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    SeaWorld argue virtues, demerits on planned expansion of orca habitat
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Jan 16, 2015 | 24731 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    The new orca enclosure at SeaWorld will be expanded by 350 feet across.
    The new orca enclosure at SeaWorld will be expanded by 350 feet across.
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    Is SeaWorld’s plan to nearly double the size of its killer whale enclosure a step forward or a token response to negative feedback from the documentary “Blackfish,” which called the marine park’s business practices into question? That debate was rejoined Jan. 6, when SeaWorld representatives and animal-rights activists from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) renewed their debate over the marine park’s “Blue World Project” at a meeting of the Mission Bay Park Committee in Mission Beach. Announced last year, the project is a master-planned expansion of the park’s killer whale environment. “We’re going to replace the existing pool in the same place, making it 50 feet deep and 350 feet across,” said SeaWorld spokesman Jerry Howes about the park’s expansion plans to reconfigure the orca habitat by 2018. Details on the project, an informational item only before the park committee, will be presented to the California Coastal Commission for review later this year. Animal-rights activists view SeaWorld’s expansion plans as a negative. “This is clearly a drop in the bucket, a desperate maneuver by SeaWorld to turn back the hands of time when people are learning about the suffering that these orcas go through in captivity,” argued PETA campaigner and spokesman Matt Bruce during broadcast interviews prior to the committee hearing. “It is fluff for visitors and does nothing for the orcas who are still confined to small, barren concrete tanks that they have to swim in in circles with chemically treated water. Even if you make the prison bigger, it’s still a prison.” A handful of PETA protestors stood outside and inside the Santa Clara Recreation Center, where the park committee meeting was held, holding signs protesting orcas being held in captivity, which activists contend is a “failed business model.” “We’re kind of changing our business model right now, building twice as big a habitat for the killer whales, making sure they continue to stay happy, breed and their numbers grow,” answered Mike Scarpuzzi, SeaWorld’s vice president of zoological operations, who defended SeaWorld’s expansion plans as “the best thing for the animals.” Scarpuzzi characterized PETA opposition as “radicals with an extreme point of view that we don’t accept.” Asked about the timing of the orca habitat expansion, coming in the wake of public blowback from “Blackfish” and declining profits from SeaWorld’s three U.S. marine parks, Scarpuzzi said it was “more coincidental than anything. “I’ve been here almost 40 years, and there’s always ebbs and flows in any business,” he said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that SeaWorld is going to be strong and we’re going to continue.” Scarpuzzi added this is the fourth planned expansion of SeaWorld’s orca habitat. He pointed out development of large-scale projects like Blue Ocean “take time,” adding that “we’ve been talking about this expansion for many years.” PETA has challenged the ethics of keeping killer whales captive and profiting from their alleged commercial exploitation in public shows, brought to a flashpoint by the critical documentary “Blackfish.” Bruce noted killer whales dive up to 1,000 feet deep in the wild and swim up to 100 miles a day. “They would have to swim 1,500 laps in their expanded tanks to approximate what they would swim in the wild,” Bruce said. “So this isn’t anything to do with making lives better for these animals.” Scarpuzzi added SeaWorld is now into its fourth generation of orcas bred in captivity in the park, noting the most recent baby was born just 32 days ago. “Killer whales don’t breed if they’re unhappy,” Scarpuzzi contended. “These animals were born and raised here, and now they have their families here.” Asked his impression of “Blackfish,” Scarpuzzi described it as “one truth… Yes, somebody died, but all the rest… is a lot misrepresentations and, frankly, a lot of lies.” Scarpuzzi said the marine park’s main concern is “about our animals and giving them the best environment we possibly can.” Bruce attacked the Blue World Project labeling it as “unnatural” and not in the best interest of killer whales. “If SeaWorld is really interested in changing their image and doing the right thing by these animals, they would release them to seaside sanctuaries, where they can feel the ocean surround them and where they can hear the cries of distant relatives and maybe one day swim free with them,” Bruce said. Asked about SeaWorld’s characterization of them as “radical,” Bruce replied, “There’s nothing radical about caring for these animals, wanting them to be left in the wild to live their lives as nature intended. What is radical is capturing these animals in the wild, artificially inseminating them and forcing them to live in small tanks that are the human equivalent of a bathtub, then forcing them to do tricks for crowds of screaming people.”
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    Guilty plea entered in CHP vehicle theft
    Jan 16, 2015 | 588 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    A handcuffed Casaundra Rose Lane drove off in a CHP vehicle like this one.
    A handcuffed Casaundra Rose Lane drove off in a CHP vehicle like this one.
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    A female prisoner who drove off in a California Highway Patrol vehicle in Mission Bay while handcuffed pleaded guilty Jan. 6 to theft of an emergency services vehicle. Casaundra Rose Lane, 27, also pleaded guilty to felony evasion of police with reckless driving during the Nov. 6 incident, which ended after she collided with three cars at Friars Road and Qualcomm Way in Mission Valley. Lane also pleaded guilty to two counts of assault with a deadly weapon—the CHP vehicle she drove off in. She slipped her handcuffed hands in front of her and slid from the back into the front seat. The seats did not have bars between them. Lane agreed to accept a prison sentence of four years and eight months, said Deputy District Attorney Michael Runyon. Sentencing was set for Feb. 24 before San Diego Superior Court Judge Robert O’Neill. “It’s really a bad idea to steal a patrol vehicle,” said Runyon to reporters afterwards. “Theft of a police car is certainly unusual.” The theft drew a heavy law enforcement presence, as there was a rifle inside the car. Although Lane was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition, that count was dismissed Jan.. 6. Runyon said Lane didn’t gain access to the rifle. The incident started after Lane was arrested for auto theft when a CHP officer found that a stolen vehicle had collided with street signs in Mission Bay. Lane was placed in the back seat of the vehicle, and after the officer stepped away, she drove off. The officer fired shots as she drove off. Runyon said Lane drove more than 70 miles an hour, while still handcuffed, on Interstate 5 to state Route 163 and to Interstate 8 until she struck three vehicles in Mission Valley. The car was disabled, and Lane was arrested. One man in a car Lane struck was injured. Lane remains in the Las Colinas Women’s Detention Facility on $255,000 bail. She has a previous conviction for felony possession of heroin. – Neal Putnam
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    'Perfect storm' of planning and community involvement hailed as PB, MB head into busy 2015
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Jan 16, 2015 | 2261 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    'Pothole Patrol' will command a lot of Councilwoman Lorie Zapf's time in 2015.
    'Pothole Patrol' will command a lot of Councilwoman Lorie Zapf's time in 2015.
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    A new councilmember and a more environmentally sustainable approach to community development marked the numerous changes in the make-ups of Pacific and Mission beaches in 2014, and the communities hope for more as they head into the new year. 2015 promises to be a busy one for freshly minted Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, whose District 2 covers the beachfront. Her citywide policy priorities include “finding a solution to our SDPD recruitment and retention problems, increasing the City’s emergency preparedness and resources for our Office of Homeland Security and partnering with MTS to increase transportation options for seniors who can no longer drive.” The Republican also has a number of district-specific priorities. Among them are a “new policy for vacation rentals to protect neighborhood residents.” Zapf said she also intends to lead the charge on plans for potential new uses of the De Anza property while assisting with the creation of the new Point Loma Business Improvement District. She also plans to bring her successful “Pothole Patrol” program to District 2, where her staff proactively reports potholes in the district and gets them in the queue to be fixed. She also will be hosting regular office hours at locations throughout the district to give residents “increased access to their elected official in City Hall.” Chris Olson, a member of beautiful PB and the Pacific Beach Planning Group, gazed into his crystal ball and saw big things ahead. “The perfect storm for planning the Pacific Beach EcoDistrict is arriving on our shores this year,” Olson said. “It is my wish that people catch the wave of community involvement by committing to one or more of the following: educate themselves on the opportunities in our community; join, volunteer for and/or support a community group; attend community meetings and workshops; participate in online surveys/forums on community issues; and encourage our students to get involved in planning the future of their community.” Olson said the top planning opportunities for Pacific Beach community involvement in 2015 include: • Identifying short- and long-term locations for urban agriculture/community gardens, which are in high demand; • Beginning plans for the Pacific Beach Mobility Study if the City wins the $500,000 grant submitted for it, in which case planning will begin for the PB Parks project, including boardwalk widening and a mobility hub at Mission Boulevard to improve infrastructure and increase beach access via multi-modal linkages to the Balboa Trolley Station; • Submitting proposals in February for joint occupancy development at Barnard Asian Pacific Language Academy, plans for which includes a large section along Rose Creek; • Beginning layout of signage and road markers on selected routes of PB Pathways, a network of safe neighborhood routes for pedestrians, while the planning continues for future routes and related improvements; • Finalizing PB Planning Group recommendations for short-term vacation rentals in early 2015 (nothing will change unless the community continues to put pressure on the mayor and City Council); • Taking the finalized joint occupancy agreement between PB Middle School and the YMCA from concept to design; • Amid the De Anza settlement, begin planning the future of Pacific Beach along the eastern bayfront, with possibilities to include De Anza, Campland, Mission Bay Golf Course and other facilities surrounding Mission Bay High School; • Recognizing that every community group has a role in the City of San Diego’s Climate Action Plan, expected to be finalized and adopted in 2015 (the Pacific Beach EcoDistrict is expected to be a leader for CAP strategies); and • Using the $900,000 Sustainable Communities Planning Grant to engage the community in planning transit-oriented development adjacent to the Balboa trolley station, including the eastern portion of Pacific Beach between the I-5 and Rose Creek. “All of these opportunities can be guided by strong community engagement,” concluded Olson. Karin Zirk, founder of the nonprofit environmental group Friends of Rose Creek, said there are a couple of “carryover” issues form 2014 to be addressed. “We’d like to obtain Dedicated Parkland Status for the orphan stretch of Rose Creek,” Zirk said, noting the City of San Diego and the Stormwater and Transportation Department need to survey the land and identify assessor parcel numbers for dedication. “The roughly $300,000 price tag for this is in the proposed budget for the next fiscal year,” Zirk said, adding that parkland dedication will ensure “Rose Creek can fulfill its promise of functioning as a linear park, with bike trails that connect PB and Mission Bay Park with Clairemont and University City. We feel this fits in perfectly with San Diego Audubon's grant to look at restoration possibilities for the mouth of Rose Creek, the De Anza Cove and Campland areas.” Friends also wishes to build its membership base this year and find funding to hire a coordinator for the Rose Creek Watershed. Funding for the existing position ended at the end of 2014. Friends also announced that it will participate in this year's Creek to Bay Cleanup, set for Saturday, April 25.
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    Paris tragedies, triumph: The lesson isn't lost on San Diego
    by MARTIN JONES WESTLIN
    Jan 13, 2015 | 12401 views | 1 1 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Millions marched in Paris on Jan. 11 in defense of speech freedom following an attack on a satirical newspaper and a subsequent shootout that left a total of 20 dead. COURTESY PHOTO
    Millions marched in Paris on Jan. 11 in defense of speech freedom following an attack on a satirical newspaper and a subsequent shootout that left a total of 20 dead. COURTESY PHOTO
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    Don't look now (unless you somehow find yourself duly compelled), but I’m off to France for most of July to help recast a big farmhouse outside Bordeaux into a bigger live-in education and community center. The project is in the southwest commune of Brossac, and this is great for two reasons: I'll get a hard-won taste of true rural life (Brossac, a farming town, holds just over 500), and my workmates come from around the world, which means I'll be that much less conspicuous amid my totally suckworthy French. Tiny, windswept Brossac is a cultural solar system away from Paris, the Western world's premiere historical landmark – but even as six months will have passed, both locales will operate in lockstep following the horrific Jan. 7 massacre of 17 innocents and the police killings of three perpetrators of the crimes. What began as a mass murder at a controversial Paris newspaper morphed into the latest installment in religious fervor gone mad, with satirical cartoons of Islam’s prophet Mohammed fueling two battles of almost Shakespearean proportions. Nearly 90,000 French forces were involved in the aftermath, with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls declaring Jan. 10 that France is at “war” with radical Islam. Charlie Hebdo (“Charlie Weekly”), the paper at the center of the tragedies, normally circulates 30,000 copies every Wednesday. This week’s edition was to have rolled out at an unbelievable 3 million, a figure eclipsed by the nearly 4 million (about a third of Paris’ metropolitan population) who on Jan. 11 swelled the country’s streets in defiant, jubilant defense of freedom of expression the world over. Some 40 world leaders walked among the crowds, arms linked in a rare show of unity (President Obama's absolutely unbelievable absence notwithstanding). “Je suis Charlie,” or “I am Charlie,” became the mantra of choice in Paris and in cities from Beirut to Tokyo, and “Le Marseillaise,” the French national anthem, totally hit the top of the charts. In the blink of an adoring public eye, France’s 9/11 had morphed into a political Woodstock. The upshot from the bloodshed wasn’t lost on San Diego, whose House of France in Balboa Park was the scene of a hastily arranged candlelight vigil on Jan. 8. On the day of the Paris rally, about 125 showed their solidarity at the park – and perhaps no presence was more reassuring than that of Taha Hassane, director and imam at the Islamic Center of San Diego, who participated in both rallies. “I’m against injustice,” he said in a published report. “I’m against crimes committed in the name of my faith, in the name of the God that I worship, in the name of the prophet that I follow. Extremism and terrorism have no religion, no culture except the culture of hate.” French President François Hollande isn’t highly thought of by his people, but it’s a cinch he carried himself every inch the statesman Jan. 11, when he declared that “Today, Paris is capital of the world.” And so it has been for centuries as the signature city of about 40 peace treaties since 1229. By contrast, little Brossac became a commune in 1793 and has never had more than 1,200 residents at one time. But this is one of those cases where size, thankfully, doesn’t matter. Paris, Brossac and every French city in between stand shoulder to shoulder as this moment’s true leaders of the free world. Just as I’m elated at their courage, I am sorely shaken amid my own devastation at the attack on a free press and the loss of life. I am rapt with anticipation of my trip and my hosts’ colossal resolve, writ bold and extra-large Jan. 11 on the world stage. And even as my French is well-near hopeless, I am beside myself with pride for a nation that fuels mankind with its almost unimaginable presence, dispensing hope and humanity as freely as an impoverished world can scare draw its sustenance. Je suis Charlie. Martin Jones Westlin is editor of La Jolla Village News, sister paper of Beach & Bay Press.
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    labeach
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    January 15, 2015
    Thank you for this insightful and poignant article. Somehow you have captured the pain we share with the venerable country of France during this most recent terrorist attack against artist/journalists of the press, like a knife in the heart of a country at the forefront of liberty and humanity, that has sheltered more refugees and immigrants of all creeds and colors than any other...

    Not to confuse kindness with weakness, as the french say:

    Revenge is a dish best eaten cold.

    "La revanche est un plat qui se mange froid."

    Civil penalties assesed in pot dispensary flap
    Jan 02, 2015 | 13874 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    A landlord who repeatedly allowed illegal marijuana dispensaries to operate from his San Diego properties will pay the City $250,000 as a civil penalty, with an additional civil penalty of $300,000 suspended by the Court so long as he complies with the terms of the stipulated judgment. John Nobel has been named in numerous actions by the City Attorney’s Office as it cracks down on unpermitted dispensaries. As part of a global stipulated court judgment of those cases, Nobel was assessed $550,000 in civil penalties, with $300,000 of that amount suspended, and was ordered to pay the City for investigative costs of $8,000. The penalties include $80,000 of a $120,000 judgment that previously was awarded the City and that Nobel had appealed. (Amid a certain stated potential for confusion, Nobel is distinct from John Noble, of Coastal Sage Gardening.) Under the terms of the stipulated final judgment, Nobel may be forced to pay the $300,000 suspended penalty if any of his properties is used for any unlawful marijuana operations or for any use not permitted by the City. In addition, he must ensure that any remaining dispensaries vacate his properties, and he must remove their fixtures, effects and signage. Failure to abide by the stipulated court judgment may also result in a contempt of court citation. The penalty is the largest attained by the City Attorney’s Office since it began using civil enforcement action against dispensaries that operate in violation of City zoning regulations. The City Attorney’s Office has closed down more than 200 dispensaries in the past four years. In that time, Nobel-owned properties in Pacific Beach, the Midway district and North Park were leased to dispensary operators despite the fact that they were not allowed under zoning laws. Four dispensaries operated from a building on Rosecrans Street that is 600 feet from an elementary school, a violation of state law. When an illegal dispensary case is referred to the City Attorney’s Office by the City’s code enforcement division, a court order to close the dispensary is usually obtained within 30 days. The City Attorney’s Office can later seek permanent injunctions and penalties against the property owners and dispensary operators. In cases such as this, where property owners continue to violate the law despite court injunctions, the City often seeks the maximum permissible civil penalties. To date, City Attorney’s Office enforcement actions have resulted in court awards of more than $1.1 million in civil penalties. “This case underscores that landlords will be held accountable for renting to illegal marijuana dispensaries,” City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said. “There is a process in place for legally zoned dispensaries and that process should be followed.” Nobel was not the sole defendant in any of the 12 cases, as all complaints also named Mahin Nobel. Some also named co-owners Parviz Hakakha and Judith Hakakha. Others named co-owners David Abeles and Melody Abeles. The settlement resolves cases against the following dispensaries in Pacific Beach and the Midway district (principal defendants in parentheses): · San Diego Organic Wellness, 1150 Garnet Ave. (John Nobel, Mahin Nobel); · Fresh Alternative Consulting, Inc., 3045 Rosecrans St., #208 (John Nobel, Mahin Nobel, Parviz Hakakha, Judith Hakakha); · Green Wellness Association, Inc., 3045 Rosecrans St., #207 (John Nobel, Mahin Nobel, Parviz Hakakha, Judith Hakakha); · SB Health, Inc., 3045 Rosecrans St., #310 (John Nobel, Mahin Nobel, Parviz Hakakha, Judith Hakakha); · S.C.C.G., Inc., 3045 Rosecrans St., #214 (John Nobel, Mahin Nobel, Parviz Hakakha, Judith Hakakha); · PB 45 CAP, Inc., 4688 Cass St. (John Nobel, Mahin Nobel); · Lemoin Corp, 936 Garnet St. (John Nobel, Mahin Nobel, David Abeles, Melody Abeles); · Patient Med Aid, 2015 Garnet Ave. (John Nobel, Mahin Nobel); and · Dank on Turquoise, Inc., 841 Turquoise St., (John Nobel, Mahin Nobel) Complaints regarding marijuana dispensaries may be referred to the Code Enforcement Division of the City at (619) 236-5500.
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    News
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