The Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, intended to be a major force for economic development in San Diego’s southeastern neighborhoods, is struggling. The Pasadena family that bought 60 barren acres with a plan for community improvement has slashed funding for the center, and its staff size has tumbled from a high of more than 100 to 20.
On top of all that, there’s $33 million in debt, much of it linked to the center’s signature project on the property. As our Lisa Halverstadt reports in a new story, “the struggles have forced the nonprofit to fundamentally change its development vision and to significantly pare down operations. It now hopes to let other developers take control of the land and may even sell some of it outright.”
SANDAG Legislation Is Coming
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez has people on edge with a bill to reform the way SANDAG is governed.
There was a lot of talk about this among members of VOSD at our Brews and News event last night in South Park. SANDAG is facing intense pressure from the left and right after our investigation. Read our simple FAQ on how it all went down, why it matters and what might come next.
Your Streetlight Will Feel You
The city is installing thousands of street lights equipped with sensors “to gather and disseminate data on traffic, parking availability, public safety and air quality,” City News Service reports. The sensors will both watch and listen.
It’s not immediately clear what the sensors will mean to the city’s public surveillance program, which has been troubled. In 2014, we reported that while the police department said it had access to cameras at 41 addresses as part of Operation Secure San Diego, half were useless and a touted live monitoring system didn’t exist.
The city is also replacing 14,000 of 60,100 streetlights with new versions that will save energy by adjusting to the outside light. Reuters reports that the upgrade will cost $30 million and save $2.4 million a year.
New Suit Over Balboa Park Redo
Cory Briggs, the local attorney whose lawsuits bring misery to cities across Southern California when they try to build projects, now has his eye on Balboa Park’s resurrected Plaza de Panama redo. He’s suing over the planned financing of the project, the Reader reports.
North County Report: Issa’s a No Show
While he did meet with angry constituents the other day, Rep. Darrell Issa declined to drop by a town hall-style meeting arranged by his foes. That story leads off this week’s VOSD North County Report.
As many as 1,000 people showed up, the U-T reported, to support Obamacare and rip into the Trump administration. Holding a meeting this big isn’t cheap (nor was buying a full-page ad asking Issa to come); our reporting shows the event was organized and funded by unions and health care advocacy groups.
Also in the report: Time’s run out for the Del Mar Fairground’s Don Diego clock and planning advisers in Encinitas aren’t on board with a new-bar ban downtown.
• The New York Times writes that the only, small, chance Democrats have to take the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives is to beat Republican incumbents like Issa who represent “relatively well-educated, metropolitan districts with above average Hispanic populations” that voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. The Times writer believes Issa is the most vulnerable of them.
Heads Up on SoccerCity Traffic
A new report suggests that the traffic from the proposed $1 billion SoccerCity development could be much worse than during the days of the Chargers, the U-T reports. And in a case of the-call’s-coming-from-inside-the-house, this news comes from the people who are pushing the project, although there’s already some nothing-to-see-here-style talk.
Boosters said various improvements will keep the traffic at no worse than current levels.
They want to bypass red tape by using a petition drive to force the City Council to either approve the project or put it up for a vote.
• U-T columnist Logan Jenkins notes that skeptics figure “the fix is in” noting that “the more rigged this deal looks, the more likely lawsuits and/or a referendum if the council approves the initiative without a public vote.”
Wheel! Of! San Diego History!
“Wheel of Fortune” is in San Diego this week (don’t ask me why I know this), and it’s highlighting the Hotel Del Coronado. In a promo, Pat Sajak even referred to the hotel’s famous ghost.
A while back, I wrote a history flashback story for VOSD about the mysteriously dead (and very real) 24-year-old Kate Morgan, who was found shot to death on the hotel’s steps in a stormy night in 1892: “She might have been a grifter known for conning men with her husband in railway cars. Maybe she was pregnant and fell into despair after giving herself an abortion. Perhaps she did herself in; she’d bought a handgun across the bay just the other day.”
We still don’t know what happened to the “Beautiful Stranger,” but paranormal researchers hope to find her at the Del someday and maybe get some answers.
• PBS aired a nifty two-hour documentary this week about the late author, poet, singer and dancer Maya Angelou. But it left out an important bit of her personal history: Her time in San Diego as a madam.
As I wrote in 2014 after she died, Angelou landed here in the 1940s. She “took classes at a dance studio, read Russian novels at the library and eventually convinced two lesbians she had met when she first arrived in San Diego to let her pimp them out. Not to women, but to men.”
Quick News Hits: Diagnosis Narcissism
• CityBeat explores a massive class-action suit by servicemembers who say they were poisoned by the Japanese nuclear plant disaster in 2011.
• A man committed suicide at a local border crossing after being deported from the United States for the third time. (BBC)
• San Diego City Councilman Scott Sherman wants the city to explore not airing video of the public comment period at City Council meetings. CityBeat columnist John R. Lamb translates what’s behind this: “The same people approach the City Council with the same issues that never get resolved, ergo we should cut their video feed at meetings.” For his part, Sherman says: “You can bring a PowerPoint and then it comes up and you’ll see obscene gestures and those kinds of things, and I don’t really want that going out over public television. Check out yesterday’s.” (I declined, but you can.)
• At a packed meeting, the head of the San Diego Unified teachers union told the school board this week that an estimated 850 planned layoffs are a bad idea: “we know there are better ways to resolve the budget challenges, such as retirement incentives, natural attrition, reducing administrative costs and full-fledged efforts to reduce declining enrollment,” the U-T reports.
• An L.A. Times columnist travels to Coronado to check in with psychiatrist Dr. Allen Frances, 74, the world’s leading expert on narcissistic personality disorder.
In a recent letter to the N.Y. Times, Frances declared that the president doesn’t suffer from the disorder. It’s also unethical, he says, to diagnose someone from afar. (But… Never mind.)
Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. He is also immediate past president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). Please contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.