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March 2017 Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Columbia mb m bia bia ia • Co Core/Civic C Core orre e/Civic • Cortez Hill • East Village • Gaslamp/Horton Plaza a•L Little Li ittttle le IItaly taly ta allyy • Marina

ShamROCK 2017 Page 3

SDDRG gives locals a voice


By Dave Schwab

in recent years. Case in point: Chinese eatery Panda Inn, the mall’s last full-service restaurant, closed a month ago. But there have been notable retail additions as well, including Jimbo’s …Naturally, which opened its Horton Plaza store in fall 2013. Westfield Group, the Australia-based shopping center owner, has owned Horton Plaza the past 20 years through its U.S. subsidiary

It’s no surprise that the unwavering commitment of the San Diego Downtown Residents Group (SDDRG) to improving the area is why it survived to celebrate its 30th anniversary Feb. 22 at the Children's Museum. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit, SDDRG was formed in 1987 and has devoted itself since to pre-serving and enhancing the quality of life for Downtown residents. That's accomplished, in part, by leveraging collective opinion on key issues. SDDRG's president, Gary J.E. Smith, pointed out Downtown “was a different world” when SDDRG started out in the late 1980s with its peep shows and strip clubs and a decidedly unsavory reputation. Given that Downtown also “did not have a community plan group” back then, Smith said the Downtown Resident’s Group was subsequently formed to fill that niche — and void.

see Westfield, pg 4

see SDDRG, pg 19

Is change in the air?

Spreading Gene Kelly’s legacy


Westfield has a history of upgrading aging shopping malls such as Horton Plaza. (Courtesy of Horton Plaza)

Westfield says it is committed to Horton Plaza’s revitalization By Dave Fidlin When the wraps were taken off it in 1985, the open-air Horton Plaza mall was ballyhooed as a game-changer that was going to breathe new life into San Diego’s Downtown.

A diner with a huge menu


In the ensuing decades, the sprawling five-story complex, with its Italian-inspired design, has been a notable feature that brought San Diegans and tourists alike into the mall’s corridors. But as it meanders into its third decade of life, Horton Plaza is showing its age and several high-profile retail departures — most notably, last summer’s closing of Nordstrom — has fueled speculation of the mall’s future. The retail scene within Horton Plaza has been in flux

Amazing, unusual acts grace the Busker Festival By John Gregory

Pushing boundaries in the ’50s


A perfect spa experience

Index 6



Little Italy News Gaslamp Landmarks




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San Diego Community News Network

Seaport Village is prepared to host its 11th annual Spring Busker Festival on Saturday, March 4 and Sunday, March 5. Nine acts are scheduled to perform and the public is invited to witness their talents and vote for their favorite as the buskers compete for the People’s Choice Award. A busker is a street entertainer who performs in a public area for tips. The Seaport Village Busker Festival is free to the public and performances will be held during regular hours this weekend for visitors of all ages. The performers are being drawn from around the country for this event and, as usual, the buskers will be accepting gratuities. In addition, the performers will let loose at night throughout the village from 7 to 10 p.m. on March 4 for Buskers After Dark. This show is recommended for visitors over age 18 and will include fire jugglers, comedians, acrobats, a DJ, and food and drink specials. Megan Madrigal, Seaport Village marketing director, has witnessed all of the previous Busker Festivals, and she recalls a few acts from the past that really stood out. “We had an escape artist,” she said. “We brought in a big boom and he went on top and hung upside down in a straight jacket and he had to get himself out of it. That was very interesting to me.” Madrigal said she was impressed by a contortionist who

passed his entire body through the hole of a toilet seat, unhinging his shoulders to get through. She also said she enjoyed watching sword swallower Murrugun the Mystic, who still frequents the waterfront park to perform throughout the year, although he won’t attend the festival this time. “He’s one of the few sword swallowers in the world. I think a lot of people think it’s common, and it’s really not. People who can actually swallow swords are few and far between,” Madrigal said. “During Buskers After Dark, he’d let people staple tips to him, which is interesting.” With so many seemingly dangerous acts at the Busker Festival such as fire eaters, sword swallowers, contortionists, acrobats and escape artists hanging upside down, it seems accidents are bound to have happened over the event’s 10-year span. “Luckily, we haven’t had anything major go wrong. These people are extremely talented. What they do is not easy … They travel the world doing their specific act and they’ve had a lot of practice,” Madrigal said. “I will say that people should not try this at home. They make it look easy, but it’s not.” This year, Madrigal is especially excited about the many female buskers. “Surprisingly, it’s kind of hard to find the female acts,” she said. Madrigal said Hillia Hula puts on an amazing show with

see Busker, pg 4

A fire eater performs at the Busker Festival. (Courtesy of i.d.e.a. and Seaport Village)


San Diego Downtown News | March 2017










Behind the scenes at ShamROCK

A band plays to a huge audience at one of the ShamROCK stages. (Courtesy of McFarlane Promotions, Inc. and 4th Estate

San Diego Downtown News | March 2017

Downtown News gains new ad consultant

John Watson is the new corporate advertising representative for Downtown News. By SDCNN Staff


By John Gregory Producing ShamROCK, the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the streets of the Gaslamp Quarter, takes more than the luck of the Irish. It takes planning, coordination and hard work. Laurel McFarlane, CEO of McFarlane Promotions, Inc., and her team are tasked with or-ganizing this gigantic event. “We’ve been pretty much working on it since it ended last year. It’s a year-round project,” said Camille Riley, events, promotions and public relations manager for McFarlane Promotions. “We really kick it into high gear about eight months out. It just gets more and more involved as it gets closer.” The two leading the planning efforts for ShamROCK are McFarlane and Jenna Thompson, director of operations. The celebration will feature a light show on the surrounding buildings, a 150-foot outdoor Irish pub and 80,000 square feet of green AstroTurf in the streets, Riley said. It involves 75 porta-potties, 30 outside volunteers, 65 security personnel plus police officers, eight electric generators and 60 walkie-talkies, she added. There will be three music stages and one VIP stage and, of course, gallons of green beer along with other libations. Setup for the celebration will begin at 2 a.m. March 17 when the

Thousands of revelers crowd the streets during ShamROCK. (Courtesy of McFarlane Pro-motions, Inc. and 4th Estate Productions)

streets will be shut down so work can begin, Riley said. The streets are usually open again by 6 or 7 a.m. the day following the event, she said. At least 10 separate trucks make numerous trips to and from the venue throughout the course of the day delivering items such as lighting and sound equipment for the stages, and porta-potties, she said. Riley said a cleanup crew is hired and they usually work throughout the day while setup is underway and they clean up after the event until the streets are back to normal. If Riley’s event-day schedule is any indication, the McFarlane Promotions staff doesn’t get much sleep around St. Patrick’s Day. She is responsible for television and other media promotions from the site. She greets the morning TV show reporters in the wee hours. “I get on-site about 4 a.m. and then I’m there all day

ShamROCK St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the Gaslamp March 17 6 p.m. to midnight Entrance at Fifth Avenue and G Street Three music stages, one VIP stage usually through the end, until mid-night,” Riley said. Proceeds from the event benefit the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation. ShamROCK begins at 6 p.m. March 17 and ends at midnight. The entrance is at Fifth Avenue and G Street. For more information, visit —Reach John Gregory at

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John Watson has joined San Diego Downtown News as a corporate advertising sales consultant. A Downtown resident, Watson came out of a 1½-year retirement to join the newspaper after a 30-year career heading his own corporations specializing in plastic manufacturing nationally and abroad. Although Watson has a vast amount of business acumen and inventive expertise — he holds three patents and one copyright — he said he has always been a salesman fi rst. “Even though I owned the companies, I’ve basically been a glorified salesman for 30 years,” he said. What can business owners expect when Watson walks in their door? “A great smile, a warm attitude, a concern that I can get them into what’s good for their business — not so much that big dollar sale as much as what’s really going

to suit them, what’s going to meet their budget and give us a long term relationship,” he said. “Relationships are everything to me.” Watson was educated at Northern Alberta Institute of Technology where he took a strong interest in polymer fusion. He now lives at 14th and Broadway, “right in the heart of everything,” has three children, three grandchildren and one European Doberman weighing 120 pounds that he loves to take for walks in the city. Watson can be reached at 619-731-4530 or by email at San Diego Downtown News is one of six newspapers published by San Diego Community News Network. Sister papers are San Diego Uptown News, Mission Valley News, Mission Times Courier, La Mesa Courier and Gay San Diego, with a combined total distribution of more than 120,000. For more information, visit 


San Diego Downtown News | March 2017



WESTFIELD in Los Angeles. The company has been mum on future plans for the property, though it has hinted changes are afoot. “We don’t have any new specific information or announcements to share at this time,” Zach Eichman, Westfield’s vice president of marketing and communications in Los Angeles, said in an interview exchange over email. But in a big-picture sense, Eichman said Westfield remains committed to Horton Plaza. He declined to divulge a timetable, but said announcements of revitalization efforts will likely come down the pike in the near future. “Moving forward, the future revitalization of Horton Plaza is an essential facet of Westfield’s long-term commitment to San Diego,” Eichman said. He continued, “The company envisions Horton Plaza as a truly fashionable front door to Downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter and a modern urban oasis where community, culture and commerce combine alongside


BUSKER hula hoops, including using a flaming hoop, which is quite colorful at night. Madrigal

One notable retail addition to Horton Plaza is Jimbo’s …Naturally, which opened in fall 2013. (Courtesy of Horton Plaza) curated fashion and worldclass cuisine.” The future of Westfield Plaza could include more decisions akin to the development of the Horton Plaza Park. A public-private partnership between the city of San Diego and Westfield, inked in 2011, called for razing the Planet Hollywood and Robinsons-May buildings and replacing the spaces with the park, which opened in May 2016. Westfield has a history of revitalizing the properties it owns on an as-needed basis, Eichman said. He pointed to the company’s other commercial properties in San Diego, some of which have gone through spruce-ups in recent

years. Eichman said the company has sunk $600 million into the transformation of Westfield’s UTC property in La Jolla and has also made investments into its Mission Valley and Plaza Bonita developments. Because of a confluence of circumstances — including the rise of online shopping and consolidation within the retail industry — the traditional mall business plan with department store anchors and in-line retail tenants has gone through dramatic changes in recent years. Weaker malls have succumbed to the market forces, while stronger properties have gone through evolutionary changes.

also mentioned Sara Kunz. “She’s a Hawaiian native and she’s got a really cool show and it ends with a big coconut palm tree in the middle, which is kind of intriguing,” she said. “I’m also really interested in the dance-acrobatic groups,”

Madrigal said. “This year we have The Strength Project. It’s a group of guys and they jump over people and they dance and it’s just really energetic and entertaining and always seems to be a crowd favorite.” Madrigal is also looking The Downtown San Diego Partnership is among the local civic groups hoping to have a seat at the table as discussions of Horton Plaza’s future ensue. From her vantage point, Katherine Johnston, senior vice president of communications for the partnership, said she believes Horton Plaza remains an important part of the Downtown fabric. “We’re excited and optimistic,” Johnston said of Westfield’s commitment to the property. “We think there’s a lot of opportunity for revitalization.” Johnston said she believes the key to securing Horton Plaza’s long-term success is a change in strategy. Instead of the retail-heavy focus, Johnston said a mixed-use approach that would include, but not stop at retail is the best course of action. “The nature of retail is changing, and I think we see a vibrant mix of dining, retail and office,” Johnston said. Although it is an open-air center, Horton Plaza has a common thread with the enclosed shopping malls that sprouted up across the U.S. in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s: The shops are inward facing.

forward to the performance of Skip Banks, “The Balloon Man.” “It’s really interesting. He blows up this gigantic balloon and he gets inside of it and it’s hysterical,” she said. “He pokes in and out. He runs around and does all these things. People love that show.” Here is a look at this weekend’s competing acts: Alex Clark is a comedian who punctuates his act with jaw-dropping tricks. Circus Mafia, a travelling circus performance and production company, performs circus acts, contortion and hula hoop tricks. Fantastic Patrick puts on a comedy show with incredible tricks for all ages. Extreme Rahim is the king of clean comedy with uplifting and encouraging comedy accented by live magic. Sam Malcolm combines stand-up comedy and worldclass juggling skills with a grand fi nale involving knives and flaming torches. Hillia Hula captivates audiences with super fast hula hooping and a giant rainbow slinky made of 50 hoops. Skip Banks, “The Balloon Man,” delivers laughs and awe as he puts himself inside a giant balloon. Sara Kunz brings the Hawaiian vibe to audiences as she combines acrobatics, contortion, hula hoops and clown humor into one solo show. The Strength Project puts on a show with acrobatic stunts, tumbling, break dancing, comedy and motivational speaking. Non-competing buskers will also perform during the festival. These include Mitchell Walker, a didgeridoo player; Rabindra Sarkar, a Reiki master who builds towers by balancing and stacking rocks; and Eddy the Silver Statue,

Johnston said the partnership is recommending Westfield make tweaks to Horton Plaza’s design by offering street-level access to some of the stores. “This is a dynamic space,” she said. “We feel it should be opened up.” Despite overall shifts in retail and shopping patterns, Johnston said there are plausible reasons a shopping mecca should continue to operate in San Diego’s Downtown. The city’s Downtown population has increased in the past three decades. Today, 38,000 residents call the area home, which is nearly triple the amount from when Horton Plaza first opened. Eichman, in discussing Westfield’s review of the property, made note of this trend. “We continue to evaluate strategic opportunities and new prospects, in conjunction with the city of San Diego, to introduce new life, energy and choices to the property,” Eichman said. —Dave Fidlin is a freelance journalist with a special affinity for San Diego and its people. Contact him at dave.fidlin@

A busker rides three unicycles. (Courtesy of i.d.e.a. and Seaport Village)

a performer who stands as still as a statue until someone gives him a tip. Other events are scheduled in conjunction with the Busker Festival in The Headquarters open-air center. Eclectic DJ Mason Dyer will spin his high energy sets March 4 from noon to 4 p.m. Manny Cepeda and his salsa quartet will play March 5 from noon to 4 p.m. Kelsey Montague will create a live mural in the center courtyard of The Headquarters. Montague’s murals invite people to interact with her art, like standing in the middle of large painted butterfly wings, for example. For more information, visit —John Gregory can be reached at


San Diego Downtown News | March 2017


The city of San Diego recently announced the availability of $25 million to fund affordable hous-ing projects. This Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) released by Civic San Diego (CivicSD) will allow projects that meet affordability requirements and development objectives to apply for funds in order to facilitate the development of affordable rental units for residents of San Diego. The goal is to leverage the $25 million at below market interest rates, with other funding sources from public or private organizations, into several projects that demonstrate certain affordability and mixed income levels. The $25 million will be funded from the Low and Moderate Income Housing Asset Fund in ac-cordance with the city’s adopted Affordable Housing Master Plan. Qualified affordable housing developers meeting the NOFA qualifications and demonstrating the ability to design, build and manage affordable housing are encouraged to submit proposals. The funds are part of the city’s overall approach to increasing affordable housing supply and providing permanent housing for the homeless and veterans as well. To read the full NOFA and obtain information to apply, visit


During a Feb. 22 press conference at Quartyard in East Village, Mayor Kevin Faulconer an-nounced that the city of San Diego is partnering with General Electric to upgrade city streetlights to reduce energy costs by 60 percent as well as transform them into a connected digital network that can optimize parking and traffic, enhance public safety and track air quality. The deployment of 3,200 smart sensors will be the largest city-based deployment of an “Internet of Things” platform in the world, according to the Mayor’s Office. The nodes can use real-time anonymous sensor data to direct drivers to open parking spaces, help first responders during emergencies, track carbon emissions and identify intersections that can be improved for pedestri-ans and cyclists. The city will replace 14,000 streetlights with more energy efficient versions, which will reduce energy costs by $2.4 million annually. These streetlights include technology that allows for dim-ming and brightening in public venues manually or automatically, depending on natural light conditions.

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San Diego Downtown News | March 2017


123 Camino De La Reina Ste. 202 East San Diego, CA 92108 (619) 519-7775 Twitter: @sddowntownnews

EDITOR Morgan M. Hurley (619) 961-1960 CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Jeff Clemetson, x119 Ken Williams, x102


ASSISTANT EDITOR John Gregory, x118 CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Charlene Balbridge Diana Cavagnaro Andy Cohen Dave Fidlin Cristopher Gomez Sunny Lee Kris Michell Frank Sabatini Jr. Taylor Schulte Dave Schwab Sandee Wilhoit Joyell Nevins

Guest Editorial

619-961-1956 John Watson 619-961-1963 x113 Annie Burchard, x105 Sloan Gomez, x104 Heather Fine, x107 ACCOUNTING Priscilla Umel-Martinez (619) 961-1962 WEB DESIGNER Kim Espinoza

How I’m tackling my top priorities in Sacramento trafficking after they’ve been rescued from their traffickers. SB 767 provides safe housing and mental health care that’s specifically tailored to the unique type of trauma suffered by children who’ve been used essentially as sex slaves.

By Toni G. Atkins The 2017 legislative session is well underway, and I am pursuing several of my top priorities while at the same time joining my colleagues in making sure that California remains a national leader in environmental protection and access to quality health care, and serves as a beacon of compassion and inclusiveness when it comes to human rights.

Building Homes and Jobs Act

Housing affordability remains my top issue and SB 2 — the Building Homes and Jobs Act — was the first bill I introduced. SB 2 is an important piece of the Senate Democrats’ overall in-frastructure bill package as well as a smaller package of priority housing bills. Through a modest document-recording fee on certain real-estate transactions, SB 2 will create a permanent source of funding for affordable housing, generating hundreds of millions of dol-lars to help thousands of low-income families every year. I am grateful to the California Real-tors Association and many other business organizations throughout the state for their support for this bill. These groups understand that not only will SB 2 help create stable housing for struggling families; it also creates jobs — an estimated 29,000 for every $500 million spent on affordable housing.

Healthy California Act

Toni G. Atkins

Human trafficking

Human trafficking is a serious problem in San Diego and across the state, and I have intro-duced three new bills to crack down on traffickers and help their victims. SB 270 requires all hotels and motels in California to train their employees to recognize the signs when sex trafficking is happening in their midst and victims are hiding in plain sight, and I sincerely appreciate the support of the California Hotel & Lodging Association for this im-portant bill. While SB 270 helps law enforcement apprehend traffickers, SB 230 helps district attorneys convict them by allowing a prosecutor, with a judge’s permission, to introduce evidence of a defendant’s past sex-trafficking crimes during trial. This is already allowed in trials involving other types of sex crimes. The third bill, SB 767, helps child victims of sex

Meanwhile, with national officials threatening to repeal the Affordable Care Act, California must take ambitious steps to ensure that all of our residents have access to quality health care. That’s why I am partnering with my colleague Sen. Ricardo Lara on SB 562 — the Healthy California Act — which will create a universal, single-payer health care system. In the coming months, Sen. Lara and I will be working with all interested parties to craft the details of this plan. Let me tell you, this won’t be easy. The idea is simple — one plan to cover everyone who lives in our state — but health care policy is anything but simple. It’s going to take a lot of hard work.

Nonbinary gender marker

In addition to protecting Californians from what I consider a national path in the wrong direc-tion on health care, I am also committed to expanding the rights of transgender residents while our president is attempting to roll back transgender rights.

My bill SB 179 will make it easier for transgender Californians to obtain state-issued identifi-cation documents that match their gender identity. With SB 179, our state will be the first to create a nonbinary gender marker for those who don’t identify as either male or female. An-other one of my bills, SB 310, will make it easier for transgender people incarcerated in our prisons and jails to obtain a gender or name change — which will bring them a greater sense of dignity while incarcerated and help ease their transition back into society after their release. These are examples of how California is moving forward and solving difficult problems. In many ways, the current leadership in Washington, D.C., is trying to roll back the progress that we’ve made. But California won’t go back. We’ve come too far in areas like climate change, access to health care and civil rights for previously marginalized communities, and I am com-mitted to maintaining that progress, as well as working hard to address our state’s most diffi-cult matters. I look forward to keeping you updated throughout the year on these bills and all of the im-portant issues facing California, and I encourage you to contact my district office at 619-645-3133 and let me know what you think. —Toni G. Atkins represents the 39th District in the California Senate.

COPY EDITOR Dustin Lothspeich WEB & SOCIAL MEDIA Sara Butler, x118

PUBLISHER David Mannis (619) 961-1951

OPINIONS/LETTERS: San Diego Downtown News encourages letters to the editor and guest editorials. Please email either to and include your phone number and address for verification. We reserve the right to edit letters for brevity and accuracy. Letters and guest editorials do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher or staff. SUBMISSIONS/NEWS TIPS: Press releases and story ideas are welcomed. Send press releases, tips, photos or story ideas to For breaking news and investigative story ideas contact the editor by phone or email. DISTRIBUTION: San Diego Downtown News is distributed free on the first Friday of every month. © 2017. All rights reserved.


Letters Smooth jazz in East Village

[Ref: “88.3 FM, the award-winning jazz radio station in our midst,” Vol. 18, Issue 2, or online at] Great article about a really terrific station! So grateful to have the music to see us through the good times and the bad times. We need it now more than ever! One thing, though … that photo is of Ken Poston, general manager, not Chad Fox! —Helen Borgers, via our [Editor’s note: The name on photo was fixed online; thanks for the head’s up.] There is no great jazz radio station in America. WBGO comes close, but all the rest are on college stations like this, ruled by the stupid lame mentality of PBS — pledge breaks and too many vocals. Try listening to KCSM out of San Mateo, California, if you really want to get sick to your stomach. The only jazz worth listening to are a couple of internet stations such as AccuJazz out of Chicago. The college stations are namby-pamby moldy fig boring. Just browse their playlists! Disgusting marshmallow mediocrity, all designed to please some delusion of a common-denominator listener. Give me a break. —Kerry Carnohan, via our website

Biking for a cause(s)

[Ref: “The ride of his life,” Vol. 18, Issue 2, or online at tinyurl. com/hctds5f] This is so awesome and so beautiful! I am delighted to read of this. The organizations Jan is raising money for are near and dear to my heart. My Dad died of ALS; this is how I have come into contact with Les Turner and have, too, donated time and money for the organization as it has had phenomenal strides in the research of ALS and comfort of PALS. Also, I am a hospice nurse; so grateful to hear that Jan had an amazing experience with hospice for his Mom (actually, this is truly so bittersweet). I am a cyclist, too, completing my first Ironman in September 2016. I rode the beautiful streets of Barrington, Illinois, numerous times in my training; the very town that Jan is originally from and I’m sure possesses many fond cycling memories from. I am wondering if there is map or a way to know when


2017 ushers in a new era of angst in America Jan might be riding through Illinois (or a state nearby)? I am a very good cheer-er and would love to cheer him on and offer support! This type of cycling is amazing, selfless, life-changing: Super congrats to you, Jan! Praying for you! —Kara Vitek, via our website

Urban Academy woes

[Ref: “Welcome to learning in the 21st century,” Vol. 17, Issue 6, or online at jvxpaek] The Urban Discovery Academy has created something in the East Village, but it’s not what you might think. “They are kids, what do you expect?” That is the response given by most everyone in attempts to discredit our complaints about Urban Discovery Academy’s choice to have their children play just feet outside of our windows in their parking lot. Depending on which publication you read, there were varying boosts of their rooftop pavilion and a backyard playground. So why would they opt to use the seven-space parking lot constructed of concrete, asphalt and curbs to trip over instead? There are two dumpsters, one of which stinks by the end of the week, placed just the other side of our fence, next to the newly placed basketball hoop on the south side of the lot. Flag football is popular with the older boys on the other half of the seven spaces. The girls mostly stand around the perimeter chatting or weaving in and out of the ball games screaming for no obvious reason other than to scream. There is no grass. No water fountains. No bathrooms. No organization. No discipline, no direction and absolutely no regard for its neighbor’s right to peaceful enjoyment. Recess starts at 9 a.m., just one hour after school starts. That is when a gaggle of children, ranging in grades from K-8 pour out into the makeshift playground delivering their daily does of obnoxiousness to us. Just feet away from their designated playground stands a building with 22 occupants in it. I am one of the residents and like most others in the building, I have lived here long before the inception of the school. I am also one of the people who are affected directly by the incredible amount of noise that is generated. I would have never thought that a school would have so little concern for the

see Letters, pg 8

Giving Back

David & Monica Stone

San Diego Downtown News | March 2017


Congressional Watch Andy Cohen Welcome to a new era of angst. In 2009, it was the rise of the Tea Party that gave Democrats across the country major headaches, particularly when it came to health care and the soon-to-be-introduced Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. Republicans made it known that they would have no hand in crafting the legislation, and took every opportunity to deride the Obama administration and the Democrats’ efforts at reforming health care. The lies were staggering: Who can forget Sarah Palin’s and Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley’s denouncements of the “death panels” that would surely be included in the law? Aided and organized in large part by the Charles and David Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, protesters packed town hall events and tormented Democratic lawmakers nationwide. Republicans rode that angry wave to victory in the 2010 midterm elections, overtaking a large Democratic majority in the House of Representatives and pulverizing the Democrats’ 60-vote majority in the Senate. Now it’s the Republicans’ turn. The topic this time, just like last time, is health care, and the Affordable Care Act. Only this time, the crowds are hammering Republican lawmakers over their efforts to scrap the law, with no discernible plans to replace it. On Jan. 15, Susan Davis (D-53) and Scott Peters (D52) held a press conference in front of Sharp Hospital in San Diego to discuss what the repeal of the ACA would mean for San Diegans. “I get really frustrated when I hear the conversation in Washington. It seems to skip over the real impact the repeal will have on our communities,” Davis said. “I can’t tell you how many San Diegans I’ve spoken with who are scared to death of losing their care.” If the repeal does become a reality, Davis said, 300,000 people in San Diego would lose access to health care. “Unfortunately, some of my colleagues in Congress have fast tracked a repeal of the law without any plan for a replacement,” Peters said. “The repeal of the law would not only leave millions of Americans without health insurance, but it would blow a crater-sized

hole in the federal budget, and it would add $350 billion to the national debt in the next 10 years.” The press conference featured several constituents who depend on the health care law. Among them was Elizabeth Silva, who suffers from a chronic lung condition and will need a lung transplant to survive. She would not have access to care without the ACA. Stephanie McMahon’s 3-year-old daughter, Charlie, has leukemia. “We are an average American family,” McMahon said. “My husband and I both have good jobs, and we own our home in San Diego.” Both McMahon and her husband work for small businesses and buy their health insurance through Covered California, the state’s health care exchange. “The misconception,” McMahon said, “is that the Affordable Care Act only benefits people who are needy, poor or not working. This is not true. It guarantees people like my daughter access to health care who would otherwise be denied based on pre-existing conditions.” If the ACA is repealed, the McMahon’s will have to pay for Charlie’s care out of pocket, an expense that will exceed $1 million this year. Republican lawmakers have been besieged at town hall events, with many avoiding town halls altogether, including Darrell Issa (R-49), one of Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters who has been the target of constituent ire for his unwillingness to address them. Locals, determined to have their voices heard, arranged their own town hall meeting for Feb. 21 in Vista. An estimated 1,500 attended, hoping their congressman would show up. He didn’t, citing a previously scheduled meeting with a nonprofit group that provides services to the homeless. Early that same day, Issa did respond to several hundred protesters who had gathered outside his office, holding an impromptu Q&A in acknowledgment of the crowd, a majority of whom gathered to express their displeasure with their congressman. Issa made news again later in the week when he broke with Republican orthodoxy and called for a special prosecutor to investigate ties between the Trump administration and Russia. Appearing on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” Issa made the case for an independent inquiry, and for Attorney

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—Andy Cohen is a local freelance writer. Reach him at




General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from any Department of Justice actions. “You cannot have somebody, a friend of mine, Jeff Sessions, who was on the campaign and who is an appointee. You’re going to need to use the special prosecutor’s statute and office to take —not just to recuse. You can’t just give it to your deputy. That’s another political appointee,” Issa said. What Issa did not call for is an investigation into Donald Trump’s ties to Russia, and it is suspected there are many. Still, this is a significant departure from the reflexive partisanship that has become expected. Cynics will point to Issa’s narrow victory over Doug Applegate in November — by less than 1 percent — and the fact that his seat appears to be endangered in 2018 for this newfound reasonableness. Regardless of the rationale, it’s a positive step. Scott Peters held his own town hall event at the San Diego Islamic Center, a gathering that went much more smoothly in comparison to others. One critic, however, derided Peters for his choice of venue, questioning the “appropriateness” of holding the confab in an Islamic Center. “I fully embrace the symbolism of having this meeting here,” Peters said when challenged to push back against the anti-Muslim comments. “The religion itself does not represent a threat. In fact, I welcome it as part of my community. It makes my community richer.” Juan Vargas (D-51), whose district spans California’s border with Mexico, pushed back against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials after he and other members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus were barred from a meeting with the Acting Director of ICE. “Today, my colleagues in the Hispanic Caucus and I were excluded from a meeting with officials from Immigration and Customs Enforcement and that is completely unacceptable. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus requested a meeting with the Acting Director of ICE because our constituents are living in fear. By being excluded from today’s meeting, we were unable to get clear information regarding the immigration policies that are directly impacting our communities. All we want are answers,” Vargas said in a press release.

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San Diego Downtown News | March 2017


At the center of Downtown’s growing tech ecosystem Downtown Partnership Newss Kris Michell You have an idea that you want to turn into a company? Pitching to investors but with little success? Not sure what to do? These are the questions that weigh on entrepreneurs trying to transform a preliminary concept into a successful business, and are the questions that can be answered when the resources and tools are nearby. That is where the Downtown San Diego Partnership is stepping up to make a difference.

Let’s grow and foster a startup community where knowledge can be easily shared, right here in downtown. To strengthen Downtown’s growing tech ecosystem, the Partnership is partnering with UC San Diego Extension. Launched last summer, The Collaboratory for Downtown Innovation, or CDI, offers a variety of programs to help local entrepreneurs develop the networks critical for future growth. Classes are taught right here at the partnership’s offices. In collaboration with UC San Diego Office of Innovation and Commercialization, CDI recently launched the first program of its kind — a

free, six-week Entrepreneur Certificate Program. The program is focused on early-stage founders who have already decided to start their business and are now focused on execution but need further support to take the next step. The Entrepreneur Certificate Program helps participants discover what they need to be successful by providing practical knowledge. This allows them to focus on critical business needs. This is an exciting opportunity for early-stage entrepreneurs looking to take off. Students have access to some of the biggest names in the startup space. The program




is facilitated by Greg Horowitt, co-founder and managing director of T2 Venture Creation. Horowitt has spent more than 25 years working in startups and venture capital, and has been a founder, investor and board member in many leading organizations. As the inaugural class comes to end, there are so many inspiring stories. Take Melissa, the wife of a disabled veteran, who started an online stationary business before her husband was injured. After relaunching her website, she is now using the class to help regrow her customer base. Or Ryan, a retiring U.S. Navy officer looking to start his next chapter by starting a business. There are many exciting things happening in the Downtown startup space, and the Downtown Partnership is proud of, and committed to, its work in this area. The innovation economy is critical to Downtown’s continued growth and success, and we look forward to continuing to work with our partners to make Downtown a center of innovation. —Kris Michell is the president and CEO of the Downtown San Diego Partnership, a nonprofit, member-based organization that oversees the Clean & Safe program and serves as the leading advocate for the revitalization and economic health of Downtown. For questions or comments, emailď ś


LETTERS members of the community they moved into. Although there have been requests, complaints and pleas, nothing is done to alleviate the amount of noise. Oddly enough, the response is nothing positive. What happens is just the opposite and it is obvious to those that live in this building that the kids are being used as pawns, if you will, and encouraged to exaggerate the amount of noise they create. After all, “They are kids, what do you expect?â€? What I expect is that a school that demands so much respect from the community, would have been more decent to the 22 people living in this building. The 22 people who will be homeless soon due to the shady underhanded business going on in the background to rid the block of our existence so the school can get busy with its second phase. “They are kids, what do you expect?â€? I expected some common core decency is all. I expected the school to deliver some of what it expects from the older kids to do for the younger kids. LEAD BY EXAMPLE. —Christina Koch, via our website —Letters to the editor can be sent to Comments can also be made on our website or Facebook page.ď ś

San Diego Downtown News | March 2017


Home of the ‘American Dream’ Little Italy News Christopher Gomez San Diego’s Little Italy is the largest Little Italy community in the nation and has been reviving over the last 20 years under the leadership of the nonprofit organization, the Little Italy Association. The Little Italy neighborhood has turned multiple Italian’s vision of an “American Dream” into a beautiful reality. In the last 12 years, there’s been over 40 restaurants and food establishments opened in the neighborhood, with half of those opened by Italian immigrants. Presenting the perfect opportunity for first-generation business owners to start a successful business in San Diego, the Little Italy community creates a sense of family and a cultural environment with Italian and European influences throughout its 48 square-blocks. The Little Italy Association has built a model of an urban community that supports all of its local businesses — it’s a way for Italians to feel like they are a part of Italy, but out of Italy and in a stable environment where opportunities are endless and visibility to the world is possible. Italian business owners abound, like Daniel Moceri (third generation) of Filippi's Pizza Grotto; Onofrio and Jack Pecoraro (second generation) with Pecoraro Painting; Guido Nistri (fi rst generation) of Monello and Bencotto restaurants; Christopher Antinucci (fi rst generation) of NaPizza; and Antonino Mastellone (fi rst generation), owner of Buon Appetito; are all living examples of individuals and families who made the move from the bootshaped country to Little Italy San Diego, to live out their American Dream. Businesses in Little Italy are a family affair! The brother-owner duo from Cosenza, Italy — Dario and Pietro Gallo (first generation) — moved to San Diego’s Little Italy in 2013 with a vision to create Civico 1845. The Gallo brothers focus on paying homage to their southern Italian roots and reflecting on what is being served in Italy today using locally-grown products and scratch-made pasta, bread and cheeses. Pappalecco — the local Italian coffee, pastry and dining destination — is also owned by a brother-duo, Francesco and Lorenzo Bucci (first generation) from Pisa, Italy. They pride their menu on being authentically Tuscan, using imported Tuscan

Front of the house manager, Flavio Piromallo (center), is flanked by Civico 1845 owners Pietro (left) and Dario Gallo (Courtesy Olive PR)

Guido Nistri and Valentina Di Pietro, owners of Bencotto. (Courtesy Olive PR) ingredients in all pastries, breads and pizza dough. It’s not just brothers that team up in Little Italy to start their business, but couples too! Guido Nistri and Valentina Di Pietro are an Italian couple that came from Milan to follow their dream of opening up a restaurant in the neighborhood with executive chef and co-founder, Fabrizio Cavallini from Emilia Romagna, Italy. The restaurant, Bencotto, brings artisan Italian eats to San Diego, including handmade pasta and desserts. They’ve been so successful, they also opened Monello right next door! Owners of NaPizza, Christopher Antinucci and partner Giulia Colmignoli, both came from Rome together in 2012 to create a Roman style street pizza restaurant.

Christopher wanted to create a place where all the Italians would come and people could experience traditional Roman pizza, which is very different from American pizza. Thanks to all of these Italians in search of a dream, our Little Italy neighborhood is full of authentic flavors and the culture of Italy and remains a hub for first-generation Italian business owners. For more information about the businesses in Little Italy visit or follow the neighborhood on Instagram and Twitter @LittleItalySD and Facebook/San Diego Little Italy. —Christopher Gomez has been Little Italy’s district manager since 2000. Reach him at

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San Diego Downtown News | March 2017


What most becomes a legend Gene Kelly’s wife and biographer keeps his legacy alive By Charlene Baldridge

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In 1985, a young writer named Patricia Ward went to the Smithsonian with a documentary film she’d written. It concerned author Herman Melville, in whom she had such an avid interest that it appeared the continued study of his life and works would be her future. All that changed when Ward met her film’s host, a man who took over her life. He was kind and attractive and persuaded her to move to Los Angeles to help him write his memoirs. He hap-pened to be the legendary dancer, director and choreographer Gene Kelly. “The grand irony,” Patricia said by phone from her home in Los Angeles, “was that I had no idea who Gene Kelly was. It stuns me now because I can’t quite comprehend that. In retrospect, it really was the way to meet him, because he was a completely blank slate, and so I fell in love with his use of language, his brightness, his real charm and gentlemanly qualities before I had any idea he was famous. “He was incredibly handsome — here’s a guy quoting Yeats and the other romantic poets and using a wonderful blend of language that was my background. I must say I was enchanted but that was before I knew he was a legend.” From the moment she became Gene Kelly’s official biographer, Patricia Ward recorded Gene’s words daily. They were wed in 1990 and she became Patricia Ward Kelly. He died in 1996 and she’s been talking about him and living with him ever since. To celebrate his 100th birthday in 2012 she wrote a one-woman show about his life, his influence on dance in film and his legacy as an actor/choreographer and a unique human being. Kelly’s films include “Singin’ in the Rain” (1952) and “An American in Paris” (1951) and they continued on and on, right up to the cult favorite, “Xanadu” (1980).

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Patricia Ward Kelly and Gene Kelly (Courtesy of Patricia Ward Kelly)

Patricia Ward Kelly continues to spread husband Gene's legacy through appearances. (Courtesy of Patricia Ward Kelly) Under the auspices of San Diego Theatres, Patricia Ward Kelly presents “Gene Kelly: The Lega-cy, an Afternoon with Patricia Ward Kelly” on Saturday, April 15 at 2 p.m. in the Balboa Theatre. The show consists of stories, video, and tales of magical days in Hollywood, presented with great love and intimacy. On Sunday, April 2, Kelly provides a preamble, personal-ly introducing the screening of her late husband’s films, “Singin’ in the Rain,” at 1 p.m. and “An American in Paris” at 5 p.m. Asked if she expects to continue devoting her life to Gene Kelly, his archives, and his legacy, Patricia said, “Well, I hope so, because I’m having such a good time, and it’s a privilege. If I kick the bucket, I could say I’ve had an extraordinary run. “It’s a joy to share Gene’s work,” she continued. “We’re part of a wonderful community. In a sense, he doesn’t need me — he’ll continue — but I am able to introduce him to younger genera-tions and to people who love him very much but aren’t aware of the many dimensions of him. For instance the artists involved in the film ‘La La Land’ came to study Gene’s work. To the degree I can provide Gene’s heart and process to the world, I want to keep doing that.” Treat yourself to a Gene Kelly fest at the Balboa Theatre in April. The

Gene Kelly in “Singin’ in the Rain” (Courtesy of Patricia Ward Kelly)

combination of seeing the fi lms introduced by Patricia Ward Kelly and then seeing her show makes for a rich experience. Tickets are on sale now at Balboa Theatre, 868 Fourth Ave. at E Street, adjacent to Horton Plaza, and online at bit. ly/2mcYCOj and or 619-570-1100. — Charlene Baldridge has been writing about the arts since 1979. You can follow her blog at charlenecriticism. or reach her at


San Diego Downtown News | March 2017

Golden West Hotel Gaslamp Landmarks Sandee Wilhoit As one strolls through the Gaslamp, most notice that although each building has its own unique characteristics, most are basically what can be termed “Victorian.” The exception is the Golden West Hotel. It is devoid of the ornate ornamentation, elaborate stained glass windows and columns, cornices and the turrets commonly associated with Victorian architecture. Instead, it is relatively modern in appearance and stresses function, utility and simple, clean lines with minimal ornamentation. Although John Lloyd Wright is the architect of record, the Golden West was initially the brainstorm of both noted architect Frank Lloyd Wright and John D. Spreckels, a San Diego pioneer and sugar magnate. Both felt what was greatly needed was a “working man’s hotel.” Spreckels, particularly, needed to house all the workers who were laboring on his many projects. After executing a rough architectural rendition of such a

structure, Wright turned the project over to his son, who refined the building, which featured the unique flat roof, characteristic of the Prairie Style of Architecture. John Lloyd Wright worked under the supervision of Harrison Albright, a noted architect in his own right, who later designed several projects for Spreckels, including the iconic Spreckel’s Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park. Albright’s standard of architecture was much more stylized and featured more embellishment. Soon after construction started, Wright went on to Chicago to join his father, and he supervised the Golden West Hotel project by mail and from photographs. In 1913, construction began on what was to become the first steel reinforced building in San Diego. It was three stories high and featured light wells straight through to the roof, which in addition to providing light, also provided ventilation. Each room had a window to allow for increased ventilation and fresh air, and most had a sink in the room, with communal bathing facilities on each floor. Steam heating (still in effect today) was provided by a boiler

Golden West Hotel, 1913, 720 Fourth Ave., on the northwest corner of G St. (Photos courtesy of GQHF)

on the roof and was further maximized by transoms above each door, which could be opened or closed depending on one’s personal preference. The hotel, which boasted the largest tile floor in the area, had an unusual paging system and indicator board in the lobby, and while no longer in use, is still there. Each room had a numbered peg, which could be turned up or down to indicate if a resident was present and when a visitor arrived the peg could be activated to buzz upstairs, so the occupant of the particular room knew a visitor was waiting. Rooms now have telephones connecting residents to the main desk. The heart of this residential community is the spacious lobby, which features original Gustav Stickley arts and crafts furniture, which was purchased in a large lot from Armed Forces suppliers in 1922. Several residents

can always be seen relaxing in the ample rocking chairs and high backed easy chairs that have served their purpose well for nearly 100 years. The exterior was serviceable gray concrete with minimal decoration. Originally, the plans called for a running frieze along the roofline, but that was altered, and carved busts of working men’s heads adorn each corner instead. The sculptures were carved in the Italian futuristic mode, and many have noted that one bears a striking resemblance to Elvis Presley! The sculptor, Alfonso Ianelli, was an apprentice of Gutzon Borglum, the artist who sculpted Mt. Rushmore. Iannelli later went on to do work for Frank Lloyd Wright in Chicago. The first residents of the Golden West Hotel were workers who were building the


Carrizo Gorge Railway — they were followed by the many builders, artisans and horticulturists who created the buildings and grounds for the Panama-California Exposition. Originally named City Park after the expo, we now know this magnificent urban oasis as Balboa Park. Throughout the years, the Golden West has maintained its integrity as a comfortable, yet affordable place that one can call home, if only for a day, a week, a month or more. Although the rates have increased exponentially from the original cost of 35 to 50 cents per day, they are still within the budget of people on a fixed income. The daily rate is $50, weekly rate from $170 to $175, and monthly rates from $525 to $540. Recently, a program for homeless veterans was established there. According to Tom Fengler, longtime employee and history buff, veterans have always been a priority for the hotel. He recalled that after WWII ended and all the hotels and every available room in town were rented, the Golden West set up cots in the Fourth Avenue lobby so our boys could have a place to lay their heads before hopping the earliest train for home and their waiting families. It is still a welcoming place where one can find a comfortable bed, new friends and a caring staff and community. —Sandee Wilhoit is the historian for the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation. She can be reached at


San Diego Downtown News | March 2017

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Wild Wednesdays offers great deals to locals East Village Biz News By Sunny Lee East Village is welcoming San Diego locals to the neighborhood for Wild Wednesdays. For a limited time, on Wednesdays now through April 5, East Village Association (EVA) member businesses are giving 20 percent off deals to locals showing valid ID (driver’s license, voter registration card, or library card) with San Diego ZIP codes. To make it easy on visitors, EVA has partnered with LAZ Parking to offer $3 parking from 4 to 10 p.m. at the LAZ Parking lot located on Seventh and Market using code 898. Visitors can also use Lyft and get 20 percent off your rides to and from East Village using the code WILDWEDNESDAYS17. The Lyft code is good for up to four rides through the duration of the promotion. Participating East Village Members: 5&A Dime, 828 G St., Bondar’s, 722 11th Ave., Bootlegger, 804 Market St.,

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Bub’s at the Ballpark, 715 J St., Downtown Ace Hardware, 675 Sixth Ave., East Village Tavern + Bowl, 930 Market St., Fox Sports Grill, 1 Park Blvd., Suite 101, Halcyon, 1429 Island Ave., Harvest by the Patio, 369 Tenth Ave., Knotty Barrel, 844 Market St., Knotty Brewing, 842 Market St., LAZ Parking, 517 7th Ave., (*4) Level 9 Rooftop Bar, 509 9th Ave., Library Shop, 330 Park Blvd., Lotus Thai, 906 Market St., MAK Cleaners, 1031 Market St., MAKCleaners. com (*1) Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery, 805 16th St., Pure Barre, 635 7th Ave., ca-sandiego-eastvillage

Roosters Men’s Grooming Center, 1350 Market St., (*3) Salvucci’s, 935 J St., San Diego Restaurant Supply, 1202 Market St., (*4) Social Tap, 815 J St., Stella Public House, 1429 Island Ave., The Blind Burro, 639 J St., The Mission Restaurant, 1250 J St., Tribal Gear, 465 17th St., Restrictions apply. Wild Wednesdays may not be combined with happy hour, coupons, discounts or any other special offers or deals. Dine in only. Subject to change. *1. Dry cleaning only. *2. For small wares or select items only. *3. On Roosters Club Cut. *4. Use code 8989 for $3 parking after 4 p.m. — Sunny Lee is the program manager of the East Village Association, a nonprofit 501(c) (3) corporation that manages the East Village business improvement district. To learn more visit the

Community Profile: Micaela P. Banach Ken Williams | Contributing Editor

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Micaela P. Banach, a founding partner at the Noonan Lance Boyer & Banach law fi rm in East Village, has been selected as the new president of the San Diego County Bar Foundation. Banach will lead the Downtown-based Foundation, the charitable arm of the San Diego County Bar Association, along with Neal Rockwood, vice president; Dave Kempton, chief fi nancial officer; Laurie Largent, secretary; and Brent Douglas, immediate past president. The executive committee oversees the Foundation’s board of directors. “Our board shares an enormous passion for advocating for those in our region impacted by poverty, abuse and discrimination,” said Banach, a Point Loma resident. “We will continue the Foundation’s efforts to fund organizations that provide assistance and access to our court system for San Diegans in need.” Here are five questions with Banach:

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1. What will be your goals during your tenure as president of the nonprofit San Diego County Bar Foundation, and how will this impact the community?

Micaela P. Banach (Courtesy of Noonan Lance Boyer & Banach) “My ultimate goal is to raise a lot of money to support the many San Diego organizations that provide legal services to those in need. There are so many people in our community who cannot afford legal services or do not know how to access our legal system, such as veterans who need legal help to get housing, immigrants escaping human trafficking, and domestic violence survivors seeking child custody. The goal of our

see Profile , pg 18


EVRG March Meeting Where: First Community Church When: Thursday, March 16 Time: 6-7:30 p.m. The format for the meetings have changed. The meetings will consist of two to three speakers with no civic reports unless information needs to be shared. Speakers this month will present updates on projects located in north East Village: 1) Makers Quarters — Stacey Pennington and Robert Gettinger will present the latest updates on the seven blocks referred to as Makers Quarter. 2) Idea District — David Malmuth and Pete Garcia will review the final phases of the multi use office/apartment building located on 14th between E and F, scheduled to open in 2017. 3) Beacon Project — Affordable housing project located on “C” Street.

San Diego Downtown News | March 2017


The smart way to save money on auto insurance Financial News Taylor Schulte Do you wish you could save money on your regular bills? Are you tired of overpaying for important components of your financial plan, but not sure what to do? If so, I’ve got some simple advice that can potentially save you hundreds of dollars in one budget category: your auto insurance policy. My tip for saving hundreds a year on auto insurance isn’t to switch to a new insurance company with an adorable gecko as its mascot, or to the one with the cute gal named Flo. Instead, it’s a simple tweak to your existing coverage that will help you have more money. Before I explain how and why to make this change, let’s talk a little bit about the different types of insurance offered by automobile companies and how they work.


Liability coverage is just one of the types of insurance that make up your auto insurance. Liability insurance is the mandatory part of your insurance policy and is required by law. Fear not, because the requirement is for a good

reason. Liability insurance covers you when you drive your car into another car, a person, a house or a tree. Since a 4,000-pound object being pushed into anything can cause a lot of damage, you want liability insurance and you want a lot of it. When it comes to liability insurance, you want to make sure you’re getting the maximum amount of coverage. The max varies by insurance company, but it ranges between $100,000 and $500,000. Whatever your company’s maximum is, you should strive to buy it. On top of that, you can buy a separate umbrella insurance policy to increase your liability coverage even more. Unfortunately, that’s going to cost money. The good news is that your liability coverage and umbrella coverage will come in handy if you’re hit with a $500,000 lawsuit. If that ever happens, you’ll be happy you followed this advice!

Uninsured motorist coverage

This is another very big — and very important — part of your auto insurance. This insurance helps you when the other guy drives his car into you – and that other guy doesn’t have big liability coverage (which is very, very common). Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage fills the

gap left by another irresponsible driver. Like your liability coverage, you should max this out.

Save money on comprehensive and collision

Now let’s talk about how we’re going to potentially save you hundreds of dollars per year. Comprehensive and collision coverage insures the value of your car. This coverage kicks in when you drive your car into a tree (collision), or when a tree falls on your car (comprehensive). Pretty much every car insurance company thinks you need to load up on this coverage. How do I know? Because every insurance policy I’ve seen has ample coverage for comprehensive and collision — and its owners are paying for it. But should they? If you have more cash than your car is worth, you should consider skipping comprehensive and collision insurance and bank the money you would have spent on that coverage. On average, you’ll save more money. If you ever do need to replace your car from an accident, you will have the means to do so.

Work your deductible instead

Of course, not everyone has a big pile of cash in the bank. Fortunately, you can still save money on your

comprehensive and collision insurance by working your deductible. Your deductible is the amount of money you must pay out-of-pocket before your insurance company pays you anything. You can save money by picking a deductible that’s equal to the size of your cash savings. Do you have $500 in cash? Get a $500 deductible. Do you have $1,000 in your rainy day fund? Opt for the $1,000 deductible instead. The bigger your rainy day fund, the bigger your deductible should be — and the more money you’ll save on auto insurance. In conclusion, start by maxing out your liability and uninsured/underinsured coverage. Then, get an umbrella policy to increase your liability coverage even more. After those tasks are squared away, pick the biggest deductible that’s within the limits of your rainy day fund. That way, you can pay lower auto insurance premiums and save money over time. —Taylor Schulte, CFP, is the CEO of Define Financial and the founder of StayWealthySanDiego. com and is passionate about helping people make smart decisions with their money. He can be reached at 619577-4002 or



San Diego Downtown News | March 2017

Brian’s 24

828 Sixth Ave. (Gaslamp Quarter) 619-702-8410 Breakfast plates, $9.49 to $20.99, Appetizers and salads, $5.49 to $14. 49, Burgers and sandwiches, $12.99 to $15.99, Pizzas, $10.99 to $14.99, Entrees, $11.49 to $21.99

Restaurant Review Frank Sabatini Jr. The menu choices are staggering. So are the meal portions. But if you are vegan, a vegetarian or gluten-intolerant, Brian’s 24 isn’t the easiest place to eat. Since the recent closure of Du-Par’s Restaurant & Bakery (see this month’s Food and Drink Blotter), the family-owned diner reigns as the only 24/7 kitchen in the Gaslamp Quarter where you can score eggs Benedict and monstrous pancakes for dinner, or soup and a meatloaf sandwich at sunrise — or visa versa if your The “hearty hotcakes” appetite runs on Industrial Revolution meal cues. Think of any dish that’s ever slid off a diner grill — assorted omelets, country fried steak, a tuna melt or Monte Cristo sandwich, for example — and you’ll find it at Brian’s, which originated as Brian’s Drinkery & Eatery under different owners until the Epstein family purchased it in 2008. There are also flame-grilled beef burgers of several sorts (all half-pounders), including

Veggie burger with Swiss cheese and mushrooms

Pizza with onions and green chilies one crowned with peanut butter, bacon and American cheese. My vegetarian com-

Roast pork hash with eggs panion took solace in a standard-size Gardenburger with mushrooms and Swiss cheese from a litany of options centered mostly on animal proteins: carne asada fries, fish and chips, roasted pork loin, a four-piece chicken dinner in honey batter, and much more. Unbeknown to most customers is the origin of the dark wood bar and ornate liquor-stocked mantelpiece behind it. The imposing furnishings belonged to screen legend Joan Crawford. They were acquired after her death in an estate sale by the adjoining St. James Hotel, which is now owned by Ramada. If only that bar could talk. Rumor has it Crawford liked dancing on it after a few vodka stingers at her all-night house parties with Hollywood

“ V E RY G O O D T O E XC E L L E N T ” - Z A GA T ____________________________________________


The bar and mantle piece once belonged to Joan Crawford (Photos by Frank Sabatini Jr.)

glitterati gathered around. True or not, the dimples scattered along the surface undoubtedly reveal that someone donning sturdy stilettos gave it a few foot poundings back then. These days the bar shuts down by 2 a.m., after which Downtown club-goers with booze-induced appetites begin piling into the restaurant for sobering meals. Or in some cases, according to our waiter, wackier ones, such as the customer who soaked his french fries in a milkshake before eating them, or another who requested waffles instead of bread for a meatloaf sandwich. “You see it all after the bars close,” he said. Visiting midday, we weren’t as madcap with our intake, although nearly everything we ordered was exceptionally filling enough to diminish our stagger had we been drinking. A triple stack of “hearty hotcakes” was speckled throughout with pecans, almonds, raisins and dried cranberries. Rich in buttermilk, yet light and springy, they could pass as pancakes straight out of a grandmother’s large, cast iron pan. Roast pork hash was dominated by potatoes and served redundantly with home fries. The small cubes of pork were scant and flavorful only when isolated from the spuds. I requested the eggs over-medium. Oddly, one sported a solid yolk, and the other was quite runny. Many items at Brian’s are made in-house, such as the soups, country gravy, marinara sauce, and to my surprise, the pizza dough. Rarely do I find pizza even in pre-manufactured form available in all-American diners such as this, and it was my friend’s ticket to yet another vegetarian dish since he doesn’t eat eggs.

We were pleasantly surprised. Topped generously with buttery mozzarella, red onions, sautéed mushrooms and diced green chilies; it featured a crust resembling good Italian bread, which paired well to the thin layer of bright marinara beneath the ingredients. We each took some home, and it turned all the better reheated in the oven. In addition to the regular meal offerings is a separate menu card of various tater tots sold by the pound, which Brian’s introduced last year during Comic-Con under the promotion “Tot-a-Palooza.” Their toppings are geared for the biggest of appetites, ranging from chopped burger patties and Buffalo-style chicken with blue cheese, to Canadian bacon with hollandaise sauce or diced steak with sour cream. Maybe we’ll try it next time after imbibing with a few friends from one of the restaurant’s 52-ounce fishbowl cocktails. We passed also on the restaurant’s most popular dessert, a chewy pecan blondie created by Ida Epstein, the matriarch of the family. The choices extend to colossal shakes, hot fudge sundaes and root beer floats. The food portions notch down a bit during happy hour (4 to 7 p.m., daily), when chicken quesadillas, fish tacos, and half-pound orders of potato skins and “pizza tots” sell for $6. In addition, draft beer, some of them local crafts, are $4, and wine by the glass is $5. —Frank Sabatini Jr. is the author of “Secret San Diego” (ECW Press), and began his local writing career more than two decades ago as a staffer for the former San Diego Tribune. You can reach him at


San Diego Downtown News | March 2017

A taste of New Orleans has arrived to the East Village, where Bake Sale Bakery previously stood. Now, Bud’s Louisiana Express owners Bud Deslatte and Rob Adams have introduced an abbreviated menu of Creole and Cajun classics they established at Bud’s Louisiana Café in Kearny Mesa. Dishes include crawfish etouffee, shrimp po’boys and pasta jambalaya. The cozy eatery features indoor seating plus a few tables on the front sidewalk. 815 F St., 619-542-9002,

Shrimp and grits at a new Louisiana-style café (Photo by Rob Adams)

After a short six months of greeting Gaslamp Quarter customers with 24/7 meal service and fresh-baked pies, Du-Par’s Restaurant & Bakery closed its doors last month to a spacious dining room designed with vintage features to reflect the era it was originally founded during the late 1930s in Los Angeles. “We were in over our heads and had to file for bankruptcy,” said “Biff” Naylor, who purchased the company in 2004 and remained privy to operations after selling it to different owners last year. His son, Anthony, served as general manager for the San Diego restaurant. Du-Par’s in Encino also closed recently, leaving three locations in the Los Angeles area, plus a new outpost inside Sun Coast Casino in Las Vegas. “Those are all doing very good, much better than how we performed in San Diego,” Naylor said. 440 J St.,

Chef Martin San Roman of Dobson’s Bar & Restaurant at 956 Broadway Circle is among a list of top chefs taking part in the second annual Sabor Latino Food, Beer and Wine Festival, from 1 to 5 p.m., March 18 at Fashion Valley Mall’s River Plaza. The event, which ties into the San Diego Latino Film Festival (March 16-26), will afford guests unlimited tastings of Latino foods and beverages from dozens of regional and Baja restaurants, breweries and wineries. Other participants include Harrah’s Resort Southern California, Mi Casa Supper Club, Mantou Pub, Baja Brew Lab, Adobe Guadalupe Winery and more. Tickets are $50 (for 1 p.m. VIP admission) and $40 (for 2 p.m. general admission). All proceeds will benefit youth education and outreach programs at Media Arts Center San Diego. 7007 Friars Road, 619230-1938, Como Ceviche at 317 10th Ave. in the East Village has ceased operations, according to

(l to r) Brad Kraten and Element)


Emiliano Najera at Curadero (Courtesy of The Nth

A culinary team was recently appointed for the upcoming Curadero, a Mexican-coastal seafood concept slated to open in early April in the space previously occupied by Saltbox. Brad Kraten will serve as executive chef after maintaining the same title at Saltbox. He plans on introducing recipes containing locally sourced beans and chilies. Second in command is sous chef Emiliano Najera, a native of Mexico City who worked in both small and modern kitchens south of the border. Their collaborative menu is shaping up with dishes such as sopas in mushroom broth, chili-rubbed hiramasa fish, whole charcoal-grilled fish and a crudo bar. 1047 Fifth Ave., 619-515-3003,


Baja fare at Sabor Latino Food, Beer and Wine Festival (Courtesy of Media Arts Center San Diego)

a statement issued by co-owner William Lopez, who opened the casual seafood eatery in October with Johan Engman of the Rise and Shine Restaurant Group. Lopez owns the public relations firm, Alternative Strategies, and cited in the statement “an influx of new clients” as a factor for closing the restaurant. Engman, in the meantime, stated that he is currently focusing on the opening of two additional locations of Breakfast Republic (in Ocean Beach and Carmel Valley), which he first launched in

North Park before expanding the concept recently to Liberty Station and East Village. He also plans to open North Park Breakfast Company in July. After a three-year run, the seafood-centric Sirena Cocina Latina at 1901 Columbia St. in Little Italy has closed. Its executive chef, Jaime Chavez is headed to Mazatlan, Mexico, where he will head the culinary program for Hoteles Inn de Mexico. Within a week of its closure, the nearby Cheese Store at 1980 Kettner Blvd. also closed it doors, citing financial issues as the reason after a two-year stint.




Applies to Regular Adult Prices Only VALID THRU APRIL 30th, 2017 (ALL YOU CAN EAT AVAILABLE LUNCH & DINNER) An anniversary veggie burger at Café 222 (Courtesy of Cafe 222) In the lead-up to its 25th anniversary in early September, Café 222 will introduce a series of new dishes to its breakfast and lunch menus. The latest rollout is an ultra-healthy burger made with black beans, quinoa, brown rice, dried chickpeas, carrots, onions and garlic, and topped with Swiss cheese and curry aioli. The Downtown café, owned by restaurateur Terryl Gavre, is famous for its pumpkin waffles and “green eggs and ham.” 222 Island Ave., 619-236-9902, —Frank Sabatini Jr. can be reached at

356 Korean BBQ & BAR WestÀeld Mission Valley Mall 1640 Camino del Rio North #FS12 619.260.0356 (Between Buffalo Wild Wings and Bed, Bath, & Beyond) Sunday-Wednesday 11:30 am-10:00 pm Thursday-Saturday 11:30 am-Midnight


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San Diego Downtown News | March 2017


Intrepid Opens ‘Perfect Arrangement’ at Horton Grand Theater Review Charlene Baldridge

‘Perfect Arrangement’

In the world of Topher Payne’s “Perfect Arrangement,” it’s 1950. We’re at a cocktail party on one side of the Georgetown (Washington, D.C.) duplex supposedly inhabited by Bob and Millie Martindale (John DeCarlo and Laura Bohlin). Jim and Norma Baxter (Joshua Jones and Jennifer Paredes) supposedly live in the other unit. Bob is on the Personnel Security Board at the U.S. State Department. Also present are Bob’s State Department boss, Theodore Sunderson (Tom Stephenson), and Kitty, Theodore’s ditsy wife (Cynthia Gerber). Unknown to Theodore, he’s being conned by the perfect arrangement: Bob is married to Millie, who is a homemaker, but in actuality he is in love with Jim, with whom he shares the adjoining duplex unit. Jim is a high school teacher, married to Norma, who is a secretary at the State Department. She actually lives in a relationship with Millie. Both Bob and Jim, who enter and exit through a closet in Millie and Norma’s living room, consider themselves and their “wives” safe from the State Department’s new crackdown, which Sunderson

7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 4 p.m. Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays through March 12 Horton Grand Theatre 444 Fourth Ave. Gaslamp Quarter Tickets: or 1-888-71-TICKETS (4253)

(l to r) Laura Bohlin, Joshua Jones, Jennifer Paredes interact in “Perfect Arrangement” (Photo by Daren Scott) has just revealed: to find and oust deviants, those who the department, J. Edgar Hoover and President Truman consider to be at high risk for blackmail. Because of his excellent record identifying anti-American sympathizers, Sunderson assigns Bob the additional assignment. The seventh character is Barbara Grant (Brooke McCormick), who works for the State Department as a translator. She’s a brilliant woman who lives her profligate personal life openly, apparently

taking lovers of both sexes at will, when and wherever in the world she finds them. As she says, good sex, a rare commodity, is worth preserving and protecting wherever you find it. Barbara is high on Bob’s list of people to be ousted from the State Department, and she proves to be the person most to be feared, and rightly so, but for surprising reasons. The premise of the play is timely and the prospect of its unfolding is fascinating, especially in today’s world in which many of the civil rights that were so slowly gained appear

to be imperiled. People who came into adulthood in the ’50s remember the times and the mores, prior to the sexual revolution and ensuing rights legislation. Women raised, to be compliant (it was the norm), and others, who were more aware of the McCarthy era at the time, are shaken just to see the scenic design by Sean YaelCox and the period fashions by Jeanne Reith, who pulled some authentic zingers from her bag. Oh, yes, I was there, we say. Except for some adept lines, the unfolding of Topher Payne’s script (directed by Christy

Yael-Cox), which tales place over several weeks in 1950 and is rife with humorous situations, is not as satisfying or as convincing as it could be, partly due to the plot structure, partly due to the chemistry of the actors, who never convinced this observer of their sexual attraction for one another. As played by Brooke McCormick and Cynthia Gerber respectively, the free-spirited Barbara and the cloying yet sincere Mrs. Sunderson stole the show. Nonetheless, because of its timeliness and chilling capture of an era, “Perfect Arrangement” is worth seeing, if only as a caution that we could be forced to go there again. — Charlene Baldridge has been writing about the arts since 1979. You can follow her blog at charlenecriticism. or reach her at

Hope, Compassion, Love. The Garcias will need them all tonight.

“Perfect Arrangement” cast includes (l to r) Laura Bohlin, John DeCarlo, Joshua Jones, Jennifer Paredes, Brooke McCormick, Cynthia Gerber, Tom Stephenson (Photo by Daren Scott)

By Nick Gandiello Directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch

Now – March 26 Tickets start at $29

(619) 23-GLOBE (234-5623)

The cast of The Blameless. Photo by Jim Cox.

(l to r) Laura Bohlin, Cynthia Gerber and Brooke McCormick in “Perfect Arrangement” (Photo by Daren Scott)


San Diego Downtown News | March 2017


AquaVie is an extensive spa at the Westgate By Joyell Nevins When the Westgate Hotel was renovating its accompanying property into a spa and fitness cen-ter, the company wasn’t just thinking of future hotel guests. It had a much closer view in mind. “It was always intended to be more for the local community,” General Manager Richard Cox said. And so AquaVie Spa & Wellness Center went from a place to serve less than 800 hotel guests to a $14 million facility designed to be the premier Downtown heath space. While the rooftop pool has been available for private gatherings since 2014, the four-story center opened its interior to the general public just last month. While the Westgate’s décor draws inspiration from an earlier century, with antique furniture and elaborate chandeliers, AquaVie’s is anchored solidly in the contemporary. Modern furniture, clean lines, plenty of natural light and calming colors of blue and silver fill the space. In keeping with the theme of “Water is Life,” an indoor waterfall cascades from the top floor to the main lobby. On the roof grows a “Living Wall” — a vertical garden/art sculpture that incor-porates multiple plant species. “It creates an atmosphere of lounging and relaxation,” Cox said. The hot tub and chaises, also on the roof, help with that relaxation. If you’re looking for more activity, swim in the Junior Olympic-size lap pool,


Guests may swim laps in the Junior Olympic-size pool. (courtesy AquaVie Spa & Wellness Center)

run on the track or take a spin in the outdoor cardio studio. Yes, you can swim laps or spin on the cycle while overlooking the Horton Plaza and Gaslamp Quarter. The setup allows the rooftop space to feel both private and part of everything at the same time. In the summer, the Westgate and AquaVie will be hosting poolside services and a jazz concert series on the roof as well. The workout can also be completely indoors, with more than 200 pieces of fitness equipment by Irongrip, Precor’s Experience, and what Cox refers to as the “Ferrari” of gym equipment, Tech-nogym. The strength training equipment is spread out over two different studios. The cardio choices come with personal TV screens, a customized workout library and USB portals. You can even download an app to pull in your favorite hike or track your treks. Run or swing while overlooking Broadway Avenue, surrounded by floor-toceiling windows.



On the other side of the wellness spectrum is a full-service spa located in the AquaVie building. The spa includes four treatment rooms, a special couples’ treatment room and designated lounge area. It offers everything from nail and massage services to waxing and specific facials. Both of the spa’s product lines and many of the fitness equipment come imported from Italy. “The spa is one of my favorite places (in the center),” Cox said. “It is very sleek and luxurious.” Conclude your time at AquaVie in the locker area. The ladies’ locker room includes a steam room, sauna, hydrotherapy circuits for pain relief and treatments, and vanity stations with and without blow dryers. The men’s locker room features a hot tub, steam room and sauna. Both also boast several fulllength mirrors with televisions imbedded in them. AquaVie offers several monthly membership packages


The outdoor facilities at AquaVie Spa & Wellness Center provide a spectacular view for yoga. (courtesy AquaVie Spa & Wellness Center) based on amenities included. Learn more about package options or book a spa appointment by contacting Emily Talbot, Director of Spa and Wellness services at etalbot@ or 619557-3615. You can also send

a message on Facebook at AquaVie Wellness. —Freelance writer Joyell Nevins can be reached at joyellc@ You can also reach her blog “Small World, Big God” at



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San Diego Downtown News | March 2017




St. Baldrick’s Foundation San Diego Chapter presents the annual Shave-A-Thon to support children with cancer. Brave men and women will shave their names to generate awareness, fund research and help survivors. $10 donation for admission; $20 includes T-shirt and raffle ticket. Proceeds will be donated to St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Noon–4 p.m. at The Commons Bar, 901 Fourth Ave. Visit


at this family-friendly event. Entertainment lineup includes The Shamrockers and Clan Rice Irish School of Dance. This year’s parade theme is “Mná an Domhain — Celebrating Women of the World.” Festival hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and parade begins at 10:30 a.m. on Fifth and Laurel streets. Visit



Run for a good cause! Experience the nonprofit event that celebrates the beauty and uniqueness of the city while raising money to help local charities. Register for the half marathon, two-person half marathon relay or the 5K. Visit or contact



Visit Sparks Gallery to chat with National Sculpture Society artists and ask questions about their technique and style. No RSVP required. 3 to 5 p.m. at Sparks Gallery, 530 Sixth Ave. Visit


Fleet Science Center presents its new giant-screen film about the advancements of engineers. Fredi Lajvardi, who is featured in the film, will introduce the screening. 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Fleet Science Center, 1875 El Prado. Visit

Watch teams from 16 nations compete in the second round of this international series. DJs, drink specials and family events will also be offered. 100 Park Blvd. at Petco Park. Visit


San Diego Theatres presents Italian musician Adelmo Fornaciari, known by his stage name Zucchero. His sound is a blend of Italian pop and electric blues. Tickets start at $35. 7:30 p.m. at Balboa Theatre, 868 Fourth Ave. Visit bit. ly/2m4mbYm.

behind-the-scene tours of The Village and the opportunity to hear the success stories from former homeless individuals. Tickets available online for $50. 6-8 p.m. at Father Joe’s Villages, 1501 Imperial Ave. Visit



Film icons Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes present a live performance of their comedy podcast “Jay & Silent Bob Get Old.” Smith and Mewes are known for their characters Jay and Silent Bob in movies such as “Clerks” and “Chasing Amy.” All ages welcome but use discretion when bringing young children. Tickets start at $35. 8 p.m. at Balboa Theatre, 868 Fourth Ave. Visit bit. ly/2lvUHIe.



The Bike Coalition welcomes two-wheeled adventurers to help finish Kerry Kunsman’s ride home to San Diego. The ride will start in Carlsbad and end in Downtown San Diego at Mission Brewery. To register, contact Andy Handshaw at



This San Diego-based reggae band will perform a hometown show on its 2017 tour. The five-piece group recently released two new singles that have earned spots in the Top 5 iTunes charts. Ages 18 and older. Tickets $15 in advance and $17 day of show. 8:50 p.m. at The Music Box, 1337 India St. Visit bit. ly/2jgW6QT.


Father Joe’s Villages residents and Freddy Evarkiou Culinary Arts Program graduates will cater the fourth annual Taste of the Village. Guests will receive a meal of French country cuisine,

Bring your kids to Fleet Science Center to experience science, technology, engineering, art and math during spring break. Students grades first–seventh welcome. Prices vary from $55 to $70 per day. Camps run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Fleet Science Center, 1875 El Prado. Visit


a clear strategy from the beginning. I consider myself a thoughtful problem-solver.”

4. Tell us about your family. What you like to do outside the office? “My husband and I met through mutual friends but fell in love on a spontaneous trip to Australia. We love to travel but have slowed down lately with the arrival of our two boys, ages 2 years old and 4 months. We spend our time with friends and at the beach — Kellogg Park [La Jolla Shores Park] is our goto. If I get any time to myself, I love to run and do yoga.”

Enjoy food, live performances and a beer garden

PROFILE Foundation is to make their lives easier and give them the tools and resources they need.” 2. What is your role at Noonan Lance, and what motivates you the most in your legal career? “I am one of four founding partners at the law fi rm. I am motivated by my ability to help people and get problems resolved. “My job is all about listening to each client and having

3. What do you like about working in East Village? “East Village has so much going on right now, and it has been so fun to watch it develop over the last eight years I’ve worked in the area. There are so many new, local and unique shops and restaurants, people are always out walking their dogs, there is open space and it feels so urban and contemporary. My favorite places to frequent include Café De L’Opera and Oscar’s.”


Residents Free Tuesdays in Balboa Park: Participating museums change the first four Tuesdays of the month. Free for San Diego city and county residents with ID, active military and dependents. Hours vary by museum. Visit balboapark. org/visit/Tuesdays. Coronado Certified Farmers Market: 2:30–6 p.m. First and B streets at Coronado Ferry Landing. Visit


Gaslamp Quarter Historical Walking Tour: Stops on this tour include architecturally significant structures from the 1800s including Old City Hall, the Keating Building, DavisHorton House and more. 1 p.m. 410 Island Ave., Gaslamp. Visit Sunset Trivia: Bring a team or play alone. 7–9 p.m. 98 Bottles, 2400 Kettner Blvd., Little Italy. Visit


Weekly Downtown Clean & Safe walkabouts: Join DSDP’s Clean & Safe program at 10 a.m. in alternating neighborhoods: Cortez Hill, Core/Columbia, Gaslamp Quarter, Marina and East Village. For more info, call 619-234-8900, visit or sign up for their newsletter. Take a bite out of Downtown: Hosted by food tour service Bite San Diego, join fellow foodies and winos for a historical walking tour sampling some of Downtown’s finest restaurants. 21-plus. Noon. Tickets are $45. Tours also on Saturday. Visit


Little Italy Mercato: 8 a.m.–2 p.m. Rain or shine, visit over 100 booths on West Cedar Street between Kettner Boulevard and Front Street. Visit Gaslamp Quarter Historical Walking Tour: Stops on this tour include architecturally significant structures from the 1800s including Old City Hall, the Keating Building, DavisHorton House and more. 11 a.m. 410 Island Ave., Gaslamp. Visit


Walk-in eReader and device assistance: Free and open to the public. Bring your Android and iOS devices for hands-on learning. 2–4 p.m. Room 222, San Diego Central Library, 330 Park Blvd., Downtown. Visit




5: If you were granted three wishes, how would you use them? “Honestly, I wish for a new president and $10 million! But if

I have to be realistic: (1) I wish for my kids to grow up to be kind and compassionate; (2) I wish for peace and prosperity for our country; and (3) I wish I could take my family on an around-the-world adventure in luxury for a year!” For more information about the Foundation, or to make a donation, visit To read Banach’s online biography, visit —Ken Williams is a contributing editor of San Diego Downtown News and can be reached at or at 619-9611952. Follow him on Twitter at @KenSanDiego, Instagram at @KenSD or Facebook at KenWilliamsSanDiego. 

Micaela P. Banach and her husband Tim at the Foundation’s “Evening in La Jolla” fundraiser (Courtesy of San Diego County Bar Foundation)


San Diego Downtown News | March 2017


Something old is new again Fashion Files Diana Cavagnaro The Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park is presenting an amazing exhibit called “Knotted Fiber Jewelry.” The exhibit is a retrospective of Sandy Swirnoff’s work and consists of approximately 30 necklaces and bracelets. Swirnoff uses many materials to create her work such as amber, turquoise, Czech glass beads and antique glass shards. The shards from the 1900s came from Tiffany, Galle, Peynaud and Daum. The story began back in the 1980s when a truck lost control and crashed into a store window in Oregon. The window contained beautiful art glass from the Art Nouveau period which was broken into pieces from the impact. Gathering these pieces of treasure, Swirnoff created pieces of art. By recycling the glass she breathed new life into them. Shard that uses to be gorgeous pieces of artwork were transformed into new pieces of incredible knotted fiber jewelry. The jewelry pieces are hand knotted much like the process of macramé. The bezel around each piece of shard is beaded.


SDDRG The idea behind SDDRG’s formation was to “make the city keep their promises,” said Smith, adding the group gradually became more proactive over time. “SDDRG insisted this senior folks home got put over here, and this crosswalk got marked over there,” Smith said. “A lot of stuff was done behind the scenes to make Downtown San Diego a better place to live, work and play.” There are presently 35,000 residents living Downtown, with projections of as many as 90,000 in the next 30 years. Growth of that magnitude requires careful and cautious urban planning. That’s where SDDRG has stepped in to provide Downtowners with a voice. “We seek to bring our concerns and opinions to those whose policy decisions will impact the quality of life of our residents for many years into the future,” Smith said. Among SDDRG’s many successes, Smith cited creation of the “Quiet Zone” that eliminated nighttime train horns, the setting aside of space for Downtown parks and the creation of Petco Park. Mov ing ahead, SDDRG intends to g rapple with several complex and vexing issues includ-ing “the scourge of homelessness, the Nav y Broadway Complex, Seaport Village redevel-opment, the future of Horton Plaza and

These creations are one-of-akind using gorgeous colors and texture in her designs. Each one of these pieces is named and reflects a huge influence of nature. Many are created free form without a preconceived plan. One of my favorites is the one named “Frida” after Frida Kahlo and was created using amazing Tibetan coral, Indonesian silver, seed beads and fiber. Another is the Tiffany blue glass shard with a Tiffany bracelet. Quezal feathered gold with Quezal antique glass shard, gold metal leaves and seed beads. It is hard to pick a favorite because they are all made with such imagination and creativity. Swirnoff retired from a career in psychotherapy and began studying jewelry. She has been creating knotted fiber jewelry for 25 years and will leave an indelible mark on the world with her distinctive artwork. One of her pieces is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Art and Design in New York City. “Knotted Fiber Jewelry” will be on exhibit from through June 6. This is a not-to-be-missed exhibit with incredible originality. Swirnoff will be giving a demonstration on April 28 at

noon in the Mingei International Museum. This is a wonderful opportunity for everyone to see how she creates these pieces of art. A book was published in conjunction with the exhibit and can be purchased at the museum. For more information on Swirnoff, visit The Mingei International Museum houses folk art, craft and design from around the world. Museum hours are Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit

a proposed transient occupancy tax to fund Convention Center expansion.” Topping SDDRG's accomplishment list was getting community planning representation Downtown. “One of the things we got we agitated for — our own planning group, the Downtown Community Planning Council,” Smith said adding, “We work in conjunction with them.” Smith pointed out that, while individual civic groups Downtown are “more concerned about things in their particular neighborhoods,” he added groups as a whole are “more concerned about the overall issues — where bike lanes are going, managing parking, good design and whether or not a building is a good fit.” Concerning San Diego's affordable housing crisis, Smith noted Downtown has an ad-vantage in addressing the issue. “It's one of the only places that's willing to take really dense housing,” he said. “We have no qualms about taking dense housing. Part of that is being able to put in parks and other things that make Downtown livable. And our job is to ensure those things happen.” However, Smith cautioned that affordable housing is “a function of the marketplace,” wherein supply and demand determine price. Unfortunately, Smith said demand far ex-ceeds supply currently. “There are 40,000 people on a waiting list for housing — it's a lottery,” he said. Concerning homelessness Downtown, Smith pointed

out that, “as the rest of Downtown has grown up, the homeless are being forced into a smaller and smaller area. Therefore, it starts to look worse with tents and it’s much more noticeable.” Smith said problems with combatting homelessness are compounded by the shortage of affordable housing. “We have programs to get these people off the street, and some of them are ready to go into housing, but right now they [the city] have nowhere to move them,” he said. Seaport Village's redevelopment is another area of focus for the SDDRG. “Whether or not you scrape it down and redo it, planning for it is one of the things we're looking at,” Smith said. Smith added that, while Downtown “has a huge amount of revenue from sales and Transit Occupancy taxes,” that is counterbalanced by things like the Gaslamp Quarter being a magnet for entertainment drawing people Downtown. “You have a rash of problems that come with people partying at night, and all of the things that happen in an urban environment,” Smith said. Even improvements Downtown come with a price, Smith said. “ You build a new park and then you have to worry about how you do the maintenance,” he said. “It's a constant battle with the city as to how to keep it all up.” Smith said SDDRG has about 400 dues-paying

Upcoming Events

Friday, March 3: Fashion Redux! 2017 Finale Party at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park from 6 to 8 p.m. Four finalists from San Diego Mesa College will have their 1950s-inspired designs on display from through today, March 3. For tickets, visit bit. ly/2mMcVpc. Thursday, March 9: Debut Collection of Malia Designs at Rigby & Peller from 6 to 8 p.m. at 7007 Friars Road in Fashion Valley Mall. Malia Designs are handcrafted handbags and accessories. Learn how they fight human trafficking with Fair Trade Fashion. Saturday, March 25: Fashion

Sandy Swirnoff stands next to a display of her Tiffany necklace and bracelet. (Photo by Diana Cavagnaro)

With A Passion at 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. located at Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) on 350 10th Ave. There will be a Vendor Village with boutiques for shopping, a makeup artist and jewelry designers, an Ultimate Fashion Swap, raffles, silent auction and a fashion show presented by a top FIDM designer. Proceeds will go to

Make-A-Wish San Diego. Tickets are available at

members, many of whom are couples. For more information, visit

— Dave Schwab can be reached at 

—Diana Cavagnaro is an internationally renowned couture milliner based in the Historic Gaslamp Quarter. Learn more about our hat designer, teacher and blogger at DianaCavagnaro. com 

San Diego Downtown News March 2017  
San Diego Downtown News March 2017