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State agency OKs homeless parking lot by the San Diego airport

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State agency OKs homeless parking lot by the San Diego airport


A state agency has approved a plan to create nearly 200 spots for homeless people to sleep in their cars near the San Diego airport, largely clearing the way for the lot to open early next year.

The California Coastal Commission’s unanimous vote Wednesday evening will allow safe parking at the H Barracks site and lets the city later install two large tents that could hold hundreds more people, although local officials have said the latter proposal remains unlikely.

Opponents previously threatened to sue.

“We need to really do everything we can to help address homelessness,” Commissioner Justin Cummings said from the dais. “These safe parking sites have proven to be really good at getting people into services.”

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The crisis has grown countywide every month for more than two straight years and well over 10,000 homeless people were again found during the region’s annual point-in-time count in January. The 190 parking spots are a key part of Mayor Todd Gloria’s efforts to boost the region’s strained shelter system, although many neighbors have raised a host of concerns, from the lot’s proximity to Liberty Station’s shops and schools to potential toxins from a nearby landfill.

Six people spoke Wednesday in opposition.

Derek Falconer, head of the nonprofit Point Loma CARES, said a commission report that already noted problematic noise from departing planes didn’t necessarily account for additional traffic stemming from the airport’s soon-to-be-completed Terminal 1. One of the nonprofit’s attorneys, Melania Mirzakhanian, said more tests were needed to ensure the land was safe while Andrew Hollingworth, a member of the Peninsula Community Planning Board, added that a lawsuit was likely.

Around a half-dozen others voiced support. San Diego Councilmember Joe LaCava argued that the lot could reduce the number of recreational vehicles parked illegally in Mission Bay. A union representative said many people employed by hotels — and there are several near the site — often couldn’t afford rent and needed places to sleep. One woman spoke about fleeing an abusive marriage and noted that residents in similar situations needed somewhere to go.

City officials said most spots at existing safe parking lots are full.

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The permit requires the city to add a filter to a stormwater drain that will stop any pollutants running off nearby cars from reaching the North Bay, located just across the street. Officials must also prevent paint spills and assume all risks of the project.

The lot should offer a number of services on site and is scheduled to be open from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. A city staffer said the curfew would likely be 10 p.m., although people could still leave after that time.

The proposed tents, known as sprung shelters, would each be 41 feet tall, 18,000 square feet and able to hold 300 people. It remains unclear how that element would be funded.

In five years, the land is slated to become part of San Diego’s Pure Water recycling project.

A separate proposal to covert an empty warehouse by Kettner Boulevard and Vine Street into one of the nation’s largest homeless shelters will finally get a public hearing before the City Council on July 22.

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San Diego, CA

San Diego boasts an array of prideful sports teams

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San Diego boasts an array of prideful sports teams


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Queer Soccer San Diego organizes pick-up games for adults of all skill levels. (Photo courtesy Queer Soccer San Diego)

Historically, contemporary sport teams have existed solely in binary terms. With only cisgender female or cisgender male athletic teams primarily offered, those existing outside the gender binary — such as transgender, non-binary, and genderqueer persons for example — can feel excluded from participating.

Despite many recreational and professional teams around the country still existing in a binary framework, San Diego is home to numerous LGBTQ+ sports leagues that focus on queer visibility and inclusion in athletic spaces, as well as community building, according to San Diego Pride.

These teams range in sport greatly — from cheerleading, softball, swim, surfing, and climbing, to rollerblading, skiing, dodgeball, and basketball.

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Since 2015, Lezbhonest boat racing team has been a place for AAPI LGBTQ+ people to connect and compete. (Photo courtesy Lezbhonest Facebook)

Multicultural dragon boat racing team “Lezbhonest Dragon Boat Team” was created in 2015 said Founder and Captain Dina Somsamouth. Dragon boats, which are large canoe-like vessels, sit crews up to 16. The boats are carved with ornate dragon heads and tails. While sitting in pairs, the team members paddle to compete in races. Each boat additionally includes a drummer who maintains a beat to keep paddlers in time and unison.

“This team was created to break the barriers between the Asian community and the LGBTQ,” Somsamouth explained. “Being an openly queer team [creates] a sense of belonging that we can be a part of something. It provides an empowering space for women from diverse backgrounds to come together, celebrate their cultures, and showcase their strength and resilience. This representation is vital in promoting gender and cultural equality in sports.”

This year the team will march in San Diego’s Pride Festival, said Somsamouth. They will additionally hold a fundraiser on July 14 from 3-6 p.m. at Gossip Grill, located at 1220 University Ave.

San Diego’s oldest LGBTQ+ recreational group, Front Runners & Walkers, hosts the Pride 5k, an important fundraising event that occurs before the Pride Parade since 2002. This year’s 5k will be on Saturday, July 20 at 8 a.m. The team has met beneath the tree on 6th Avenue and Laurel Street since 1981.

Also on the city’s LGBTQ+ sports roster is SAGA San Diego, an LGBT Snowsports club. Established in 1979, the team offers three annual ski trips that coincide with gay ski week events for “greater opportunities for experiences with the broader gay community,” said their website.

And while many teams meet on the snow and water such as the historic Different Strokes swim team founded in 1985, others like Queer Soccer San Diego stick to the turf. Their goal is to “foster community by creating a gender-diverse queer social space for players and spectators.”

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San Diego’s most popular LGBTQ+ sport is softball. With nearly 40 teams and 600 players, it is also San Diego’s largest softball league.

Online community health and well-being platform Community Commons explained that inclusive spaces are pivotal to the physical and mental well-being of LGBTQ+ individuals — which often promote empowerment and advocacy. The platform relatedly stated that visibility in queer spaces helps challenge stereotypes and broaden LGBTQ+ acceptance.

A complete list of San Diego’s LGBTQ+ sports teams can be found at sdpride.org/sports/.

Flashback

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Different Strokes demonstrated their swimming form on the pavement in the 1988 Pride Parade. (Photo courtesy Lambda Archives)

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Viz Media San Diego Comic-Con 2024 Exclusives

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Viz Media San Diego Comic-Con 2024 Exclusives


VIZ Media, the Japanese-American entertainment company is set to make a splash at this year’s Comic-Con. Known for bringing the latest in manga and anime, VIZ Media will be stationed at Booth #2813, where fans can look forward to unique offerings and exclusives from popular series such as BLEACH, Naruto, and Chainsaw Man. Plus, when […]



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Strike during Comic-Con averted as union reaches ‘unprecedented’ deal for convention workers

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Strike during Comic-Con averted as union reaches ‘unprecedented’ deal for convention workers


The threat of a strike during Comic-Con was averted Friday when the union representing workers at the San Diego Convention Center secured a lucrative deal that will give them a pay raise of 55 percent or more over four years.

Just two days ago, food and beverage workers at the convention center voted overwhelmingly to walk off their jobs in the event their wage and benefit demands could not be met.

“This is unprecedented, I’ve never seen money like this before,” Unite Here Local 30 president Brigette Browning said of the tentative agreement.

The four-year deal was hammered out Friday following five hours of bargaining with Sodexo Live, a food and beverage services company that the San Diego Convention Center Corp. contracts with for the many events and conferences held at the bayfront facility. The contract will be effective immediately once it’s formally ratified and will be retroactive to July 1. The contract for the 650 cooks, dishwashers, bartenders, servers, baristas and food concession workers had expired June 30.

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Under the new agreement, non-tipped employees such as the culinary team and dishwashers will get a $3-an-hour increase each year over the four-year term, Browning explained. A cook now earning $20.02 an hour, she said, will be making $32.02 by the end of the four-year contract, a 60 percent hike.

While the $12-an-hour increase will be the same for most non-tipped employees, the overall percentage boost will vary from 55 percent to 67 percent, the union said.

“We’re super excited, and they (Sodexo) put a lot of money on the table today,” Browning said. “It’s an outstanding contract we’re very proud of.”

Sodexo spokesperson Paul Pettas explained that the contract encompasses not only wage increases but also expanded health coverage.

The union won health benefits for a number of employees who currently don’t work enough hours to quality for health insurance, given the sporadic nature of work at the convention center, Browning explained. She added that there was also an agreement on a defined pension benefit plan but did not provide more details on that.

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“As an employer of choice in San Diego,” Pettas said, “we look forward to continuing to provide best-in-class hospitality to the world’s largest meetings, conventions and events, and this agreement will ensure increased economic vitality for the individuals who have careers with us at the San Diego Convention Center.”

While the huge Comic-Con gathering that will start later this month likely gave the union some bargaining leverage, Browning suspects it is the start next week of the Esri convention, which draws some 18,000 GIS (geographic information systems) professionals, that was the bigger motivator for a quick resolution. Talks with Sodexo began in April, and up until Friday, there had been no negotiations for a couple of weeks, the union said.

Yet another factor likely working in the union’s favor was a hearing this week before the board of the San Diego Convention Center Corp., which was asked to extend Sodexo’s current food and beverage services contract for 10 years once it expires in June 2028. The board agreed to the extension on the condition that there was a successful resolution of the labor negotiations.

“I think the contract extension had a lot to do with that as well, so we appreciate the board standing up for our workers,” Browning said.

Before the contract can go into effect, Unite Here members will have to take a formal vote. No date has been set yet.

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