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Emergency Room Directions Fouled

If you’re looking for a good issue to choose up sides on, you’ll love the battle between city bureaucrats and Mercy Hospital over--get this--whether the hospital can put an emergency room directional sign on its footbridge crossing the 6th Avenue Extension, perhaps better known as the University Avenue ramp on and off California 163.

The hospital owns the property on both sides of the street, and owns, maintains and insures the bridge above the street that crosses from one hospital building to the other.

Since there’s a driveway off 6th that serves as a short cut to the hospital’s emergency room, the hospital wanted to put a sign on the footbridge, saying “Mercy Hospital Emergency Room” with a directional arrow.

Their argument is that if you need an emergency room pronto and you’re coming into Hillcrest off southbound 163, the 6th Avenue entrance is far quicker than battling Hillcrest traffic to the hospital’s main entrance.

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Caltrans said no problem, as long as Mercy’s logo wasn’t used in the sign because that would be too commercial. No problem, Mercy said.

But at San Diego City Hall, planning and sign people said no sign at all, period.

“It’s a private advertisement on the public right-of-way,” said senior planner Nick Osler.

(This would be an appropriate time to boo and hiss the bureaucrats.)

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But the hospital owns the footbridge. No matter, Osler said; it’s still on--or above--the right-of-way. “They’re a private business; it would be precedent-setting to let them have an advertisement for their business. Anything with the name Mercy would be a problem with us,” he said, but a sign sans the Mercy name would be considered.

Mercy spokesman Norm Greene said the name Mercy is critical in a sign, otherwise people might confuse its emergency room with UC San Diego Medical Center’s, and there’ll be indigent mothers giving birth in Mercy’s parking lot when they should be down the street instead.

Greene said the hospital is considering appealing to the City Council, hoping they’ll show some mercy.

Beach Sand Manicured

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For a city that holds no affinity for traffic or out-of-town beachcombers, you’d think the folks over at Del Mar City Hall would want to keep this news quiet.

They’ve acquired a $48,000, three-wheeled, self-propelled beach cleaning machine that, lifeguard captain Grant Larson says, will manicure Del Mar’s beach sand like nobody’s business. It’ll rake the sand six inches deep, sift it for debris and screen out the crud.

It’s the only machine of its type in the county, he said. Not only will it make the beach look great, but lifeguards expect fewer first-aid calls because of cuts from bottles and cans.

It’ll be operated in the morning, so if you’re a pre-noon beachcomber, watch where you lie down or you may find yourself raked, sifted and screened if you don’t hear the monster coming.

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Kissing? It’s Elementary

In our Department of Higher (or, at least, Older) Learning, we bring you word of some self-improvement courses offered by Access, a private San Diego outfit that offers specialty classes at nominal fees.

Do you freeze at social affairs? Try the course called “How to Start and Continue a Conversation.”

And if you get the conversation going, you may be interested in several follow-up courses: “Kissing With Confidence,” “100-plus Romantic and Unusual Things to Do in San Diego,” “How to Identify, Love (and Marry) Someone Stable,” and “Massage for Couples.”

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Experimental Theater

And, for balance, here’s the latest from our Department of Lower Education:

- If your academically ambitious youngster is looking for something out of the ordinary in summer school, check out UC San Diego’s Aspire Higher summer classes for kids ages 8 to 12.

There will be three sessions of two-week courses in computer studies, science, geography, etiquette, art and drama--including a workshop on improvisational theater at the La Jolla Playhouse.

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- If you have a hammy kindergartner at home who’s too young for UCSD’s program, Palomar Community College is preparing to stage the musical “Brigadoon” and is looking for kids as young as 5. And get this--actors, even the little tykes, will receive college credit in drama.

- Finally, if your children are more like ours, perhaps you can relate to some of the science fair projects at Escondido’s Miller Elementary School.

Kevin Rothey hypothesized that pizza and “Punky Brewster” are the food and television programs that people prefer. Then, maybe for extra credit, he threw in a third but seemingly unrelated hypothesis: Omitting certain ingredients in cookies has an effect. His findings: Steak, “The Cosby Show” and, yep, you really need the flour.

Arianna Saldivar set out to prove that not everyone has the patience to take care of a puppy. Her hypothesis was proven on the third day, when her neighbors gave their puppy away.

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And Zachary Redding found that alcohol kills house plants. He used cherry brandy. The plant looked crummy, all right, but you should have smelled the potting soil!


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