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    Pacific Beach bike theft drives local man into action and recovery
    Aug 27, 2015 | 3517 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Bikes locked up on the boardwalk at Pacific Beach Drive on a sunny and busy Sunday in summer. / Photo by Thomas Melville
    Bikes locked up on the boardwalk at Pacific Beach Drive on a sunny and busy Sunday in summer. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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    Browse NextDoor social media any given day along the beachfront and, next to mentions of lost dogs and cats, you’ll find notices posted about stolen bicycles. In recent months, the number of purloined bikes along the coast has gone from commonplace to alarming. And the San Diego Police Department, presently at historically low staffing levels even with seasonally enhanced summer beach patrols, is having trouble keeping up, which has led some frustrated residents in especially hard-hit areas for bike theft, like Pacific and Mission beaches, to take matters into their own hands in attempting to reclaim their stolen bikes. Such was the case recently with PB resident Brad Wickliffe. A former bouncer, Wickliffe had his bike locked up along the beachfront while participating in a yacht-racing event from San Diego to Mission Bay. Afterward, he returned to find his cable-locked bike had been stolen “in broad daylight.” The thieves even took his lock. A common-enough story, it typically ends with the victim(s) filing a police report or chalking it up to experience and bad luck. But Wickliffe took his recovery efforts one drastic step further. He immediately began searching for his stolen bike on Craigslist, where he eventually tracked down the perpetrator, who was reselling his stolen property. “My bike was stolen on Sunday morning, and I was checking Craigslist every day until I saw it there Tuesday morning,” Wickliffe said, noting his bike was distinctively customized. This made its thumbnail description “jump out at you.” So Wickliffe set up a face-to-face meeting in National City with the alleged perpetrator, whom he said “gave me a big BS story about owning (the bike) for a year. There was no doubt it was my bike.” When the time came for Wickliffe to purchase his own stolen bicycle, he managed to sneak up behind the alleged thief and render him unconscious before calling police and turning him in. “The guy even had a backpack full of lock-picking tools,” Wickliffe said, adding the man he incapacitated “clearly had needle-track marks on his arms.” Wickliffe said police took him into custody after a background check revealed he had prior warrants out for his arrest. “The whole NextDoor neighbor thing is really good because the more people know your bike’s been stolen, the more likely you are to get it back,” reflected Wickliffe. He added the incident has caused him to seriously reconsider GPS-enabling his bike so its whereabouts can be more easily tracked. Wickliffe realizes his personal success story in having successfully recovered his own stolen bike was just a drop in the bucket considering all the bikes never recovered by their owners. “These guys (thieves) don’t have much to lose,” said Wickliffe. “I’m just hoping incidents like mine will help them to move on.” For himself, Wickliffe said of the experience, “I enjoyed the vigilante thing. It was less paperwork – more fun.” “We don’t advise people to confront criminals, because you never know whether or not they’re armed,” said San Diego Police officer Dan Neifer of Northern Division’s beach team, which is involved with the department’s bait bicycle program. Neifer noted deterring bike theft is extremely difficult for a variety of reasons. “There is a very small window of time involved with bike theft,” Neifer said. “Within 10 minutes of being stolen, that bike can be in two or three pieces and in a car – or a house.” Neifer noted crooks can repaint stolen vehicles, “chop and change them out,” do any number of things to alter and disguise them. And unlike Wickliffe’s case, many bike thieves are smart enough to store stolen bikes for a period of weeks or months before attempting to resell them on Craigslist or elsewhere. But the bike bait program the police employ has some proven results. Neifer explained how it works. “We put GPS on a bait bike that’s locked up in plain view in a public bike parking area,” he said. “When that bike is removed, it sends a text message alerting police.” Neifer said there’s generally only a four- to eight-minute interval for police to arrive and interdict the suspected thief. But fortunately for those whose bikes have been stolen, that’s time enough. What can people do to prevent their bikes from being taken? Unfortunately, Neifer said, he’s unaware of an absolutely pick- or cut-proof bike lock. He also advised against locking bikes in public bike stalls overnight, even well-lighted ones out in the open, noting that “after hours once the bars close there are only cops, cats and crooks out on the streets, which are desolate.” Neifer said the safest place for a bike, especially an expensive one, is inside your home or locked up on your property. GPS is helpful to have. And it’s always important to record your bike’s serial number to help police track it should it ever be stolen. Above all else, report a bike theft to police. Neifer added it's also extremely helpful to have a good photograph of your bike to accompany a detailed description of it, noting any individual markings or details to help distinguish it.
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    City releases initial new regulations for short-term vacation rentals
    by By LISA HALVERSTADT - Voice of San Diego
    Aug 26, 2015 | 5165 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Signs like this one are posted throughout Crown Point and Pacific Beach. / Photo by Thomas Melville
    Signs like this one are posted throughout Crown Point and Pacific Beach. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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    Short-term vacation rentals may soon be legal – and regulated – in San Diego. City staffers released a memo on Aug. 12 that lays out a potential framework for traditional vacation rentals and for those that have proliferated through sites like Airbnb and VRBO, which connect hosts and visitors. A proposed ordinance drafted by the city's Development Services Department would allow up to two paying visitors to stay in a room within a home and full-home rental stays of fewer than 30 days. Hosts who book more than two visitors or multiple rooms at a time would be considered bed and breakfast operators, which would come with more requirements. Renting entire space The draft proposes these be generally allowed for less than a month in most residential areas. Hosts would be required to share and enforce a rental agreement with visitors and designate a local contact to respond within an hour of any complaints about bad behavior at the property. City leaders will have to hash out how many guests and visits are allowed per month. Home sharing The property owner is required to remain in the home while the visitor stays for fewer than 30 days. No more than two lodgers are allowed, and an arrangement is allowed for only one room or with one party. At least one parking space must be provided. City leaders will decide how often visits are allowed. Bed and breakfasts Homeowners who host more than two visitors or coordinate more than two stays at once would be classified as bed and breakfast operators. This label wouldn’t necessarily mean meals are provided but would require that the property owner to stick around during the visit. Depending on where the home is located, operators could need to get a neighborhood use permit or a conditional use permit, which can take more than a year to obtain. These hosts would also need to have a parking space for the operator and additional spaces for the guest rooms. There are additional regulations and parking requirements depending on the zone the home is in. Still, the rules probably don’t quell some bitter disagreements over the issues that have flared during months of public hearings, heated debates and even legal threats. Bob Vacchi, the city’s Development Services director, said the tension put pressure on the city. “It’s been extremely difficult for us to put (the draft rules) together because there’s really no consensus,” Vacchi added. Even with the draft ordinance, the city remains a house divided on short-term rentals. While the city’s collecting bed taxes from short-term rentals, a Burlingame woman last week was saddled with a nearly $25,000 fine for operating what city staffers referred to as a bed and breakfast out of her historic craftsman home. The 70-year-old says she simply hosted visitors through Airbnb and didn’t operate a commercial enterprise. The citation followed months of confusion about the rules – or lack thereof – for vacation rental hosts to follow and city demands that they pay bed taxes long imposed on hoteliers. Those disagreements also contributed to foot-dragging by the city. City Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, who represents beach communities, called an April City Council subcommittee hearing on short-term rental issues. The gathering was so packed the committee held a second meeting on May 29. That day, members of the smart growth and land use committee – which Zapf chairs – asked city staffers to work on an ordinance. The initial draft was finished by early July and shared with City Council members, according to emails obtained by Voice of San Diego. But the emails indicate the mayor’s office delayed the release when it discovered continued infighting over some of the specifics. Brian Pepin, Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s director of council affairs, wrote in a July 10 email that the mayor’s office had met with some City Council members to get their take on the measure and found continued disagreement over the number of rentals allowed per month or year. “Unfortunately, the councilmembers were unable to reach consensus on the appropriate frequency to move forward with,” Pepin wrote in an email to a Development Services staffer who worked on the draft ordinance. “The result of the meeting was to request that you return to the smart growth committee at its next possible meeting in order to get clear direction on frequency.” The next subcommittee meeting isn’t until Sept. 23. There were other issues, too. At the May 29 meeting and in other settings, City Council members have disagreed on the number of visitors that should be allowed in a full-home vacation rental. They also haven’t given clear consensus on whether hosts should be allowed to rent granny flats, or other spaces on residential lots, on a short-term basis. Officials say conflicts delayed at least one other discussion on the issue. Joe LaCava chairs the citywide Community Planners Committee, a group that had been set to review the draft short-term rental ordinance at its July meeting. He said he was told the draft rules would be released June 30 and cleared his group’s July agenda to allow for a heated debate. That didn’t happen. “I heard those regulations were being held back by the mayor’s office,” LaCava said. He was surprised when the proposed regulations weren’t released in the weeks afterward, either. “Everybody knows there’s draft language just sitting out there. Everybody’s just waiting for that draft language to drop and then start the conversation,” LaCava said Aug. 12, before the memo was released. “I think everybody’s just sort of in a waiting period right now.” Vacchi said the delays were a result of a lack of consensus among councilmembers, not any intention by the mayor’s office to delay the discussion. A mayor’s office spokesman couldn’t immediately comment. That debate appears likely to pick up again soon, shortly after an administrative law judge decided the Burlingame Airbnb host should be sanctioned. Amanda Lee, the Development Services manager who drafted the proposed rules, said Zapf’s office will decide next steps for the ordinance. Lisa Halverstadt is a reporter at Voice of San Diego. Know of something she should check out? You can contact her directly at lisa@vosd.org or (619) 325-0528.
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    Champion-Cain on a mission in Mission Beach, celebration at Luv Surf
    by JENNIFER GREEN
    Aug 26, 2015 | 978 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Pamela Corey, the retail manager, in the doorway of Luv Surf Boutique on Mission Boulevard, with Jackson. / Photo by Jennifer Green
    Pamela Corey, the retail manager, in the doorway of Luv Surf Boutique on Mission Boulevard, with Jackson. / Photo by Jennifer Green
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    Mission Beach and Pacific Beach vacationers, residents and their pets are getting some TLC and lots of love, or “luv,” from Gina Champion-Cain. She’s the architect of and facilitator for many of Mission Beach and Pacific Beach’s newest and most popular clothing, eating and drinking establishments. Champion-Cain is the owner of Luv Surf, which started in Mission Beach in 2011 with Luv Surf Vacation Rentals, a pet-friendly, beach-friendly business. Since then, she’s been steadily growing her brand and her mission to make Mission Beach more beautiful while staying eclectic and funky, just the way she likes it. Why choose Mission Beach to make her mark? “I love that it’s so eclectic. You can be young, old, rich, poor or right in the middle and enjoy Mission Beach,” says Champion-Cain. She moved to San Diego in 1987 and has had a love affair with Mission Beach ever since. “Everyone is in a melting pot, all together [in Mission Beach]. I love that.” After successfully launching her vacation rental business, Champion-Cain expanded her brainchild to include a Mission Beach clothing retail shop that capitalizes on the Luv Surf brand. Since the flagship store’s grand opening in 2012, she has opened two additional apparel stores in Mission and Pacific beaches. These stores are focused on selling locally sourced items in a beach-chic setting. Chris Kramer, director of Luv Surf, says, “The company team is known for creating beautiful spaces that are design focused.” He regularly receives rave reviews from the retail shops’ neighbors and patrons who pick up on their inclusive attitude, or “party-wave mentality,” as Kramer likes to call it. Champion-Cain rounded the vacationer/staycationer experience when she launched The Patio Group, which includes The Patio restaurants in Pacific Beach, downtown and Mission Hills along with Fireside, opening soon in Liberty Station. She even co-owns Swell Cafe in Mission Beach. As if that weren’t enough, Champion-Cain is so committed to the neighborhood that she is launching a community benefits district with Swell co-owner John Valas called Beautiful Mission Beach. Champion-Cain says that tourists and residents, unlike the inland areas of San Diego, frequent the beaches every day. Champion-Cain says the city has “fallen down” on its commitment to provide resources for maintaining clean communities. Champion-Cain and Valas hope to present a grassroots plan to San Diego City Council in early 2016. Luv Surf party The Luv Surf brand is celebrating three years in Mission Beach at its flagship retail store 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 30 at Luv Surf Boutique, 3816 Mission Blvd.
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    Beholder makes history at Pacific Classic
    by THOMAS MELVILLE
    Aug 25, 2015 | 5076 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Beholder, with Gary Stevens on board, breezes down the stretch to win the TVG Pacific Classic by 8 1/4 lengths. Check out the video screen behind them to see just how far in front she finished ahead of the field. / Photo by Thomas Melville
    Beholder, with Gary Stevens on board, breezes down the stretch to win the TVG Pacific Classic by 8 1/4 lengths. Check out the video screen behind them to see just how far in front she finished ahead of the field. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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    Beholder and Gary Stevens head to the winner's circle. / Photo by Thomas Melville
    Beholder and Gary Stevens head to the winner's circle. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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    Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens receives congratulations after riding Beholder to victory in the TVG Pacific Classic. / Photo by Thomas Melville
    Hall of Fame jockey Gary Stevens receives congratulations after riding Beholder to victory in the TVG Pacific Classic. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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    Beholder and Gary Stevens head through the tunnel from the paddock to the track. / Photo by Thomas Melville
    Beholder and Gary Stevens head through the tunnel from the paddock to the track. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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    Gary Stevens on Beholder as they leave the paddock area. / Photo by Thomas Melville
    Gary Stevens on Beholder as they leave the paddock area. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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    When Gary Stevens trotted Beholder over to the winner's circle a few minutes after taking the TVG Pacific Classic, he was told to take another turn in front of the crowded grandstand as track officials needed a moment to set up. “No problem,” said the Hall of Fame jockey, who then smiled and added, “She's certainly not tired, that's for sure.” Minutes before, Beholder became the first female to win Del Mar Racetrack’s signature race of the summer season in a performance that brought a deafening roar from the overflow of spectators as she breezed down the stretch to win by a remarkable 8 1/4 lengths just as the sun peaked through the clouds on Saturday evening. Without being asked by Stevens, the 5-year-old mare smoothly moved to the front on the far turn, split the pacemakers Bayern and Midnight Storm in a matter of several strides and opened a commanding lead entering the stretch. Under no pressure from her rider, Beholder widened on her nine male rivals and left them in the distance. “She was just going so easy,” Stevens said. “We went by Bayern like he was tired. Then when we straightened away I pushed the button and she went on with it. I’ve never felt anything like that on a racetrack before.” It was the second largest winning margin in the 25-year history of the race, exceeded only by Game On Dude in 2013. Catch a Flight, stablemate of Beholder from the barn of Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, put in a solid late run under Flavien Prat, but finished a far second. “The filly – she’s just too much,” said Prat. Third went to Red Vine who was ridden by Joel Rosario. Fourth was Hoppertunity, followed by Imperative, Hard Aces, Class Leader, Bailoutbobby, Bayern and Midnight Storm. Beholder, a two-time Eclipse Award champion and a daughter of Henny Hughes, was scoring her 14th win in 19 starts and ninth in her last ten races. Earlier this season, she won the Clement L. Hirsch Stakes. First place money of $600,000 on Saturday increased her career earnings to $4.25 million. Her time for the mile and one-quarter race was a fast 1:59.77. “She is the first horse that makes me feel lucky to be the owner,” said B. Wayne Hughes. “I’ve never had that feeling before.” Beholder was the fifth female Thoroughbred to run in the Pacific Classic, preceded by Paseana, fifth in 1992; Island Fashion, ninth in 2005; Amani, sixth in 2012, and Byrama, seventh in 2013. For Mandella, Beholder provided his fourth win in the Pacific Classic. He won memorably in l996 with Dare And Go who upset Cigar, in 1997 with Gentlemen when he also saddled the place horse, Siphon, and Pleasantly Perfect in 2004. The stakes win was the fourth of the meeting for rider Stevens and his third in the Pacific Classic. He now has 86 stakes wins at Del Mar, seventh most of all time. Already having earned a spot in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff at Keeneland race course in Lexington, Ky., Oct. 31, Beholder also clinched a place in the Breeders’ Cup Classic should her connections choose so. The Pacific Classic was part of the Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” Challenge Series, which guarantees an expenses-paid berth in the mile and one-quarter contest.
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    Rustic homemade Italian dishes at Mamma Mia in Pacific Beach
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Aug 24, 2015 | 1703 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Mamma Mia owner/executive chef Cinzia Mezzetti.
    Mamma Mia owner/executive chef Cinzia Mezzetti.
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    Mamma Mia Italian restaurant is at 1932 Balboa Ave. in Pacific Beach.
    Mamma Mia Italian restaurant is at 1932 Balboa Ave. in Pacific Beach.
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    Chef Mezzetti’s cuisine is mostly from northern and central Italy.
    Chef Mezzetti’s cuisine is mostly from northern and central Italy.
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    You’ll be astonished by the homespun cuisine at Mamma Mia, which like its name, will have you exclaiming “my goodness.” Referring to the origin of the title of her Pacific Beach Italian restaurant at 1932 Balboa Ave. near the corner of Grand Avenue and Lamont Street, owner/executive chef Cinzia Mezzetti said, “I wanted a name with a common phrase that Americans use.” “I’m very athletic – and my cuisine is too,” said Mezzetti, who is a competitive bodybuilder and a mom with two daughters. Mezzetti started out with a pizza and pasta restaurant in East County in 2002, then moved to Pacific Beach to expand her cuisine – and horizons. She said it’s important to change with the times. “In California, everybody is looking for healthy food that’s carb free,” she noted. “They’re looking for a better diet. More protein.” That dietary “shift” is reflected in Mamma Mia’s menu. “Before it was 90 percent pasta,” Mezzetti said. “Now it’s homemade ravioli, fettucini, seafood, cheeses, sauces, and risotto dishes, which are gluten-free. I also added many more appetizers. We do everything from scratch. Things have changed a lot.” Mezzetti’s cuisine is mostly from northern and central Italy. “It’s very rustic, very traditional,” she said. Pizza and pasta remain mainstays of Mamma Mia’s menu. “We have a special pizza promotion on Wednesday,” said Mezzetti, noting the style of pizza (invented in Naples, Italy) she serves actually takes its name from an English queen. “Queen Margaret of England loved cheese pizza and that’s why we call it Margherita,” said Mezzetti, who also hosts pizza-cooking classes. Mamma Mia’s owner said she keeps prices at her family friendly eatery low. Mamma Mia’s appetizers are all under $10. The restaurant also has special promotional “family days” where, for $25 a head, an entire family can be fed. “You have so much food,” Mezzetti said. “You can also bring your own wine for free on family night.” Mamma Mia delivers, as well as offering pizza specials and discounts for pick-up orders. One discounted special offers children under age 12 a free 10-inch pizza or small pasta dish. “On Tuesdays and Thursdays we have ‘bring your own bottle of wine night,’” Mezzetti said adding “there’s no corkage fee.” What’s a big specialty of the house? “Lobster linguini,” replied Mezzetti adding she buys the lobsters the same day. She cautioned though that patrons need to come in and order it early because “it runs out by early evening.” “We believe in what we do and we’ll keep doing it the same way,” Mezzetti said adding, “We have a strong restaurant, a strong family.” She also has a loyal clientele whom, Mezzetti said, “Love my food. They come here (from all over) to eat my food. They remember my food for years and years. It touches me so much.” The executive chef at Mamma Mia, Mezzetti once worked 18-hour days in the kitchen but has cooks assisting her now. “I work five or six nights a week in the kitchen,” she said. Mezzetti grew up cooking adding, “It’s always something I really liked to do.” She also is the daughter of a pilot who has sky dived extensively. “I had almost 600 jumps in Italy,” she said, but added the demands of business and family, and her other hobbies which include dancing and bodybuilding, leave her little time for other pursuits.  Mamma Mia Where: 1932 Balboa Ave. Hours: Tuesdays through Sundays 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. serving both lunch and dinner. Contact: (858) 272-2702, or www.mammamiaitalianrestaurant.com.
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