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Stories by Mike Madriaga

Mid-city Ambassador chases down trans prostitutes

"They now take their johns up to Polk Avenue"

On March 26, Edwin Lohr was a panelist at the Prostitution Impact Panel at the police store front near 54th Street and University Avenue. “I am getting educated and we are telling these johns, 'You ...

WonderCon — the way Comic-Con used to be

25-30 percent from San Diego

“I think the WonderCon is better than San Diego Comic-Con because I have the experience from remembering the old days,” said Anastasia Hunter, “the San Diego show is not fun anymore.” Hunter, 44, drove up ...

Blood from head to toe

You see coral reefs at Rock Bottoms

I met Chris Duenas and his son Jonah on the north side of the Imperial Beach Pier. Before our interview, the waves were about three feet, and Jonah just wiped out on his boogie board ...

Matthew Philbin — landlord to the homeless

Rent control without being told to do so

Matthew Philbin just turned 30 years old on March 18. He celebrated his birthday by hopping into his lifted Dodge Ram truck and picking up one of his new tenants. “I pick them up with ...

Giovanni's leaves cribbage fans homeless

But they get better deal at Filippi's

Every Tuesday at 6 p.m. Brenda Nason met with about eight others to play Cribbage at Giovanni’s Restaurant on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard and Ruffin Road behind the Carl’s Jr. On Tuesday, March 13, the group ...

Upstream cigarette butts

How to get them on University before they hit Chollas Creek

Last year, 32,247 cigarette butts were collected from the San Diego beach cleanups, according to the San Diego Coast Keeper data numbers. The City Heights Business Association and I Love A Clean San Diego are ...

People will be held liable for what they say

Dog Beach jetty is my favorite spot

Name: Timothy “Harps” Harper Age: 44 From: Pacific Beach Location: Ocean Beach Pier Occupation: Disabled combat veteran for the U.S. Army/college student I saw Harps on the north side of the Ocean Beach pier on ...

Parking tangles at South Bay Swap Meet

Guards protect neighbors

Luis Villa-Lopez said that he catches over 20 patrons per day that come into the South Bay Swap Meet — without paying. “On Wednesday it’s only $1 to come in,” he said. “They sneak in ...

Why not Sherman Heights?

A resting place for homeless stuff

Matt Armstrong found a booby trap in Manzanita Canyon on March 6. “It was a fishing line with two syringes across the doorway,” Armstrong said. “I noticed the trap straight away as soon as I ...

Dodge Ram trucks stolen for their Cummins motors

Catalytic converters sell for good money on eBay.

On February 26, there were three auto thefts that were reported within a 2 mile radius in North Park. One theft in particular, was for the truck’s sought after motor. “The Cummins engines are valuable,” ...

Hurt in backflip by I.B. pier

"Had to spend a week flat on my back”

Name: Paloma Aguirre Bacalski Age: 40 From: Imperial Beach Location: Imperial Beach Pier Occupation: Coastal and marine director for Wildcoast Paloma Aguirre Bacalski was one of about 12 that paddled out in honor of Doug ...

Nice bruise

Mission Beach jetty has the best left along this whole coastline

Name: Kian Barker Age: 13 From: North Park Occupation: 7th grade student At dusk, I saw Kian Reese Barker loading his six-foot Mitsven surfboard into his dad’s truck parked by the South Mission Beach jetty. ...

Trash-can salvage 101

The drill-hole method, the plastic wrap, the zip-tie, duct tape, epoxy...

Last year, NBC 7 San Diego reported that “The San Diego City Council decided [June 27] that residents will still have to pay to replace damaged trash bins, despite a county Grand Jury recommendation that ...

Doggone Game of Thrones...

TV show sparks popularity of dogs — and dog-nappings?

“Lily was last seen being taken from our yard on Thursday [February 15] by a caucasian male, medium build, [in his] late 20s to early 30s,” Ivan Kanzaki said. “He then led [our Siberian husky] ...

Comic-hoarder’s hell is a Poway picker’s heaven

“It’s hard for me to get excited, but I got excited with this comic deal.”

Recently, a Poway thrift-store owner made what’s being called the biggest score in local comics trading history when he bought the collection of a deceased L.A.-area hoarder. “The house is an extreme case [of a] ...

Homeless dwellings of some permanence

“The fire department knows about all of these guys."

Matt Armstrong and Cindi Lapio have been noticing more permanent structures being built in their neighborhood canyons and ridges. Armstrong is a 51-year-old martial arts instructor who cleaned out more than 2000 pounds of trash ...

Cyanide in my pasalubong

Gift of cigars from Philippines has dire warnings not everyone worries about

“Trip out on this, bro,” Ed said as he pulled out a Coronas Sumatra cigar box that was labeled with “stroke” on the front and “cyanide” on the side. On February 4, we were at ...

Club Iggy's burned on verge of 2018 season

"All we have are Polaroid pictures of the tequila poppers, the piña coladas."

On the morning of January 20th, Club Iggy’s, located at 11337 Avenida Coronado, Rosarito, was burned to the ground. “Maybe because the club was made pretty much of all with wood and logs,” said Carlos ...

Rusty perfect for Coronado

Phoenix high school girl comes once a month

Name: Kali Recker Age: 17 From: Coronado Shores and Phoenix Location: Coronado Beach Occupation: Junior in high school On New Year’s day, there were hundreds of people out in the water behind the Hotel Del ...

Seniors try to save old Adams Avenue cop shop

New one to be built on same block

John Hartley wants the San Diego Police Department to return to the Adams Avenue storefront that he helped create in 1993. On January 22nd, he received a letter from the office of councilmember Chris Ward ...

Worst wipe-out was in Peru

Immigrant likes Hospitals and Horseshoe best

Name: Benjamin Age: 46 From: La Jolla Occupation: Real estate agent I saw Benjamin by his vehicle at Hospitals in La Jolla. It was one of the last days of 2017 and it was 74 ...

Cat on a wet tile roof rescued 10 days later

Rotisserie chicken bait on edge, tuna water on ramp, fish feast in trap

Melaney and her sister heard a cat meowing atop their roof on Saturday, January 6th. “[My sister] looked up and saw the cat’s head peeking over the ledge.” The gray cat was stuck on the ...

IB is a good place for floaters

But Sunset Cliffs has nice easy channels

Name: Peter Ramseier Age: 47 From: Imperial Beach Occupation: Airplane mechanic Peter Ramseier rolled out to surf with his two sons and their friends just hours before the Christmas Eve festivities. They surfed by the ...

Without Villainous Lair, gamers adrift

Comic-store closure will leave some players with "nowhere to go"

“Deep crushedness is the general feel around here,” said Matt Bantelman. “I’ve gone out of the way to not mention it this evening because everyone’s trying to play [games] and have fun, and then inevitably ...

Future farmer helps fight fire, loses animal friends

"We would be greeted with Bella’s voice and the one sweet chicken."

At about 11:30 p.m. on January 8th, Layla, an 11-year-old girl who lives in Eucalyptus Hills (a couple miles northeast of Lakeside), smelled smoke and saw a yellow reflection on her window. She ran into ...

Manzanita Canyon rain hikers

“People were wanting to see how bad it gets down there."

“There were more than 24 [people] interested [in hiking] in the rain,” said Justin Boone of Azalea Park. On January 2nd he had announced on his coffee-business Facebook page that he would be leading hikes. ...

GoPro not pro enough, say drone pilots

“No manufacturer has really, in my opinion, gotten beyond a 15-minute job flight.”

“GoPro is known for cameras, not aviation,” said Sean Randle during an interview shortly after GoPro released a press release on January 8th announcing that it was dissolving its drone-manufacturing arm. “The [Karma drone] faces ...

Sew it goes in Normal Heights

Discount Fabrics building to be sold, business to close

"The reason we are closing is because they are selling the building," said Jack, an employee at Discount Fabrics (3325 Adams Avenue, between Felton and 33rd streets). “We are not moving, we are closing, and ...

Three concussions while surfing

"Couldn’t drive to work for the whole month”

Name:Stephanie Canepa Age: 37 From: Mission Beach Location: Ocean Beach Occupation: Administrative tech for finance company “There’s a lot of stuff to do here and the vibes are upbeat and family oriented — and we ...

Bank-card skimmers enjoy the high season

Thwart them with apps and vigilance

On Christmas morning, Rob Brand learned that his debit card had been skimmed and the card was used to try and purchase something from Amazon Prime. “I have not heard of this before,” said Brand, ...

No wetsuit in December

“I go in for like 15 minutes”

Name: Mark De Salas Age: 21 From: Imperial Beach Occupation: Fire watch department in shipyards On December 17, at about 4:30 p.m. there was only one person by the Imperial Beach Pier capitalizing on the ...

Amazon overload

Unidentifiable vans and overworked employees bruise the season

Lately there’s been a rash of theft in the Chula Vista neighborhoods, from home burglaries to Christmas-mail porch thieves. Although neighbors try to be vigilant, the recent use of unmarked vehicles by FedEx, UPS, and ...

At PB maybe I was getting in their way

Bought a Barry Snyder surfboard for $50

Name: Melissa Beach: Ocean Beach Melissa moved here from Guam two months ago. She’s a 20-year-old college student that frequents Ocean Beach because of the friendlier vibes. “At PB by the pier, it was different,” ...

Clocked by a GoPro stick at border protest

Blood proof belies sheriff's report of nonviolence

“My head was opened up with a hit from the GoPro holder,” says Rafael Bautista, one of the founders of Tenants United, a group seeking to implement rent control in San Diego. But Bautista's activist ...

City Heights humbugged by no Christmas lights

“Many residents have offered to provide electricity from their homes."

As holiday traffic makes the 805 freeway a little more congested, Christmas lights on the Market Street overpass contribute to the seasonal cheer. This is the fourth year since the lights went up, a collaboration ...

Coronado was like Tahiti

Firewire surfboard snapped in half

Name Chad : Age: 37 Occupation: Law student at the University of San Diego Where: Ocean Beach Pier I found Chad surfing with his seven-foot Catch Surf Odysea in support for the “Paddle for Clean ...

Great year for 7-Eleven beer-runners

Vigilant employees, cameras, locked coolers, barricades don't stop them

“Yesterday at 9:40 [p.m.] two Modelo 24 oz. cans fell out of his pants,” said Fredley. “I said, 'What the hell...what is this?' then he grabbed them and ran away…but his girlfriend is right behind ...

Border protesters demand release of Sunshine

Organizer of San Felipe fishermen arrested with meth — a setup?

On November 29, the Mexicali side of the Zona Centro border crossing was blocked by protesters demanding the jail release of Sunshine Antonio Rodríguez Peña, the organizer of the fishing communes in San Felipe. Rodríguez ...

Memes of mercy for two SD men jailed in Thailand

Because Instagram photos of their butts bared at Wat Arun temple

Memes are usually captioned photos or short repetitive videos that go viral and transform to amuse, inspire, humor, or mystify people. A meme can also be only text that convey how the meme-poster feels at ...

The washing machine treatment

Mangled by Playas' outer reef

Name: AF Age: 47 Location: Imperial Beach At about sunset, I spotted AF at the end of Date Avenue loading his 7’8″ Electric Duck surfboard into his van. “It’s shaped by Mike Richardson,” he said. ...

Matt hits Manzanita Canyon hard and often

Volunteer trash collector reducing number of homeless encampments?

Over the weekend (November 18–19), Matt Armstrong says he pulled out 350 pounds of trash from Manzanita Canyon — by himself. "I usually like to go out in the late morning/early afternoon, as there is ...

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