A nonprofit group undertaking massive real estate development project in southeastern San Diego now has a powerful partner: Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

The Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation owns almost 60 acres of land near the Euclid Avenue trolley station and is drawing up plans to turn it into a place vibrant, pedestrian- and transit-oriented urban village with reasonably priced housing and places to work and shop.

Now, the mayor’s staff will make sure any projects in the area get special attention from city staff so they’ll be approved quickly and painlessly, and they’ll try to find additional public funding to improve things like streets and sidewalks in the area.

The hope is for the extra attention to make it cheaper, easier and more attractive for private developers to build in the area, in hopes of enticing them to build there instead of elsewhere.

The agreement hasn’t been finalized yet, but I’ve got some preliminary details on what it’ll entail – and what some potential pitfalls might be – in a new story on the long-running effort to revitalize the area.

Cracking Open a New Book Store

The owners of North Park’s brand-spanking new Verbatim Books are used to people asking them why they’d open a physical bookstore when the whole world’s gone digital.

They say there’s still a market for serendipity.

Want to chase down a copy of the new Keith Richards bio your friend recommended? That’s a job for an e-reader, or Amazon.

But, if you don’t know what you want besides something interesting to get lost in, there’s no competition to walking the aisles of a used bookstore, said Justine Epstein, one of the new business owners.

Our culture writer Kinsee Morlan sits down with the new owners in this week’s edition of the Culture Report.

Also in this week’s edition: documenting East Village’s past, the Port’s new public art, and a list of the best ways to get your culture fix this week.

In Defense of Actively Integrating Schools

The San Diego Unified School District’s official long-term policy is to make every school in every neighborhood a good one, so no one has to leave their area to get a good education.

That sounds great, but it’s very difficult to turn struggling schools around. To help with integration efforts, the district also offered a magnet program that lured kids to good schools outside wealthier neighborhoods.

Victoria Plettner-Saunders was one of those kids in 1973, taking the bus from San Carlos to Encanto Elementary School, part of a magnet program intended to increase integration in the district.

She shares details of her experience in a new opinion piece, and argues that if the district is committed to a neighborhood schools vision, it at least needs to find another way for parents to put their kids into culturally diverse classrooms.

“I’m not certain that the magnet strategy continues to be today’s solution for school integration. I’m open to new approaches… Elimination without an alternative is not the answer.”

The Chargers Didn’t Have Nine Stadium Plans Rejected by the City

The San Diego Chargers formally requested to move to Los Angeles yesterday, surprising no one.

In an interview, Chargers ownership misrepresented the troubles they’ve had securing a new stadium in town, again surprising no one.

Owner Dean Spanos said the team had put forward nine proposals over 14 years and the city shot them all down.

It isn’t true.

Here’s Scott Lewis earlier this year, looking at the 2005 plan that came closest to actually happening. In short, it died because the Chargers were going to fund the stadium by developing most of the parking lot with new condos, and the development company they were partnering with backed out when they realized the bottom was about to fall out of the local real estate market.

The San Diego Union Tribune’s editorial board went also went to work correcting the claim, and the board’s Matt Hall enumerated what happened with each of the nine plans.

To reiterate: what Spanos said is flatly untrue.

Rams Owner Scorches St. Louis as a Region

St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke is battling Spanos for the spot in LA but has decided to trash his home city in a different way. Spanos is correct when he asserts that the current stadium plan in San Diego is not a certainty. A public vote is hardly a guaranteed to approve $350 million in public funds. But St. Louis skipped a public vote and is ready to put up money for a stadium now.

So Kroenke was stuck with little option but to scorch St. Louis as a region. “Compared to all other U.S. cities, St. Louis is struggling,” the team wrote in its application to move to Los Angeles. Did you catch that? All other cities. Like more than Flint.

Kroenke’s take on St. Louis is brutal. The city cannot support three big-league professional sports teams, his team wrote.

And in what gave San Diego fans hope, there was a report that he was determined to build a stadium in Inglewood regardless of what his colleagues decided this month in meetings in Texas. This news was sourced to the Inglewood mayor, who later walked it back.

News Round-Up

• The Orange County Register editorial board had to make a rather extraordinary correction after complaints by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez.

• Sea World is getting sued by a group claiming any expansion of its orca tank would stir up the toxic material on which the theme park is built. (San Diego Reader)

• It rained a lot yesterday, and lots of roads flooded, and it’s supposed to keep raining, and you should expect more flooding, on account of all the rain. (San Diego Union-Tribune) The San Diego River rose faster than expected.

Despite the flash floods, the storms are welcome news to many because – you may have heard – we are in the midst of a rather serious drought. (Associated Press)

• There was some ugly footage of trash in the Tijuana River basin. We previously explained the big, border litter problem. Surprise, it hasn’t been solved.

• The judge overseeing the San Onofre nuclear plant failure amid a criminal investigation at the California Public Utilities Commission has retired. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

• Faulconer will deliver his state of the city on January 14. Preview: he will say nice things about the state of the city, generally speaking. (San Diego Union-Tribune)

Andrew Keatts is a former managing editor for projects and investigations at Voice of San Diego.

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