neighborhoods/downtown-san-diego -- Downtown San Diego

Almost 500 San Diego residents crowded around the downtown library on Sunday, March 16, 2014, waiting for the doors to open at 1:00 p.m. Within minutes all of the library's approximately 400 computers with broadband internet access were in use by patrons, and reservations were being made for the next available computer an hour or two later. San Diego, like most cities in the U.S., has a much larger population of low income people than of wealthy people. For many, broadband computer connections, such as those available from Cox Communications and AT&T, are, at what appears to be an artificially controlled price of about $39.00 a month (after introductory offers), simply unaffordable. These are some of the most expensive, and also the slowest, "high-speed" internet connections in the world. While library computers are usually available during the day on weekdays, many students and workers can only get to the library in the evening or on weekends. I was one of the naysayers when the new library was being built, believing that the money would have been better spent on homeless shelters (the term "affordable housing" in San Diego seems to refer to housing that homeless people and minimum-wage workers cannot afford). One of the things I told all and sundry was that I doubted if the new library would have enough computers to meet the needs of the community. But when the new library opened, I apologized, as it did seem to have plenty of computers. Now it appears that I was partially correct in the first place. At times of peak need, like evenings and weekends, access to computers can be a scramble. Like homelessness, the lack of affordable internet access is a problem that San Diego can sometimes alleviate to a degree, but can never solve as long as profits take priority over the needs of people.
— March 17, 2014 12:47 a.m.

Central Library

How did the new downtown library get approval from the Fire Department? From the 3rd floor up, if the elevators are shut down in a fire, there seems to be only one very narrow stairway that couldn't possibly handle a lot of panicking people, and no evacuation plans seem to be posted. What sort of architects build a stairway to nowhere on the outside, but don't provide an adequate stairway for emergency evacuations on the inside? Did the rich and powerful supporters of the new library manage to bribe the Fire Marshalls to pass inspection? Also, with more than 400 computers, why are they still limiting people to one hour a day? How hard would it be to set us a computer in the lobby that would tell people where there are available computers and, in the extremely unlikely event that all are in use, allow people to reserve the next one that will become available? If they don't have even that much technology, it seems absurd to have computer technology labs. By way of contrast, the Coronado library only has about 15 computers, but patrons can get two one-hour sessions a day as long as they log off for a half hour between sessions in case anyone is waiting. With 400 computers, people should be allowed as much time as they wish unless somebody is waiting. The computers are networked, so I'm sure that the library could find a high school kid to write a program to track which computers are not in use so as to ensure that nobody who needs computer access is turned away. Some closer bus stops would also be nice, particularly for older people who like to read and find it difficult to carry a lot of books for several blocks (like me and some of my friends and neighbors). If we're all supposed to buy e-readers and read only e-books, why build a library? That said, I have to admit that the new library isn't as bad as I thought it would be. I also appreciate that it encourages the use of public transportation and discourages driving by only allowing one hour free parking, so that drivers who wish to watch a film or attend a concert will have to pay.
— October 3, 2013 4:04 p.m.


With regard to the News Ticker item, “False Arrest and Battery: Lawsuit filed over voter-registration arrest,” about Democratic Party organizer Ray Lutz, both Dave Rice and Vivian Marlene Dunbar have the facts wrong. Ray is lying. I was there when Ray was arrested and he was not arrested for registering voters. Registering voters is fully allowed at Civic Center Plaza and many people have walked around with clipboards registering voters without being arrested. Ray was arrested for setting up a table. The police were enforcing a regulation against structures that was used primarily to prevent Occupy San Diego protesters from having tents, bookcases, tables, chairs, or any other structures in Civic Center Plaza. The political parties that erected tables and tents to register voters at swearing in ceremonies for new citizens, had permits to do so, but Ray did not. The regulation against structures may be an unconstitutional infringement against protected speech, as Ray contends, but that would have to be decided by a court. If Ray had printed up a few hundred flyers urging people to register to vote, and then thrown them all over the ground in Civic Center Plaza, would he be exempt from regulations against littering because the purpose was to get out the vote? If Ray had brought a gun to Civic Center Plaza and threatened to shoot people unless they registered to vote, would he be exempt from laws against threatening people with a weapon just because his purpose was to get out the vote? Had Ray set up his table to gather support for the San Diego Police Department or for homeless orphans, he still would have been arrested for setting up the table. Had he walked around with a clipboard to do so, he would not have been arrested. Ray deliberately set up the table to get publicity. Nobody, least of all the police, is trying to stop anyone from registering to cast an uncounted, unverifiable vote for people who can't be held accountable. That is the right of any eligible citizen. Perhaps the reason there is so much hostility towards people registering voters is because many of us are tired of casting uncounted, unverifiable votes for people who can't be held accountable.
— October 4, 2012 4:56 p.m.

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