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    DAILY BRIEFING – Belmont Park rides closed, rescued bald eagle dies, Padres season opener set for July 24
    Jul 07, 2020 | 7996 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    The rides at Belmont Park, like the popular carousel, are closed. PHOTO BY THOMAS MELVILLE
    The rides at Belmont Park, like the popular carousel, are closed. PHOTO BY THOMAS MELVILLE

    A round-up of news, community, and business briefs from highlighting what’s happening in our community.

    Tuesday, July 7


    Belmont Park, a 95-year-old historic amusement park on the oceanfront at 3146 Mission Blvd., has been hard hit by the pandemic and the latest rollback of business re-openings.
    “All our rides, including the Giant Dipper roller coaster, are now closed,” said Minh Tra, director of operations for the San Diego Coaster Co., which operates all of Belmont Park’s amusement rides. “As of July 7, all our indoor attractions, including our arcade, are closed. But all our outdoor attractions, retail and restaurant food operations as well as outdoor attractions like the rock wall, sky ropes, outdoor obstacle course and miniature golf, are open.”


    The Plunge San Diego at Fit Mission Beach in Belmont Park, a membership fitness club and public pool, is currently open 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays and 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Fridays-Sundays. The public can access the pool for $15 a day for adults, $12 a day for youth under age 18 for recreational swimming daily from 2 to 6 p.m. For more information, visit


    “It is with heavy hearts we share that the ailing bald eagle admitted to Project Wildlife on July 4 has died,” said San Diego Humane Society on July 7. “This morning the juvenile bird was having more difficulty breathing, despite receiving supplemental oxygen in the critical care unit at our Pilar & Chuck Bahde Wildlife Center. Our highly trained medical staff knew they had to find out why the bird was not able to breathe. They sedated and anesthetized the bald eagle for a thorough exam.”
    SDHS said full body X-rays revealed no obvious abnormalities for the injured bird. SeaWorld provided an endoscope to help visualize the inside of the eagle’s trachea and GI tract.
    “There were some small parasites in the bird’s throat but not likely to be the major issue,” said SDHS. “There was also evidence of slow gut movement in the GI tract. Once the diagnostic procedures were finished, the gas anesthesia was turned off but the bird never woke up from the anesthesia. Several efforts were made to resuscitate the bald eagle, but we were unsuccessful. Our staff and partners have done everything in their power to help this bald eagle, and are extremely saddened by today’s outcome.”


    Wheel of Fortune will be re-airing a week of episodes celebrating San Diego as one of its “Great American Cities” from July 13-17. These special episodes will also feature segments and scenic footage shot on location during Pat Sajak and Vanna White’s visit to San Diego in 2016, as well as a custom set decorated with iconic local sights, including the San Diego Zoo, the Hotel del Coronado and the Gaslamp Quarter. During this week of shows, which first aired in 2017, all the contestants are from the San Diego area.


    The San Diego Padres will kick-off their pandemic-delayed, 60-game season, consisting of 40 games against National League West teams and 20 against American League West teams, starting Friday, July 24 against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Petco Park. The interleague games at Petco Park will be Aug. 19-20 against the Texas Rangers; Aug. 21-23, Houston Astros; Aug. 25-27 against the Seattle Mariners; and Sept. 22-23 against the Los Angeles Angels, the final games of the season at Petco Park.
    Major League Baseball plans to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day on Aug. 28, the date of the March on Washington in 1963, as well as the date in 1945 when Brooklyn Dodgers president Branch Rickey met with Robinson to discuss his MLB future. The new date is representative of both Robinson's journey to break the color barrier and his life as a civil rights activist. Jackie Robinson Day is customarily celebrated on April 15, the anniversary of his breaking MLB's color line in 1947.


    The De Anza Cove Improvement Project, comprised of rent creditable capital improvements, including abatement and removal of 166 mobile homes remaining on-site, has been delayed by the pandemic. On June 24, 2019, the San Diego City Council approved a lease extension for Campland on the Bay and a lease for the De Anza Cove property that includes Mission Bay RV Resort.
    On Jan. 20, well ahead of the deadline, management commenced the improvement project. “Since then we have deployed certified environmental engineers who conducted asbestos and lead testing and analysis of all remaining mobile homes,” said Jacob Gelfand, vice president of operations for Terra Vista Management, which administers Campland on the Bay at 2211 Pacific Beach Drive. “On Jan. 28, management submitted a Coastal Development Permit application for the remaining components of the improvement project.”
    Added Gelfand: “Unfortunately, threatened litigation, which has since been settled, delayed the improvement project by more than two months. More recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily impeded critical path progress. To the extent possible, management will proceed with project items that can be safely and feasibly accomplished during this period of crisis, until the governor’s State of Emergency has been lifted.”
    Gelfand noted, since the commencement of the lease in July 2019, that numerous, significant improvements to resort operations at Mission Bay RV Resort, including utility system repairs, safety improvements, new recreational amenities and aesthetic enhancements, have been made. “We look forward gradually to reopening more amenities at both resorts as state and local regulations allow,” said Gelfand, noting Campland on the Bay celebrated its 50th Anniversary of providing affordable, waterfront accommodations and family-friendly recreation on Mission Bay last year.


    Monday, July 6

    San Diego Humane Society’s Project Wildlife admitted a bald eagle on July 4. It is extremely rare for SDHS to admit such a raptor. The bird was rescued and brought in by SoCal Parrots after it had been observed on the ground for a couple of days at Barrett Honor Camp.
    The bald eagle, suffering from dehydration, was given fluids and treated for mites. While the bird’s condition is guarded, it is in stable condition at the critical care unit of SDHS’s Bahde Wildlife Center and has gotten radiographs (X-rays) and a blood draw. Currently, he is breathing heavy, although slightly improved. Samples of the eagle’s blood and feces were submitted for full evaluation, including a lead test.
    Staff at the Pilar & Chuck Bahde Wildlife Center were able to successfully hand feed the bird, a juvenile, a fledgling, who has not been seen flying on his own. The objective is to rehabilitate the bird and return him to his family. The bald eagle will remain in the critical care unit where he receives extra oxygen. 

    San Diego Public libraries, following the guidance of State and County health guidelines and public health orders, will continue to remain closed. “The Library has expanded its contactless pickup service to 18 locations and has opened its book drops for returns,” said City spokesperson Jennifer McBride. “The Library's online programs are also available for patrons.” For more information, visit 

    Home Start, a San Diego nonprofit whose mission is to assure the safety and resiliency of children by strengthening families and their communities, has received a $100,000 grant from the Cushman Foundation. The grant, spread over three years, is part of the Foundation’s 2020 Making a Difference for San Diego Grant Program and will help Home Start with its Behavioral Health Services programs.
    The foundation’s grant program was established in partnership with the Jewish Community Foundation as they share the goals of respectful and responsive grantmaking, quality technical assistance, and support to strengthen the capacity and sustainability of nonprofit organizations. For more information, visit

    Padres Pedal the Cause, a nonprofit, has raised over $120,000 from the organization’s second annual A World Without Cancer Day on June 20. Over 640 people registered for the grassroots, virtual event, raising funds for collaborative cancer research in San Diego. 
    Inspired by the campaign #Do20Give20, participants committed to doing 20 minutes, miles or repetitions of movement from several participation options: cycling or run/walking on their own; attending a live, virtual class hosted by community partners, Orangetheory Fitness, YogaSix, and breast cancer fighter/spin instructor Kellie Sullivan; and even joining a Peloton class.
    Participants matched their commitment to “Do 20” with a $20 or more donation to Padres Pedal the Cause, an organization that donates 100% of fundraising dollars to cancer research. Donations can be made by visiting the Padres Pedal the Cause at   

    “Fiesta Island is currently scheduled to open to vehicle access on Monday, July 6,” said City spokesperson Jennifer McBride. “If County or State health orders are updated between now and then that could change, but right now July 6 is the date.”
    A large peninsular park within Mission Bay, manmade Fiesta Island is a popular location for charity walks and runs, bicycle races, time trials and other special events. It is also the home of the annual Over-The-Line Tournament. The Fiesta Island Youth Camp and the Aquatic Center are on the island. There are bonfire rings around the shore of the island and a park where dogs are allowed off leash. All persons on the beach at Fiesta Island are required to practice social distancing other than members of the same household, and the public shall not congregate or participate in active sport activities on beaches.

    An unusual fossil deposit containing skeletal remains of extinct mammals, including camels, oreodonts, rodents, and possibly a large carnivore, was recently unearthed at the State Route 11/Otay Mesa East Port of Entry Project, a joint venture between Caltrans and the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). The fossils are estimated to be 16 to 28 million years old and provide new insights into the region's geologic history.
    Found by Paleo Monitors from the San Diego Natural History Museum (The Nat) fossils appear to be from a new geologic formation that has not been mapped before in the area. The deposit also contains plant fossils, as well as volcanic bombs (masses of rock ejected by a volcano). The Nat will prepare the fossils and curate and catalogue them into the paleontology collection, holding them in perpetuity for the citizens of California.
    The SR-11/Otay Mesa East Port of Entry Project will complete a direct connection to a planned new U.S. Land Port of Entry, and create a 21st century border crossing that will enhance regional mobility, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and wait times, fuel economic growth, bolster binational trade, and strengthen border security and resiliency.

    Although the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club will kick off its 2020 summer racing season with an empty grandstand, there are still a variety of ways to enjoy your fill of races and festivities throughout the summer. Del Mar Live launches on opening day, Friday, July 10, and will feature more than 20 local restaurants, hotels and casinos including Brigantine Del Mar, Pizza Port, Jimmy O’s, Pendry San Diego and more. Each “Live” location will offer TV screens to view the day’s 10-race card, Del Mar signature drink specials and Del Mar/TVG coasters. Del Mar will race every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from July 10 up to and including Labor Day Monday, Sept. 7. First post daily will be at 2 p.m.

    This year’s 26th annual Opening Day Hats Contest will strut on stage via Instagram and Twitter for all to see with a panel of local celeb judges ready to declare the 2020 winner of a fashion statement that has become one of Del Mar’s most sought-after honors. The Opening Day Hats Contest is available to all who forward pictures using the hashtag #DelMarHatsContest and tagging @DelMarRacing in the photo.

    The San Diego Unified Board of Education has unanimously approved a balanced budget for the upcoming school year. No significant layoffs or staff adjustments were required to balance the district budget this year.
    Highlights of the approved measure include a $45 million fund for COVID-19 emergency expenditures. District leaders said those funds will pave the way for reopening schools on schedule on Aug. 31, including options for on-campus and online learning.
    “The unanimous vote this evening by the Board of Education reflects our collective confidence that we can open schools in a timely manner, on schedule, on August 31, with outstanding options for students who want to be on campus, as well as those who wish to learn from home,” said superintendent Cindy Marten. “The COVID-19 crisis is the biggest adaptive challenge to public education of our lifetimes, and we are ready to meet the challenge.”
    Marten introduced the budget item by noting the numbers have improved since May when Gov. Gavin Newsom released his revised state budget. Working with the Governor and the entire San Diego Legislative delegation, school leaders successfully advocated for changes in the state budget, including:

    • Undoing a 10% cut to Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) estimated at about $100 million as proposed in the 2020-21 May Revise and instead utilizing deferrals and federal advocacy to mitigate cuts;

    • Securing learning loss funds to cover COVID-19 costs and to support reopening of schools, which totaled $91.8 million for San Diego Unified;

    • Adopting a pension buydown of employer contribution rates for 2020-21 and 2021-22, and a CalSTRS pension rate freeze for 2020-21, which amounts to an estimated savings of $17 million for San Diego Unified in the next school year;

    • Advocating for special education funding based on the moderate-to-severe disability of students, which resulted in the allocation of $100 million for the low-incidence pool add-on that provides $2.4 million for San Diego Unified.

    Members of the Board of Education also emphasized the need for continued advocacy at the federal level. They have called for the US Senate to follow the House of Representatives in passing the HEROES Act, which provides an additional $58 billion to schools nationwide.

    Beginning on July 6 and continuing for approximately one month, access to and from Scripps Health facilities via Voigt Drive will be closed while crews rebuild the driveway and adjacent roadway. Once complete, crews will restore inbound access via Voigt Drive from the west only. Outbound access will continue to be closed and vehicles will be redirected to Genesee Avenue. 

    What to expect: 

    • Full closure of Scripps Health driveway at Voigt Drive 

    • Concurrent full closure of Voigt Drive between parking lot P701 and Campus Point Drive

    • Detours to and from Scripps Health facilities will be available via Genesee Avenue

    • Traffic control measures will be in place, including temporary traffic signals, temporary wayfinding and detour signage, and roadway and sidewalk reconfigurations

    • Typical work hours will be Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    Best Western Hotels & Resorts is opening its newly renovated SureStay Hotel by Best Western San Diego/Pacific Beach at 4545 Mission Bay Drive. The 66-room hotel offers an outdoor, heated, swimming pool, complimentary hot breakfast buffet, high-speed WiFi, and free parking providing guests with the superior comfort and utmost value they want out of their stay. The hotel is closely following state guidelines and implementing safety protocols. For more information, visit

    CerasoliStafford Media Management has announced that long-time media executive Bob Bolinger joined the firm effective July 1 as a new partner. Concurrently, the firm will be changing its name to CerasoliStaffordBolinger, doing business as CSB Impact ( Bolinger’s career includes executive management roles with major San Diego radio groups, including Entercom, iHeart Media and CBS Radio. 

    Following the guidance of public health officials, San Diego County Treasurer-Tax Collector Dan McAllister will close all five branches to the public until further notice effective July 6 in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Four Treasurer-Tax Collector offices in Kearny Mesa, San Marcos, Chula Vista and Santee have remained closed to the public since March, and will do so for the foreseeable future. Unsecured tax bills can be paid now at More information is available on the Treasurer-Tax Collector’s website.
    Those who must pay in cash can obtain a cashier’s check or money order and mail their payment to 1600 Pacific Highway, Room 162, San Diego, CA 92101. Drop boxes will still be available outside all Treasurer-Tax Collector branches for those who must drop off a check payment, but cash will not be accepted in the drop boxes.

    While some residents may be isolated, La Jolla Community Center wants them to know they are not alone, and that LJCC is always there and watching out for them. Call 858-459-0831 or email [email protected] if you are in need of transportation, wellness checks or any other community resources.

    San Diego International Airport has continued to adjust to the impacts of COVID-19. The airport has remained open as a critical piece of the nation’s transportation infrastructure, helping to move much-needed supplies and cargo, and assisting those with essential travel needs. As states ease restrictions and non-essential travel resumes, SAN would like to share the modifications and protocols that have been put in place to help ensure the health and safety of passengers and employees. Health and safety measures that have been implemented in the terminals include:

    • Plexiglas sneeze guards in certain public spaces.

    • Floor decals and seat separation signage to queue the six-foot social distancing consideration.

    • Increased signage throughout the terminals that serves as a reminder to practice preventive health measures.

    • Per the California Department of Public Health, facial coverings are required for all passengers, visitors, tenants, contractors and employees while on airport property, excluding those with a medical or mental health condition, or developmental disability that prevents wearing a face covering.

    • Continued increased cleaning of high touch points.

    • PA announcements throughout the terminals that remind everyone of the facial covering and social distancing requirements.

    • Per San Diego County Health, employees are required to do a personal health screening and cannot come to work if they have any of the listed CDC COVID-19 symptoms.

    Travelers may visit for information and airport updates related to COVID-19.

    Lawyers Club of San Diego applauded yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision to defend the reproductive rights of women by striking down a Louisiana law that would have eliminated abortion services for many in that state. Lawyers Club of San Diego, a strong supporter of reproductive rights, signed onto the amicus brief in June, Medical v. Russo filed by the National Women’s Law Center, which joined the five abortion clinics and four abortion providers in arguing that the state law imposed an undue burden on the rights of women in Louisiana.
    “Over the last decade many states have passed hundreds of laws attempting to chip away at the protections guaranteed by Roe v. Wade,” Lawyers Club president Elvira Cortez said. “The Louisiana law at issue in this case is a prime example of the steps lawmakers have taken to severely restrict women’s reproductive choice. While we can rest assured that such a drastic reduction of services will remain unlawful for now, the fight for reproductive rights is not over.”

    San Diego Humane Society is celebrating the five-year anniversary of “Getting to Zero,” the San Diego Animal Welfare Coalition’s commitment to reaching zero euthanasia of healthy or treatable animals in San Diego County. Before July 1, 2015, treatable animals were at risk of euthanasia in shelters due to sheer numbers and limited resources.
    “Getting to Zero was truly a milestone for San Diego, because it was the first time in our region’s history that no healthy or treatable animal was at-risk for being unnecessarily euthanized,” said Dr. Gary Weitzman, president/CEO of SDHS. “San Diego is one of the safest communities in the nation for animals.”
    SDHS is proud to have not euthanized a healthy or treatable animal since 2002. When the San Diego Animal Welfare Coalition — a collaboration of area shelters, foster families, rescue groups and other lifesaving partners — was able to reach the same goal of zero euthanasia in July 2015, it meant that all healthy and treatable animals entering the San Diego animal sheltering system were safe from being euthanized. San Diego is the largest city in the nation to have accomplished this feat. For more information, visit

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    Movement begins to rename park after Pacific Beach’s first Black teacher
    Jul 07, 2020 | 3809 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Organizers Casey Barbosa (with bullhorn) and Nia de la Peña speak to the crowd at a recent peaceful Black Lives Matter rally held at Pacific Beach Community Park. PHOTO BY AMARII DAVU
    Organizers Casey Barbosa (with bullhorn) and Nia de la Peña speak to the crowd at a recent peaceful Black Lives Matter rally held at Pacific Beach Community Park. PHOTO BY AMARII DAVU

    In 1945, a petition signed by 1,900 Pacific Beach property owners demanded the removal of William Payne, the community’s first Black teacher on the staff of Pacific Beach Junior High School, because of his race. The petition sought to have Payne transferred to “a more suitable assignment.”

    Seventy-five years later, Crown Point resident and San Diego State University administrator Paige Hernandez has started a similar petition drive. Only the objective this time is not to discredit Payne, but rather to honor him for his courage and community service.

    Hernandez’s goal is to get the same symbolic number of signatures, 1,900, to rename a Pacific Beach park for the late Payne and his wife Fannie. As of July 6, there were 996 signatures on that petition at on

    The petition asks to rename joint-use PB Community Park near PB Middle School and the PB Recreation Center, to Fannie and William Payne Community Park.

    And it didn’t hurt that PB Community Park has recently served as a gathering place for Black Lives Matter rallies in Pacific Beach. Hernandez’s petition reads, “Because the current name is simply ‘Community Park,’ we have an opportunity to rename and celebrate the bravery, dedication and community service of Fannie and William Payne.”

    An archaeology and anthropology student, Hernandez discussed the origin of her park-renaming quest.

    “I love historical research and I wanted to feature the history of PB,” she said, adding she realized early on that “there is not a lot of diversity in largely white Pacific Beach … there was virtually no history of people of color here.

    “I wanted to do something different,” said Hernandez who, during her research, found an old deed from a Crown Point subdivision that “forbid sales of homes to Blacks, Asians, and Hispanics.”

    That’s when Hernandez found out about William Payne, the second black teacher ever hired by the San Diego Board of Education.

    Payne started his 25-year career in public schools at Pacific Beach Junior High in 1945 (white parents fought unsuccessfully to have him removed) and retired at San Diego High. He was a lecturer and admissions director at SDSU’s College of Education where he worked from 1970 to 1976. He died in 1986.

    Fannie J. Payne arrived with her husband in San Diego in 1942 with a degree from Talladega College in Alabama. In the post-war years, they both became pioneering public school teachers. In 1964, she got her master’s degree from SDSU.

    Fannie Payne retired from teaching in 1979. After that, she devoted more time to such organizations as Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Links Inc, and Talladega Alumni Association, Altrusa Club of San Diego, Delta 39 Gamma International Society. Fannie received several honors for her exceptional service, including a Woman of Dedication recognition by the Salvation Army. She died in 2008.

    “Black students wanted to take a stand in 2020 to have 1,900 PB residents sign the petition to honor Mr. Payne as a way of atoning for history and speaking out against things that have happened here that I’m sure was painful for Mr. Payne and his wife,” said Hernandez, adding, “We’re still trying to get the word out about the petition. A lot of folks don’t even know this happened. It was just buried in history. We wanted to solidify Payne’s legacy in PB.”

    Asked how her petition is being received, Hernandez replied, “It’s been overwhelmingly positive.”

    Confident she will eventually get the 1,900 signatures she’s seeking, Hernandez said she’s talking with District 2 Councilmember Jennifer Campbell’s office to determine what the next steps involved will be to make Fannie and William Payne Community Park a reality.

    Concluded Hernandez, “As a Black educator, I wanted to make sure their (Paynes) history is not lost.”


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    Storied independent boutique hotel on boardwalk renovates property
    Jul 07, 2020 | 667 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    The exterior of the upgraded Ocean Park Inn in Pacific Beach. COURTESY PHOTO
    The exterior of the upgraded Ocean Park Inn in Pacific Beach. COURTESY PHOTO

    Over the holiday, guests at Ocean Park Inn in Pacific Beach enjoyed upgrades from the first phase of the oceanfront boutique hotel’s remodel, which include 71 newly re-imagined rooms, refreshed common areas, and a pool deck as part of an ongoing property-wide renovation.

    Founded by the Lai family four generations ago, the independently owned inn is a boutique hotel on the PB shoreline at 710 Grand Ave. boasting a variety of suites, complete with a private balcony and access to an ocean- view pool and hot tub.
    Ocean Park Inn’s owner-operator, Elvin Lai, is an active member of San Diego’s hospitality industry, serving as vice-chair of the San Diego Convention Center Corp., and president of the San Diego County Lodging Association.
    Lai said renovation enhancements were made for the benefit of his hotel’s target demographic.
    “This was pre-planned and our renovation targets our different demographic that we are going for: millennials, professionals out of college three or four years established in the workplace and young families,” said Lai adding Ocean Park Inn was designed to accommodate entire families.
    “We have people coming to stay at our hotel from three generations,” he said. “That’s our ultimate goal, to appeal to all three generations with our amenities, services, and style.”
    Lai said one of the objectives of his hotel remodel was to brighten and freshen its look and feel.
    “We’re a very practical hotel,” he said. “And now we’re bringing the Pacific Beach vibe into our rooms.”
    That is being accomplished, said Lai, “Using the sun and its yellow color as the accent, instead of the blue water, so the yellow stands out. You just feel light and happy. You just want to be there. That’s the idea.”
    The new-look Ocean Park Inn showcases sophisticated, streamlined furnishings paired with crisp hues of cool mint green, black, white, and a soul-warming, sun-drenched yellow. Add to that vintage photography, custom-designed furnishings, and thoughtful mid-century inspired decor. The pared-down elegance of the hotel’s chic retro luxe is designed to captivate.
    Lai said the remodeled rooms have a “beach cottage look,” as well as being easier to clean which he added is “also by design.”
    Lai noted remodeling materials chosen, including fabrics, are allergen-free.
    “Every floor is also a walking tour,” the hotelier said. “We’ve videoed the corridors showing when you come out of elevators, the murals on the walls. You get the streets and the boardwalk of PB on the second floor. More vintage PB is on the first floor.”
    Lai said he’s only done with phase 1 of the remodel, noting future phased enhancements are to include the hotel’s cosmopolitan lobby, bar, and its exterior finishes. “We haven’t started that yet, but if everything works out, we will begin that in the fall of this year,” he said.
    When the pandemic hit, Lai said his hotel was considered an essential service and did not have to close. “We were able to house essential workers, nurses, doctors, people that needed to escape COVID, as well as government travelers,” he said pointing out Ocean Park Inn “is a small, boutique hotel with 99% of our business being leisure travel, which is now open.”
    Lai added all proper health protocols are in place in his renovating hotel. “We’re observing all social-distancing requirements for the health of our guests,” he said adding, “Our health protocols are just enhancing protocols we’ve already been doing. The hotel industry has always been leaders in cleanliness and cleaning, serving the particular needs and requirements of our guests. People have to understand, the hotel industry was ready for this. We know what to look for. We know how to clean and sanitize rooms. We are more than prepared to confront these issues.”

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    Ride the rainbow – Ocean Beach's unicorn is more than just a pretty face
    Jun 19, 2020 | 11505 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Ocean Beach resident Nicole Kay Clark (@nicolekayclark) takes selfies on top of ‘Tiny,’ the Toxic Unicorn at the corner of Venice Street and Del Mar Avenue. THOMAS MELVILLE/PENINSULA BEACON
    Ocean Beach resident Nicole Kay Clark (@nicolekayclark) takes selfies on top of ‘Tiny,’ the Toxic Unicorn at the corner of Venice Street and Del Mar Avenue. THOMAS MELVILLE/PENINSULA BEACON

    In late winter, a mischievous postdoctoral scholar at Scripps – and a few of her friends – brought a little bit of magic and mystery from the desert to Ocean Beach.

    On March 7, a 10-feet tall, 8-feet long, and 3-feet wide unicorn, weighing nearly 600 pounds, arrived on a flatbed truck and took residence at the corner of Venice Street and Del Mar Avenue. Affectionately named Tiny, the massive sculpture from Black Rock City – filled with a rainbow of LED lights and a heavy metal soundtrack – moved in to stand sentinel over the quiet neighborhood.

    “I wasn’t sure about the neighbors,” said Rachel Hiner, who welcomed the mythical beast next to her home. “A lot of them are set in their ways.”

    But after the quarantine began, and parks and trails were closed, and people were forced to actually walk around their neighborhoods to get some fresh air and exercise (and to keep sane), more and more locals discovered Tiny, which became an insta (@the.toxic.unicorn) celebrity for Ocean Beach residents.

    “It was surprising how much people love it,” said Hiner, who’s friends with Tiny’s creator, Madeleine Hamann. “It’s been a positive experience.”

    The sculpture, intended to draw onlookers with its grace and gallantry, and admired from afar for its kaleidoscopic body, is more than just a pretty face. Its beauty comes with an emotional and environmental price – a perfect metaphor for present day. And in a way to emphasize her point, Hamann added a final kick to the “Toxic Unicorn.”

    “Tiny has a secret, shocking surprise,” Hamann said. “She delivers a pretty startling electric shock if you grab her horn!”

    So how did Tiny make it from the playa at Burning Man to the hills of east Ocean Beach? We caught up with Hamann to let her explain the journey in an in-depth Q&A.


    Beacon: Why build a Toxic Unicorn? 

    Hamann: "Toxic Unicorn" came out of a conversation about how we all have these people we've met who seem so amazing – magical, mesmerizing – on the first encounter. But the more time you spend with them, the more you realize that there's something... off, really off. Like, I need to extract myself from this person's purview ASAP. Toxic Unicorn people.

    But then, it dawned on me that we as a society actually have a similar relationship with plastic. It's an amazing material – versatile, pliable, waterproof, etc. And it's enabled a huge amount of innovation since its introduction before WWII. A little less than a century later, though, and we're having that “aha” moment, realizing that plastic's toxic effects might overshadow its sparkly, magical appeal.


    Beacon: Is it made from recycled materials? 

    Hamann: Tiny is made of waffled plywood and coated with recycled 55-gallon food-grade drums. These drums are used for a variety of food shipments and unfortunately can't be reused for their original purpose due to FDA regulations. They are often downcycled or repurposed for other non-food uses. But with some cleaning, they made great material for Tiny's outer shell. She also has a mane that is a bit more fragile and not currently in place that is made of 2-liter bottles cut into long strands.


    Beacon: How long did it take to build?

    Hamann: We built Tiny at San Diego Collaborative Arts Project's "Colab" art facility. We had a core team of five: Me, Dave Doerner, Brian Tran, Cole Whalen, and Bryson Arenas, and we had a lot of support from artists on special projects (Ensari Cokur, Chelsea Pattee, Max Elliot, and Diane Hoffoss) and from many volunteers who came out to support us on build days. It was a community effort for sure. We started applying for grants in November 2018, started planning in earnest in January 2019, and finished her up minutes before we set her up in the desert in August 2019. Almost a full year.


    Beacon: Why is it next to your partner’s sister’s house? 

    Hamann: After Burning Man, art pieces created at Colab need to find a new home in order to make space for the next art projects that will be made there. Lots of art just goes into storage or gets destroyed after it serves its intended event, but with sustainability in mind, we designed Tiny in a way that would allow her to be installed outdoors for longer temporary installs. Besides, it's way more fun to see her all the time than to pull her out once in a blue moon.


    Beacon: What do you think of it gaining fans? 

    Hamann: I think it's great. She went in right before quarantine kicked in, but even in just that first week, we noticed how many more people were coming by the house on their walks. Where we used to see 1-2 people every morning, it became five,10, even 20-plus people working her into their walk. I saw neighbors who had never met pass by at the same time and strike up a conversation.

    She has sort of created this new "hub" where people from around the neighborhood who might never otherwise meet can now intersect. I've even heard folks say they've walked from over two miles away to see her. I would be thrilled to see more art pieces installed in San Diego neighborhoods. I think it's an incredible opportunity to keep the community feeling engaged and sane.


    Beacon: How was it perceived at burning man?

    Hamann: People loved her. We saw tons of photos of people with her after we left the event. In the spirit of one of Burning Man's principles (decommodification), we didn't put any social media information out with her. Regardless, you can see some people found and tagged her on Instagram (@the.toxic.unicorn).

    Out on playa, it was hilarious to go out to the unicorn and get people to touch it. By the end of the week, other people were doing my job for me. I'd just go out and watch people trick their friends and all break down into giggles.


    Beacon: How long will it stay there? 

    Hamann: Given the positive reaction to her, I'd love to keep her or some other attraction in place to continue the connection. But I would also love to share her magic with other neighborhoods – perhaps start a kind of artwork rotation with a location in several different neighborhoods and pieces that move from place to place for folks to visit. Gladly accepting donations to get that off the ground. One plan is to install her on Niagara Street in front of the former coffee shop The Nest.


    Beacon: What’s your background?

    Hamann: I grew up in central Ohio and moved to San Diego for a graduate program in physical oceanography at Scripps in 2013. I found oceanography through my mentors at the University of Notre Dame where I studied civil and environmental engineering. Turns out studying the ocean sounded like more of an adventure than building highway overpasses.


    Beacon: What do you do at Scripps? 

    Hamann: I completed my Ph.D., and am now a postdoctoral scholar at Scripps in the Marine Physical Laboratory. I work with Matthew Alford (another Point Loma resident) and the Multiscale Ocean Dynamics group to observe turbulence in the interior of the ocean and study how it affects the ocean's circulation and ecosystems. We go out on research vessels for weeks at a time in locations all over the world, deploying our custom instruments wherever we go to better understand and parameterize the physics that other scientists are putting into models of the global ocean and climate.



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    Why is the Black Lives Matter movement important?
    Jun 10, 2020 | 16888 views | 7 7 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    On Friday, June 5, another group spurred on by social media, organized at the intersection of Mission Boulevard and W. Mission Bay Drive. About two dozen protesters held up signs and chanted “no justice, no peace, no racist police,” as drivers honked in approval and tourists looked on. / Photo by Thomas Melville
    On Friday, June 5, another group spurred on by social media, organized at the intersection of Mission Boulevard and W. Mission Bay Drive. About two dozen protesters held up signs and chanted “no justice, no peace, no racist police,” as drivers honked in approval and tourists looked on. / Photo by Thomas Melville
    Like an erupting volcano, the tragic murder of George Floyd is igniting an outpouring of indignation within San Diego’s Black community, which is demanding reform, social justice, and an end to racial inequality through the Black Lives Matter movement. On June 3, several local African-American spokespeople participated in an hour-long Zoom webinar hosted by RISE San Diego on social justice and accountability in the wake of Floyd’s murder. Black Lives Matter (BLM) is an international human rights movement, originating from within the African-American community, which campaigns against violence and systemic racism toward black people. Most people are familiar with BLM from when NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee on the sidelines before a game in 2016 to protest against racial injustice. But the movement actually began earlier, in 2013, with the use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on social media after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin in February 2012. The movement became nationally recognized for street demonstrations following the 2014 deaths of two African Americans: Michael Brown — resulting in protests and unrest in Ferguson, a city near St. Louis — and Eric Garner in New York City. San Diego Community Newspaper Group caught up with three of the participants in the RISE webinar – Dr. Roxanne J. Kymaani, Dominic Porter, and Dr. Kristopher Hall – as well as Black student Khadijah Abdulmateen, to get their pulse on Black Lives Matter, and why that should matter to everyone. “There is a significant difference in the way that protests are seen based on the color of your skin, and what you’re fighting for,” said Kymaani, president at Kymaani Catalyst Consulting. “That, in and of itself, is deeply ingrained, and why this fight continues to exist.” “I definitely agree with that,” said Hall, assistant professor for School of Leadership and Education Sciences at University of San Diego. “Our country originated with the genocide of indigenous Americans and the enslavement of Blacks, and our history is one of bloodshed and violence. We’ve never, as a country, tried to reconcile those things. There is still a lot of work to be done to get everyone on an equal footing.” “This issue is really about the dehumanization and lack of accountability or concern about injustice and violence against Black community members at a disproportionate rate,” said Porter, chief of staff at RISE San Diego, a community-based organization committed to building real urban neighborhoods at the grassroots level. “That injustice and violence is too easily disregarded, and often forgotten, to the point where we become desensitized to the issue.” For Mira Costa Community College student Abdulmateen, BLM is all about proactively addressing racial injustice and inequality. “Youth are joining up to demand to ban the use of rubber bullets used on protesters,” she said. “For me, this movement is about ending violence in my community. Black people have been oppressed in this country for 450 years, and it’s time we see some change being enacted to remove inequality in our society and police brutality on the streets.” Kymaani said the cure for racial injustice and inequality is for people to own up to their “own hidden bias, their own racism, and accept that our society is one of white privilege. What it takes to remove bigotry starts with accountability, starts with acknowledgment and acceptance that this is a problem, and every single person in this country needs to look within themselves and see if they are colluding in the racism.” Concerning police reform, Hall said, “We need to have a real honest conversation about what is the purpose of police, and how we do the preventative work (counseling, social work, intervention, etc.) so that policing isn’t necessary. They (police) exist in communities to keep order, but the order would never need to be kept if we devoted the resources, mental health, education, etc. to solve social problems so policing isn’t as necessary.” Porter said what needs to be done to redress injustice and inequality against Black people is to “remove the psychological conditioning that allows those types of behaviors (police brutality) to go on, and to increase accountability for crimes and violence against the Black community. We need to re-humanize Black people. This is not just a Black community issue. This is a human rights issue.” Abdulmateen said it’s important for society to “support Black folks during this time and listen to their concerns.” Noting she learned about the cycle of racism and violence against Black people from her parents and grandparents Abdulmateen added: “the torch has been passed to our generation and we have to continue this fight until we don’t see folks being killed in the street for the color of their skin. We’re trying to put an end to this. People are just fed up. They’re tired.”
    Comments-icon Post a Comment
    June 12, 2020

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    County announces restaurants must close nightly at 10 p.m.
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    County approves mental healthcare team  
    New unit will respond to crisis without law enforcement 
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    Closet celebrates 22 years in Ocean Beach
    This year marks the 22nd year in business for Closet women’s apparel at 4878 Newport Ave. “In 1998, we opened the first Closet women’s apparel store in Pacific Beach,” said owner Jessica Han. “Grow...
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    Make the backyard a destination for family fun
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    San Diego region bars, wineries and breweries without a license to serve food will need to close to prevent community outbreaks of COVID-19 and the spread of the virus, the County Health and Human ...
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    Shopping in La Jolla – merchants reopen for summer guests
    Are you wondering if you can go shopping now in La Jolla? I decided to ask some of the local merchants about their experience with Covid-19 and if they have reopened. My first interview was with Iz...
    Published - Sunday, June 28
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    I have aged five decades in three months during isolation — ouch!
    Just a few months ago, before the COVID-19 pandemic, I was in my 20 s. I served on eight committees in my retirement community as well as two boards in the San Diego community. I spent time in our ...
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    County reports another record number of Covid-19 cases
    For the third day in a row, the County’s Health and Human Services Agency is reporting record-high numbers of new Covid-19 infections. After four days of more than 300 new cases a day this week, th...
    Published - Sunday, June 28
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    Even in the worst COVID-19 cases, the body launches immune cells to fight back
    A new study from researchers at La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI) and Erasmus University Medical Center (Erasmus MC) shows that even the sickest COVID-19 patients produce T cells that help fi...
    Published - Saturday, June 27
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    Village seeks solutions for parking and street signage
    In June, La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Committee got an update from the La Jolla Village Merchants Association on establishing a new street signage program to help people find their way more ea...
    Published - Saturday, June 27
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    Science through Zoom teaches area elementary students
    Youth science programs, like school in general, have gone remote due to the coronavirus pandemic. “When the schools shifted to online learning we pivoted as well to conducting our science through Z...
    Published - Saturday, June 27
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    Surveys reveal community college students’ struggles during pandemic
    San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) students are facing overwhelming needs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, including job losses that are making it more difficult to afford rent and a lack...
    Published - Saturday, June 27
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