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Zoning Hot Line Is Pretty Cold

Two years ago, the City of San Diego decided to start a 24-hour zoning hot line. The idea was to work something like this:

The young suburbanite bolts out of bed in a cold sweat, unable to sleep because he’s worried about getting a building permit for the new rumpus room. Does he kick the dog? Beat the wife and kids? Turn to drinking or drugs? No. He calls the zoning hot line, any time of the day or night. If a city planner wasn’t on duty, there would at least be an answering machine to field a message so the staff could get cracking on the problem first thing in the morning.

A special city zoning hot-line number has been listed in the phone book for the last 18 months. But Sharren Boyer of the Planning Department sheepishly admits that the phone was never connected.

“Well, we had the phone number listed and everything, but we never hooked it up because somebody forgot to set aside the money for a recorder,” Boyer said. “We thought this might provide a service, especially since our zoning lines are busy all day long. I mean, there isn’t even music played for those people put on hold. It’s real boring.”

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Given the fact that one harried worker is responsible for juggling the five zoning lines, and the fact that the city zoning map spreads over almost 200 pages, Boyer said the Planning Department “thought the hot line might provide a necessary service.” But she said the idea has been abandoned.

In a year and a half, Boyer told San Diego At Large with a laugh, “You’re the first one who’s ever called about that number.”

Ads Are Fat Success

Every year, the longtime Charger season-ticket holders in the upper deck of Section 3 ponder two weighty questions during the NFL pre-season--the state of the San Diego defense and Georgia Heggia’s diet.

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Now, Georgia never had the build of former Charger defensive lineman Louie Kelcher--although she has been known to show up for the games toting some mammoth bags of popcorn. But since Georgia, unlike Louie, worried so much about her weight, her seatmates years ago took to cheering her efforts to diet.

This season, the television advertisements for the San Diego Weight Reduction Medical Clinic spoiled all the suspense. Tired of seeing only “dippy housewife-types” in the clinic TV ads, Georgia wrote a script of her own and appeared in a spot, stressing that the weight-loss program helped keep her waistline slim even though her job running a firm for temporary accounting personnel demanded a hefty schedule of business lunches and dinners.

It was an ideal form of dual advertising--equally beneficial to the clinic and Georgia’s business. And the success of her ad prompted the clinic to feature other business people on the air.

The clinic seemed to be stretching a point when it included a salesman for Charles Chips potato chips in the series (unfortunately, there was no “before the program” shot of him gobbling the profits John Belushi-style). But, as a spokesman for the clinic pointed out, “If you can sell potato chips and stay slim, you’ve really got it made.”

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Now, San Diego County’s most famous fat son--Atlanta Braves pitcher and Santee native Terry Forster--is being eyed for a similar promotion, but for the world-famous La Costa Spa. Forster, you might recall, gained national fame after talk show host David Letterman characterized him as a “fat tub of goo.”

Capitalizing on the sudden fame, the personable Forster quickly cut a MTV video filmed from a “dessert island.” Apparently the feeling is that if La Costa can slim down Forster, it can work for anybody.

Star-Spangled Summer

Last night, the San Diego Padres celebrated Labor Day with, to use one of Jerry Coleman’s favorite phrases, “an explosive fireworks show.” Big deal.

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Not too many years ago, fireworks were a special, once-a-year treat. But some people in San Diego apparently live by the lyrics from that old Chicago song--"Every day’s the Fourth of July.” Because not a day goes by in the summer when there isn’t at least one fireworks show in the city.

Sea World closes with a show every night, and the San Diego Pops features fireworks at its outdoor shows Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and, on special holiday weekends like Labor Day, Sunday as well.

Enough already!


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