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La Jolla News Nuggets: Bike path cleanup; budget town halls; name a penguin; astronaut visit; more

I Love a Clean San Diego's annual countywide Creek to Bay Cleanup
I Love a Clean San Diego’s annual countywide Creek to Bay Cleanup (pictured in 2019) removed more than 74,000 pounds of litter and debris from streets, canyons, parks and the coastline last weekend.
(Nancee E. Lewis)

Volunteers clear 1,020 pounds of debris from La Jolla Bike Path

During the I Love a Clean San Diego Creek to Bay Cleanup on April 23, volunteers used the morning to focus on cleaning up the southern end of the La Jolla Bike Path that is overgrown with weeds and dry brush.

“Over a four-hour period, residents and local teens loaded approximately 1,020 pounds of dry brush and weeds into a 40-yard dumpster provided by I Love a Clean San Diego,” said organizer Debbie Adams. “Future plans will include native revegetation to protect the natural habitat and help absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”

The local effort contributed to the thousands of pounds of trash that were collected during the countywide cleanup.

I Love a Clean San Diego said that more than 5,500 registered volunteers removed more than 74,000 pounds of litter and debris from streets, canyons, parks and the coastline, though results are still coming in from the 75 sites and the many self-led cleanups around San Diego County.

Budget town hall meetings scheduled for May 2 and 21

With the city of San Diego in its budget planning process, Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, will present budget town hall meetings at 6 p.m. Monday, May 2, on Zoom and 10 a.m. Saturday, May 21, at the Nobel Athletic Fields and Recreation Center, 8810 Judicial Drive, University City.

To register for either, go to bit.ly/D1FY23BTH.

“Adopting a balanced budget that reflects our values and priorities is one of the City Council’s most important responsibilities,” LaCava said. “During these challenging times, we have difficult decisions to make. What city services are most important to you? Are we using your tax dollars wisely? I am hosting this town hall so you can provide feedback direct to me and my staff. This is your opportunity to ask questions on the process and share your priorities on city services and infrastructure.”

What would you name a little blue penguin?

Little blue penguins are the smallest penguin species in the world.
(Birch Aquarium)

Ahead of the Beyster Family Little Blue Penguins exhibit opening this summer at Birch Aquarium in La Jolla, management is reaching out to the public in search of a name for one of its little blue penguins.

Names can be submitted through Birch Aquarium’s website along with reasons why it’s the perfect fit.

It will be the first time in the La Jolla aquarium’s century-plus history that it’s housed seabirds.

“We encourage you to think of names that are relevant to local ties — like San Diego, Birch Aquarium, UC San Diego or Scripps Oceanography — unique aspects of penguins, the environment they live in or even conservation efforts surrounding their habitats,” according to a statement from the aquarium.

Submissions are being accepted until 5 p.m. Sunday, May 8. After that, Birch Aquarium will select four potential names and announce them on social media. The public will have the chance to vote for the final name.

La Jolla astronaut visits La Jolla/Riford Library

Astronaut and La Jolla High School graduate James Hansen Newman spoke about his career at the La Jolla/Riford Library
Astronaut and La Jolla High School graduate James Hansen Newman speaks about his career April 21 at the La Jolla/Riford Library.
(Courtesy of La Jolla/Riford Library)

James Hansen Newman, a La Jolla High School graduate and astronaut who helped build the International Space Station, spoke to a crowd of about 90 people at the La Jolla/Riford Library on April 21.

Newman, who also is a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, read a story to the group, taught a song about being in space and presented information about his career.

Trenching on Torrey Pines Road still underway

A San Diego Gas & Electric project to replace 40 feet of 6-inch gas line along Torrey Pines Road is taking longer than expected and is now scheduled to be completed around Saturday, May 7.

The project, which is taking place between Princess and Amalfi streets, was originally due for completion by April 1 after switching to nighttime hours after construction caused traffic backups along Torrey Pines Road.

“All gas construction is complete,” SDG&E communications manager Anthony Wagner said. “We plan on base paving late this week, and all plates should be removed by [May 7]. Final street restoration will take place 30 days after base paving.”

S.D. Unified is projecting deficits three years in a row

As enrollment drops, the San Diego Unified School District, which operates five public schools in La Jolla, anticipates deficit spending this year and the next two years.

SDUSD is one of 17 of San Diego County’s 42 school districts projecting that they will spend more than they take in the next two years as districts grapple with rising costs and lower enrollment, according to the latest batch of financial projections that districts submitted to the county.

Deficit spending alone isn’t necessarily a cause for concern, experts say. Rather, it’s when school districts deficit-spend repeatedly and fail to make budget cuts that they create structural deficits, which often become more difficult to cure the longer they are allowed to grow.

School districts and charter schools were required to submit financial reports by mid-March detailing their projections for this school year and the next two years. The projections are not set in stone and are likely to change after the state approves a budget this summer for the next fiscal year.

School districts overwhelmingly cite declining enrollment and lower student attendance as reasons they are expecting shortfalls. That matters because in California, state school funding is distributed based on average daily attendance rates.

San Diego Unified’s average daily attendance rate fell from a norm of 95 percent to 90 percent.

The district said it does not need to make budget cuts next school year but may need to make $19 million in cuts during the 2023-24 school year, representing about 2 percent of the district’s discretionary budget. — The San Diego Union-Tribune

San Diego council bans flavored tobacco, including menthol cigarettes, in 7-2 vote

The city of San Diego approved a ban April 25 on flavored e-cigarettes and flavored tobacco, including menthol cigarettes, a move supporters said would boost public health for local teenagers and people in many minority neighborhoods.

The ban was harshly criticized by the owners of dozens of small neighborhood markets that sell flavored tobacco and vaping products. They called it a racist law that will prevent minorities from enjoying tobacco products of their choice.

Supporters say the ban will combat big tobacco’s strategy of using flavored tobacco to reverse decades of progress in reducing youth usage. Flavored tobacco often comes in packages featuring cartoon characters and the word “candy.”

Electronic cigarettes can alter the inflammatory state of multiple organs in the body, which can influence how they respond to infections, according to a new report by researchers at the UC San Diego School of Medicine in La Jolla.

Critics say the ban will simply force young people to explore unregulated internet sales and other parts of the black market, where sellers don’t pay taxes and aren’t subject to police undercover operations like local neighborhood markets.

The City Council, which approved the ban in a 7-2 vote, delayed enforcement to January partly because Californians will vote on a possible statewide ban of flavored tobacco and menthol cigarettes in November.

The state Legislature approved a ban in 2020, but the tobacco industry gathered enough signatures for a referendum.

San Diego joins more than 100 cities and counties in California that have passed their own bans in lieu of state action. — The San Diego Union-Tribune

Local restaurants can apply for grants to help with pandemic recovery

The nonprofit California Restaurant Foundation is offering another round of grants from its Resilience Fund to help restaurants tackle a new set of challenges and make it through the next phase of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grant applications opened April 15 and close on Saturday, April 30. California-based restaurant owners with less than three locations and less than $3 million in revenue are eligible to apply.

Last year the fund doled out 318 grants to independent restaurant owners across California. In San Diego County, 77 restaurants received $2,000 grants last year to help with payroll and other expenses to survive.

This year the funding is geared toward helping independent restaurant owners tackle the new issues of rising costs, staffing challenges and updating equipment.

The grant application and additional information about the California Restaurant Foundation’s Restaurants Care Resilience Fund can be found at restaurantscare.org/resilience. — The San Diego Union-Tribune

Salk scientists looking at protein deemed ‘critical’ in preventing pancreatitis

Every day, the human pancreas produces about one cup of digestive juices, a mixture of molecules that can break down the food we eat. But if those powerful molecules become activated before they make their way to the gut, they can damage the pancreas itself — digesting the very cells that created them, leading to the painful inflammation known as pancreatitis and predisposing a person to pancreatic cancer.

Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla report in the April edition of Gastroenterology that a protein known as estrogen-related receptor gamma is critical to preventing pancreatic auto-digestion in mice. Moreover, they discovered that people with pancreatitis have lower levels of the protein in cells affected by this inflammation.

The findings suggest that new therapies aimed at regulating estrogen-related receptor gamma activity could help prevent or treat pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer, according to the study’s authors.

UCSD named one of top 10 public universities in the country

La Jolla’s UC San Diego has been ranked one of the top 10 public universities in the country by the Center for World University Rankings. The campus placed No. 8 among public U.S. universities and No. 22 among all universities nationwide.

The 2022-23 edition of the Global 2000 List by the Center for World University Rankings evaluated nearly 20,000 universities around the world. The publication uses seven indicators grouped into four areas to rank each institution: quality of education, alumni employment, quality of faculty and research performance.

— Compiled by La Jolla Light staff