U.S. Just a month earlier, Sunset.com had listed San Diego as No. 1 in its list of 20 Best California Beach Vacation Spots. “Word of mouth is very powerful, but also the San Diego Tourism Authority’s marketing initiatives and programs position San Diego as an ultimate destination,” Gutierrez said. “The San Diego brand story is now being told across multiple media plant-rooms, channels, storytellers and influencers around the world,” she said. Gutierrez explained that potential travelers need tangible reasons and iconic imagery that clearly communicate why San Diego is a must-see destination. “For these long-haul markets, we promote San Diego as California’s Beach City,” said Gutierrez. But what ultimately garners San Diego the top spot for the most scenic city on the West Coast? Gutierrez stated that it was the people who help make San Diego iconic. “There is a symbiotic relationship between those who live and work here, and those who visit. San Diegans are the ultimate face of San Diego and maintaining that friendly vibe will ensure visitors want to come back,” Gutierrez said. For Rogers, that friendly vibe in SoCal culture is perfectly embodied at the Ocean Beach Pier. “You’ll likely see in one snapshot: hula hoopers and skateboarders in their swim suits, beach cruisers, buskers, surfers, colorful beach umbrellas, strolling beachgoers enjoying frozen yogurt, open-air bars, and fishers on the pier,” Rogers said.
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    City Council approves short-term vacation rental regulations
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Jul 17, 2018 | 8790 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Council members Barbara Bry and Lorie Zapf, representing Council Districts 1 and 2, both hardest hit by the preponderance of short-term vacation rentals, held a well-attended press conference in the backyard of a private home in Crown Point on Friday, July 13. They talked about what they liked, and didn’t like, about the mayor’s proposal attempting a compromise between the rental industry and distraught homeowners claiming their quality of life is being diminished by short-term rentals catering to tourists despite the objections of long-term residents. / Photo by Dave Schwab
    Council members Barbara Bry and Lorie Zapf, representing Council Districts 1 and 2, both hardest hit by the preponderance of short-term vacation rentals, held a well-attended press conference in the backyard of a private home in Crown Point on Friday, July 13. They talked about what they liked, and didn’t like, about the mayor’s proposal attempting a compromise between the rental industry and distraught homeowners claiming their quality of life is being diminished by short-term rentals catering to tourists despite the objections of long-term residents. / Photo by Dave Schwab
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    On Monday, July 16, San Diego City Council nixed Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s short-term vacation rental proposal by a 6-3 tally, then voted 6-3 for a more-restrictive proposal favoring residents and allowing primary-residence-only rentals with a six-month maximum. The landmark counterproposal was co-authored by Council members Barbara Bry of District 1 and Lorie Zapf of District 2, whose coastal districts have a preponderance of short-term rentals. Dissenting votes were cast by Council members Scott Sherman, Chris Cate and David Alvarez. A “carve-out” of Mission Beach in the mayor’s proposal was defeated. Existing Mission Beach rentals will also not be grandfathered into the city’s new ordinance. Mission Beach has the highest number of short-term rentals — upwards of 40 percent — along the beachfront. A cornerstone of Faulconer’s proposal, the so-called “plus one” provision allowing people to rent out their own residence, and one additional place, was also denied. In its place was inserted a condition allowing one more additional dwelling unit on the same parcel as the owner’s primary residence. The City Council, however, left the door open for future discussion of granny flats and duplexes possibly qualifying as short-term rentals. Under the new ordinance, short-term rentals will have to have licenses that will be non-transferable. In the aftermath of the City Council vote, some speculated its net effect will be to end renting out of all second homes or investment properties as short-term vacation rentals. Both votes came after five hours of public testimony for and against Faulconer’s proposal. The City Council deadlocked after similarly long public debate on short-term rentals last December.  Those favoring stricter regulations were elated, especially its originators. “The primary-only solution puts San Diegans first and protects our housing stock from investors while preserving the roots of the home sharing economy,” said Bry. Noting the other California cities, including San Francisco, Pasadena and Hermosa Beach, have passed similar regulations to reign-in short-term rentals, Bry added, “We have the obligation to preserve our housing stock prioritizing housing San Diegans.” “I wasn’t elected to serve the interests of out-of-town investors, I was elected to serve the needs of my constituents,” said Zapf. “This makes the most sense for our communities. “This is not the perfect solution, but I have been working on this for the last four years, and the City Council must provide some relief for the residents in my district. This final plan will fund enforcement to penalize bad actors, so we can preserve the quality of life in our neighborhoods,” she said. District 3 Councilmember Chris Ward, whose stance on rentals changed since December, said the vote “demonstrates a clear commitment to prioritizing the needs of our neighborhoods” characterizing it as “a starting point” that “leaves the window open” to possible future amendments. Faulconer was conciliatory following the vote. “I introduced my compromise proposal to help the City Council find enough common ground so they could pass comprehensive short-term rental laws, and with the additional amendments made today, we’ve finally achieved that goal,” he said. “The most important thing is that we have an established set of rules that protect neighborhood quality of life through increased oversight and enforcement. I want to thank the City Council for working collaboratively with my office to get this across the finish line.” The HomeAway/VRBO platform was displeased by the Council outcome issuing the following statement, “HomeAway is extremely disappointed in the City Council’s decision to ignore the mayor’s compromise and effectively ban short-term rentals in the City of San Diego. This outcome will not only negatively impact the local economy but will deny many San Diegans their private property rights. We plan to evaluate next steps in the coming days to determine an appropriate path forward.” At least one Peninsulan was pleased by the vote. “I think the City Council got this one right,” said David Dick, a Peninsula Community Planning Board member. “Absent-owner, short-term rentals are inconsistent with the rights of property owners who have purchased properties in communities and neighborhoods. “I share the concern that the ordinance may not withstand a legal challenge. And I’m sure the interests aligned with Airbnb and VRBO will put up a substantial, well-funded fight. But that’s a battle for another day. For now, the City Council is on the right track,” Dick said. District 7 Councilmember Sherman hinted the short-term rental battle may not be over. “This is not a compromise,” Sherman said. “We’re abusing our discretion by restricting property rights, punishing people who can least afford it. What’s next? Banning dogs barking next door, or month-to-month rents?”
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    Fire Station 22 opens; official dedication set for July 24
    by SCOTT HOPKINS
    Jul 16, 2018 | 4507 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    San Diego firefighters at Station 22 have moved in to their new building on Catalina Boulevard. The facility will be formally dedicated July 24 in a 9 a.m. ceremony to be attended by Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Councilmember Lorie Zapf. The public is invited. / Photo by Scott Hopkins
    San Diego firefighters at Station 22 have moved in to their new building on Catalina Boulevard. The facility will be formally dedicated July 24 in a 9 a.m. ceremony to be attended by Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Councilmember Lorie Zapf. The public is invited. / Photo by Scott Hopkins
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    Firefighters have finally moved in to their new Station 22 on Catalina Boulevard in Point Loma after just over a year of construction. To mark the occasion, local officials will formally dedicate the structure during a ceremony July 24 beginning at 9 a.m. San Diego Fire-Rescue spokesperson Monica Munoz reports Mayor Kevin Faulconer and District 2 Councilmember Lorie Zapf are planning to be on hand. Members of the public are also welcome and encouraged to attend at the station, 1055 Catalina Blvd. The new facility replaces a much smaller station that was home to crews after being built in December 1942 and had been earmarked for replacement decades before funding was found. The original station cost $7,800 while the new station was priced at $5.74 million. The new station features 6,180-square-feet of space on one floor with dormitory space for five crew members and one captain. A raised roof over the engine bays is designed to admit natural light.  There are two very large red-doored bays on the structure's south side for fire engines although a station captain said there are no current plans to add a second engine or a paramedic unit there. Based on input from firefighters, they will now depart on emergency calls from these doors where they can use an existing driveway to enter Catalina Boulevard. This also allows crews to back the engine into the new station after calls without stopping street traffic as in the past. Station 22 firefighters saved the original door from the old station and have made it into a table in the new station the captain reports. The front west side of the station features a pubic entrance and four-panel artwork by Los Angeles-based artist Roberto Delgado. Additional landscaping is also set. In fiscal year 2017, Engine 22 responded to 2,017 calls including 146 fires, 37 rescues, 1,342 emergency medical runs, 194 hazards and 15 service calls.   Station 22 has one of the largest service areas of any station in San Diego covering 5.97 square miles including parts of Ocean Beach, Point Loma, Shelter Island and Cabrillo National Monument. When construction began last June firefighters at the station were moved to temporary facilities on the property so there would be no interruption or delay of services to area residents. Those temporary structures are now being dismantled.
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    Sail into summer with the top trends for fun in Mission Bay
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Jul 11, 2018 | 24501 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Learn to sail on a Hobie from Mission Bay Aquatic Center.
    Learn to sail on a Hobie from Mission Bay Aquatic Center.
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    The still-popular waterskiing is available at Mission Bay Aquatic Center.
    The still-popular waterskiing is available at Mission Bay Aquatic Center.
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    Tabitha Lipkin, who is an anchor for Fox Sports San Diego, also enjoys occassionally flying above Mission Bay.
    Tabitha Lipkin, who is an anchor for Fox Sports San Diego, also enjoys occassionally flying above Mission Bay.
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    Hot Tub Cruisin has become a favorite of millennials.
    Hot Tub Cruisin has become a favorite of millennials.
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    Cruise the water on a jet ski from Mission Bay Sportcenter.
    Cruise the water on a jet ski from Mission Bay Sportcenter.
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    The pride of Mission Bay Sportcenter’s fleet is its 47-foot charter Malarky luxury Catamaran accommodating up to 12 passengers.
    The pride of Mission Bay Sportcenter’s fleet is its 47-foot charter Malarky luxury Catamaran accommodating up to 12 passengers.
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    Alexis Hurey and Courtney Kessler head out for an adventure on standup paddle boards from Mission Bay Sportcenter.
    Alexis Hurey and Courtney Kessler head out for an adventure on standup paddle boards from Mission Bay Sportcenter.
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    Try the new trend of wake surfing with Freedom Boat Club.
    Try the new trend of wake surfing with Freedom Boat Club.
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    In San Diego, summertime fun in the sun means on the water too. In Mission Bay, water-sport rental companies fulfill every need and nuance in aquatic recreation, furnishing an almost inexhaustible array of watercraft.  Patrons can rent everything large and small from boats and jet skis to paddle boards, kayaks, aqua cycles, bicycles and peddle boats. There are even floating hot tubs and airborne flyboards using pressurized water pumped through hoses to propel users skyward.  Locals and tourists alike can indulge their every whim taking full advantage of San Diego’s activities-based, water-sports culture. Following is a rundown of bayfront recreation companies and the rentals and services they provide. Adventure Water Sports (Two locations) 2211 Pacific Beach Drive 858-581-9300 1710 W Mission Bay Drive 619-226-8611 adventurewatersports.com Adventure Water Sports’ motto is: “Don't waste your valuable time driving around and towing someone else's equipment or driving 5 mph. Rent from us and just hop on, and go.” For watersport enthusiasts, and the industry catering to them, it’s Christmas in July, noted Andrew Points, Adventure Water Sport’s general manager. Asked what’s hot now in rentals, Points said, “Everything is hot right now. In summer we sell out of everything. We’re always busy.” What’s the most trendy watercraft to rent?  “Wave runners, jet skis,” answered Points, adding the personal water craft, rent for $110 an hour with all-day special rates available.  “People can ride them in Mission Bay at full speed in a pretty big area,” said Points, adding the most difficult thing about renting jet skies in the mid-summer peak season is making a reservation. “Right now we’re booked the whole day,” said Points advising prospective clients “to book at least a day, maybe even a couple of days in advance.” Adventure rents ski boats ranging from 19 to 24 feet as well as a pontoon boat. Stand-up paddle boards rent for $25 an hour, $35 for two hours and $60 for four hours. Patrons must be 18 to rent. Mission Bay Aquatic Center 1001 Santa Clara Place 858-488-1000 mbaquaticcenter.com Last year, Mission Bay Aquatic Center rented to 30,000 patrons helping them experience surfing, sailing, wake boarding, wake surfing, stand up paddling, waterskiing, rowing, kayaking, and windsurfing first-hand. The company has taught tens of thousands of others how to safely enjoy water sports during its 45-year existence hosting lessons, parties, picnics and classes for all manner of watercraft. MBAC director Kevin Straw said post-July 4th is the peak of their summer beach-rental season. “Especially when the holiday falls in the middle of the week, as it did this year, with people taking time out before and after to do stuff and travel,” he said.  Straw noted MBAC, operated jointly by UC San Diego and San Diego State University, utilizes three buildings at Santa Clara Point in Mission Beach. “We operate a kids program and the water sports camp for university students, which is open to the public including community members as well as tourists,” said Straw. “We are primarily an educational facility, with a rental program whose goal is not just to rent people equipment, but to teach them how to use it properly and safely.” Added Straw, “When you rent a paddle board or a kayak from us, it comes with a lesson before you go out, which differentiates us.” Concerning what’s trending with rentals at MBAC, Straw replied: “We’re finding that sailing has become more popular for youths this summer. We also have educational programs where people learn about marine sciences as well as STEM activities.” MBAC sees a full spectrum of ages in its programs and equipment rentals. “We have a wide variety of people from all over the Southwest from as young as 6 to as old as 80 out there on the water,” Straw said. “It’s a great way to get out there on Mission Bay and find out what San Diego has to offer, that you don’t see in other places.” Mission Bay Sportcenter 844 W. Mission Bay Drive 858-203-3421 missionbaysportcenter.com Billing itself as the largest public water-sports facility in San Diego, the services provided by MBSC include boat rentals, tours/classes and jet board and jet ski rentals. The company also rents power boats, sailboats, hot tub cruises and jet packs. MBSC even offers paddle boards with LED lights for night tours. “One of our main attractions is jet skis,” said MBSC manager Matthew. “Jet-pack rentals are also popular, as are our hot-tub boats.” MBSC has something for every individual, group or family. Added Matthew, “Paddle-boards and kayaks are always good family fun – and a big hit.” MBS also has kid-oriented “lily pads,” two-inch thick, 20-foot long by six-foot wide floating rectangular foam play pads. For the more adventurous, MBSC has water-propelled flyboards. “You put on wakeboard boots and a jet-ski pack with hoses that sucks up water and propels you several feet into the air turning you into Ironman, Superman, Aquaman or the Rocketeer,” Matthew said. The pride of Sportcenter’s fleet is its 47-foot charter Malarky luxury Catamaran accommodating up to 12 passengers. It can be rented for corporate or group events, weddings, whale watching, etc. “The Malarky is our one piece of equipment that goes out on private tours,” said Matthew. Hot Tub Cruisin 1010 Santa Clara Place 619-905-5100 hottubcruisin.com Speaking of luxury, it’s tough to beat cruising around Mission Bay in a hot tub for relaxing in style. Hot Tub Cruisin’s pontoon-style hot-tub boats were the first ever to ply Mission Bay. The company, which operates out of Mission Bay Sportcenter, just celebrated its fourth anniversary. Pontoon-style craft seating up to 10 are rented out for a flat rate of $215 an hour for up to four hours. There is a sound system on board connecting to musical devices, as well as an optional propane grill, a 50-quart under-seat cooler, a six-quart “in-hot tub” cooler, dry storage for personal belongings and additional deck seating. The company’s initial rollout has been so successful, plans are in play to expand and franchise,” said co-owner Taylor Rhodes. “We now have a second boat, and we’re looking to add a third boat, and another location, while simultaneously building out our boat-sales model,” said Rhodes, adding custom hot-tub boats can be made to order from scratch. “We’re looking to build them for personal use and franchise partnership,” he added. Rhodes said the target market for Hot Tub Cruisin is “young adults, tourists, corporations, groups and university students.” “We’re really hitting the spectrum here,” he added. “What we’ve found is that everybody wants to rent hot-tub boats, whether it be for a 5-year-old’s birthday party or an 80-year-old’s retirement.” Rhodes said their hot tubs are “accessorized” furnishing water slides, hooks and floats for kids, as well as offering barbecuing opportunities on-deck. “It’s a unique way to cruise around on the bay,” he concluded. Freedom Boat Club 2630 Ingraham St. 888-781-7363 freedomboatclub.com This year's hot water sport in San Diego is wake surfing - wake boarding's safer and more thrilling counterpart. Wake surfing brings all the fun of surfing out on the water, but with no paddling out and a perfect wave that lasts as long as you want. Here's how it works: you go out in a boat with your friends or family and create the ideal surfing wave in the wake of the boat. Surfers use a specially designed smaller wakesurf board and use a rope to get in place behind the boat, then let go a free surf for as long as they keep their balance in the wake wave. Since the boat is only going about 10.5 mph, and you're not strapped into the board, its much safer than wakeboarding and falling into the water is much more gentle on the body. Dan Hasbrouck, president of Freedom Boat Club, has added wake-surfing boats to the fleet on Mission Bay. As a member of Freedom Boat Club, members have access to this boat as well as more than 27 boats at two locations. Training is part of every membership. He can teach members to wake surf in 20 minutes and Freedom Boat Club members are loving this new sport.
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    San Diego Diplomacy Council seeks cultural ambassadors for Cuba trip
    Jul 11, 2018 | 1550 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    To learn more, the San Diego Diplomacy Council will hold an information session at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 24 at Havana 1920, at 548 Fifth Ave.
    To learn more, the San Diego Diplomacy Council will hold an information session at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 24 at Havana 1920, at 548 Fifth Ave.
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    In spring 2019, the San Diego Diplomacy Council will be partnering with Cuba Cultural Travel to offer a citizen diplomacy trip to Cuba from March 1-8. The itinerary includes visits with professors, former diplomats, young journalists, farmers, artists, historians and alumni of U.S. exchange programs across the country in the cities of Havana, Artemisa, Cienfuegos and Trinidad. Citizen diplomacy is the concept that the individual has the right, even the responsibility, to help shape U.S. foreign relations, "one handshake at a time." Embrace your citizen diplomat self and join this delegation as they tour around the island and learn about Cuba’s past, present and future from Cubans themselves. To learn more, the San Diego Diplomacy Council will hold an information session at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 24 at Havana 1920, at 548 Fifth Ave. “We’ve chosen Cuba as our organization’s inaugural outbound trip because of the longstanding intricate and delicate nature of the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba,” said San Diego Diplomacy Council executive director Fabienne Perlov. “We believe that there is magic that happens when people of two different countries meet for the first time. We are in the business of exchanges because we believe that public diplomacy, and more specifically citizen diplomacy, has a vital role in promoting peace, prosperity and stability around the world.” The mission of the San Diego Diplomacy Council is to build global relationships and expand mutual understanding by arranging professional, educational and cultural exchanges. They connect community and business leaders in the San Diego region with their counterparts around the world to address common challenges including citizen safety, economic opportunity, social justice and environmental sustainability. Cuba Cultural Travel began operating tours to Cuba more than 15 years ago with a team of two and has since grown in reputation, knowledge, and staff. Since CCT began bringing groups of Americans to Cuba in 1999, their focus has remained the same, Bringing People Together. They pride themselves in creating itineraries highlighted by the arts and cultural experiences as well as the best accommodations and restaurants. Over the years, Cuba Cultural Travel has cultivated numerous relationships with some of the best artists, musicians, and scholars Cuba has to offer. Cuba Cultural Travel is authorized by the United States Treasury Department to operate people to people tours in Cuba. These specialized tours were an effort by the Obama administration to foster understanding between the people of America and Cuba. The itineraries are designed in a way that will encourage interaction and shared experiences. To RSVP or learn more please contact Natalie Maroun at Natalie@SanDiegoDiplomacy.org or 619-291-8105.
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