Briefs – Dec. 18

Posted: December 18th, 2015 | Briefs, Calendar, Opinion & News Briefs, News | No Comments

Rancho Mission Park Playground looking for community input  

The pad that was the children’s playground at the Rancho Mission Park, on Margerum Avenue, is moving forward. Thanks to Councilmember Scott Sherman, funding for the project has been secured that includes the playground and the American Disabilities Act accessibility requirements. Liz Saidkhanian, Councilmember Sherman’s Director of Outreach is our liaison to the city for this project. An initial community committee has been formed to work with the city and to provide input from the community.

On Jan. 9, the city’s Public Works Department will make a presentation to the Allied Gardens Recreation Council about the project and hopes to obtain community input. To help provide some direction to city staff and the consultant hired by the city to work on the project, the committee has generated a Survey Monkey survey. For those who use the park, and the families whose children and/or grandchildren will use the playground, let the Navajo Community Planners know what you would like to see in the new playground. Go to and click on the Survey Monkey link. To become involved and/or stay up to date on the Rancho Mission Playground, email 

AARP Foundation seeks tax-aid volunteers

The San Diego chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is looking for volunteers who are good with numbers to aid seniors with their tax returns.

Volunteers will work with taxpayers directly filling out returns for the IRS at local sites, including the the Allied Gardens/Benjamin Branch and College/Rolando Branch libraries.

A no-cost, two-week training class on the latest tax preparations forms and software begins in January. Manuals are provided and computers can be loaned to volunteers during tax season.

If you are not comfortable with numbers and still want to help, volunteer greeters are also needed to welcome taxpayers and help organize their paperwork and manage the overall flow of service.

If you are interested in volunteering, contact Ray Smith at 619-583-6685. For more information about the tax-aid volunteer program, visit 

Millions in scholarships for San Diego students

The San Diego Foundation is now accepting applications for millions of dollars in scholarship money for students for the 2016-2017 school year.

For the 2015-2016 school year, the foundation’s Community Scholarship Program awarded over $2.3 million to over 1,000 students pursuing higher education.

The Community Scholarship Program, the largest in the San Diego region outside of the university system, provides a variety of scholarships to high school students, current college students, graduate students and adult re-entry students. In partnership with The San Diego Foundation, donors participate in an application review and selection process that pulls from nearly 3,000 applicants each year. Since 1997, the program has awarded more than $24 million to thousands of students.

Students wishing to apply must submit an application by Feb. 3, 2016. Applications are available through the foundation’s website at 

Volunteer as an archeologist

There’s no promise of “Indiana Jones”-like adventure, but if you’ve ever wanted to experience what it is like to work on an archeological site, a new program offered by the Colorado Desert Archeology Society (CDAS) can give you just that.

The CDAS needs volunteers to work in the Anza-Borrego Desert, Cuyamaca Rancho and Palomar Mountain State Parks.

Volunteers must take an introduction to archeology class, taught by Robin Conners, State Park Archeologist, in January and February in Borrego Springs. Upon completion, participants will be required to join CDAS and participate in archeological projects. There will be numerous opportunities to work in the field, the Begole Archeological Research Center and the library.

The courses are free, however, participants are asked to volunteer 40 hours a year in the Colorado Desert District Archeology Program to maintain active volunteer status.

Classes will start Jan. 9 at 9 a.m. and will continue Friday evenings and all day Saturdays through Feb. 13.

For more information, contact Susan Gilliand, SDAS Chair, at

To register, contact Conners at

Storefront program expanded

On Dec. 8, San Diego City Councilmember Todd Gloria announced that the city of San Diego’s Storefront Improvement Program will soon be available to more small businesses, thanks to changes approved by the City Council. The Storefront Improvement Program revitalizes building facades visible to customers, neighboring merchants, and residents. The city of San Diego provides design assistance and financial incentives to small business owners who wish to make a creative change to their storefronts.

After celebrating several successful improvements achieved through the program in District 3, Gloria proposed changes in April to ensure more businesses could take advantage of the opportunity.

“Many businesses in my district have successfully utilized this program, which has not only added to the character of the streetscapes, but also brings new investment into the community,” he said. “The changes approved today will help make ensure the Storefront Improvement Program is more fully utilized.”

One revision increases the eligibility threshold to enable small businesses with up to 25 employees to participate. Currently, the policy limits eligibility to businesses with 12 or fewer employees. Other changes are designed to reduce confusion about ineligible businesses and to eliminate the public art incentive category since it has been underutilized and the city has other mechanisms to encourage public art. Finally, the revisions include another incentive category to rebate a portion of project costs related to permitting, which should encourage more projects to follow through to completion.

There are still some businesses that are excluded from the program, including: national franchises; large office buildings in excess of 80,000-square-feet; residential rental buildings (apartments); home-based businesses; structures not facing the public right-of-way; government-owned and -occupied buildings; and churches and other religious institutions. Also ineligible are properties that have received a SIP rebate within the last five years and projects that have already begun or completed renovations/construction.

For businesses that are eligible, improvement projects that can be funded include: repair, replacement or new applications of awnings, windows, doors, lighting, paint, landscaping, tile or other decorative material, and signs. Also eligible for rebate is removal of security bars and code compliance for signage violations.

The design parameters for projects are:

––Respect for the original features of the building including the use of color and suitable materials

––Limiting additional signage by incorporating it into the building’s design

––Use of suitable landscaping that will aid in the preservation of community scale and character

To learn more about the Storefront Improvement Program, visit

Maritime Museum offers free tall ship sailing classes

If you have you ever wanted to learn to sail and maintain tall ships, a new program in San Diego can teach you how to bring out your inner pirate, spice trader or Spanish explorer.

The Maritime Museum will soon be starting a class that will train you on how to sail ships from four different centuries. This includes the 18th-century HMS Surprise, a full-rigged frigate; the 19th-century Californian, a Tops’l schooner; the 19th-century, three-masted bark Star of India; the 20th-century steam yacht Medea; and introducing the newly built 16th-century Spanish galleon San Salvador.

Sail and maintenance crew members can expect to learn skills such as knot tying, laying aloft (climbing the rigging), sail setting, sail theory, maintenance of the ships, and much more.

Sail crew members have the chance to live history, as well as learn it, and develop lifelong friendships as members of a devoted community of shipmates.

Orientation will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 13 aboard the steam ferry Berkeley at 6 p.m. and the first class will be held on Sunday, Jan. 24 at 8 a.m. sharp. There is no cost for the classes. However, attendees must be Maritime Museum members and have their own health insurance. Classes will continue every Sunday through March 6, 2016.

For sail class orientation registration or questions please visit the museum’s website at get-involved.

The Maritime Museum of San Diego enjoys a worldwide reputation for excellence in restoring, maintaining and operating historic vessels. The museum has one of the world’s finest collections of historic ships, including the world’s oldest active ship, the Star of India. The museum is located on the North Embarcadero in downtown San Diego at 1492 North Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA 92101.

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