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Stories by Sheila Pell

El Cajon zones for tiny houses

To some, tiny houses are impractical. But when it comes to a quick way to put roofs over heads in a pandemic, small is beautiful. As zoning codes catch up with reality, tiny houses are ...

August 18, 2020
National City – still up and coming

National City – a Mayor Daley-type political machine To the south of San Diego, within range of the shadows cast by the Coronado Bridge, lies National City. Frequently described as the “backlot" of San Diego, ...

Imagine a pedestrian-friendly Kearny Mesa

The updated community plan for Kearny Mesa includes more than 40 miles of bikeways and numerous paths for pedestrians – but rezoning for the sake of selling cars? Not this time around. As a 30-year ...

August 11, 2020
Olive Street pocket park weathers appeal by adjacent home owner

An appeal of the environmental determination for the Olive Street park in the uptown area was defeated by a unanimous vote of the San Diego City Council last Tuesday. City staff had determined that the ...

August 4, 2020
La Costa 48 survives appeal

A 48-lot housing project perched over an impaired lagoon has survived an appeal to the Coastal Commission. The "La Costa 48," to be built just west of I-5 along La Costa Ave in Encinitas, would ...

July 28, 2020
Stop the selfies at La Jolla Cove

It's sea lion pupping season at La Jolla Cove, right alongside beach re-openings and the human haul out – and social distancing isn't working too well. At least not between humans and pinnipeds. Ellen Shively, ...

July 21, 2020
Essential views in Del Mar

To keep Del Mar's essential services going amid the pandemic, the city proposed a pause on tree and view complaints through June 30, 2021. It didn't go well. To many residents, defending a scenic view ...

July 14, 2020
Spotty internet makes it hard to stay at home in Descanso

In Descanso, 40 miles east of San Diego in the foothills of the Cuyamaca Mountains, internet service is iffy, patchy - and pricey. Residents don't see that changing any time soon. The 5G battles being ...

Imperial Beach, town without pretense

Complete public sleeping ban Imperial Beach has banned camping or sleeping in public with an ordinance that reaches into every last corner, from pavement to median, "including but not limited to dirt or landscaped areas." ...

Forget bike lanes or sidewalks in rural San Diego County

Tomorrow, July 1, a new state law aimed at curbing vehicle emissions takes effect, and the county must change the way it reviews development impacts. Nowhere does it matter more than in the rural areas. ...

June 30, 2020
Will lower fines encourage fare skipping on buses and trolley?

Almost 66 percent of San Diego transit riders are low income. And living on the edge can mean a $75 ticket for a missed fare will go unpaid, sending a simple violation to a criminal ...

June 23, 2020
Del Mar pioneers drone rules

A new ordinance regulating the use of drones in Del Mar will take effect on June 17. The rules will "add to guidelines set by the FAA," a city report says. While the Federal Aviation ...

June 16, 2020
How to fill empty space between Chula Vista and Jamul

As developers see it, Adara is a transitional village, filling empty space between urban Chula Vista and rural Jamul with badly needed housing. The county board of supervisors approved the project a year ago, but ...

Will California let home owners save the beach?

All along the coast, cliffs are eroding more rapidly due to sea rise. Last August, a sunny day and crowded beach made for the worst outcome when a 30-foot-wide slab of sandstone bluff collapsed onto ...

It's back – Lilac Hills near Valley Center

It wasn't on the county planning commission's May 15 agenda, but Lilac Hills Ranch, a proposed subdivision near rural Valley Center, came up - just like it keeps coming back. The county had given the ...

A train tunnel to L.A. under UTC

Instead of widening I-5, widen the options for transit. That was the idea behind a lawsuit in 2013 that claimed the proposed freeway expansion between La Jolla and Oceanside would lead to “an enormous surge ...

Rednecks of East County, welcome back to Coronado

Coronavirus has taken a huge bite out of Coronado's tourism income. Hotel stays have plummeted. Restaurants and spas sit empty. Employees are out of work. Now, the town that hasn't always welcomed leisure visitors needs ...

No summer classroom teaching at city colleges, fall is online

In late March when Mesa college shut down under the statewide stay-at-home order, there was only one way to close. "We all left campus like the place was on fire," said president Pamela Luster in ...

Encinitas and San Diego grapple with styrofoam

As restaurants shift from dining in to takeout and delivery, coastal cities face a more insidious sea change: plastic. Encinitas is moving ahead with the last phase of its plastics initiative, this one banning the ...

Florida Canyon, Mission Trails bike paths re-opened

As roads have emptied under the coronavirus shutdown, new turf has opened up for bicyclists. More people are turning to bikes to get outdoors – or just to get around. "We have increased in business ...

April 21, 2020
San Diego bus riders discouraged, then encouraged to wear masks

Every day, San Diego's bus and trolley drivers shuffle thousands of passengers around the county. As essential workers providing service to other essential workers, including those in healthcare, uncertainty clouds their daily routine. Last week ...

April 14, 2020
Who will rent San Diego's Airbnbs?

In many places, temporary bans and restrictions are being placed on short-term rentals to help stop the spread of coronavirus. San Diego, reeling from the travel slowdown, hasn't joined them. On April 4, Newport Beach, ...

April 7, 2020
San Diego County virus frontline workers meet via Zoom

The local toll of COVID-19 keeps rising. Over six hundred confirmed cases as of Monday, March 30. An unknown number of infected people out and about. Ten million dollars per month and climbing in costs ...

March 31, 2020
No cars on the road gives us clean skies

Almost a week after the county banned large gatherings and life-as-usual came to a halt, the air has changed. From Otay Mesa to Oceanside, the color-coded maps that show where air pollutants concentrate are green, ...

March 24, 2020
National City will never be Mile of Bars again

In recent years, National City has made it a little harder to open a regular bar while making it a lot easier to open a craft brewery. The changes began long before. When the city ...

Solana Beach: artists and developers

Solana Beach seeks electricity options Last month, Solana Beach announced the hunt for a service provider to help launch the county’s first local power program, which aims to curb greenhouse gases. This month, a war ...

Where defeat of Measure A puts San Diego County now

On a scrubby sweep of land in Otay Ranch, home to the tiny Quino checkerspot butterfly, developers want to build a village. The small colony of endangered butterflies is among the last in the county ...

San Diego County's war over Roundup

It's everywhere, taking over like the weeds it's meant to kill. Now glyphosate, the bestselling weedbuster of all time, has become a pest. "Everybody in this room has glyphosate and other components in Roundup in ...

Ocean Breeze Ranch – Bonsall's "exemplary" project

At a glance, Ocean Breeze Ranch looks like sprawl. The sort of rural project that inspired an initiative on the March ballot to let voters decide if it belongs there. Measure A would apply to ...

February 25, 2020
Barrio Logan: if you want color

Jack's island: jewel of Barrio Logan Sometime this year, the city council is expected to decide whether to accept a low-ball $30,000 offer for the nearest thing Barrio Logan has to a flat iron building, ...

Where pollution is worst in San Diego

San Diego may have reduced greenhouse gases by 24 percent over the past decade, but bad air and high disease rates plague certain zip codes, as a new report makes clear. For the first time, ...

Forget trees to help San Diego carbon emissions

Every city in the county needs more trees. San Diego alone must triple its canopy to meet climate plan goals, which rely on trees as if they were banks, soaking up carbon in the air ...

February 11, 2020
San Diego County will give you a property tax break for growing zucchini

Urban farms have dotted the county for years, just not in the numbers that can fill every plate. Finding out how many there are, in which cities, and what they are turning out, isn't easy. ...

February 4, 2020
La Mesa eases up on the chickens

Access to local food is among La Mesa's health, wellness, and climate goals. But for some residents, fresh eggs were just out of reach. While they live in single-family homes, and chickens are allowed in ...

January 28, 2020
Safe or not, crossing tracks in Del Mar isn't trespassing

Del Mar officials want the trains off the bluffs. Transit officials want the people off the tracks. Neither side is succeeding, and with the number of trains increasing from 50 to 79 this year, the ...

January 21, 2020
Why San Diego farmers worry about water

Valley Center farmers aren't alone when it comes to the high cost of water. But it could get lonelier and costlier if two neighboring water districts unyoke from the Water Authority to get a fresh ...

San Diego's granny flats were last year

Last year, San Diego opened the door wide for backyard granny flats, and not the tiny kind on wheels, but units as large as 1,200 square feet. This year brings an even bigger change. Triplexes. ...

January 7, 2020
Lincoln Acres loses land to National City

Lincoln Acres doesn't want to be National City. But sitting on the edge of a growing urban area means sooner or later, Starbucks is coming. To the county, it's a good time to "measurably reduce" ...

Sluggish growth of tree canopy in San Diego

San Diego beat its 2020 goal for slashing greenhouse gases by two years. But tucked in its climate action plan is one key strategy that barely budged. Boosting the tree canopy by 15 percent. Not ...

Encinitas mulls ban on natural gas

An expected vote on a ban on natural gas in new buildings took a surprise turn last week, when the Encinitas Environmental Commission announced a change of plans. They would devote the meeting to public ...

Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas not giving up on red light cameras

While other cities in San Diego have stopped using red light cameras, a photo enforcement tool meant to reduce accidents, Del Mar, Solana Beach and Encinitas, which installed the cameras in 2004, are keeping theirs. ...

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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