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    The mysterious jetty cats of Mission Beach
    by LAINIE FRASER
    Jul 28, 2016 | 1485 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    The feral cats on the jetty are usually friendly and often interact with fishermen. / Photo by Thomas Melville
    The feral cats on the jetty are usually friendly and often interact with fishermen. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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    The cats live and hide in the rocks of the jetty. / Photo by Thomas Melville
    The cats live and hide in the rocks of the jetty. / Photo by Thomas Melville
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    Six years ago Audrey Stratton made 85 feline friends on a walk around Mission Bay. Today, she works to help maintain their health and safety. The jetty at the end of Quivira Way in Mission Beach houses a colony of feral cats and has become a drop-off spot for people who can no longer care for their feline friends. According to Stratton, long before she found the cats, there was a colony of 25 living around the jetty. They were all neutered and tagged. As time went on, people began dropping their cats off and the feral population grew. By the time Stratton came around, there were 85 cats with a large population of them born and raised feral. Over the course of three months, she documented the cats in a binder with photographs and information on each one. “They are attracted to the jetty because of the amazing weather, social structure amongst other feral cats, fresh fish from the fishermen and, most importantly, a dedicated group of feeders who come daily to provide fresh food and water,” Stratton said. “I fish here every so often,” said James Harrodson, an Ocean Beach resident. “I see a couple of cats every time. They sit beside me because they are smart, you know, they know I am about to pull a fish out of the water or a potential lunch for them. They look rough but they are incredibly friendly.” When she first interacted with the cats, Stratton noticed that no one was helping them. Many of the cats had serious medical issues, some were struggling to recover from repeatedly birthing large litters and most of them had battle wounds from years of fighting. She learned that the City of San Diego was threatening to capture and euthanize the cats if no one presented an effective alternative. The alternative, Stratton determined, was a process used by many rescue organizations called TNR (trap-neuter-return). “The only solution is to TNR and maintain the colony until there are eventually no more cats,” Stratton said. With the help of the East County Animal Rescue and the Feline Cat Coalition, an organization of which Stratton is a board member, Stratton humanely traps, neuters and releases the animals, or completes TNR. The animals are tagged, given whatever medical attention they are in need of, and then released back to the jetty. The work done with the jetty cats has been recognized by other feral cat advocacy groups as a perfect example of successfully managing a colony through TNR. “We know our efforts are helping the situation because we have gone from 85 cats to 35 in just a few years,” Stratton said. Many of the feeders have bonded with the cats and feel responsible for their safety and well being. “All of the caregivers come on dedicated days of the week,” Stratton said. “I am there every Tuesday and occasionally stroll by on the weekends when I miss the kitties. There are four caregivers who come throughout the week.” While some people enjoy caring for and feeding the cats, others are more concerned about the condition of the jetty and the safety of the other wildlife in the area. Some of the usual complaints filed with Animal Services are concerned with the food that is left out for the cats. People are worried that the leftovers will attract rodents to the area, but the most common complaint has to do with the bird population. According to a study done by the Smithsonian and the Fish and Wildlife Service, feral cats are responsible for the death of thousands of birds each year. According to the San Diego Audubon Society, San Diego is home to a large variety of birds, many of which are already endangered. The fear many have is that these cats are contributing to the dwindling populations of many of these birds. According to Stratton, that does not seem plausible. “The jetty cats are fat and happy,” Stratton said. “I spend hours there every week and have never once seen a single cat kill a bird. Out of all the stretches of shores in the world, why can’t the cats have a few yards of it?” For those interested in feeding and or visiting the jetty cats, the caretakers have a few pieces of advice. The first is to never approach a cat too quickly or aggressively, this will scare the already skittish cats away and potentially instill a fear of humans. The second is to not approach them with the intent on picking them up or petting them. A fair and safe distance should be kept between the cat and the human. Allow the cat’s behavior to determine how the interaction will go. Finally, bring cat food and your patience. The best times to visit are in the early morning and just before sunset. According to Stratton, when a caretaker arrives or a fisherman selects a spot, the cats will come out. “If you spot a fisherman and sit near them for a little bit you are bound to see a cat appear,” Harrodson said. For up to date information on the cats, to get involved, or to report an injured cat, visit the Facebook page Jetty Cats – San Diego. For more information about the Feral Cat Coalition or to donate, visit www.feralcat.com.
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    Buccaneer to represent Pacific Beach at Rio Paralympics
    by DAVE THOMAS
    Jul 25, 2016 | 10955 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Partnered with Massachusetts resident Maureen McKinnon (she won gold in the SKUD-18 at the 2008 Games in Beijing), Ryan Porteous (right) is more than happy to represent the United States.
    Partnered with Massachusetts resident Maureen McKinnon (she won gold in the SKUD-18 at the 2008 Games in Beijing), Ryan Porteous (right) is more than happy to represent the United States.
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    Ryan Porteous
    Ryan Porteous
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    It can be easy for many individuals when the chips are down to fold their tents and go home. That said, many others will stand and fight. Such is the case with one Mission Bay High grad, a young man who chose to make a stand when life presented him with a very serious challenge. For Pacific Beach native Ryan Porteous, his introduction to the college world was not what any young man (or woman for that matter) would envision. In 2011, after graduating from Mission Bay High (second in his class) and being named Male Athlete of the Year (he lettered three years on the football team), life would soon change. Porteous was injured during a fall on a boat dock in his early days at the University of California Santa Barbara (still a student there), a spinal cord injury that led to partial paralysis. While his body changed, his mind made up of determination and accomplishing things in life did not. Porteous persevered despite his injury, working hard enough to earn a spot this year on the U.S. Paralympics team that will compete in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The former Buccaneer will be representing his country in the SKUD 18 class sailboat two-person competition. He and his sailing partner were recently victorious in the U.S. Sailing Paralympic Athlete Selection Series for the two-person keelboat competition. Partnered with Massachusetts resident Maureen McKinnon (she won gold in the SKUD-18 at the 2008 Games in Beijing), Porteous is more than happy to represent the United States, noting that it was both a relief and an accomplishment to earn the right to be going to Rio 2016 this September. Porteous, who has also represented Mission Bay Yacht Club in his sailing ventures over the years, is not one to quit. As he mentioned online, “Though this injury has been a life-changing experience, I approach it with optimism. Being the athletic person I was before, I also knew I had to get back out there and renew my passion for sports. Sailing has been a perfect fit.” Better yet, Porteous can be an inspiration for others who have been placed in challenging situations for one reason or another. “Much of what we see depends largely on what we look for. Look for the good stuff, accentuate the positive and press on,” he adds. Porteous will be doing just that come September in Rio and for many years to come.
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    DecoBike plans to add more beach bike stations
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Jul 25, 2016 | 1559 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Some business owners and residents are upset that DecoBikes placed stations on the boardwalk in Pacific Beach. More are on the way for beach communities. / Photo By Thomas Melville
    Some business owners and residents are upset that DecoBikes placed stations on the boardwalk in Pacific Beach. More are on the way for beach communities. / Photo By Thomas Melville
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    The battle to remove two existing DecoBike stations on Pacific Beach's boardwalk continues despite city opposition and amid reports that the bike-sharing company may be further expanding its coastal network. On July 20, community activists Alan Harris and Jennifer Tandy addressed Pacific Beach Town Council about an ongoing petition drive opposing PB boardwalk's commercialization. Following that meeting, Harris noted a petition drive opposing boardwalk DecoBike stations had garnered about 3,000 signatures in just three of four weeks. Harris said the objective is clear. “We want to see the two stations on the boardwalk get relocated,” he said pointing out beach residents have had multiple meetings with both DecoBike and the city. Harris and other residents addressed the City Council recently about their opposition to boardwalk DecoBike stations. Told by the city that those stations were “lucrative,” Harris said they also learned DecoBike wants to increase, to 20, the number of its coastal bike stations between Ocean Beach and La Jolla. “Those stations were never planned, they were never shown to anybody in the community,” noted Harris. “We've been fighting them for a little over a year since they were first installed on the boardwalk.” Brian Curry, Pacific Beach Planning Group chair, said the city advisory group remains “opposed to DecoBike on our boardwalk and in tourist-oriented locations which compete with our small-business owners. The city is committed to running the program without public subsidy. Unfortunately, the city position results in a subsidy being paid by our local bike shop rental business owners.” According to city spokeswoman Katie Keach, as additional sites are considered throughout the city for a functional bike sharing network, no additional stations will be constructed on the boardwalk. Because the existing boardwalk stations are key to the network, the city will not move them. Florida-based DecoBike signed a 10-year contract with the city of San Diego and spent $8 million setting up bike share infrastructure citywide. After more than a year of delays, DecoBike opened its first rental stations in January 2015. During its first year of operations, DecoBike sold 102,641 rides and 697 memberships in San Diego, according to its annual report. Rides ranged from $5 for 30 minutes to a $125 annual membership. By comparison, the bike share program Citi Bike in New York City sold almost 4 million rides and more than 85,000 memberships in the first three months after it opened in 2013. Melinda Pederson, administrative manager for DecoBike San Diego, previously said the number of rides sold in San Diego is "lower than we would have liked” but added that is "not unusual for the first year of a bike-share program.” Asked about rumors that DecoBike might be asking the city for a “bailout,” Pederson replied, “We have never asked for any such payment, nor do we intend to. Our agreement with the city is that we will privately fund the bike share program and they will allow us to install stations in the public right-of-way. They also allow us to install ad panels and sell ad space to offset the cost of running the system.” Concerning the PB boardwalk stations, Pederson added, “They are very important to the bike share system. Those two stations consistently rank in our top five busiest stations, and there are no plans to move either of them.” Pederson said, prior to installing the two boardwalk stations, that DecoBike revised its station plan in response to community concerns.  “We reduced the number of stations to be installed on the boardwalk, and we reduced the station size,” she said. “Unfortunately, I can't give you any specifics on upcoming installations just yet. We have been working very closely with the city to agree upon sites for the next phase of installation. “The city has been meeting with local community groups to review locations and take their input into consideration as well. Once we have approval from the city on the new locations, we will make an announcement. "We are optimistic about the future of the program and we are looking forward to launching the next phase of installation," said Pederson. San Diego does not pay for the bike share program, but instead allows DecoBike to set up rental kiosks on city property. The city gets $25,000 from the company in the first year, and then either a portion of the company’s sales or an annual payment of up to $175,000 – whichever is higher – for 10 years.
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    Glamour, film and celebs to descend on La Jolla for International Fashion Film Festival
    by TERRI STANLEY
    Jul 22, 2016 | 2603 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    When the 2016 La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival gets rolling in a few weeks it promises to be the most glamorous, well attended, artistic, and important edition of the annual gathering to date. Filmmakers, media and film festival jurors will fly in from across the globe for the three-day event, which runs from July 28 through 30, to meet and connect in this burgeoning art genre called the “fashion film.” The festival shows only short films, usually less than five minutes in length, in which fashion plays an important part or has some significance and are meant to emotionally connect the viewer to the fashion brand that creates the film. Several of the films that will screen this year will be world premieres and the first time the public will be able to see them. Known as the “Cannes of the fashion film world,” the festival has two films that previewed at Cannes this year, highlighting the creativity and talent this festival attracts. Because the LJIFFF has completed its seventh year, it is now eligible to become an Academy Award-qualifying film festival, which means more recognition for the filmmakers and more importantly, if they win one of the International Fashion Film Awards, known as the IFFA’s, at the festival, those films are then eligible for an Academy Award nomination and possible Oscar. The brainchild of Fred Sweet, a longtime La Jolla resident and owner of San Diego Model Management, the largest SAG/AFTRA model and talent agency south of LA, the LJIFFF will feature many events that include screenings, seminars and a Red Carpet award night at the Museum of Contemporary Art on Prospect Street. “It’s a world-class festival and our people are fabulous,” says Sweet. “La Jolla is an exotic location with great energy and I am very proud of it. People come from all over the world to meet and there are many collaborations that have resulted over the years, which is extremely satisfying to me.” Installations created by artists from Mexico, Paris, New York and Italy will be on display at the ultra-sophisticated restaurant The Lot, which will also host the after-parties. Sweet describes the drive that fueled the project from the beginning as something bordering on obsession, but in reality he has taken the LJIFFF from an insider industry celebration of editorial fashion shoots brought to life through video online to the recognized premier fashion film festival in the world. When asked about the surging popularity of this budding art genre among filmmakers, Sweet explains the rise and importance of the fashion film. “As power in Hollywood has swung to the creative class, the demand for quality content has exploded,” he said. “Most fashion films are sponsored by fashion brands, however many are made to showcase the creative and production skills of their directors. “La Jolla has emerged as the proving ground for cutting-edge creatives worldwide to have their work seen by the new global content distributors. It is a wide-open industry at the beginning of its life.” With more than 11,000 submissions this year, the jurors narrowed the field down to 100 short films vying for 19 coveted awards. The LJIFFF is a global event and artists and filmmakers from Russia, China, South America, Sweden, New York and Hollywood will be among the several representing their work and vying to leave with an IFFA. Two screenings will be held at the Museum of Contemporary Art and are free and open to the public, as well as a red carpet event prior to Saturday night’s award ceremony, which is invitation only. The communities of La Jolla and San Diego are invited to attend the red carpet event and meet the directors, actors, artists and industry people who will be available to discuss their work. Sweet describes the red carpet as more beautiful than most and one that can rival any red carpet in Hollywood on any given night. “We’re not at the stage where you’re going to see Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt but we like to say we’re the red carpet for everyone else,” says Sweet. “We attract so many people from all over the world who deserve recognition for their amazing work.” While all of the nominated submissions are undoubtedly artistic, visionary and inspirational, a few of them stand out for their originality and sheer beauty. Nominated for eight awards, Dutch director Ester Dorhaut Mees’ film “Nubivagant” brings stunning imagery through movement to the screen using animalistic illusion as silhouettes. The film “Sulpher” by award-winning Hollywood director Michael Sanchez provides a vivid stylistic contrast as his film explores a forbidden virtual love story between two avatars as they escape their own reality into the next. The fusion of art and fashion lends itself to provocative, sensual images combined with a creative narrative that should appeal to anyone with an interest in art, film and fashion. The LJIFFF is unique in that it is privately funded by a small group Sweet put together as well as a few anonymous donors in the community, who appreciate what he and his team are doing. He says he is acutely aware of the authenticity and purity of the LJIFFF and at this point is not entertaining the idea of bringing sponsors on board to absorb some of the costs and potentially profit on the event, though he has been approached many times. Sweet’s emphasis is on maintaining its credibility and is most interested in the quality of the people attending. “Everyone gets one go-round in their life and I wanted to create a festival that is unique in the world and uncommercialized,” Sweet says, “but who knows what the future holds? Our goal is to support independent, creative professionals around the globe and if a potential sponsor is aligned with those core values then I would say sure, let’s talk.” Many elements of the festival are free and open to the public. For a full event schedule go to www.ljfff.com/interactive-event-schedule-ljifff-2016/.
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    Point Loma High grad sailing to Rio as an Olympian
    by LAINIE FRASER
    Jul 19, 2016 | 38515 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Briana Provancha (right) will be representing the United States and San Diego while sailing in the 2016 Summer Olympic games in Brazil with her long time teammate and friend Annie Haeger. / Photo by Onne van der Wal
    Briana Provancha (right) will be representing the United States and San Diego while sailing in the 2016 Summer Olympic games in Brazil with her long time teammate and friend Annie Haeger. / Photo by Onne van der Wal
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    Briana Provancha (left) with her long time teammate and friend Annie Haeger. / Photo by Will Ricketson
    Briana Provancha (left) with her long time teammate and friend Annie Haeger. / Photo by Will Ricketson
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    Team Haeger Provancha is bringing a little Point Loma to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympic Games this summer. Briana Provancha will be representing the United States and San Diego while sailing in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil with her long time teammate and friend Annie Haeger. Provancha started sailing at the age of 8 when a family friend introduced her to the sport, an opportunity she says she is forever thankful for. “My dad, my sister and I went to the Mission Bay Yacht Club a lot with a family friend,” Provancha said. “They had bay races every Sunday and one day the crew didn’t show up. They asked if I would race and then asked me back every Sunday after that.” Born and raised in San Diego, Provancha sailed competitively through high school at the Southwestern Yacht Club in Point Loma. According to Provancha, the more time she spent involved in the sport the deeper her love for it grew. “When sailing there is this feeling of being in control of your own destiny,” she said. “Very few 8-year-olds get that awesome feeling.” While attending Point Loma High, Provancha started to make a name for herself in the competitive sailing world. She won four national high school sailing championships and qualified for the ISAF Youth World team in 2005, 2006 and 2007. By the time she was 16, Provancha had successfully competed in races around the world. The Point Loma High graduate then went on to Boston College where she sailed for five years and officially partnered with her current teammate Haeger. At Boston College, team Haeger Provancha proved to be a force to be reckoned with. “When sailing with a teammate, communication is everything and that comes with its challenges but it has been wonderful sharing this experience with someone,” said Provancha. “I am so thankful for Annie.” Provancha lead the Boston College sailing team to seven national titles and she received numerous awards from the school including Women’s MVP and Outstanding Senior. “There were people at BC that believed in me from the moment my freshman year started,” Provancha said. “I and they believed this was my path and we made sure I was prepared for the Olympic process.” In 2012, Provancha graduated from Boston College with a bachelor of science in marketing and the Olympics in her sights. In April, she and Haeger qualified for the Summer Games, a reality Provancha said she doesn’t think she will ever get used to. “Every kid watches the opening ceremonies and wonders what that experience must be like,” Provancha said. “I can’t wait to walk in next to Annie and I am excited to share this moment with those in my life who have made sacrifices, particularly my family.” Team Haeger Provancha will sail for gold in August. They both can be easily spotted by the white zinc they wear on their faces. “My dad was a stickler for sunscreen growing up, but after a while you can’t tell if it’s still on,” she said, “When you spend three to six hours out on the water you need to be protected and zinc works perfectly because you can see it. Now it is just part of our routine and you’ll definitely see it in Rio.” Provancha is excited for what the United States team as a whole has to offer at this year’s games and said the vibe across the board is great. “It’s all about the path and where you come from,” Provancha said. “San Diego is one of the best sailing communities and one of the best overall communities and I am honored to represent the United States and San Diego in the games. It would be great to bring a medal home.”
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