|| A Watchdog Record of San Diego & Related CA Topics Past and Present:
The City's Code Monitoring Team: Foxes guard the henhouse: San Diego Reader, CITY LIGHTS—By Dorian Hargrove, Dec. 18, 2013
It reads like a page out of a comic book: an underground team of developers and building-industry professionals whose sole mission is to change land-use policies, in some cases easing development regulations.
But this isn't a work of fiction; it occurs once a month at City Hall when a group of developers, lobbyists, and architects meet to reshape San Diego's land-development code. Their suggestions appear on the front page of staff reports to council committees and planning-commission dockets.
The Code Monitoring Team, established in 1998, is an 18-person team responsible for finding holes in San Diego's code and offering ideas on how to fill them.
But over the years, the team has become policy-driven, concerned more with crafting ordinances than drafting fixes to the current code.
Some residents are beginning to voice concerns about what they feel is an autonomous and largely unregulated group.
Unlike any other city committees, subcommittees, or even community-planning groups, the Code Monitoring Team is not required to follow even the most basic provisions from the Brown Act or other public meeting laws, such as posting agendas or documenting votes at meetings. Members are not required to file economic interest disclosures, as is the case with volunteer planners and city officials. Full Article and Comments
San Diego Free Press: Virtual Mayoral Forum— Gives you some idea of where they stand and their statagies in solving problems.
S.D. Free Press put together a series of 8 questions they felt were unique, not too open ended and not trite. They published one response from the candidates per day (Mon.-Fri.) so readers can see the verbatim responses side by side. Kevin Faulconer's campaign is refused to participate. They assume after trying to get them involved– their non-response sends a message about their openness to the citizens in this city. You can decide what that message is.
Topics they were asked about: Managed competition, Looking back on the Plaza de Panama controversy, The Building Permit Process is a Hot Mess and Plans for the Planning Department, Walkable/Bikeable Neighborhoods and Public Transit, here, Fixing the Infrastructure, What About the Homeless? Click: Virtual Mayoral Forum
Numbers Runner: http://numbersrunner.blogspot.com
With another round of Mayoral Elections undewrway we thought it might be a good time to remind people about one of San Diego's most important laws that has lasted 40 Years!
Tunnels Under San Diego’s 30 Foot Height Limit in the Coastal Zone- OB RAG– Part 2
That Time Kevin Faulconer's Own Community Plan Threatened a Manufacturer Voice of San Diego 10/11/13- Excerpt: The mailer this week claims Faulconer "helped bring leaders together from the community and nearly every level of government to keep Solar Turbines in San Diego."
That may be. But five years earlier, Faulconer and a crucial majority of his colleagues did not heed Solar Turbines' pleas not let this happen in the first place. full article
(SD Coastal Comment: Kevin did a similar thing with O.B.s Librarary soon after its 80th Anniversary Celebration, he and Sanders tried to close it. After major community protest they turned around with lots of press fanfare as saviors! They should never have put it on the closure list in the first place!
Also, In UT 9/12/13 "Mayor's Race 2013: On Neighborhoods" the second paragraph on the Methane Trucking which Faulconer originally voted for. It only took 2 years and 700 signatures to change his mind !!!!!!)
READ: Fly on the Wall: Tense Confab to Rally Behind Faulconer
It was Saturday, Aug. 31. No Republican had announced his or her intention to run to replace Mayor Bob Filner, whose term in office ended quietly the night before.
A group of about 30 of the city's most influential conservatives and right-of-center business representatives assembled at developer Tom Sudberry's La Jolla estate. Link t:o: Article (We ask who were the others of the 30 at this gig? ...Gorton, Goldsmith, any elected or past politicians?)
Warning Stop this NOW!— The CA Assembly Appropriations Committee is scheduled to hear a bill TOMORROW, Wed., August 21, 2013, that would bring back redevelopment to the state of California.
After such a hard-fought battle by dedicated activists like you, we can't allow this bill to pass.
S.B. 1, introduced by Senator Darrell Steinberg, would create "Sustainable Communities Investment Authorities," which would have the power to use eminent domain to seize private property for private development—reviving the potential for landgrabs that we have fought against together for years.
For more information about the bill, read Steven Greenhut's piece in the San Diego Union-Tribune, "Déjà vu all over again as 'redevelopment' reappears."
Your representatives and State senators need to hear from you TODAY. Please call them immediately and tell them to vote against S.B. 1. Let them know that Californians will not stand for the revival of redevelopment in any shape or form.
—Institute for Justice
Senate Bill 1 and Bill 273: Redevelopment with New Name and Gutting of CEQA— CA Assembly Committee meetings, on TV, Weds Aug, 13th., showed a new form of Redevelopment is being pushed! Senate Bill 1 would allow eminent domain for private use— without even having to prove"blight". It includes tax increment once again going to development projects to be decided by local Government. This with the gutting of major CEQA protections in Senate Bill 273 is sad news that could bring us back into the horrors of Redevelopment, more debt and massive development running amuck!
Excerpt: Steinberg told committee members that he's particularly interested in making it much easier for developers of high-density, transit-friendly "infill" projects to win environmental clearance. He is the author of legislation that requires local governments to favor projects of that ilk to reduce sprawl and pollution.
Steinberg said he wants new provisions on infill projects that are "much less prescriptive, much less specific" to "jumpstart economic development." He also tied CEQA reform to another bill he's carrying this year, Senate Bill 1, which would re-create a form of redevelopment aimed at "sustainable development." The Local Government Committee approved that measure. Full Article
July 4th, 2013 Launches Independent Radio
Radio by the people, for the people & of the people
TUNE IN to 89.1 FM or log in at KNSJ.org
Political Commentary: Belly-whopping from the deep end: You look for professional standards from your dentist, don't you? the butcher at Vons? Does it make sense to accept anything less from your elected politicians? So how come we countenance moronic decisions that purport to be in the best interests of San Diego's 1.3 million residents but, in reality, stick a thumb in the public eye? Click: http://numbersrunner.blogspot.com
U-T Political Ads Don't Ad Up
This story was updated with comment from the FPPC.
April 5, 2013, By Ryann Grochowski, Amita Sharma
Excerpt: Aired 4/5/13- An inewsource and KPBS investigation found the U-T San Diego appears to have offered discounts to favored candidates and causes in last November’s election.
SAN DIEGO — Campaign strategist Tom Shepard grew more suspicious by the day last fall as he flipped through the U-T San Diego and repeatedly saw full-page ads lambasting his client Bob Filner, a Democrat running for mayor.
“It made me wonder whether they were crazy,” Shepard said. “When I started seeing ads from the other side running as often as they did, it made me wonder — if they were paying $8,000 an ad, they were spending an enormous amount on newspaper advertising.” Investigation Details
inewsource and KPBS looked at every page of every U-T San Diego between Sept. 3 and Nov. 6, 2012 (Election Day), to document publication of political ads. Each ad was entered into a spreadsheet, noting the candidate, committee paying for the ad, the date the ad ran and the size and placement of the ad. We repeated this step twice for accuracy.
We then looked at any payments made by the committees to the U-T for ads. We also checked for any in-kind contributions from U-T executives.
Ad rates were calculated using the reported payments to U-T San Diego divided by ads published.
For a full list of the ads, click here.
The $8,000 per full page is what Shepard said the U-T quoted Filner’s campaign for advertising. Campaign finance disclosures, however, show the other side paid far less.
This discrepancy — and others discovered by the inewsource and KPBS Investigations Desk — could violate campaign laws.
“It’s clearly not appropriate for a news organization to make that kind of contribution without reporting it,” said Dan Schnur, former chairman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, now director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC.
Gary Winuk, chief of the FPPC's Enforcement Division, says the agency is evaluating the information to determine whether to open an investigation. Full Story: U-T San Diego Political Ads Don't Add Up
Most San Diegans and Historians are happy about this case: Adios, Plaza de Panama project? Judge tentatively rules that City Council approval broke municipal law—By John R. Lamb
Excerpt: Could this coming Friday mark the end of the road for Irwin Jacobs' contentious $45-million makeover plan for Balboa Park?
No one yet knows for sure, but a tentative ruling issued last Friday in a Superior Court case pitting the city and the Plaza de Panama Committee, which is led by Qualcomm co-founder Jacobs, against local preservationists and their supporters would likely, if upheld, present a major setback.
In a seemingly anguished preliminary ruling, Superior Court Judge Timothy Taylor concludes that while the months-long public deliberative process over the controversial park remodel project was adequate, the city "abused its discretion" by finding that "economic hardship" would result if the plan were rejected.
In the city's Municipal Code, "economic hardship" is defined in this case as "no reasonable beneficial use of the property," and it was this finding that a majority of the San Diego City Council invoked to justify altering the historic park when it approved the project in July. Full Article
Love Our Coast... LOVE the 30 Foot Coastal Height Limit Law!Celebrating the 30 Foot Height Limit As It Turns 40
by FRANK GORMLIE on NOVEMBER 28, 2012, OBRag
The celebration begins as Pat James, President of the OB Historical Society welcomes everyone.
The room was packed, standing room only the other night as the OB Historical Society led all of us in a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the 30 foot height limit. The downstairs community room of the Methodist Church on Sunset Cliffs Blvd. opens its doors every month to the OBHS presentations, and the night of November 15th was no exception as Society president Pat James welcomed the crowd.
Nearly 50 OBceans and friends had come to hear speakers and presentations on this historic fight four decades ago to preserve San Diego’s coast, and I saw many people in the audience who had waged their own battles to save OB over the years.
After a few brief announcements, Pat introduced the main speaker, Alex Leondis, who was one of the main organizers in the effort to place the thirty-foot limit on coastal construction onto conservative San Diego’s ballot – way back in the early 1970′s. The initiative did pass in 1972 – marking this year as its 40th birthday. And the Historical Society folks are so thoughtful and friendly to allow us to celebrate the historic people’s law with them. Full Article
REAL CONCERN: Despite disturbing finding, Edison seeks to restart trouble-prone nuclear facility: Hearing Nov. 30 in Laguna Hills as nine cities voice concerns over safety issues- By Miriam Raftery November 30, 2012 (San Diego)—Southern California Edison has notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of possible sabotage at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating facility, after finding coolant poured in the oil reservoir of an emergency backup generator at Unit 3, Energy News reports.
The FBI is taking over the investigation and criminal charges are possible, according to a plant employee who spoke under condition of anonymity, fearing reprisals, Huffington Post reports tonight. Previous news stories have speculated that a disgruntled employee could be the culprit due to recent layoff announcements, though the NRC and FBI have not ruled out terrorism.
Failure of emergency generators at Fukushima were key factors in that plant's meltdown last year. A meltdown at San Onofre would force evacuation of San Diego, portions of East County and also parts of Orange and Riverside counties and could potentially leave the region contaminated for generations.
If the coolant had not been found at San Onofre and the generators activated, Edison indicated that a control that prevents the generator from running too fast would have failed, John Reynosa, a Nuclear Regulatory Commission Inspector at San Onofre, said, Energy News reported on November 9 when the discovery was initially made. READ THE FULL STORY
EVANS INSIDER DEAL...Sander's going away present?— Oddities Surrounding the Bahia Resort’s Lease Extension, Voice of San Diego, By ANDREW KEATTSFROM THE REPORTER: What Happened? The City Council voted to give an uncommon, perhaps unprecedented, 21-year lease extension to the owner of the Bahia Resort Hotel on Mission Bay. How Does it Work? The owner isn't required to make any improvements to the property, but if he gets a major redevelopment project approved, he's rewarded with a new, 50-year lease to help finance it. The city says this is all to encourage a major redevelopment. Why Is it Odd? Most lease extensions require redevelopment of city property. The lease was also rushed through the City Council a week before Mayor Bob Filner's inauguration.
Looks like our NEW MAYOR FILNER is going to be a "SMART Mayor" along with being a "STRONG Mayor": Filner's first and only hire so far — former City Councilwoman Donna Frye — reflected his top priority. She'll be his director of open government and tasked with ensuring the public has prompt access to information and city officials.
NUMBER RUNNER: Doug Manchester's high-flying plan to convert the entire San Diego region to a super-conservative privately-held corporation is highlighted by his latest acquisition of the North County Times….Now he's ready for the kill. Aside from ownership of prime properties, newspapers of record and the airwaves, Manchester's most strategic acquisition occurred this past season with his official and financial sponsorship (purchase?) of Carl DeMaio for mayor…. READ MORE
UT Failings in NY Times! — THE MEDIA EQUATION
Newspaper as Business Pulpit, By DAVID CARR, NY Times, June 10, 2012-Excerpt: There is a growing worry that the falling value and failing business models of many American newspapers could lead to a situation where moneyed interests buy papers and use them to prosecute a political and commercial agenda.
That future appears to have arrived in San Diego, where The U-T San Diego, the daily newspaper bought by the local developer and hotelier Douglas F. Manchester, often seems like a brochure for his various interests.
Mr. Manchester is anti-big government, anti-tax and anti-gay marriage. And he’s in favor of a remade San Diego centered around a new downtown waterfront stadium and arena.
Public agencies that have not gotten the hint have found themselves investigated in the news pages of The U-T. A sports columnist who was skeptical of the plans found himself out of a job, and the newspaper has published front-page editorials and wraparound sections to promote political allies who share its agenda. According to several employees at the paper, a feature called “Making a Difference” has included flattering profiles of many of Mr. Manchester’s associates. Full Article
CA LEAGUE OF CITIES Uses Very Questionable Tactics! - League of California Cities Touts Openness but Shuns Disclosure Requirements
July 25, 2012-Don Bauder, The San Diego Reader City Lights, Questions the transparency of the California League of Cities. Along with the California Redevelopment Association, the League was, and still is, one of the big promoters of redevelopment. In fact, the League is working on schemes to try to revive redevelopment. According to Bauder, the League claims they do not need to follow the Brown Act nor do they need to follow usual IRS procedures for disclosing funding sources. Click Full Article.
NAVY BROADWAY LITIGATION: Court Accepts Friends of the Court Brief in Navy Broadway Litigation
SAN DIEGO-- Federal District Judge Jeffrey Miller today granted Downtown
Homeowners and Save Our Waterfront leave to file an amici curiae, or friend of the Court brief in pending litigation challenging the environmental review process for the Navy-Broadway project proposed by the Manchester Investment Group.
The two groups who filed the brief include residents of the residential buildings in theproximity of the proposed Navy Broadway Complex proposed by developer Doug Manchester. The proposed project would include construction of a new Navy headquarters that would provide logistic support for the Navy's global war on terrorism.
The groups are concerned about the danger local residents and members of the public face as a result of the proposed location of the Navy headquarters immediately next to popular tourist destinations and a heavily populated urban area. The project would be directly across Pacific Highway to the west of the Harborview apartments, and near to the Embassy Suites Hotel in downtown San Diego. It would also be within 500 feet of the popular USS Midway Museum tourist attraction. Thus, it could become a significant target of terrorist attacks. The groups are concerned that the Navy failed to conduct an in-depth assessment of the potential effects of a terrorist attack on the site before approving large new buildings for it, thus failing to ensure the highest level of protection possible for the project site and its surroundings. The Navy's approval was originally granted based on an environmental review done in 1990 and a development agreement approved in December 1992, long before the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11, 2001. The groups point out that there are alternative locations for the construction of a Naval headquarters, including within the secure perimeter of one of the existing military bases in the area, that would be far more secure for the headquarters and for people nearby.
Judy Radke, a resident in the Electra Tower residential building and member of Downtown Homeowners, stated, "We are pleased that the Judge decided to accept the brief so our concerns will be considered by the Court. We are uniquely positioned near, and will be uniquely impacted by, whatever is approved for construction at the Navy Broadway site. We would like to see the safety and security of the entire area is ensured to the greatest extent possible, without a rush to judgment that there is nothing to worry about."
The environmental and land use firm of Chatten-Brown & Carstens represented the groups in filing the brief. Chatten-Brown & Carstens has long had a statewide environmental practice with offices in Los Angeles and opened its San Diego office last year. The firm specializes in CEQA, NEPA, land use laws, as well as various natural resource laws, including water and air quality, and represents environmental andcommunity groups, and government agencies seeking to enforce environmental and land use laws.
The Destuctive Balboa Park Plan 6-1 vote July 9 by City Council
Other than Sherrie Lightner, Council Members including DeMio voted for Sanders-Jacobs herendous plan! Hold your councilperson's responcible (except for Sherri Lightner) ignored the majority of their constituents in doing what is best for Balboa Park.
SD Planning Commission blantantly ignored facts and historical preservation to kowtow to Jacobs, then Council followed! Both meets were embaracements and a slap in the face to a majority of San Dieagans! We need your help in defeating the destructive, ill-conceived and costly redevelopment plan for Balboa Park by supporting SOHO's lawsuits. Wehave a groundswell of opposition to the Plaza de Panama Committee's plan that would irreparably harm the Cabrillo Bridge, Alcazar Garden, Palm Canyon and other parts of the park. The House of Pacific Relations and the Spreckels Organ Society voted for an alternative plan to the proposed project, joining over 30 other community organizations, planning boards, and institutions. And both the Park and Recreation Board and the Historical Resources Board sent a recommendation to Council to deny the project.
The Plaza de Panama team and the mayor's office exerted tremendous pressure on the institutions and on many of the organizations that call Balboa Park their home, and to board members and commissions that are in any were been made, unfair treatment, retribution as some board members are now learning they will not be re-appointed, politicians were lobbied with promises of campaign help and much more. This kind of bullying and intimidation must be met with our direct action. Sign the new petition
Even South Park Nails San Diego and our "bought 'n paid for" Mayor Sanders in Jackin' It In San Diego: NumbersRunner, a political commentary on decision-making and ethics in San Diego government- It's hard to deny: jackin-it-in-san-diego nails us on our sunburned heads with its spot-on depiction of our city as a picturesque, feel-good, simple-minded, trivial-pursuit vacation mecca -- exactly the branding painstakingly promoted by our high-powered hotel (aka "hospitality") industry and ConVis (Convention and Visitors Bureau). Think San Diego and up pops the zoo…palm trees…del Coronado (OK, not officially SD)…Gaslamp Quarter…yachts and sail boats on an azure bay…Sea World…the clearest blue skies this side of heaven. read more
Redevelopment Pigs Want Back at the Trough
Don Bauder, March 28, 2012 "City Lights" the Reader: Excerpts: Now, successor agencies have long lists of so-called "enforceable obligation payment schedules," or projects that, they assert, must legally go forward, even with the redevelopment agencies shuttered. San Diego has a stunning $6.5 billion worth of these projects on its list, and half are downtown, which for decades has pigged out while the rest of the city and its infrastructure starved.
"It's not clear to me how much staff the Department of Finance has to verify these lists," says former councilmember Donna Frye, warning that cities padding those lists might suffer some unforeseen consequences.
The pro-development forces are saying that redevelopment can come back in some modified form for such do-good purposes as affordable housing. But that's just a stalking horse. Frye, for instance, would like to see money go to public projects such as affordable housing, but she is realistic. "I would like to believe that private projects would be less likely to be approved," she says, "but I can't say that, given the politics and cronyism" in state and local government.
"There will be public-private resources that flow to [private sector] developments," says Bruvold. Those subsidized private deals, such as for a pro sports stadium and hotels "have a big megaphone with local media," he notes. He even believes that a new Chargers stadium will be built.
Mayor Jerry Sanders wants Centre City Development Corporation, which has spearheaded the downtown money hogging, to be in charge of planning throughout the city. full article
Congratulations a GOOD GUY WINS!!! Mel Shapiro, a longtime activist, civil watchdog and "major thorn in the side of government officials" was honored with this year's Sunshine Award from the San Diego chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. The ceremony took place Friday in the San Diego City Clerk's Office."It is fitting that Mr. Shapiro returns to the scene of his 'crimes' to be honored for his efforts at transparency in government," the organization said in a statement. "We are sure some government officials wish he would go away."Shapiro, 84, was featured in a front-page report in The Wall Street Journal. Recently, he sued the City Attorney's Office to force disclosure of details about calls to the city's whistle-blower hotline.The organization's two previous winners were former San Diego City Councilwoman Donna Frye and state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco. U-T staff writer Christopher Cadelago serves on the board. NOTE: Mel has been a pitbull going after city abuse and illegal activities including: CCDC and Redevelopment, political non-profits, transparency, illegal contributions/conflicts of interests, land scams and other misdeeds by San Diego Government and baddies. Thank You Mel!
Supervisors Back Off, CalAware Drops Legal Challenge
Terry Francke February 07, 2012 Awareness Excerpts: Area: Government, Awareness Area: Land Use, Legal Issue: Open Meetings Comments Off Californians Aware will not pursue its Brown Act lawsuit against the San Diego County Board of Supervisors after the Board today rescinded its action taken early last month immediately to approve a number of recommendations from a committee billed on the agenda as being received for possible further study. But CalAware says if similar maneuvers are repeated, it will sue again and not withdraw. Chris Nichols reports for the North County Times.
A government watchdog group has dropped a lawsuit saying San Diego County officials deceived the public and violated an open meeting law in Dec., the group's attorney said on Tues..
In a related move, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors agreed Tues. to withdraw its Dec. 7 vote at the center of the lawsuit. The vote streamlined several county development rules. "If we find something like this again … we will file an action and stay with it to final judgement," said Terry Francke, attorney for Californians Aware, the Sacramento-area group that filed and then withdrew the suit.
The board's Dec. 7 agenda indicated supervisors would send streamlining proposals —- made by a board-appointed "red tape reduction" panel —- back to county planners for further evaluation.
Instead, supervisors approved many of the proposals moments after consulting a list of staff recommendations not made public.... The board violated the state's Brown Act, which governs public meetings.
He said supervisors heeded secret staff advice on the proposals, while the public was given contradictory information about what county staff members advised.
The county, without admitting any wrongdoing, said earlier this month that the board would vacate the vote but not challenge the lawsuit, to save taxpayers the cost of defending the suit. Supervisors will again consider the vote and take public testimony on Feb. 29.
Tom Montgomery, the county's top attorney, said ...supervisors are not required to act on staff recommendations listed on the public agendas —- to avoid the confusion some members of the public said they had with the Dec. 7 vote.
Francke said Montgomery's statement was "quite beside the point." He said the county's violation was providing secret advice to the board, not the board straying from advice printed on the agenda.
YAHOO GREAT NEWS REDEVELOPMENT IS DEAD!
'Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson talks redevelopment':
A sampling of S.D. comments sent to us on the court RDA ruling:"I can't stand the low income housing B.S., when a mass amount of house are in forclosure and cheap properties availble in SD and CA way below what can be built for".; Watch out for the games played with the RDA properties and money...insiders still feel they are entitled to scew the public. Yes! Finally!!!!!!!!!!: COOL!: It’s about time!: It is terrific: though I am sure there will be challenges; Yay!; Once in a while we win one...HIP HIP HOORAY! Now we have to see Sanders wiggle around trying to get out of emptying those posh rental quarters of the agency personnel. Then there is the cessation of his theft of redevelopment money for his pet downtown projects which will now go back towards schools. Congratulations Redevelopment Fighters! I feel sooo sad for the greedy bastards.
Thank Governor Brown for helping END Redevelopment and its TAX DRAIN and Eminent Domain Abuses!
California's Redevelopment Nightmare Coming To An End.
California Supreme Court Upholds Law Abolishing Redevelopment Agencies
Arlington, Va.—In a landmark victory for private property owners in the Golden State, the California Supreme Court today upheld a statute abolishing the nearly 400 redevelopment agencies across the state. The court also struck down a law that would have allowed these agencies to buy their way back into existence. The final outcome of the case is that, in 2012, California's decades-long redevelopment nightmare will finally come to an end.
California redevelopment agencies have been some of the worst abusers of eminent domain for decades, violating the private property rights of tens of thousands of home, business, church and farm owners. The Institute for Justice has catalogued more than 200 abuses of eminent domain across California during the past ten years alone. In California Scheming: What Every Californian Should Know About Eminent Domain Abuse, the Institute for Justice exposed the enormous amounts of taxpayer money used to fund these illegitimate land grabs. In fiscal year 2005-2006 alone, redevelopment agencies' revenues were an astonishing $8.7 billion. In other words, 12 percent of all property taxes in California that year were sent to these bureaucrats. Full Article:
Redevelopment. US Tracking news of redevelopment abuse in California and across the nations! December 29, 2011 by MORR- California Supreme Court set to rule on redevelopment money tomorrow
State Supreme Court upholds abolition of redevelopment agencies
Orange County Register | In a decision that could spell the end of redevelopment agencies in California, the state Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the Legislature had the authority to seize $1.7 billion in local redevelopment money to help balance the budget, and struck down a related bill that would have allowed redevelopment agencies to continue operating if they agreed to turn over a large chunk of their funding to the state.The ruling would seem to prevent local redevelopment agencies from engaging in new business and would lead to their eventual dissolution. [CONTINUE READING]
San Diego is threatening schools!!! For years Redevelopment has robbed them tax funding. Info: "Redevelopment derives 40% of its funding from property tax revenue that should have gone to local schools. The SDUSD should file an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in defense of the state's recent maneuvers to defund redevelopment. The LA Unified School District did. This was information presented at the MORR conference." The same developers that pushed Redevelopment are looking to get School properties at firesale prices! Voice your concernes with the SD School District, City Council and Mayor. Don't let our children and teachers be cheated by the greedy selfserving who have suck this town dry from the use of Redevelopment!
Read: De-development nightmare haunts California business
Oct.17, 2011 by MORR, CalWatchdog.com FULL ARTICLE
The Voice of San Diego article New Governor to Eliminate Redevelopment? Here's the link to Governor Brown's office: http://gov.ca.gov/m_contact.php Please contact him and tell him what a terrific ideas this is!
OB ALERT! —City Prepared a Draft EIR O.B. Community Plan Update, Mad residents turned up at Scoping Meeting AUG. 9, 2011at OB Rec. Center, Reports: OB Residents Unhappy With Increased Density, Reader, By Dave Rice
“Public Hearing” on Ocean Beach Proposed Density Increase Falls Flat, OB RAG
On July 26, the city gave notice that it will prepare the draft environmental impact report for the Ocean Beach Community Plan Update. O.B. denizens will have a chance to comment on the proposed draft report at scoping meeting on August 9.
The proposed community plan update would allow additional dwelling units on 99 parcels, or 121 acres, in the small coastal community. Current zoning in that area calls for 9 dwelling units per acre. The proposed changes would change that to 15 dwelling units per acre, a net increase of 126 units.
That's just in one area of Ocean Beach. In all, if the proposed zoning amendments remain, the community will see an increase of 1,399 dwelling units.
And while some residents are unsettled by the thought of bringing more density to an already densely populated area, City planners hope to move forward with the City of Villages growth strategy.
The draft environmental documents will address potential land use issues as well as impacts to quality of life, economic viability, and the preservation of historical beach cottages..... The OB Planning Board and many community members said "NO" to increase in Floor Racial Area. Now the city is at it again! .....Sanders added a $500 fee/every five years to Mills act owners, then got rid of the Historian at the City. How serious is the city on preserving our OB Cottages at a time so many residents have been fixing them up? How many developers would like to turn us into PB or MB? HELP KEEP THE EXISTANCE OF OCEAN BEACH THE ALREADY WALKABLE WONDERFUL BEACH TOWN IT IS! VOICE YOU CONCERN TO THE CITY on the EIR Concerns!
SAVE SAN DIEGO'S GREAT PUBLIC WATER FRONT!
Save coastal Broadway Landing Park, N. Embarcadero Public Piers... Raise tourist revenue to fund libraries and park and rec. Contact for more info.
SAVE FAT CITY/TOP's NIGHTCLUB—Add your voice to save this San Diego landmark -A beloved San Diego Landmark, Fat City, is in the cross hair of demolition. Help save this Streamline Art Deco building. Express your concern and opposition to demolition of this iconic building. See YouTube Video
IMPORTANT OB RAG REPORT: How the City Is Gentrifying Ocean Beach – the Saga of the Cox Residence on West Pt. Loma.
25 May 25, 2011
Tom Gawronski is very worried about the future of Ocean Beach. As the Planning Board representative for District 1, he's especially worried about that section of West Pt Loma Boulevard that curves around down at the beach, west of Abbott Street. Gawronski sees the row of single-story duplexes along that stretch of boulevard as the front lines of the City of San Diego's efforts to allow the gentrification of Ocean Beach. As a retired molecular biologist, Tom is not easily shaken. But he's agitated now. – Full Story
Jerry Brown's Good Deeds Get Punished
California's governor wants to close his state's redevelopment agencies, which abuse property rights and breed dependency among city governments.
By STEVEN GREENHUT, Wall Street Journal, Sacramento—Forced to choose between funding public schools and subsidizing ritzy golf courses, many California officials prefer the latter. That's become painfully clear in the past few weeks as Golden State politicians have fiercely opposed Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to shave $1.7 billion from the state's budget deficit by shuttering California's 400 redevelopment agencies.
The roots of this story go back to 1945, when the California legislature allowed cities and counties to form these redevelopment agencies. Their purpose, at least in theory, was to fight urban blight. Once public officials deem an area blighted, redevelopment agencies can use eminent domain to clear old properties and sell bonds to pay for improvements.
To pay off the bonds, the agencies gobble up any subsequent increase in tax revenue—what the state calls the "tax increment." In addition, a portion of the sales taxes generated by the new retail and commercial centers go into city, not state, coffers. That's the main reason redevelopment agencies are popular among local politicians, Republican and Democratic alike. (Plus, they allow pols to reward favored corporations and developers.)
But in the last 60-some years, redevelopment agencies have become fiefdoms that run up enormous debt and abuse eminent domain by transferring private property to large developers promising to build tax-generating bonanzas. Today, there are 749 such projects. In the late 1950s, there were only nine. According to the state controller, redevelopment agencies consume about 12% of all state-wide property taxes—money that would otherwise go to critical public services. Full Articlel
$4 Billion of Redevelopment Projects Approved at a San Diego Special Council on Feb. 28, 2011
March 1, 2011- The San Diego City Council fast-track approval of 4 billion in future redevelopment projects was a move to protect the projects in case redevelopment agencies are closed under Gov. Jerry Brown's budget plan.
A spokeswoman for the governor, criticized cities' efforts to shield redevelopment funds while they are making cuts to local schools and services.
Each project will eventually have to be approved individually before construction begins, but the council on a 5-2 vote approved a cooperation agreement with the agency that provides a roadmap of future redevelopment in the city.
Critics noted little details were privided about the projects and in the case of the Sports Arena the new name change wasn't used.
Councilmembers David Alvarez and Sherri Lightner, who represents La Jolla, cast the dissenting votes. Councilwoman Marti Emerald was not present.
The planned projects include lan expensive cleaning up of pollution on a downtown site under consideration for the new Chargers' stadium. Why are they spending this money when there is NO project, NO money to build a stadium? Seems Sander's and his buddies in council are still pushing for a subsidised stadium for a billionaire owner? Smells of future "Bait n' Switch" deals with the publics money!
The City, like the "Back Room Raising of the cap", is once again is trying to force these deals through. There is debate as to whether projects approved now for completion later would still be able to move forward if redevelopment agencies, funded by local property tax dollars, are eliminated through Brown's budget proposal.
Alvarez said city officials have lost sight of the original purpose of redevelopment: to remove blight. "The truth is, redevelopment is going to be eliminated and we have to accept it," Alvarez said.
A spokesman for Brown said cities don't need redevelopment to continue these projects.
"It's a shame that local elected officials are rushing to shift billions of taxpayer dollars into redevelopment projects while simultaneously proposing major cuts to education, public safety and other core services," Evan Westrup said.
San Diego Stuck State With Schools' Big Bill- Reported by Voice of San Diego, In the chaotic moments before San Diego redevelopment deal passed the state assembly, documents show that San Diego leaders opted to force the state to pay a multi-million-dollar tab for school funding, to the benefit of downtown. READ FULL STORY: http://vosd.org/hN2jym Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher sent a draft version of the bill to San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders' then chief of staff. It included language that put the city's downtown redevelopment agency on the hook for school funding. The city balked. The final bill made school funding the state's responsibility -- a decision that could mean hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Still, a chief opponent of the legislation, Assemblyman Chris Norby, though he had enough votes to defeat the legislation. As budget talks continued through the night, he took a nap. He awoke to find it had passed at 3 a.m. The state Senate approved the bill soon afterward without debate. If you have any questions about it, you can contact government reporter Liam Dillon directly at email@example.com
Daniel Borenstein: Brown is right to disband redevelopment agenciesrn
By Daniel Borenstein, Contra Costa Times Staff columnist, Jan. 22 2011 THE SCREAMS from cities about Gov. Jerry Brown's plans to disband about 400 redevelopment agencies across the state are shameful and hypocritical. "`While city officials claim the state is trying to raid their funds, it's actually the cities, using their redevelopment agencies, that have been siphoning billions of dollars from badly needed government services and spending the money on projects that often have little to do with cleaning up blight. The redevelopment scam, which has turned into a windfall for developers, bond marketers, planning consultants and professional sports teams, has racked up $88 billion in public debt statewide -- without voter approval. It should have been ended decades ago. Kudos to the governor for finally taking it on. READ Full Article
READ! Don Bauder on his Reader blog, "Scam Diego," wrote about the recent ruling by Judge Joan Lewis. Essentially, in ruling that it is permissible to transfer over $31 million of Grantville's property tax to pay for downtown improvements, she ruled that the government may do something illegal, as long as it takes multiple, small, technically-legal steps to do so. Please go to: Financial-Crime-Grantville-Redevelopment
The TRUE story behind raising the CCDC cap.
by Pat Flannery, Blog od San Diego
Outrageous: Sanders and Dumanus "Smell" when it comes to a 2-Year FBI Bribery, fraud and conflict of interest Investigation! Now 10 News is investigating them!
Mayor Questioned In Video Over Whistleblower's Firing.... Video Of SD Mayor Jerry Sanders Released As Part Of Wrongful Termination Suit November 10, 2010, SAN DIEGO -- 10News has obtained a video showing San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders as many have not seen him before: under oath and on the defensive. See full story and clip: http://www.10news.com/news/25754469/detail.html
Low-income residents suing over cap increase
by Kelly Davis, November 19, 2010, CityBeat
Five low-income San Diegans are suing the city of San Diego's Redevelopment Agency, alleging that legislation passed last month to allocate more money to Downtown redevelopment violated the state Constitution and redevelopment law.
The lawsuit (pdf), filed by San Diego attorneys Catherine Rodman and Scott Dreher and Pasadena attorney Christopher Sutton, argues that the way the cap increase happened—via a last-minute bill slipped into the state budget, and without a well-defined plan for how the additional redevelopment dollars should be spent—potentially deprives the plaintiffs of a decent, affordable place to live. All five plaintiffs are on fixed incomes and live in a shelter or in sub-par housing. The cap increase, they argue, should have been done with a focus on creating more affordable housing. Instead, by circumventing the process set out in state law: "They made it easier to build publicly-funded infrastructure and facilities, and avoided the obligation to allocate more funds for low-income housing as required under the redevelopment law."
Quick background: When Downtown San Diego was designated a redevelopment area in 1992, a cap—roughly $3 billion—was set on how much property-tax revenue could be collected and reinvested back into the area. That limit's expected to be hit in 10 years, leaving unfinished projects—including, potentially, a new Chargers stadium. While raising the cap normally requires a finding that an area's still blighted—as well as a plan for how the additional money will be spent to alleviate blight—the legislation, sponsored by state Assemblymember Nathan Fletcher, circumvented that process.
Though local redevelopment officials have said that what they did was perfectly legal, the lawsuit argues that they violated the law in several ways:
* State law requires the city to have amended its official plan for Downtown redevelopment before increasing the cap;
* The bill lifting the cap, SB 863 was passed one day after being read, violating a rule that says no bills can be passed until three days after they're read;
* SB 863 was wrongly designated an "urgency" statute to expedite its passage. But, according to the law, urgency statutes must be tied to "the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety."
* SB 863 violated the state Constitution's single-subject rule, which says a statute can only be about one thing. SB 863 is about two completely different things: property taxes for agricultural land and lifting the Downtown cap.
* No official finding of blight was ever made, a violation of state law.
* Along with the cap increase, contributions to a low- and moderate-housing fund should have been increased.
* Raising the cap means that other local taxing entities—the city, the county and school districts—are deprived of additional tax money they would have received had the cap not been lifted. The way the cap increase was done, the complaint argues, "unlawfully takes revenue from all other local taxing entities."
Plaintiffs, the complaint says, "bring this action to have this 'secret statute' voided."
Addendum: After this was posted, former City Attorney Mike Aguirre sent out an e-mail with a lawsuit he's filing against the cap increase. In his complaint, Aguirre argues, basically, that no legal finding of blight was made before the cap increase occurred.
Redevlopment is out of control! This proves it has to GO!
Downtown Chargers Stadium Boosted by State Legislators
much money other local governments, like San Diego County, could have in their coffers.
by Scott Lewis, Voice of San Diego
In the midst of a dramatic all-night budget negotiation, Sacramento lawmakers slipped in a bill that would give the state's approval to raising the cap on downtown San Diego redevelopment to support construction of a new NFL stadium.
The bill would allow San Diego's Centre City Development Corp. to raise its spending cap from $3 billion to $9 billion for downtown and continue sequestering tax dollars from the rest of the city, county and state.
The maneuvering came at an awkward time. For one, the city is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars supposedly studying whether downtown is blighted and needs to increase its redevelopment activity. It also comes as the City Council and mayor plea with residents to increase the city's sales tax or face drastic service cuts. Read FULL ARTICLE
The City of San Diego's hugest PUBLIC land and Accests GIVEAWAY IS About TO MAKE ANOTHER FINAL BAIT 'N SWITCH of the NTC DDA and what was promoised to the citezens!...Planning Board About To Give LIBERTY STATION Growth Plan A Larger Look
by ANTHONY GENTILE, BEACON- San Diego Community News Group
E xcerpt:The Peninsula Community Planning Board (PCPB) is taking a closer look at proposed changes to the potentially volatile NTC Precise Plan — the document governing growth and alterations at Liberty Station — before formally sharing its thoughts.
At the Sept. 16 PCPB meeting, the board’s NTC Precise Plan Subcommittee presented a summary of public comments gathered at a community meeting held in August.
Representatives from Corky McMillan Cos. originally presented the proposed changes to the NTC Precise Plan at the July PCPB meeting. The presentation included three amendments to building uses contained in the precise plan.
The first proposed amendment includes the expansion of the types of uses for the historical district buildings located at the north end of Liberty Station. Those buildings are currently reserved for visitor and community uses.
The second proposed change involves demolishing the Liberty Station Conference Center (Building 623), located at 2600 Laning Road, and replacing it with a 350-room hotel. The conference center is currently designated for public and private meeting space, with rates ranging from $2,500 to $3,250 for daily use. The third proposed change calls for the replacement of the Liberty Station Gymnasium (Building 271) with 30 residential units. full_story
San Diego Coastal Alliance ask ... How Bad Does A Project Have to Smell? ISN'T IT TIME FOR THE MAYOR, The PORT COMMISSIONERS and DISTRICT 2 COUNCILMAN TO RESIGN(and Jail Time)?
Port District Chief Wurster Resigns Suddenly
No reasons given for quick departure from $200,000-a-year post after just 21 months
By Pat Flynn, U-T, Sept. 25, 2010, updated Sept. 24, 2010
Excerpt: Charles Wurster resigned Friday as the president and CEO of the San Diego Unified Port District.
Charles Wurster, who was named president and CEO of the San Diego Unified Port District just 21 months ago, resigned abruptly Friday.
Wurster, a 62-year-old retired Coast Guard vice admiral, declined through a spokesman to be interviewed.
“He didn’t give any reasons,” said port spokesman Ron Powell. “He said it was time to move on.” (See following article and http://www.blogofsandiego.com/)
In a statement posted on the port’s website, Wurster said: “I am proud to have been associated with such a talented and dedicated group of public servants. You have shown your dedication to the missions of the Port District, and persevered through challenging economic times.”
Robert “Dukie” Valderrama, chairman of the seven-member Board of Port Commissioners, declined to discuss the resignation details.
“He submitted his resignation,” Valderrama said Friday afternoon. “He did a great job for us. We thank him very much for all the good work. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
Scott Peters, vice chairman of the board, said: “It’s appropriate for all of us to move on.”
Powell said Wurster will stay on for at least a week. No decisions on an interim successor or a search for a permanent replacement have been made, he said. Wurster earned about $200,000 in salary, plus a car allowance and other benefits. FULL ARTICLE:
Two Piers and a Park
How pressure from a cruise-ship company caused a ton of waterfront controversy
By David Rolland, City Beat, 9/15/10
During a Sept. 7 public meeting, Steve Cushman, a member of the Port of San Diego’s Board of Commissioners, made what was regarded by some as the most emphatic statement thus far in support of the notion that the Port promised to build a large public park between Harbor Drive and Broadway Pier.
“We put the oval park in [the Port Master Plan],” Cushman said. “Whether we like it or not, it’s history. But we did do it. I don’t care what anybody says—we printed it, we published it, we can show it to you.”
It was seen as pretty big news, and it buoyed a group of activists who’ve sued the Port over a large cruise-ship terminal nearing completion on Broadway Pier, a building that has been plopped smack in the way of the proposed park and potential year-round enjoyment of the pier itself. Port officials say a park isn’t possible because large supply trucks need that land to get to the terminal. But the activists have dug in their heels and, through a successful appeal this past April to the state Coastal Commission, have stalled a larger campaign to spruce up the waterfront.
Navy Broadway Sander's Dirty Deal? If So, With Whom? Aug. 31, 2010, Pat Flannery, BLOG OF SAN DIEGO
Here is a letter from Christine Anderson, the Port's VP of Operations, dated July 27, 2007. In it she advises the Port Commissioners that Bill Anderson, the Mayor's Planning Director, had attended a meeting of the NEVP Joint Powers Authority (JPA) the day before. Anderson had advised Port staff that his boss the Mayor was unhappy with the Port's plans for a temporary cruise facility on Broadway Pier, that he wanted a permanent building there. FULL ARTICLE:
Downtown redevelopment has not benefited the rest of the city!
On June 22, the San Diego City Council took the first step is hiring a consultant for $500,000 to find more blight downtown was voted for by council. This will come back to council, so they can do what looks to be a "*done deal", of lifting the downtown redevelopment cap from $3 billion to $9 billion. (*Mayor Sanders and Council Member Faulconer had a press conference promoting every downtown boondoggle and monument building after this vote.)
Beyond irony , this is insanity.. just look at the Debt:
The copy of the 'analysis' given to us at Council, that Council on Mon., 6/19/10, Approved! It removed ("Forgave") over $144,000,000 from 'Redevelopment Interest Debt' to the City of San Diego! Also, our fiscally irresponsible city shamed of itself in a national in TIME Magazine, June 28, 2010, pg. 28:"In sun-drenched San Diego, meanwhile, a grand jury probing that city's troubled finances found a recurring practice of skipping required payments to the city's pension fund while simultaneously awarding ever more generous pensions to public employees. Legal? Apparently. Prudent? Nope. A once solvent system is now billions of dollars in the red. The grand jury raised a scarier question: Is San Diego still a "viable" financial entity?"
LETTERS TO THE Union-Tribune EDITOR Mon., June 14, 2010 Put redevelopment cap to a public vote Your June 6 Opinion piece, "Continued development downtown crucial," was quite a contrast to your news article June 2 that the county grand jury recommends "convening a panel of bankruptcy experts." Obviously, downtown redevelopment has not benefited the rest of the city. I would gladly trade a less developed downtown to get back our browned-out fire engines, our closed libraries, our laid-off lifeguards and our closed bathrooms in Mission Bay Park. We should be told why a new downtown football stadium is more important than public safety. The question of raising the cap on the dollar limit of redevelopment should be put to a vote of the public.—MELVIN SHAPIRO, San Diego
What a Tangled Web We Weave
By Don Bauder | Published Wednesday, March 17, 2010
On or about October 17, 2008, Police Chief William Lansdowne was summoned to the office of an irate Mayor Jerry Sanders. The mayor wanted to know how a criminal investigative report coauthored by one of Lansdowne's detectives, Dan Vile, had gotten into the hands of Scott Kessler, deputy director of the City's Economic Development Division, and to the City's Ethics Commission. Full Article:
$TRONG MAYOR WAS BOUGHT AND PAID FOR BY THE WHEALER DEALERS... Watch as the citizens lose their power and tax dollars!
Forces us to pay for bigger government.
$ Lobbyists need only buy-off the Mayor... City Council becomes obsolete.
$ Limits public access, transparency and accountability by the Mayor
being hidden behind closed doors.
$ Favoring “Puppet Press” press, while sanctioning other media.
$ Accelerating San Diego’s debt by pushing “Big Money Boondoggles”.
$ Strips our neighborhoods of vital services and facilities...
libraries, parks, police, streets, etc.
San Diegans should have voted NO on "Prop D"
Jerry Sanders’ idea of lifting the cap is nuts
Sanders' last chance for a legacy - the waterfront., 04/15/10
Peterson Excerpt: But, does downtown redevelopment really help every neighborhood? Anecdotal evidence over the 40 years, or so, of downtown redevelopment certainly suggest otherwise. Can Mayor Jerry Sanders even say that San Diegans enjoy a higher level of municipal services than in the 1970s? READ FULL ARTICLE
by Pat Flannery, Blog of San Diego
One of the biggest mistakes Mayor Sanders made in his two four-year terms was to fall for whatever slick sales talk Steve Cushman used to cajole him into backing a used-car salesman (himself) for a third term as Port Commissioner, despite its term limits.
Sanders' strange fascination with Cushman raised eyebrows at the time; it may now cost him his legacy.
Their North Embarcadero Visionary Plan (NEVP) lies in ruins. All the spinning in the world by the Mayor's communications team, cannot hide this embarrassing fact. The Mayor must now distance himself from the NEVP and Cushman.
I have a suggestion: adopt what was the the real "visionary" plan all along - move the cruise ships to the 10th Avenue Marine Terminal and give the people back their signature waterfront park.
That is not only a win-win political strategy, it is also a win-win economic strategy. The city would not only get a world-class hospitality/gathering-place park on its beautiful Embarcadero, but also a world-class cruise ship destination at 10th Avenue, next to the Hilton, within walking distance of the Convention Center, with military-class security against any possible terrorist attack. Now that would put us back in contention for America's Finest City!
Are we up to it? Of course we are.
The Cushman plan was crass and demeaning. We can do better than a second-hand car lot on our front door, run by a second-class car salesman. Cruise ships are the used cars of the tourist industry. Our Embarcadero deserves better than that. Read Full Articl
READ: Blog of San Diego:
04/07/10 The Union-Tribune is negotiating for the Port District
SAVE OUR BAYFRONT PARKS --Stop the Carnival Terminal
The California Coastal Commission will hear this issue April 14, 2010.
STOP THE BIG BAY GIVEAWAY!!
Remember the Charger Ticket Guarantee? Here they go again...
• Can our waterfront be just as open and beautiful as Santa Barbara’s and San Francisco’s - a great attraction for residents and tourists alike?
• Are Faulconer, Sanders, Peters, and Hueso breaking the law
to deliver $28,000,000 and the N. Embarcadero to Carnival Corporation?
• Does the law, the PORT MASTER PLAN, defining the Coastal Act, really guarantee a ring of green public parks and piers on San Diego’s downtown waterfront?
SAN DIEGO PORT MASTER PLAN
Page 60: Broadway Landing Park and Broadway Pier: “The Plan proposes two major parks...the foot of Broadway, and includes recreational piers and associated public facilities...on Port tidelands.”’
Page 60: Grape Street Pier: “...a 30,000 square-foot curvilinear pier
designated as park/plaza.”
Page 63: N. Embarcadero recreation and picnic parks: Re Harbor Dr. “Parking areas along the street and lawn areas.” “Passive green spaces (parks) are proposed between the plazas on the esplanade, providing recreational opportunities and places for people to relax, play, and enjoy Bay views.” Cruise Ships and Terminals - Terrorist Targets?Coast Guard regulation 33cfra65.T11-030:
Security Zones; Port of San Diego
“(a) Regulated area. Temporary moving security zones are established 100 yards around all cruise ships while entering or departing the Port of San Diego.”
“Temporary fixed security zones are established 100 yards around all cruise ships docked in the Port of San Diego.”A BIG Victory!
Posted Jan. 15, 2010,If you have been concerned or fought over the City misguidedHigh Density Bonus Ordinance from several years ago (Past info on SD Coastal Alliance Site) we actually have had a victory! But.. the questions remain…Have the developers been told about this ruling?
Have the planning boards been told, and do they know that the City has been feeding them bogus propaganda for the last few years? Read the following by Tom Mullaney to understand the importance of this ruling. And THANK YOU Cory Briggs!
Favorable Ruling of Density Bonuses Ordinance
Cory Briggs notified me of a favorable ruling by the court, in which the City must pay attorney fees. That's good news for the citizens who opposed the City's misguided Density Bonus ordinance in November 2007. The fee ruling follows a December 2008 ruling in favor of the citizens.
As you may remember, the City altered the formulas from state law so that developers could get large density bonuses for moderate-income housing. This would have made low-income and very low-income housing relatively less profitable, and less likely to be built. Harmful impacts were mostly ignored, including threats to public views and assess in the coastal zone. Overburdened public facilities were not considered.
I reviewed my files, and reread the 12/8/08 order from Judge Quinn. "No basis for conclusions reached in the supplemental EIR". That's a damaging portrayal of the city's approach to ordinances-- making important decisions without any factual basis whatsoever.
—Tom Mullaney, Friends of San Diego "Preserving the environment and quality of life in the San Diego region"
Mayor Sanders Opposes Historic Preservation
City Council item Wed. Dec. 2, 2009
Jerry Sanders proposed eliminating the senior planner position that manages historic districts in San Diego. Mayor Sanders sent a pink slip to Kelly M. Saunders, the senior planner, a position that designated historic houses. This action hurts historic districts and preservation. It also means slowing down individual house designations by 50%.
The historic districts are key to protecting our neighborhoods. Without the historic district staff person, dozens of historic buildings will remain unprotected.
Ironically, Sanders must have forgotten that he passed a every 5 yr. Mills Act fee to keep a historical planner at the City. See below:
Common sense and fairness beat out the Mayor’s bad plan!
Dec. 2, 2008, GOOD NEWS! Donna Frye moved to raise the Mills Act limit to $200,000 (which would mean about 100 Mills Act contracts each year). They also clarified this is to be applied to voluntary historical designations only, not to districts. There is no limit on districts. It passed unanimously!
Then Donna moved to reduce the pipeline "intake fee" from $1,185 to $500 for nominations submitted before the Council meeting today. That’s a savings of $685 over what we had expected.
It passed 5-2 with Scott Peters and James Madaffer voting no.
It was a great day for historic preservation!Hundreds of historic preservationist actively working together were able to save the Mills Act implementation and ensure our neighborhoods and community character will be better protected in the future.
This was the last act of a mostly lame duck council, we look forward to the new council members who look favorably upon historical designation and the Mills Act program.
Jim Waring still hasn’t figured out what the word “PUBLIC” means!
Do you think he has ever seen a park? A place for residents and tourists alike, with trees, views, play areas and walking paths?
Bait and switch on waterfront park Re: “Park switcheroo / Commission could reinstate waterfront gem” (UT Editorial, Aug. 8):
Come on — all great cities design their most visible and important pieces of public property to accommodate trucks and occasional visitors.
JIM WARING, San Diego
Park switcheroo, Commission could reinstate waterfront gem
Union-Tribune Editorial August 8, 2009
A 79,000-square-foot park can't just disappear, can it?
Well, it can if the San Diego Unified Port District is in control of the renderings.
For years, the Port Master Plan for transforming San Diego's downtown waterfront into a spectacular esplanade for tourists and county residents alike has featured a large oval park at the foot of Broadway.
But in the port's latest version of the first phase of the $228 million North Embarcadero Visionary Plan, which will be considered by the state Coastal Commission (Fri. Aug. 14th )
next week, the park is nowhere to be found. In its place, plans show a 16,000-square-foot hardscape plaza seemingly conceived primarily to serve as the driveway for the port's new cruise ship terminal at Broadway and North Harbor Drive rather than as a signature element of a revitalized waterfront.
Activists and Coastal Commission staff spotted the change and brought it to the attention of the commission.
The port insists that the ostensible bait-and-switch was no such thing. The expansive oval park was just an illustration, never meant to be considered a formally designed part of the master plan. Perhaps. But the fact is those who have followed the proposals for the Embarcadero have always assumed it was part of the plan.
The port says it will work with Coastal Commission staff to address concerns, but insists that the big oval park is not going to happen. We are not wedded to every detail of the original park. Perhaps a suitable compromise can be reached, so long as it involves significant new parkland and broad unobstructed access to the bay.
If it can't, the Coastal Commission should order the port to amend its master plan – amend it to include the long-depicted oval park.
Two very import issues that greatly degrade the quality of life for many residents were heard at the: California Coastal Commission in
San Francisco August 14, 2009
WE SUPPORTED Appeal No. A-6-PSD-09-43
Coastal Commission voted in favor (plans will have to be revised).
c. Appeal No. A-6-PSD-09-43 (San Diego Unified Port District, San Diego) Appeal by Katheryn Rhodes, Conrad Hartsell, Ian Trowbridge, Catherine M. O'Leary Carey, John M. Carey, Scott Andrews, Navy Broadway Complex Coalition & Commissioners Sara Wan & Mary Shallenberger from decision of Port of San Diego granting permit with conditions to San Diego Unified Port District for various improvements along North Harbor Drive to include construction of 105 ft. wide esplanade, public plaza at foot of West Broadway, gardens, shade pavilions, ticket kiosks, information building, walk-up café & restrooms; also included are median improvements on West Broadway between North Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway and re-striping to provide additional turn lane to Grape Street and North Harbor Drive intersection, at North Harbor Drive, from the B Street Pier to south of Broadway Pier, San Diego, San Diego County. (DL-SD)
SADLY Coastal Commission voted in favor of App. No. 6-09-15
SAVE the Ryan Aeronautics Complex
WE OPPOSE (This issue should had been heard in a San Diego location, so San Diego residents can have a say). Expands flights over South OB and parts of Point Loma. Creates pollution, traffic and noise.
Also, SOHO opposes plan to demolition some very historical buildings at the former Ryan facility. *See below
d. Application No. 6-09-15 (San Diego Regional Airport Authority, San Diego) Application of San Diego Regional Airport Authority to construct a two-story, 468,389 sq.ft. expansion of Terminal 2 including 10 new aircraft boarding gates, ticket lobby areas, security screening area, concessions, baggage handling facilities & restrooms. Also proposed is the construction of new second level roadway for departures at upper level Terminal 2 and three ancillary structures in existing Terminal 2 visitor parking lot, including 10,000 sq.ft. replacement USO facility, 6,000 sq.ft. parking management building & 13,500 sq.ft. expansion of Central Utility Plant. Expansion of existing airport parking lot at intersection of Pacific Highway and Sassafras Street to replace all 500 spaces parking spaces lost as a result of terminal expansion, at San Diego International Airport, North Harbor Drive, San Diego, San Diego County. (DL-SD)
Save Our Heritage Organization Magazine, 2009 - Volume 40, Issue 1/2
This complex adjacent to Lindbergh Field is eligible for the National Register yet the Port of San Diego wants to demolish it with no project planned for the site!
Ryan Aeronautics Complex
T. Claude Ryan founded the first commercial airline to operate out of San Diego and developed our aerospace industries from the Ryan Aeronautical Company. He convinced city leaders to support the establishment of Lindbergh Field. Ryan built the first buildings at Lindbergh Field, including the terminal and his first manufacturing plant in 1932, which still stands at the Ryan complex. This complex is among the most historic in San Diego and could be named a National Historic District.
From the first passenger flight from San Diego and the construction of the Spirit of St. Louis to World War II aircraft production to the Lunar Lander and, finally, the Tomahawk cruise missile, Ryan was there.We could honor Ryan's legacy by using some of these buildings to house large aircraft that the San Diego Air and Space Museum has no place to exhibit. These buildings are so large they could also be used for parking, eliminating the need for the much-opposed new parking structure at Lindbergh Field
San Diego Coastal Alliance has been flooded with stories of threats of Eminent Domain, NTC and Redevelopment abuses, corruption, harassment of seniors and minorities involving redevelopment in Sand Diego. Huell may want to think twice and do some research before doing another infomercial style pro- redevelopment piece on San Diego! Huell doesn't learn, he followed up with another fluff piece on notorious CCDC downtown San Diego Redevelopment.
Huell Howser is a Shill for the California Redevelopment Assoc.
The LA Times reports that PBS TV personality Huell Howser is taking $320,000 from the California Redevelopment Association to produce 14-part series on redevelopment areas in California.
If you saw the show on NTC or downtown San Diego, you know this is a 14-part infomercial for the redevelopment industry.
Contact Huell at Huell@calgold.com, or 323-953-5380. Ask him to present all sides of the redevelopment story.
Grand Jury: Revelopment agencies 'opaque' at best
By THOR KAMBAN BIBERMAN, San Diego Daily Transcript, 5/7/09
A new San Diego County Grand Jury report said the actions of the city, its redevelopment agency, the Centre City Development Corp. and the Southeastern Economic Development Corp. must be made transparent.
The report concluded the city's redevelopment activities lack distinct lines of responsibility and authority.
"City employees are often unsure whether the official chain of command is the same as the de facto chain through which they carry out their redevelopment duties. The structure was described by one senior city official as a 'legal construct' that is hard to follow even by those who are part of it," the report stated. "There is also substantial duplication of staff in the operations of the City's redevelopment office, CCDC and SEDC."
The Grand Jury report comes out just days after former CCDC President Nancy Graham pleaded no contest in a conflict of interest case that forced her resignation from the board within the past year.
The report said there is much reorganization to be put in place for the agencies to function efficiently and restore the public's trust.
"Unfortunately the public perception of the city's redevelopment activities today is one of dysfunctional organizations, weak governance and opaque operations," the Grand Jury wrote.
The Grand Jury said one inherent problem is that while the mayor is not a Redevelopment Agency board member and cannot vote on its decision, he is nevertheless the agency's executive director of and has a veto over those decisions.
The report had numerous recommendations. One of these would appoint an executive director to the city's Redevelopment Agency -- a person who shouldn't be the same as city mayor as it is today, so as not to constitute a conflict of interest.
This executive director could then help develop new operating agreements for entities such as CCDC and SEDC.
The report said another problem is that many of the decision-makers simply don't have what they need to run the respective agencies effectively.
"The information and tools currently available to the Redevelopment Agency of the city of San Diego, City Council, and mayor to oversee the city's redevelopment activities are inadequate to ensure effective operational and financial accountability," the report states.
The report then added that when information is disseminated to the public about the agencies via the Internet, it often isn't in a timely fashion.
The Grand Jury said annual reports should be prepared detailing the financial activities of the agencies, and independent financial audits should be conducted to ensure accuracy.
Frye: Consolidate CCDC, SEDC
Voice of San Diego, 5/5/09
Excerpt: "It's really problematic where we are held accountable, but we don't have the authority to tell the head of the agency it's time for you to leave, where we're being ultimately flipped off."
—City Councilwoman Donna Frye Full articles
Judge Thomas McKnew's ruling (below) is right! Community height limit laws must be followed. Developer schemes to run around community laws need to be stopped. In San Diego many coastal resident have watched this issue carefully as the developers try to end-run around the publicly voted in 30 ft. height limit law that has been the saving grace of our coastline for over 35 years.
Judge tosses out portions of L.A. housing density law
The ruling throws scores of proposed developments into doubt if the density is greater than authorized by state law, and might affect projects already approved or under construction.
By Jessica Garrison April 15, 2009
A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge Tuesday tossed out portions of a city law approved last year that allows developers to build taller buildings in exchange for setting aside some units for affordable housing.
Judge Thomas McKnew's ruling throws scores of proposed developments into doubt because it prohibits the Planning Department from processing any project applications in which density would be greater than what is authorized by state law.
The ruling also might affect projects that already have been approved and are under construction, said Jan Chatten-Brown, a lawyer for the Environment and Housing Coalition, which brought suit against the city. "This ruling will force the developers and the city to go back to the drawing board," she said.City officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
The Los Angeles ordinance was passed in 2008 following approval of state Senate Bill 1818, which required local governments to allow developers to build denser projects if they include affordable housing. But the lawsuit said that the city's law went far beyond the state mandate, in some cases allowing three times more density than what was intended.
A group of Los Angeles homeowners associations and other residents filed suit over the ordinance last year after the president of the city's Planning Commission sent them an e-mail informing them it would be vulnerable to a legal challenge. The opponents of the law claimed that it was hurting local communities by increasing traffic and creating parking shortages. They also claimed that far from leading to more affordable housing, the law paradoxically was reducing the supply because developers would raze existing apartments for low- and moderate-income residents and replace them with condos, mostly selling at market prices.
McKnew's ruling can be appealed. firstname.lastname@example.org
HERITAGE PARK BED & BREAKFASTAS PLAN WILL BE ANYTHING BUT A BED & BREAKFAST.
On June 24, 2009 the San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved a 58.5 yearHeritage Park, located in Old Town San Diego, to the Pacific Hospitality Group, Inc.intends to convert the existing structures to overnight accommodations and constructthat will create 84 additional hotel rooms with no additional parking planned on the
ARCHITECTURE:The building of the structures as proposed in the Heritage Park Master Plan ImprovementsDeclaration dated October 30, 2008 are oversized and are not representative of theHeritage outlined in the original vision of the Park. The buildings as proposed willdensity from its current state and detract from the beauty of the neighborhood. averagesize of the existing structures is 2,214 square feet where the average size of structuresis 7,709 square feet, the largest being 10,500 square feet. That is 3 1/2 timesfootage of the existing structures.
The SMALLEST building proposed is 250% of the existing Victorian buildings. 3 of the 4 proposed buildings will be 3 ft. above 30’ height limitation, with little articulation to break up the mass. Thesebe more like dormitories than the quaint “Bed & Breakfast” Victorian style structures
PARKING:With the additional 84 hotel rooms PHG does not plan to add any additionalcurrent plan is to use the parking lot on the corner of Juan and Harney with 25 parkingaccount for the shortfall on the site of 46 stalls. Using the Harney parking lot the parkingof the 84 stalls required by city planning (one per unit). If PHG receives a permit they 21 stalls.
SAFETY:All B&B guests will use the existing Hacienda Hotel reception lobby on Harney to checkrequiring them to cross at the already overwhelmed intersection of Juan and Harneyproposed crosswalk mid-block at the Acapulco Restaurant. The mid-block crosswalk create an extremely dangerous condition for pedestrians and motorists alike.
SD hires baddies… and they even hires them back a second time!
Mr. Waring, who left town in disgrace.Now, Mayor Sanders and Councilmembers (other than Frye and Lightner) have brought Waring back to head the to the City of San Diego Housing Commission.
From the READER
By Don Bauder <www.sandiegoreader.com/staff/don-bauder/> 6/9/09
Jim Waring, who championed Sunroad while he was Mayor Jerry Sanders's real estate czar, was approved for a seat on the Housing Commission today (June 9) by a 6-2 vote of city council. Councilmembers Donna Frye and Sherri Lightner voted against Waring, in a balloting that some have called a litmus test of the corruption level of the current council. Frye argued vociferously against Sanders's nomination and is still mad about the council's vote, according to an aide. When the Federal Aviation Administration complained that Sunroad had built an office building too close to Montgomery Field, Waring stood up for the company, complaining that real estate developers should not have to lose money. Waring also stood up for an affordable housing density bonus that opened the door to the breaking of the 30-foot height limit. And Waring did not force developer Doug Manchester to do a valid earthquake fault study for the Navy Broadway Complex, according to activist Katheryn Rhodes. Sunroad's chief executive had raised big bucks for Sanders, and huddled with the mayor over the FAA problem. Sunroad eventually took down the top part of the structure. Waring departed abruptly. Before being appointed, Waring had been an attorney for trusts of the late gangster Moe Dalitz and his Rancho Santa Fe daughter
STOP the Governator from Selling Off or State Parks and Land!
An article during Arnold's first weeks in office said that he was putting together an list of CA public lands and looking to what could be sold.
He can now claim the State is broke and try to sell to all his developer buddies (many from San Diego) before he leaves office.
Watch out as the Governator actually plans to shut down 274 parks.
A developer handed the Governator drawings for hundreds of condominium units to be erected at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Sources tell us the Governator plans to sell the fair grounds to the developer. They are going to bulldoze the Don Diego Tower!
Sierra Club Wants to Save Our Parks http://action.sierraclub.org/site/R?i=kNRwPRSzKY9iaCIMI7gWDQ.
On July 1st, the Governor plans to cut the state parks budget in half and then eliminate all funding for parks in 12 months. In other words, the Governor plans to close 80% of the state parks system, approximately 220 State Parks across California.
Tell the Governor and your state legislators that you want them to keep our California parks open. Take Action
“It’s great that you heard us about our library, Mayor Sanders, just don’t pit us against the unions.”
By Frank Gormlie, OB Rag April 14th, 2009, http://obrag.org/?p=6307 Excerpt: As expected, Mayor Jerry Sanders held a press conference this morning in front of the Ocean Beach library. And as expected, Mayor Sanders announced that in his new city budget proposal, no libraries or library services will be cut for this year’s budget.“We heard you, Ocean Beach,” the Mayor said. “There will be no library cuts.”...
The Mayor wanted this: he wanted a bevy of community leaders and people to surround him this morning as he made his announcement in front of the cameras.
In his Office press statement - handed out before the event - it read:Mayor Jerry Sanders was joined by library supporters and community members of the Ocean Beach Branch Library today to lay out the stakes in this afternoon’s labor impasse hearing before City Council.The “Fact Sheet” went on:
To address a $60 million deficit, the mayor’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2010 includes a 6 percent reduction in the overall compensation of the city’s approximately 10,500 employees. This will be achieved through wage reductions as well as decreasing the portion the city covers of employee health care, retirement and other employment benefits.Without those compensation concessions, however, about $30 million in savings will have to come from job and service cuts.
The last paragraph flatly stated:The city and the unions reached impasse last week: the City Council is expected to conduct an impasse hearing today at which they can impose the necessary concessions to maintain city services.
So, that’s it. Our Library is saved and no service cuts, but the librarians have to take a 6% cut in pay and benefits. The Unions are balking of course. They’re doing their job.The Mayor explained: he was expecting an impasse to be declared today, an impasse in contract negotiations with all the five city worker unions. That will allow him and the Council to mandate employee conditions. So, naturally, he wants to show a ‘united front’ of himself and community members holding the line against library cuts facing off with the unions that his negotiators are sitting down with right now.
I mentioned this angle to a number of library supporters milling around before the press conference started. They were in general agreement that we - the community members - did not want to be pitted against the unions. But, we didn’t get a chance to make that point, as once Sanders, Faulconer and Judy Harris of the Library Foundation had spoken, it was over, and Sanders was soon surrounded by media.
You should have seen the media there. There must have been eight television cameras. And of course with each camera, there’s at least 2 or 3 people. There were nearly as many media present as community members. It was great coverage. Today.
Yet, during our couple of rallies in protest of the library closure last Fall, we hardly saw any cameras. The media can be such a fair weather friend...And let’s not forget, either, that it was the mayor who wanted to close our library.
I told Gerry Braun - now on the mayor’s staff and formerly a wonderful columnist with the Union-Tribune, - when we crossed paths inside the Library this morning before the press thing, to get a good look around.
As if on cue, these kids emerged from the library just as the mayor was winding up his press conference. They had been attending a storybook reading inside the library. It was packed. Thirty small children sat listening to stories in the west wing of the library. In the east wing, the tables were solid, and there were lines for the computers. People were backed up at the counter. Get a good look around. This is a place the mayor wanted to close 6 months ago.
I commented to a library volunteer, that wasn’t it a great day, you know, with the mayor, and the media, and the announcement of no closures or cuts in services. “Yeah,” he muttered, “the day the librarians get a 6% pay cut. A great day.”It’s true. It’s a great day. And it’s great that you heard us, Mayor Sanders, about not closing the libraries.
But you know what, just don’t pit us against the unions who represent our city workers. Don’t pit the communities against the unions. No, we’re better than that...
Responses to “It’s great that you heard us about our library, Mayor Sanders, just don’t pit us against the unions.”
DebbieApr 14th, 2009 at 12:10 pm
It was a dumb idea to even talk about closing the libraries. Get everybody all worked up and have them go to council meetings and plead to keep the library and rec center open and take away from the real issues that burden our city and taxpayers….HUGE PENSIONS and lots of contracts for independent consultants and high paid city jobs. What I wish my Mayor would have done is to get rid of a body guard or two, immediately cut everyone’s salary that makes more that 100K in the city and then maybe if would be justified in talking about cutting the very services everyday people want, need and enjoy. So I don’t hold Jerry in high regard for his action(S) because it NEVER should have come to this. Guess I sound a little teed off huh? Plus, now Mr. Sanders is collecting his salary and his pension….he salary could have paid for keeping our library. Maybe Jerry can step down as Mayor and go take a job with the Padres making bigger bucks since he needs the money so bad and then….DONNA FRYE FOR MAYOR …if wishes could only come true!
Full Article and Responses
The last paragraph sounds quite familiar to all that have had to deal with this city's Developer Services Department over the years.
The City and Hillel lose their court battle with the citizens. 02/18/09
by Pat Flannery, (the following is a truncated version)
The California Appellate Court today published its Judgment <http://www.blogofsandiego.com/Issues/Hillel/D052084.pdf> regarding San Diego Superior Court Judge Linda Quinn's trial court decision in the matter of a disputed development permit for a Hillel Jewish student center in a residential neighborhood of La Jolla near UCSD.
The Appellate Court not only upheld Judge Quinn's finding, that the City needed to conduct (unspecified) "further proceedings" pursuant to CEQA, it modified that judgment with a new finding that went much further: Beginning on page 24 <http://www.blogofsandiego.com/Issues/Hillel/D052084.pdf> , Judge McIntyre reveals that the City actually coached Hillel on how to get around certain "Biological Impacts". The City suppressed the first biological impact report and suggested alternative contents that would allow it to make a "no significant impact" finding.
ALERT: Mayor Diverts Library $$$ to Donor
Mayor: Economy Killing Downtown Library by Scott Lewis
Nov 25, 2008 Full Article: voiceofsandiego.org article to library/rec center champions)
Excerpt: The mayor declares the downtown library dead.
Will Mayor Sanders devote taxpayer funds set aside for the canceled downtown library to save branch libraries and rec centers from the same fate?
When asked about the $80 million in the CCDC budget for the downtown library,
"We are going to need the money saved at CCDC for the Embarcadero and other uses."
Note: the Embarcadero is being redesigned for highrise condo developers.
The design firm is Manchester's Navy Broadway consultant.
So, the mayor will try to close even more libraries next year.
He will give Manchester our library tax money to redo Harbor Dr. in front of Manchester's proposed Navy Broadway hirise development.
Manchester donated $50,000 to Sanders' strong mayor campaign.
Protect the Mills Act
Stop the Mayors Gutting of the
Mills Act that keeps our communities unique and our history alive.
There are a few premises that the Mayor's office used that are incorrect in coming up with additional eligibility requirements for the Mills Act. We are recommending that the eligibility requirements are not implemented.
Incorrect Premise 1.The process can be easily obtained by homeowners in lower income areas even if his/her houses is not in good condition.
Reality: Some houses in great condition are rejected if they do not have historic integrity and condition does play a factor in the decisions that are made by the board. Simple houses without a master builder or architect identified get demolished in all of the time. Also, the process is not easy. If it was, you probably would not have consultants help you prepare the reports.
Incorrect Premise 2. The Mills Act costs the city money it doesn't have right now
Reality: This is simply incorrect. The city has a net gain in revenue from the Mills Act. An analysis shows that the overall property values are higher for the historic properties based on a study conducted by Andrew Norwald, University of San Diego. Additionally, there is a halo effect that applies to neighboring properties. Add that to the significant dollars that homeowners spend to reinvest in their homes contributing to sales tax revenues and the city's insistance of new eligibility would actually have a negative fiscal impact as proposed.
Budget Cutting Decision will again be at City Council
Mon., Nov. 24, 2008 (No public will be heard)
Hundreds at OB Rally to Save Their Library From Closure
Hundreds attended the OB Rally to try and keep Sanders and Council from closing the OB Libray. Hundreds of others have signed a petition. One thing in OB that everyone agrees with is that they want to KEEP OPEN their historical Library. Sanders has awaken a sleeping giant that is united. More: OB Rag blog
City service that doesn't get cut . . .
Union Tribune Letter to Editor, 11/14/08
I see no legitimate reason for San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders' slashing cuts in the city budget – not while the city's Redevelopment Agency owes the city over $200 million.
Did you notice that the mayor's cuts don't include redevelopment?
Redevelopment is not a separate city. It is totally owned and controlled by the City Council. Nevertheless, it is treated like royalty, totally immune to budget cuts, given a higher priority than the fire department, the police department, the branch libraries, the parks and the rec centers.
There is a good reason for this. I admit that the downtown developers throw great parties, make large campaign contributions and command an awesome public-relations operation.
You must have heard that they make us prosperous. Closing seven libraries must be part of our prosperity.
If you examine the downtown redevelopment budget, you will find $63 million squirreled away for new downtown library. This $63 million has been in the budget for years, courtesy of the mayor and the council.
It appears that the planned downtown library is more important than the seven branch libraries that will be closed.Six City Council members (not Donna Frye) vote to turn their backs on the people who voted for them and close libraries in their own districts so there will be money available to build the fabled downtown library.—MELVIN SHAPIRO, San Diego
Searching for the 'Why' in Mayor's Cuts
City Councilwoman Donna Frye is one of the City Hall officials criticizing Mayor Jerry Sanders' proposal to shave $43 million from the city's budget.
Voice of San Diego, Nov. 12, 2008
Excerpt: When San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders presents his package of proposed emergency budget cuts to the City Council on Wednesday morning, he will likely get an earful from upset city residents who want to know why he chose their libraries and recreation centers for closure.
READ FULL ARTICLE
Mayor announces deep budget cuts
By ELIZABETH MALLOY, San Diego Daily Transcript, Nov. 5, 2008
San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders announced deep budget cuts Wednesday to make up for the city‚s $43 million deficit, including cuts to the police and fire departments.
Seven libraries, nine recreation centers and a gym all will be closed for the foreseeable future, Sanders said. The city's customer service department will be eliminated too. And despite Sanders‚ promises throughout his term to not make cuts to public safety, police and fire will have to shoulder the burden as well.
The fire department will reduce the number of crews on duty on a revolving basis and cut one academy per year. The police department will cut its academy classes by half. Both departments will cut civilian personnel.
The budget cuts all are subject to City Council approval.
˜"We have no low hanging fruit, no slush funds that we've squirreled away," Sanders told reporters, explaining that there were no easy cuts left for the city. "Instead we have something that will serve us better over the long haul: Our ability to identify reforms that value efficiencies, cost savings and transparency.
City Hall has cut staff as well, including four of its seven deputy chief officers, which is a high-ranking position. The mayor‚s office is reducing its budget by 15 percent, and Sanders is cutting three members of his staff.
"I'll be getting by without some valuable, hard working people," Sanders said. I'm calling attention to these executive layer cuts because it‚s important for the mayor to lead by example.‰
Sanders said he asked other city departments that don‚t fall under the mayor to cut their budgets by 10 percent as well.
The mayor first announced the $43 million budget deficit about three weeks ago, and said he has been working with his staff ever since to find ways to close the gap. He said city workers offered about 200 suggestions, and some of those may yet be put into place with more time.
The city has considered making changes to the workweek as other municipalities have done, but Sanders said that would take time because it would involve a meet and confer process with the city unions.
Jay Goldstone, the city‚s chief operating officer, said the suggested cuts would close the city‚s $43 million gap, and go a long way toward filling projected gaps in the 2010 fiscal year budget as well.
In total, the San Diego Police Department will see $8.3 million in cuts, including cuts to the academy classes, 37 civilian positions, and a reduction in new equipment, permitted it doesn't put officers in danger.
The fire department will see a $4 million reduction. This would largely be accomplished by cutting the number of engine and truck companies on duty by two. This would be on a rotating basis, essentially having the fire department always act as it does when one company is responding to a large emergency.
Both Police Chief William Lansdowne and Fire Chief Tracy Jarman were present at the mayor‚s press conference and said they supported his cuts. Lansdowne said despite the decrease in training new recruits, he doesn't expect the number of the city'‚s uniformed officers patrolling the streets to go down.
The libraries slated for closure are: University Community, Ocean Beach, University Heights, Mountain View/Beckwourth, Carmel Mountain Ranch, Clairemont and Allied Gardens/Benjamin. Libraries also will have to cut about 34 staff members.
The recreation centers designated for closure are: Penn, Adams, Azalia, Carillo, Cadman, Tecolote, Stockton, Presidio and Lopez Ridge. Black Mountain gym also will close, and the competitive swim program has been cut. Waterfront fire rings will be reduced, and the assistant parks and recreation center position has been cut, along with 49 other positions.
Each of the libraries and recreation centers closed were chosen because they were the least used, Goldstone said. Sanders pointed out that there one library per each council district was chosen, except district 8, which only has three libraries to begin with. Ball fields will remain open at all rec centers.
The libraries and recreation centers are technically only temporarily closed, and the city will review their status in 2010, but Sanders said he sees them as closed for the foreseeable future. There was not yet a plan in place to sell the buildings.
Sanders said he still does not want to raise taxes, but if citizens decide they can no longer take the cuts and want to put a tax hike on the ballot, he would listen.
The deficit has largely been caused because costs are going up, while revenue from sales and property taxes are going down. Sanders pointed out that other cities are going through similar or worse situations. For example, Phoenix, which is comparable to San Diego in size, is facing a $200 million budget deficit.
"We're in better shape than a lot of cities," he said. "We‚re in better shape than the state."
The San Diego taxpayers are paying twice for schools. 08/09/08 by Pat Flannery, Blog of San Diego
Excerpt: San Diegans are taxed enough. The assessed valuation of all properties in San Diego County grew from $10 billion in 1979 to almost $400 billion in 2008. The graph below traces the course of that explosive growth. FULL ARTICLE
The Redevelopment Agency is stealing from the schools. 08/08/08
by Pat Flannery, Blog of San Diego
Excerpt: Section 33680 of the California Redevelopment Law clearly states:"(a) The Legislature finds and declares that the effectuation of the primary purposes of the Community Redevelopment Law, including job creation, attracting new private commercial investments, the physical and social improvement of residential neighborhoods, and the provision and maintenance of low- and moderate-income housing, is dependent upon the existence of an adequate and financially solvent school system which is capable of providing for the safety and education of students who live within both redevelopment project areas and housing assisted by redevelopment agencies. The attraction of new businesses to redevelopment project areas depends upon the existence of anadequately trained work force, which can only be accomplished ifeducation at the primary and secondary schools is adequate andgeneral education and job training at community colleges is available.
"Has this been happening in San Diego? Obviously not, otherwise the School District would not be strapping the taxpayers with another $2.1 billion bond measure.
The School District should first require the Redevelopment Agency to fulfill its obligations under Redevelopment Law.
The fact is that whatever portion of this $2.1 billion that should have been shouldered by the Redevelopment Agency is a taxpayer subsidy to developers who have made billions on so-called redevelopment in so-called blighted areas like the Marina District, Little Italy and NTC. Over 90% of downtown property taxes are diverted to the Redevelopment Agency. FULL ARTICLE
Feds Investigate Millions in City Redevelopment Loans
By WILL CARLESS <http://www.voiceofsandiego.org/author_lookup/?byline=will_carless> Wednesday, July 30, 2008 | For months, federal auditors have been camped out at City Hall poring through documents in an attempt to establish whether tens of millions of dollars in federal grants were actually spent on the purpose they were destined for: removing blight from San Diego's poorest neighborhoods.
Auditors from the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Housing and Urban Development have recently honed in on 35 loans made by the city to redevelopment projects under the federal Community Development Block Grant program, a fund set up in the 1970s to provide grants for low- and moderate-income communities around the country.
The auditors want to know whether the money was really spent on projects that are eligible under guidelines laid out for the CDBG program. The city has admitted that it did not properly document more than $10 million in CDBG loans it made between 1999 and 2006, and the City Attorney's Office has estimated that in total the city made CDBG loans worth between $150 million and $200 million that were not documented correctly.
Joan Hobbs, regional inspector general with HUD in Los Angeles who is overseeing the audit, said she can't comment on San Diego's issues until her inspectors have finished their investigation. But Hobbs said that generally, if a city's officials can't prove that their CDBG money was spent on eligible projects, the city can ultimately be forced to pay back the money to the federal government.
Jay Goldstone, the city's chief operating officer, said the audit is just one of the elements of San Diego's CDBG program that are being investigated by HUD. He said the problems the auditors are looking at predate the administration of Mayor Jerry Sanders.
"There were a lot of sloppy procedures in this city prior to us arriving, to the extent that we're still discovering some of them," Goldstone said.
Every year, San Diego is awarded a chunk of HUD funding via the CDBG program. The money, which is supposed to be spent on alleviating blight and benefiting low- and moderate-income residents by building projects like affordable housing developments in needy communities, is awarded to thousands of cities and counties around the country.
In San Diego, much of the CDBG money is given to either the city's Redevelopment Agency, the Southeastern Economic Development Corp. or the Centre City Development Corp., agencies which are tasked with alleviating blight in the city. Each year, the agencies apply to the City Council for funding and the council allocates CDBG money for eligible projects.
But, rather than simply doling out the money in grants, for many years San Diego instead loaned the money to the redevelopment agencies. The agencies then paid back the loans to the city as they received tax increment income from their respective redevelopment areas.
What has caught the eye of federal auditors is that, for many years, after the initial CDBG loans were paid back to the city, the city then immediately re-loaned the money straight back to the redevelopment agencies.
Under CDBG rules, any money used to pay back CDBG loans must, in turn, again be recycled and spent on CDBG-eligible projects. So, when the redevelopment agencies repaid the CDBG loans and the city issued them new loans, the new loans should have only been spent on CDBG-eligible programs and should have been spent according to the CDBG guidelines.
The federal auditors want to know how the city ensured that happened.
As of June 11, the city didn't have an answer.
That day, in a letter to the auditors, Scott Kessler, a city official who works on the CDBG program, admitted that much of the documentation requested by the auditors simply does not exist. The auditors had asked the city to provide the initial applications for the CDBG loans and the CDBG monitoring reports for the loans. The city couldn't find them.
Goldstone confirmed that little of the necessary documentation appears to exist. He said for several years -- he's not sure how long -- city officials did not properly document the loans and re-loans and therefore cannot prove to the auditors that the loans were spent on eligible projects.
Without the paperwork, the federal auditors have been left trying to confirm that the CDBG loans were actually spent on eligible projects, or whether the loaning and re-loaning of the money allowed the city to bypass restrictions on how to spend the federal money.
Brian Sullivan, a spokesman for HUD in Washington, D.C., said any scheme that is used by a city to skirt CDBG would be troublesome for the federal government.
"If that's the case, then that's a problem," Sullivan said.
City Attorney Mike Aguirre, who has himself been investigating the city's CDBG program, said the loaning and re-loaning of the CDBG funds could also violate state law, which prohibits governments from transferring redevelopment funds from one project to another or from one redevelopment agency to another.
"The auditors are attempting to establish whether the loaning and re-loaning of the CDBG money effectively washed the funds so that they could be used by the redevelopment agencies on whatever projects they wished, regardless of the federal guidelines," Aguirre said.
"I hope that's not the case," he said.
Aguirre said his office is currently interviewing past and former city officials who worked on the administration of the CDBG funds. He said everyone in the city is working hard to meet the needs of the federal auditors.
Hobbs said the audit is likely to be completed before year's end. Earlier this year, city officials pledged to reorganize San Diego's CDBG program after auditors revealed several other flaws in the city's process for administering the grants.
Save the Mills Act program and historical designation in the City of San Diego. The Mills Act should be available to everyone in any location in the City
Deficient Transportation a Reacurring Theme
City of SD in February 2006 approved a community plan update for Centre City (downtown). This plan was controversial, as it proposed to double commercial development and triple residential development.
Many activists found that the Downtown Community Plan was sorely deficient in transportation, as well as parks and recreation, water quality impacts, police and fire stations, etc.
Duncan McFetridge and SOFAR sued the City over the lack of sound transportation planning. A settlement agreement was reached in May 2007, in which CCDC agreed to conduct further transportation planning.
The settlement includes a provision regarding phasing-- the linking of new development to the completion of milestones in infrastructure improvement.
This is the same type of link that Land Use and planning boss Bill Anderson declined to support in the General Plan update earlier this month.
The SOFAR lawsuit and settlement has implications for the adopted General Plan and all future community plan updates.
It is disturbing to see repeated evidence that our City officials will not do meaningful planning unless forced to do so.
Congratulations to Duncan and his supporters at SOFAR for requiring that our City officials start following sound planning principles!
—Tom Mullaney, Friends of San Diego
"Preserving the environment and quality of life in the San Diego region" GENERAL PLAN UPDATE AND LAND DEVELOPMENT CODE AMENDMENTS
Many residents and community planning leaders are very concerned about the proposed Draft General Plan, which went to the Mar. 10, 2008 City Council meeting. Many of the below issue are still of concern.
Our major concerns are these:
1. Lack of balance among the elements. The plan is strong on added development, but weak on dealing with the added burdens.
2. Lack of internal consistency.
3. Lack of adequate project definition,and adequate analysis of impacts. (If the project is so loosely defined that the impacts can't be predicted, how can the City be confident that desired goals will be achieved, and that the plan won't make conditions worse?)
4. Unsubstantiated statements and conclusions.
5. Failure to include provisions which will ensure adequate public facilties at the time of need.
6. Lack of implementation for each goal, with timelines.
7. Cursory coverage of the Theoretical Buildout, according to the El Dorado County case. The EIR does not even attempt to estimate the Theoretical Buildout under the new General Plan, but instead uses the existing General Plan! Under the existing plan, the City could get up to 54% more housing units and 439% more non-residential space. We should be adopting the City of Downzoning.
8. Most serious, the lack of program-level mitigation for most impacts. These include water supply, climate change, transportation, air pollution, parks, loss of affordable housing, etc.
a. The EIR states repeatedly that the City cannot know exactly where new development may occur as a result of the new General Plan and subsequent Community Plan amendments, and therefore must defer most analysis and mitigation until later. Also, the City must find that significant unmitigated adverse impacts may occur in all categories.
b. The General Plan does not contain needed links between development approvals and adequate facilities.
c. The plan proposes to defer mitigation for 10-12 years while community plans are being updated. How could cumulative impacts and citywide impacts be identified with such an approach?
d. We believe that the lack of program-level mitigation is completely unacceptable under state General Plan and CEQA laws.
8. The Planning staff and City Council appear to be unconcerned that they are about to unleash a growth-inducing, traffic clogging, park crowding, air polluting General Plan, which is ill-defined, poorly analyzed and lacking in mitigation.
This is especially dismaying when recent reports, such as the ones in Los Angeles, cast doubt on the "smart growth" concept. The LA Times reported that their "urban infill" project have created serious increases in traffic while producing negligible increases in mass transit ridership. Our city is preparing to embark on a 1980-era plan which would induce more growth and development, at a time when we should be focusing on reducing our City's total water and energy usage.
—Tom Mullaney, Friends of San Diego
"A countywide group dedicated to preserving the environment and quality of life through effective growth management
Aguirre says La Jolla can't consider parking plan yet
San Diego Daily Transcript , March 19, 2008
In a letter to the La Jolla Community Parking District Advisory Board members Wednesday, San Diego City Attorney Michael Aguirre advised them that they cannot consider a controversial parking plan until board members file financial disclosure statements required under the California Political Reform Act.
Aguirre's decision stands in contrast to the City Council's recent attempt to free the board of the constraint.
"The decision means that the board cannot move forward today on a controversial plan to bring parking meters to downtown La Jolla, a plan that has drawn widespread and fierce opposition in the community," Aguirre said.
The council last month rejected a proposed„ Conflict of Interest Code, that would have required board members to publicly reveal financial holdings that might influence their votes.
Although the council asked the city attorney's office to modify the controlling city council policy, Aguirre ruled Wednesday that state law demands the disclosures.
For the council to attempt to change the policy while the board deliberates, Aguirre said„ would merely attempt to place form over substance.
Although a board like the La Jolla group can, in theory, be exempt from disclosure if it merely gives advice to the city, according to Aguirre, he found that in this case the board‚s practical sway over city decision-makers means that it must file the forms.
Aguirre's letter to board chairman Martin Mosier states there is evidence of an inappropriate level of deference from city staff, including city staff referring media inquiries on parking in La Jolla to Mosier.The city attorney also wrote, "Review by a City Staff unit that has expressly stated its intention to defer to you is not significant intervening substantive review‚ of the Board's recommendation." Feb. 7, 2008 we had a presentation by the developer at our Grantville Action Group meeting. Allied Gardens and Grantville residents are very disturbed by the prospect of this development adding tens of thousand of automobile trips to roads already overburdened with traffic.There were very few, if any, positive responses to their presentation.
—Brian Peterson, DVM, Grantville Action Group
Old Grantville rock quarry may gain new life as mixed-use development
By THOR KAMBAN BIBERMAN, The San Diego Daily Transcript, February 8, 2008
Excerpts: The proposed transformation of a Grantville quarry into a major mixed-use development is about three years away, but the plans are starting to take shape.
The 375-acre Superior Ready Mix rock quarry property is located along Mission Gorge Road between Old Cliffs Road and Mission Trails Regional Park....
...Rick Engineering is preparing the plans for the site that will include housing, a business park and neighborhood retail -- all of which have been designed to embrace, rather than turn their backs on the San Diego River.
Specifically, plans call for 2,156 multi-family units with about 70,000 square feet for a neighborhood shopping center, about 1 million square feet of technology park space on the northern and southern portions of the property and parks along the river banks. More than half of the property will be in passive and active open space, including a trail system that will link to Mission Trails Regional Park.
...The project has raised concerns in the Grantville and surrounding communities. The main issue is what the project will do to traffic along Mission Gorge Road. Along with the Grantville, the project area also touches on the Tierrasanta and Navajo community plan areas.
"The main concerns are traffic, and how the project will interface with the river," McDade Byrne said. "We are conducting regional traffic studies, and are preparing a public facilities finance plan,"
Arndt said tax increment financing could be among numerous vehicles to bankroll the infrastructure. He says along with highway improvements and new nodes and access points that will allow easier pedestrian circulation, a sewer line will need to be constructed beneath the San Diego River to accommodate the residents.
City continues to support eminent domain by not allowing voters to votes by rejecting San Diegans’ propsal to limit eminent domain .
Jan. 23, 2008, the Rules Committee rejected our charterchange proposal to limit eminent domain by 3-1. (Tony Young had left by the time they voted.)
Madaffer suggested to wait and see how the state initiatives shake out.
Peters said eminent domain for private gain isn't that bad, because the areas have to be declared blighted beforehand.
Donna Frye acknowledged that eminent domain abuse is a serious issue, that the charter should be reformed, and that the City Council should review it later-perhaps for the fall election.
— Brian T. Peterson, DVM, Grantville Action Group
Move to limit eminent domain fails panel vote
By Helen Gao, UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER, Jan. 24, 2008
SAN DIEGO – A proposal to amend the city charter to outlaw the use of eminent domain for economic development was shot down by a San Diego City Council committee yesterday.
Representatives of the Grantville Action Group asked the Committee on Rules, Open Government and Intergovernmental Relations to limit eminent domain use to public projects. In other words, take private property only for parks, roads and other public facilities.
Under the group's proposal, the city would be unable to condemn private property and transfer it to a private developer to build new projects, such as shopping malls or industrial parks that could generate a higher tax base.
The proposal is modeled after a June state ballot initiative called the California Property Owners and Farmland Protection Act. The measure seeks to rein in government's eminent domain power and its authority to enforce rent control.
A majority of the council committee declined to forward the proposed charter amendment (which has no references to rent control) to the full council for consideration.
They said they wanted to see how the state initiative fares before taking action.
The Grantville Action Group is fighting the city's designation of certain commercial areas in Grantville as a redevelopment zone, where eminent domain may be used. Grantville is east of Qualcomm Stadium and north of Interstate 8.
“I do not want the city to come in and seize my property and business in order to hand it over to a larger developer to turn it into something else,” said Brian T. Peterson, president of the group and owner of a veterinary clinic on Friars Road.In 2004, San Diego's Centre City Development Corp., the city's downtown redevelopment agency, condemned a successful cigar shop to make room for a hotel project.
That action became part of a national debate over whether government should oust a property owner for economic development. The good old boys had a rough day!
What the UT did NOT report... Please READ and watch clips:
Close encounters of the scary kind.
01/17/08 by Pat Flannery, Blog of San Diego
Excerpt: The People won a timely victory at City Hall on Monday night. But it was a close call.
John Davies and his "San Diegans for City Hall Reform" came within one vote of making our City Council irrelevant for decades to come.This "Reform" organization raised $1,008,225 between Jan. and Dec. 2006 and $68,349 between January and June 2007, to finance its power grab. Full Article: http://www.blogofsandiego.com/ Read details: The City Council met in special session
on Mon., Jan. 14, 2008 at 6 PM in Chambers.
"Save Hillcrest" Wins Again!
The "Save Hillcrest" group, working with the non-profit organization Friends of San Diego, scored another victory in their year-old lawsuit against the "3rd & University" project.
On December 7, the Superior Court awarded Friends of San Diego 80% of the legal costs which they petitioned for. According to "Friends" president Tom Mullaney, this award was made under California laws which recognize the public benefit received when a citizens' group sues to uphold state and local laws. The court had previously overturned the project approval in August of this year, when the judge agreed that the project violated the law in seven ways.
The recent court order requires both the City of San Diego and the applicant to pay legal costs incurred by the "Friends" group. However, under the terms of an indemnity agreement, the applicant is required to pay the award to "Friends", and also to reimburse the City for their legal costs.
"This recent decision by the court is a further victory by Hillcrest citizens and our supporters" said Mullaney. "The '301' project will have to be redesigned to meet our zoning laws regarding parkland, traffic improvements and 'community character' requirements. The latest ruling by the court will allow us to get back most of our legal costs, so we can continue to protect the rights of residents and local business owners."
People interested in joining Friends of San Diego can contact the group by email at FriendsofSD@aol.com .
Densty Bonus Ordinance
The City planning staff has done a serious disservice by misquoting state law, in an apparent attempt to deceive community planners and other citizens.
The draft General Plan states in several places that communities will need to "maintain or increase" the capacity for new homes. They claim that this is required by state law.
That is just plain untrue. The state law requires cities to stay in compliance with their regional "fair share" allocation for housing. Since the City of San Diego in 2006 added 29,400 new housing sites to the capacity of downtown, on top of an already large city housing capacity, the City has a huge excess of housing sites compared to the demand.
- Consider that the City of San Diego has capacity for 122,000 homes, based on existing community plans and zoning, as stated in the Nov. 2006 Housing Element.
Then consider the latest official SANDAG forecast, which projects that the City of SD will need an average of 4390 new homes per year between 2004 and 2030. So the City of SD has a 28 year supply of housing sites, compared to the state requirement for a 5 year supply. It becomes evident that the City of SD has ZERO CHANCE of falling out of compliance with state law regarding housing capacity-- not in the next 5, 10, 15 or 20 years. Any claim by City staff to the contrary in the draft General Plan is patently false, and should be removed from the plan.
IT GETS WORSE
The most sinister part of the Planning Dept approach is that they would lock-in high planned densities in the communities, even where future studies show that the infrastructure can't handle it. How would they do this? State law requires that any density reduction be "consistent with the adopted general plan". So, by inserting provisions in the City's General Plan which prohibit downzoning, our Planning staff would be purposely placing a community in conflict with state law if the community found that they needed some selective downzoning.
It's circular and fiendishly clever! The City's Planning staff first blames state law for requiring the "maintain or increase density" provision in our General Plan. Then staff can later claim that state law won't allow a community to make downward zoning corrections, because our General Plan prohibits this!
If you are interested in the details, the three-page attachment contains the applicable state law, section 65863. The two page attachment cites the offending provisions in the draft General Plan, and includes recommended revisions. What happened to Mayor Sanders' pledge for honesty in government? Why is the Planning Department trying to mislead residents, and tie their hands during Community Plan updates?
— Tom Mullaney, Friends of San Diego
"Preserving the environment and quality of life in the San Diego region"
Kevin Faulcner campaigned at forums on how important it was to preserve our historic buildings/communities…At council on Nov. 20, 2007, he spoke a bunch of about the importance of the OB's community's charactor then voted in the developer's favor! HOLD HIM ACCONTABLE! He is to BLAME for the entrance to OB, our "unique beach town" in becoming what PB!——San Diego Coastal Alliance
OB ENTRANCE —Developers tried to Gentrified…the Two single story craftsman style homes, built in 1912 and 1914 at 4824 & 4836 W. Point Loma Blvd. (Seen from Sunset Cliffs)
2 single story craftsman style homes are just one lot in from our new “OB Entryway Project” were to be torn down and replaced by seven units 3-stories tall at street-level, with little setbacks At this time the street is lined with old (early 1900's 1-level homes) The bulk & scale is too much for the existing neighborhood
- The BULK & SCALE of the project is way too much for the location and marred the character of the entryway/gateway to Ocean Beach.
- This street is now lined with single story homes built in the early 1900s/some with boat house from when they use to sit on the waters edge. 3-stories is way overpowering for this location.
- The proposed development sat at the heart (in the midst) of the entryway/gateway to OB.
- People in the future will come into Ocean Beach and say 'how in the world was this every allowed to happen
- Density can be accomplished tastefully and in keeping the character and standard of the existing neighborhood
- This is going to cause traffic nightmares so close to the busiest corner in Ocean Beach
The City Attorney's Draft undocketed stripped down version would have kept the rights of our communities with the minimum needed for legally complying with state law.
City to Pay $450K
A judge awarded $450,000 to the environmental groups and attorneys who challenged the City Council's approval of a bridge connecting the two ends of Regents Road in University City.
The activists alleged the city didn't properly study the impacts of building the road across Rose Canyon or consider other alternatives to ease the traffic flow between the northern and southern portions of the University City community.
The city decided to do the studies after the lawsuit was filed, but said it didn't owe the environmentalists' legal fees, claiming its decision to do the studies weren't spurred by the lawsuit. Monday's ruling requires the city to pay more than the environmentalists were willing to settle for months ago, said Marco Gonzalez, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.It’s the latest legal setback in environmental disputes for the city, in which Sanders and a council majority often ignore the advice of City Attorney Mike Aguirre.
Read here for more about how that dynamic has played out unfavorably for the city in recent cases.
-- EVAN McLAUGHLIN, Voice of San Diego, Nov.12, 2007
NEW EIR/EIS NEEDED!
On Dec. 4th the City Council heard the Navy Broadway Complex Coalition's appeal of the CCDC's approval of the revised Manchester plan for the Navy Broadway Complex, and their determination that the 1992 EIR/EIS covers the current 2007 plan. To say that the 1992 environmental document applies to the conditions in Downtown San Diego today or in the future is absurd. To cite subsequent EIRs is also invalid. The EIR for the Downtown Plan Update was successfully challenged, and the EIR for the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan has been violated by the Port with their proposed contruction of a second permanent cruise ship terminal on Broadway Pier.
The City of San Diego is saddled with the pension fund deficit; they may soon be responsible for the Soledad landslide (there is a fault line under the area); then there are the costs of the recent wildfires; not to mention our unfunded infrastructure, potholes etc. The Council found that the Navy Broadway Complex 1992 environmental document covers the current development proposal when there is evidence that there are fault lines under the project? They ignored the potential liability of a terrorist attack! Think what an inviting target: Navy Headquarters surrounded by office buildings filled with the military industrial complex, the symbolic Midway docked in front, potentially four cruise ships with more than 10,000 passengers. Furthermore, the development agreement requires the City to provide services to the site, but given that the site is federal property, the City will not get property taxes to cover the costs of services!
— Diane Coombs, Co-Chair, Navy Broadway Complex Coalition
The arrogance of “San Diego Insiders,” (as seen in the following UT article) feeling they are entitled to everything, including being the only ones with access to government officials is appalling.
Paid lobbyist from the private sector, and some partly paid from public funding (Remember Julie Myer Writes huge paycheck funded partly by taxpayers?), have heavily lobby on every large controversial project in our city.
Yet, when citizens what to contact their elected officials Manchester’s Lawyer whines! Use “YOUR RIGHTS”, be active and let your voices be heard...CONTACT COUNCILMEMBERS to say, "YES to the Appeal!" — Coastal Alliance
Flap over Navy site, , Developer says foes courted votes
By Jeanette Steele, Union-tribune STAFF WRITER, Nov. 13, 2007
The fight over the Navy Broadway Complex redevelopment project is getting increasingly nasty and personal.Developer Douglas Manchester's camp has discovered an e-mail they say suggests that opponents improperly courted votes from two San Diego City Council members to block the project.
This comes after opponents last month accused Centre City Development Corp. President Nancy Graham of giving Manchester inside information he used to kill a settlement offer in the opponents' lawsuit against the city.
The project would rebuild the Navy's regional headquarters and add hotels, offices and shops on the 14.7-acre waterfront site. Last week, the City Council postponed an appeal of the Centre City Development Corp.'s July approval.
Background: Developer Douglas Manchester's plan to redevelop the 14.7-acre Navy Broadway Complex site remains contentious. Manchester's proposal was approved last year and survived an appeal from a coalition challenging the development on environmental grounds. After some tweaking of the plan, Manchester went back for another city approval in July. Opponents appealed again.
What's changed: The San Diego City Council last week postponed an appeal of the Centre City Development Corp.'s July approval.
The coalition's appeal is scheduled to be heard Dec. 4.
The council's decision to postpone was preceded by a memo from City Attorney Michael Aguirre that suggested the city – and not the CCDC – should have done a new environmental review after Manchester revised the project late last year. Aguirre said the council should grant the appeal.
The council decided to take it up in closed session before moving forward, as the city is already embroiled in two lawsuits over the project.
The e-mail under scrutiny from Manchester attorney Steven Strauss is from Diane Coombs, a member of the Navy Broadway Complex Coalition, an alliance of activists, environmental and planning groups, and labor support opposed to the project.
In the e-mail, sent to members of the coalition Nov. 5, Coombs wrote: “Those of you who have not called or e-mailed your councilmember, please do so today. Donna Frye and Toni Atkins are OK, but we need to contact Hueso, Young and Mainschain. (sic) Expect Scott and Madaffer are lost causes.”
Strauss said it is improper if Frye or Atkins indicated to the coalition how they would vote.“I would also think it is improper for the coalition to try and procure their vote in advance,” he said.
Coombs said her comments were based on Frye's and Atkins' votes in favor of an appeal of the Manchester development in January. The appeal was rejected by the City Council in a 5-3 vote.
Coombs said she hasn't spoken to any council members about the current appeal, and said there would be nothing wrong if she had.“I'm sorry, is this the United States of America where people have the opportunity to contact their elected officials?” Coombs said.
Frye and Atkins said they have not talked to Coombs. Atkins called Strauss' criticisms “ludicrous,” adding, “Citizens get to lobby their elected officials regardless.”
Referring to the coalition's earlier complaint about Graham, the CCDC president, Coombs said, “This is the pot calling the kettle black.”
CCDC officials have called Graham's actions last month a misunderstanding. Graham thought the city would notify the developer of the proposed settlement, so she mentioned it to a Manchester executive at a meeting, they said.
The coalition's appeal is scheduled to be heard Dec. 4.
Manchester officials said delays hurt their ability to go forward, but opponents say Manchester won't do much until a federal lawsuit is resolved next summer.
Don't be surprised... PRESENTATION: STATE DENSITY BONUSSadly the City's implementation of the Density Bonus Ordinance was approved by San Diego City Council
When bad projects that use this Ordiance crop up in your neighborhood contact the the Mayor, and the Council Members who VOTED FOR this (1A) Developer/Mayor Rubberstamp Ordiance:
Council approves density ordinance
By Lori Weisberg Unione-Tribune, STAFF WRITER, Nov. 7, 2007
SAN DIEGO – Home builders will be allowed to boost the number of units permitted in their projects and seek other land-use incentives as long as they agree to include affordable housing in their developments, the San Diego City Council decided yesterday.
The action came despite harsh criticism from community activists who accused the council of selling out to developers and opening the door to high-rise housing without the consent of neighborhood residents.
Katheryn Rhodes of the San Diego Coastal Alliance said approval of the density-bonus ordinance ensures that council members will have no recourse “when their constituents need help with unscrupulous adjacent developers. The check and balance of power between the City Council and the mayor will be in jeopardy.
”The ordinance, four years in the making, arose out of a statewide law enacted in 2003 aimed at removing governmental barriers to the production of low-and moderate-income housing. The council has tried several times since early this year to enact some form of the law but delayed action because of intense concerns voiced by residents in a number of communities.
Frustrated by the tenor of the opponents' comments, Council President Scott Peters said it was time for elected leaders to start addressing San Diego's affordable-housing crisis.“
This density-bonus thing was the product of housing advocates around the state who saw what government officials were doing to thwart the development of housing,” Peters said. “ . . . Maybe we do want to impose these costs and barriers to the development of housing, but let's not pretend that will result in affordable housing.”
The measure passed 5-1, with Councilwoman Donna Frye dissenting and council members Toni Atkins and Brian Maienschein absent. The council did not favor an alternative ordinance recommended by City Attorney Michael Aguirre's office that would have more closely mirrored state law.
Under the new regulations, developers will be allowed to build additional units in their projects over and above what is permitted in local land-use plans if they make at least 5 percent to 10 percent of the dwellings affordable to low-income households earning as little as $21,000 a year for a family of four.
The resulting density bonuses range from 20 percent to 35 percent over the total allowable units, depending on how much affordable housing is provided.
In addition to the added density, builders will be able to seek waivers from parking, height and setback standards.
In limited cases, they will be able to get those waivers approved without having to go before community planning groups and local legislative bodies.
That's what has some community members, as well as Frye, steaming.“People spend years and years dedicating their lives to their community planning groups, and then the state comes in and says 'Oh, by the way, some of those things you hold near and dear, such as height, are affected,' ” Frye said. “It's not because people don't want affordable housing.
Also of concern to opponents are greater density bonuses that will be offered to developers who set aside at least 10 percent of their dwelling units for middle-income households earning up to 110 percent of median income, or $76,350 for a family of four.
“When did we lose sight that our work force needs housing as much as low-and very low-income households?” asked developer Sherm Harmer, head of the Downtown Residential Marketing Alliance, who spoke in favor of the bonus allowance.
Lori Weisberg: (619) 293-2251; email@example.com
Remaining in the Mayor's proposal is the ability to:
- super-size a development without public/communities review.
- City granting illegal concessions over-the-counter. These concessions under state law must be reviewed under CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act). This ordinance seeks to break CEQA law.
- reduce off-street parking requirements is an automatic right. Less parking will have major negative effects at the beach and other stressed neighborhoods.
- Infringing on your privacy by building:
- lot-line to lot-line,
- high as they want (except in the coastal zone)
- include commercial / retail outlets in housing projects (even on residential streets).
The developer could choose 1 to 3 of these benefits depending on how much affordable housing is included.
- wall off views. (example: Bird Rock's Seahuas Condos)
- have residents, not the developer, pay for off-site improvements such as alley paving, street lights, and sidewalks.
To get stealth approval of a project that otherwise would make a community curdle, all the developer would need to do is to make 10 percent of the units affordable. Under the city's ordinance, which goes far beyond the state's mandate, an affordable housing unit is one that a person making approximately $70,000 per year would qualify.
The city council is considering two proposals:
1A— Which brassily shuts the public out.
1B — While 1B on the surface says it allows public participation, the attempt is solely cosmetic. 1B provides loopholes for developers to do end-around public review. It also reinterprets state law to benefit developers.
Both reinterpret State Law to benefit developers.
City Attorney Draft— An ordinance which would have strictly compled with state law and no more was drafted by the City Attorney. This draft was blocked from public view by the Mayor and City Council.
Here are highlights from the city report:
Ministerial projects are not subject to CEQA, and such projects would not undergo environmental review or be required to provide mitigation. However, specific mitigation measures would be determined on a case-by-case basis for any future projects that go through the discretionary environmental review process. It is anticipated that impacts related to aesthetics may be mitigable through architectural treatments, such as faqade articulation and building textures and colors. Substantial view blockages could not be mitigated. Severe contrast with community character resulting from increased height and bulk may be reduced through architectural treatments, but likely not to a level below significance in every case.
Proposed Project Impact
The density bonus incentives included in the revised ordinance would potentially allow for up to three deviations from the bulk and scale regulations of the underlying zones without requiring the project to process a discretionary permit. The deviation(s) allowed would be on a case-by-case basis, and could include deviations from the underlying zone requirements related to height, lot
size, FAR, and setbacks. The allowed deviations and additional density could result i n structures that are larger and taller than surrounding buildings, closer to adjacent structures and roadways, and/or cover a larger portion of the property. These differences may result in direct impacts on neighborhood character and aesthetics. Larger structures also have the potential to block public views. Construction of several projects with bulk and scale deviations in any one area may also result in localized cumulative visual quality impacts.
Proiects Subiect to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEOA)
Discretionary projects are subject to CEQA while ministerial projects are statutorily exempt.... a project would have been discretionary without the requested density bonus or incentive(s) it would continue to be discretionary and would be subject to CEQA. If a project would have been ministerial without the requested density bonus or incentive(s) it would continue to be ministerial and would not be subject to CEQA review. Additionally, projects requesting incentives that otherwise wou!d require discietionaiy review (without a density bonus) now may become ministerial using the density bonus regulations. By approving the amendments to the LDC, the City Council would be codifying how projects proposing to use the density bonus regulations would be processed.
Impact - Proposed Density Bonus Ordinunce Revisions
The increased density resulting from the proposed revisions to the City's Density Bonus Ordinance could result in maximum densities of 35 percent over the existing zoning for qualified projects; and, if requested by the applicant, reduced parking standards with options to include tandem or uncovered parking (Please see Attachment C). In addition, projects within the Transit Area Overlay Zone currently receive 10 to 20 percent parking reductions (LDC Section $142.0525). and those projects providing very low income housing already receive reductions of 10 to 20 percent of the required parking or 50 percent for very low income single room occupancy hotels (LDC Section $142.0530). The implementation of the ordinance could exacerbate existing transportation congestion.
The density achieved with the implementation of this ordinance could result in new potentially significant direct and cumulative parking impacls. In addition, the project could result in new direct transportation impacts and would add to the cumulative impacts already identified in the LDC EIR.
Only the adoption of the "No Project Alternative" would reduce parking and transportation impacts.
More info read: City Attorny Alternative, Deisity Bonus SEIR
Sanders fixes it for Manchester.
10/12/07 by Pat Flannery, http://www.blogofsandiego.com
Excerpt: The Navy Broadway environmental appeal hearing was pulled from the City Council Docket for Tuesday, October 16, 2007 by Nancy Graham, President of CCDC. Why?
It now says "NOTE: This item has been taken off the docket." It was to be "a public hearing on the matter of the Appeals of the Environmental Determination by the Centre City Development Corporation on July 25, 2007 regarding the Navy Broadway Complex project consisting of challenges to the Determination that no further environmental review is required for the project under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”)" It had been properly noticed by CCDC in the San Diego Daily Transcript on Tuesday October 02, 2007. Here is the publication. Letters were mailed to the appellants.
Emails were also sent to the appellants, which were then widely re-circulated among the public.
Everything was set for Tuesday October 16, 2007 when the Mayor had the votes lined up to defeat challenges to the CCDC Environmental Determination regarding Navy Broadway dated July 25, 2007.
But two things went wrong: Soledad Mountain had a landslide, raising awareness of San Diego's seismic vulnerability and the environmentalist litigators made an unexpected settlement offer.
Stuff happens. The enviros wanted to narrow their concerns and focus on the seismic issue. A double whammy for Manchester. Everybody knows that the Mayor wants Manchester's waterfront project to proceed unimpeded.
Everybody knows that Doug Manchester contributed $50,000 to Mayor Sanders campaign for Proposition B and C in 2006, to that end. FULL ARTICLE The La Jolla Landslide Made the Front Page Time of the New York Times, LA Times and the Union Tribune
Is the City of San Diego going to start putting safety ahead of developer bucks or continue down a dangerous path. Maybe they need to start listening: Landsliding at Soledad Mountain Road and Desert View Drive and the Relationship to the Navy Broadway Complex
October 4, 2007— The following is background information regarding the Rose Canyon Fault Zone and Geology in the vicinity of the current landslide at Soledad Mountain Road and Desert View Drive. As shown below, there were 47 recorded earthquakes near San Diego in a two week period in early September 2007, with a maximum Magnitude of 4.0., and 3 recorded earthquakes in a two day period this week, with a maximum Magnitude of 3.0
This amount of seismic activity is not normal for the San Diego region. http://www.data.scec.org/recenteqs.html
Also attached is a digital copy of the USGS Geology Map of the San Diego Quadrangle. http://www.laplayaheritage.com/Documents/CALIFORNIA%20-%20UNITED%20STATES/sandiego_map2_ai9.pdf
The maps show the Ardath Shale (Ta) formation in pink. The Ardath Shale is prone to landslides. Also shown are traces of the active Rose Canyon Fault Zone (RCFZ) in black. As can be seen on the map, there were already documented landslides in the area of Desert View Drive and Soledad Mountain Road before any of the current landslide movement took place. There are also many documented fault traces in the vicinity.Hopefully, now you will realize that the Rose Canyon Fault Zone (RCFZ) is active and is currently moving now. During a Council Meeting in January 2007, a City Council member stated that we do not have to be concerned with the active Rose Canyon Fault Zone because it has not moved since the prehistoric time of the dinosaurs. Again, hopefully this is a wake-up call that not all sites should be built upon due to inherent geologic features that can cause catastrophic failure resulting in loss of life and property. This is a basic Health and Safety issue.
This natural geologic incident can be related to the Navy Broadway Complex project that will be coming before the City Council on October 16, 2007. Both areas are in the path of the active Rose Canyon Fault Zone and geologic studies are needed before construction starts. The City of San Diego Design Guidelines and Information Bulletin requires a fault investigation be conducted on liquefiable soils before plans are to be looked at. CCDC has not only looked at the plan, but has approved the Master Plan without a valid fault investigation. This is irresponsible behavior on the part of the City which should be protecting its citizens from physical and financial harm. Both the Navy and Manchester Financial have stated that since the Navy Broadway Complex is on Federal land, they will not turn in a valid fault investigation or receive Building Permits from the City of San Diego before construction starts. "NOTE after this was written this item was taken off the docket."
October 16, 2007 will be your last chance to require Manchester Financial to turn in a valid fault investigation before construction starts. If you do not hold Manchester’s feet to the fire, you will be personally responsible for possible deaths from surface rupture of the Coronado fault of the Rose Canyon Fault Zone.
Also, because the original EIR was conducted by the Navy, both the Navy and Manchester have to pay for any additional environmental studies for the new EIR.
The City of San Diego and CCDC will not have to spend any money conducting the required studies.
We hope this information will help you make the right decision to require a subsequent EIR in less than two weeks.
Regards, Katheryn Rhodes and Conrad Hartsell, M.D, firstname.lastname@example.org
For Insightful Watchdog Reports Click On: http://goodgovsandiego.blogspot.com for up-to-date reports on the future of San Diego's Mayor/Council form of government RoseCRAM?
By Don Bauder, San Diego Reader City Lights Sept. 20, 2007
Excerpt: People of that once-perfect peninsula, Point Loma, fear that a perfect storm is gathering. Governments at the federal, state, county, and local levels are taking actions that threaten to increase the noise, traffic, pollution, population, and housing density, while worsening neighborhood character, infrastructure, services, aesthetics, and property values. In some respects, Point Loma could be the victim of social engineering made antisocial by quick-buck artists and their bureaucrat servants.
The San Diego County Regional Airport Authority plans to expand Lindbergh Field, adding boarding gates and parking facilities, and perhaps a new runway and terminal. Air and ground traffic will escalate sharply -- generating more noise and road rage. The City of San Diego's Liberty Station giveaway has already added 350 homes, High Tech High, shops, offices, and restaurants that jam up Rosecrans Street and surrounding areas. The Rock Church at Liberty Station, which opened August 26, has 8000 worshippers attending five Sunday services and another six for young people. Plans for the 650-room Nickelodeon resort hotel at Liberty Station, replete with water park (which a resident calls "butt-ugly"), will tangle traffic even more. FULL ARTICLE
Golden Hill residents sue city; allege illegal use of funds, ballot stuffing in creation of maintenance district
Golden Hill residents filed a lawsuit in Superior Court on Friday, Aug. 31, 2007 against the City of San Diego. The suit alleges that the City violated the State Constitution in allowing the spending of funds within the Greater Golden Hill Maintenance Assessment District (“GGHMAD”) for purposes other than maintenance as defined by the California’s Proposition 218.
The lawsuit also charges that the City, which had a vote in the GGHMAD election, added City-owned property not in Golden Hill, including portions of Balboa Park, and inflated that properties’ value to ensure that the GGHMAD passed.
When the votes were tallied July 30, the GGHMAD passed by a “weighted” vote margin of $123,266.56 ‘yes’ to $105,236.16 ‘no’. The City’s weighted vote value was $38,072.11, providing more than enough additional votes to secure passage of the measure.
America's Smartest City
By Joe Deegan, San Diego Reader, City Lights, Oct. 4, 2007
Excerpt: After numerous San Diego Union-Tribune hit pieces, a brand on the city attorney's head now reads "frivolous and futile liti-gator." No need to heed this guy's advice. Could that be what the city council was thinking when, on September 12, 2006, it ignored Mike Aguirre's 20-page warning that a huge mixed-use project in Hillcrest would be illegal on a number of counts? By a 7-1 vote, the council approved the proposed 12-story structure that local residents called "the monster building."
The 96 condominiums, along with retail space and a parking structure, were to go up on the south side of University Avenue between Third and Fourth avenues. Until January, that is, when the community action group Friends of San Diego filed a lawsuit to stop the project. According to Friends president Tom Mullaney, "We took on the suit in conjunction with a residents group called Save Hillcrest. We then hired a land-use attorney and were assisted by donations of time and money from numerous residents and business owners in the Uptown and Hillcrest communities."
John Taylor was a founding member of Save Hillcrest and owns a home on Third Avenue across the street from the proposed condos. Last year, Taylor organized a petition drive and sent over 2000 signatures to the city council opposing the development. "Even our councilmember, Toni Atkins, ignored them,"
Taylor tells me. "Her standing in our community really went down after that."
The La Jolla Pacific Development Group planned to build the condos for landowners Michael McPhee and Bruce Leidenberger. "
After we filed the lawsuit," says Mullaney, "the developers told us how surprised they were at how much community opposition there was. But the community had been universally against it from day one. In the early planning stages, the developers acted like they were listening carefully to complaints voiced at the Uptown Planners meetings. Then they'd make some minor changes and go their merry way.
"Shortly after the lawsuit was filed, Mullaney got his own surprise. A representative from the mayor's office attended the meeting the two sides held to discuss the case. It got Mullaney to thinking -- and to searching at the city clerk's office. There he discovered in a 2005 report that the "Jerry Sanders for Mayor" committee paid rent for office space in a Fifth Avenue building owned by Leidenberger and McPhee. He also saw that in 2005 Leidenberger and his wife Joanne donated $600 to the Sanders campaign. But Mullaney isn't making accusations yet.FULL ARTICLE Hillcrest Project "Monster Building" Overturned
The Hillcrest neighborhood is celebrating today, after the court overturned the City Council approval of the Third & University project, dubbed the "Monster Building".
The lawsuit was brought by Friends of San Diego, working with a group of residents and business owners known as Save Hillcrest.
The attached summary covers the points that were decided in favor of the citizens' group. The ruling is a sweeping victory because the project was declared invalid for seven different reasons.
The court's ruling puts the City Council and Mayor on notice that large-scale projects cannot be forced upon communities. The City cannot ignore traffic problems, park shortages and community character issues while promoting their City of Villages strategy.
The Tentative Ruling, which was upheld Aug. 23, 2007, can be found at this link:
— Tom Mullaney , Friends of San Diego Sanders today created a powerful enemy - Marcella Escobar-Eck. 08/23/07 by Pat Flannery, Blog of San Diego
Excerpt: Well, she's gone. Marcella Escobar-Eck is now officially in the private sector, where she always was, even while you and I were paying her salary. She quit or was fired yesterday.
These two emails from former Chief Building Official for the City of San Diego did her in.
Marcela Escobar-Eck... Sanders Big Mistake
Regarding “Mayor trying to step out of Sunroad's long shadow/Another official leaves; Sanders vows changes” (A1, Aug. 24 Union-Tribune):
City of San Diego Ex-Development Services Director Marcela Escobar-Eck was queen of “Bait and Switch” and “public giveaways,” as illustrated in the UT article “Regarding “Mayor trying to step out of Sunroad's long shadow/Another official leaves;” “Escobar-Eck was a key player in the deal that awarded development rights for the former Naval Training Center to The Corky McMillin Cos. The final agreement had the city losing out on potentially tens of millions of dollars. In an interview earlier this year, she was unapologetic about the contract terms.”
Escobar-Eck always favored the powerful developer interests by putting the screws to the public taxpayers.
She thumbed her nose at Grand Jury reports, community planning groups, and anyone that wasn’t an insider.
Safety and environmental concerns took a backseat to her developer friend’s projects.
Many active community members were thrilled when Escobar-Eck left the city the first time. But, Mayor Sanders proved he was just another in a long line of “development mayors,” when he hired back the cities reliable “shill”.
Sanders, seems to be following in Murphy’s footsteps, both claiming to be “reformers,” but appointing the same casts of rubber stamps.
How long before Sanders follows Murphy into “Time Magazines, Worst Mayor List?”
With appointing department heads like Marcella and Waring he is on his way.
—Kathleen Blavatt, Watchdog
Sunroad E-mails Speak Volumes about a Missing Signature
Workers recently began dismantling the top floors of Sunroad's controversial Kearny Mesa office tower.
By WILL CARLESS and EVAN McLAUGHLINVoice Staff Writers, Aug. 22, 2007
For months, the Mayor's Office has said that Isam Hasenin, the city’s chief building inspector, didn’t sign off on a crucial document in the Sunroad saga for a simple reason: He didn’t want to weigh in on a divisive political issue. But internal e-mails and interviews show that Hasenin had already declined
Sunroad’s request and continued to argue against authorizing the document right up to the day it was eventually issued by his boss, Development Services Director Marcela Escobar-Eck.
A Missing SignatureThe Issue: In December, the city’s top building inspector declined to give approval to a request by Sunroad to continue work on their controversial office tower.
City officials have said the inspector didn’t sign the document because he wanted to stay out of the political fray, but e-mails show he had serious concerns about allowing the work.
What It Means: The city granted approval to Sunroad to continue its controversial development despite advice from its own staff not to do so. The inspector tasked with reviewing Sunroad's request rejected it.
The Bigger Picture: The Mayor's Office has been caught in a string of contradictions between its public statements and what was happening inside City Hall.That document allowed Sunroad to all but finish the 180-foot building, which has been at the heart of an ongoing political storm.
At that height, the Federal Aviation Administration claims the building is hazardous to aircraft using nearby Montgomery Field Airport."[Chief City Inspector Joe Harris] tells me you’re about to sign a letter allowing them to do work in the roof area," Hasenin wrote to Escobar-Eck on Dec. 19, 2006. "I have reviewed the plans with senior structural staff and would recommend against allowing any work in the topmost floor, the roof, and penthouse."
The decision to override Hasenin has proven to be a key step in the city’s accommodation of Sunroad’s controversial tower.
The e-mails, obtained through a Public Records Act request, show Hasenin had concerns about allowing any work to continue on the top stories of the Sunroad building and advised Escobar-Eck against issuing a letter that would allow such work to take place.
'Fired in Iceland'
EVAN McLAUGHLIN, Voice of san Diego, August 14, 2007
Jim Waring, the recently resigned land-use chief for Mayor Jerry Sanders, sent along a note today to some of the department directors that worked for him.
In an e-mail, Waring lamented that he decided to try to sway Councilwoman Donna Frye that "there may be a better result for the city" than lowering the Sunroad building to the Federal Aviation Administration's 160-foot height limit. That meeting with Frye touched off allegations by City Attorney Mike Aguirre that Waring was trying to appease the company and defy the city's lawsuit.
He wrote:Stupid of me. It never entered my mind that it would be twisted as somehow not supporting the 160 foot solution, which is now underway.
He said he had wrestled with the idea of stepping down "for some time." While the Mayor's Office said today that the mayor had accepted Waring's resignation, he said in the e-mail that he was fired.
Waring wrote: "Amazing to get fired in Iceland." He is vacationing there.
"Sunroad seems to chase me everywhere," he said.
Among the recipients were Development Services Director Marcela Escobar-Eck, Real Estate Assets Director Jim Barwick, and City Planning and Community Investment Director Bill Anderson.
He thanked the recipients for "doing a great job for the city" and noted that he would see them all next week.
Waring left them with these words: At some point in our city's future, we will get beyond the culture of negativity which seems to dominate our public life today.
Lack of Moral Compass (Letter)
Dear Mr. Peters and Council members,
The newspaper announcement of Deputy Chief Operating Officer Jim Waring‚s resignation was one phrase in one sentence in a long editorial today (Opinion Aug 14, B6).
It's welcome news none the less.
Ronne Froman lacked the intestinal fortitude to do a good job for San Diego.
Jim Waring lacked a moral compass.
JoAnne Sawyer-Knoll, who should resign next, is utterly ignorant of ethical propriety.
All this comes from the Jerry Sanders who promised honesty, transparency, com-petence, and good governance. He gave us Sanders, Froman, Waring, and Sawyer-Knoll.
—Jim Varnadore, City Heights
Approving San Diego's new general plan just first of many battles ahead
By THOR KAMBAN BIBERMAN, The Daily Transcript, August 23, 2007
Some 28 years since its last update, the city of San Diego's new general plan is scheduled to be presented before the San Diego City Council sometime in October.
Ratifying a general plan that will provide structure for the next 20 years has been difficult enough, but the challenges faced when trying to update and then apply some 44 distinctive community plans may be daunting indeed.
As noted during meeting of the Citizens Coordinate For Century III at the Holiday Inn Embarcadero on Thursday, the city is a very different place than it was the last time the general plan was updated.
In 1979, the city's land resources were relatively limitless. Otay Mesa was nearly empty and Rancho Penasquitos still had plenty of land.
Today, only about 4 percent of the land in the city remains.
"We can't grow by growing out anymore," said Bill Anderson, city planning and economic development director.
One of the major challenges is a more than $2 billion infrastructure shortfall.
For example, some city water pipes date back to the early part of the 20th century.
Another major challenge is convincing residents of the wisdom of density, and the need to provide an economic strategy to make the general and community plans work.
The general plan is based on numerous directives including the preservation of a citywide open space network, diverse neighborhoods, walkable mixed-use villages, strong employment centers near housing if possible and an integrated transportation network.
Leo Wilson, Uptown Community Planning Committee chairman, said there already is plenty of opposition to the City of Villages effort that is a cornerstone of this plan.
"Even supporters are getting serious doubts," he said, suggesting that many are wondering whether smart growth is coming at too high a cost to the historic neighborhoods of the city in particular.
While the general plan update will be the framework, the battles in the trenches will be fought when the community plans are updated.
"It's going to be really hard to get community plans updated ..." said Russ Haley of CityMark Development, whose firm is developing mixed-use projects from downtown San Diego to Oceanside in San Diego County. "People don't see how density benefits them."
A case in point was after the downtown community plan was completed in the spring of last year.
When it was revealed the downtown population would approach 90,000 at buildout, Save Our Forest & Ranchlands filed a lawsuit in Superior Court against the Centre City Development Corp. and the city last year saying the plan was too dense, especially without adequate public transportation.
The case was settled when the city agreed to study SOFAR's transit-oriented transportation plan and incorporate provisions into the downtown document.
Save Our Heritage Organisation also challenged the planning document in court last year on the basis of possible impacts to historical resources.
That case was settled after issues such as the transfer of development rights as they relate to the moving of historic buildings, were resolved.
Anderson, who said the goal is to update all 44 community plans within about 10 years, said there is any number of things that can impact that schedule.
Not the least of these is what happens when there is a lot of opposition to the plan.
Anderson estimated that each community plan update should take 1 1/2 to two years to complete, and will tend to come in clusters.
There has been some measure of controversy with most of them. The Otay Mesa community plan update was to be completed before year's end, but city officials have questioned the role of developers who bankrolled the effort.
The balance of industrial land to housing has been another issue.
Ocean Beach's update, also being wrapped up, doesn't appear to be nearly as controversial.
However, Barrio Logan -- which doesn't have a community planning group -- may be more of a challenge because of old industrial sites that many would like to get rid of, coupled with old homes that were spared when Interstate 5 came through in the 1960s.
The Grantville community plan update -- which like Barrio Logan is in the pipeline -- has been controversial, because of a proposal to convert the industrial properties to mixed use with residential and retail.
"Some don't like redevelopment or they're worried about traffic," Anderson said.
A controversial project that the Uptown community plan update will have to deal with is the proposed 12-story, 96-unit condominium development planned at 301 University Ave. in Hillcrest.
La Jolla Pacific Development, the developer, said the project will conform to the updated plan. Detractors say the project is completely out of character for the area.
"You don't build 12-story skyscrapers in these neighborhoods," Wilson said. "The only way you're going to be competitive economically is to keep San Diego a nice place to live."
Plans also call for community plans to be updated for North Park and Golden Hill, beginning some time next year. The Midway area, which could include Old Town, would come after that.
All told, Anderson said there are about 15 community plans in need of an update in the near future.
Whenever the plans are updated, Haley said they will need to take a hard look at parking requirements that may be so stringent as to make housing unaffordable.
"When you consider that each parking space costs $35,000 to $40,000 and more. That could translate to $100,000 added to the cost of a unit," Haley said. "When looking at these community plans, parking is something that will really need to be addressed."
Real estate brokerage vote delayed
By ELIZABETH MALLOY, The Daily Transcript, July 30, 2007
At the request of Mayor Jerry Sanders, the San Diego City Council did not vote on a brokerage firm to help the city sell off $32.4 million in commercial real estate.
After questions arose about Sanders‚ decision to let Burnham Real Estate and Grubb & Ellis|BRE Commercial sell the land, particularly because Grubb & Ellis officials had made donations to Sanders‚ mayoral campaign, Sanders reportedly asked the city attorney‚s office to look into potential conflicts of interest.
The council has not yet rescheduled a date to vote.
Unfortunatly this later was approved
Council to look at business improvement fees, real estate brokers
By ELIZABETH MALLOY, The Daily Transcript, July 27, 2007
With a summer hiatus on the horizon, the San Diego City Council has two lengthy meetings scheduled Monday and Tuesday.
For the business world, two of the bigger votes will be a decision on business improvement district fees, and whether or not to accept Grubb & Ellis|BRE Commercial and Burnham Real Estate as the city‚s brokers for the commercial real estate it's putting on the market.
Certain sections of the city are divided into business improvement districts, and to make these areas thrive or keep them active, businesses within these zones must pay a fee. The fee is up for renewal this year and the council is set to discuss the matter Monday. The fees are not expected to go up.
On Thursday, Mayor Jerry Sanders announced his office has selected Burnham and Grubb & Ellis to broker $34.4 million in commercial land deals for the city. The decision could prove somewhat controversial as officials from both companies donated to Sanders‚ mayoral campaign, but Sanders said they were chosen because they could meet a council-imposed 6 percent commission.
The council is expected to review this matter on Monday as well.
Send your comments to Elizabeth.Malloy@sddt.com
Latest on Navy Broadway/CCDC Developer Giveaway Deal:
CCDC served its client, Manchester, well today.
But it may not be over.
by Pat Flannery, Blog of San Diego, 07/25/07
Excerpt: As expected the five member CCDC board voted 4 to 1 to rubber stamp Manchester's Navy Broadway project today. They were too far invested in this project to turn back now. Manchester can start excavation work for the Navy headquarters building immediately because, by its decision today, the CCDC board has ruled that he does not need a permit from the California Coastal Commission.
That was the purpose of today's meeting.
One of the biggest land use decisions in the history of San Diego was made by four non-elected officials.
This once-in-a-century decision was not even worthy of recording by CityTV, Channel 24.
My little YouTube camera and a lone Channel 10 reporter were all there was to record this historic event.
But this developer-compliant board may not be out of the woods yet. They may even have sown the seeds of their own disbandment. It is intolerable that a developer-serving body like CCDC can put on a show like they did today and thumb their noses at the citizens of San Diego and the California Coastal Commission.
The citizens of this great city need to take back control of government from the developers and their hand picked "officials". Nancy Graham dealt with my discovery of her coached Perry Dealy letter by saying that it was distributed to the board.
Yes it was, but only AFTER I discovered it. She tried to avoid today's publicity by putting this historic decision on the Consent Agenda!
FULL ARTICLE Nancy Graham DID coach Perry Dealy in writing that letter. 07/25/07
by Pat Flannery, Blog of San Diego
Excerpt: The U-T did a story today confirming that Manchester was coached in writing the letter that temporarily took condo-hotels out of his Navy Broadway submittal in order to side-step the Coastal Commission: "CCDC President Nancy Graham said she asked Manchester to write the letter about deleting the condo-hotel language".
Nancy Graham requested that letter as a CYA, but nobody was supposed to see it until after today's hearing, otherwise it would have been in the staff report. It is not.
Nancy Graham knows that this is not about condo-hotels per se, it is about dodging the Coastal Commission bullet. She is an advocate for the developer, not the 1.3 million people of this city.
She is still a land use attorney at heart, not a civil servant.
But the cat is out of the bag now so it is up to the 1.3 million to make their voices heard at 2:00 P.M. today at City Hall. I think we can safely rely on the fact that it will be "pulled" from the Consent Agenda today. FULL ARTICLE Manchester sues the California Coastal Commission.
07/03/07, by Pat Flannery, Blog of San Diego
Excerpt: Manchester has sued the California Coastal Commission (CCC) asserting that it cannot require him to obtain a Coastal Development Permit (CDP) before developing Navy Broadway because it is on federal land and thus excluded by the Federal Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) from the California "coastal zone" and from the Coastal Commission's jurisdiction.The Coastal Commission on the other hand asserts that it can indeed require Manchester to obtain a CDP because the project will be developed by Manchester, not by the Navy. CCC also asserts that substantial changes have occurred since 1991 that will require a supplemental federal consistency review of the project under CZMA.
Doesn't this remind you of Sunroad thumbing its nose at the FAA? It should. It is the same cocky attorney, Steve Strauss of Cooley Godward, that isnow taking on the CCC. Full Article: http://www.blogofsandiego.com/
A California city may not legally plan higher density housing without minimizing impacts
An important court decision from San Francisco: A California city may not legally plan higher density housing without minimizing impacts on traffic congestion, parking, air pollution, noise, preservation of existing housing, aesthetic quality, etc.
Relying on an old, limited environmental report is not good enough. In San Diego, a group of affordable housing advocates filed a lawsuit in Dec. 2006 against the City's Housing Element. The issues are similar: Little benefit for affordable housing; maximum threat to residents' quality of life.
—Tom Mullaney, Friends of San Diego
TOPIC— INSIDERS DEALS THAT HURT YOU!:
Smells of Insiders Deals:
Logan Jenkins, Union-Tribune, July 28, 2007
A brick – the Feeding the Fire award – to Mayor Jerry Sanders for proposing that San Diego hire two well-known brokerage firms – Burnham Real Estate and Grubb & Ellis – to sell nine municipal properties. I'm in no position to dispute the facts Sanders presented Thursday: These two firms may very well have agreed to the lowest commissions of the 11 firms bidding for the right to sell the commercial parcels, which have a total appraised value of more than $32 million. The firms could serve the city well.
Still, Sanders could not have raised more eyebrows unless he'd proposed that developers Mike Madigan and Paul Nieto team up with Sunroad owner Aaron Feldman to dispose of the city's property.Call it a bizarre coincidence.
Or call it political tone deafness.
As mentioned in Monday's column, Burnham Real Estate is the broker for Sunroad's ill-starred Centrum project next to Montgomery Field. (Go to www.sunroad-centrum.com to see what soaring ambitions Burnham still holds for the three-tower project.)
What's more, an agent for Grubb & Ellis allegedly misrepresented Madigan and Nieto as agents of the San Diego Community College District. District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis is investigating the $534,375 windfall for the two clients of Grubb & Ellis.
In the run-up to the '08 election, the great challenge for Sanders, it seems to me, is to shake off his image as the Establishment's hail-fellow-well-met who instinctively follows the lead of power brokers adept at rigging the game in their favor.In selecting these particular brokerage firms to flog public land, Sanders is making it tougher for his many instinctive admirers to take his word on faith.
On Monday, City Council members will express their own view of Sanders' winners. Their ears may be more finely tuned to political irony. Aguirre accuses broker of fraud
Complaint filed over property purchase
By Sherry Saavedra & Tanya Mannes, Union–Tribune, 7/25/07
City Attorney Michael Aguirre filed a civil complaint yesterday alleging fraud by the real estate broker who misrepresented his businessmen-clients as agents for the San Diego Community College District's bond-financed expansion plan.In the complaint, Aguirre states that broker Linville Martin and his clients began “an aggressive campaign” to acquire 13 properties in a two-block area downtown, telling numerous owners they were authorized to do so by the college district.
Martin and the men he represented, developers Mike Madigan and Paul Nieto, did not have such an arrangement.
Nevertheless, the businessmen purchased one property for below-market value and sold it to the district for a profit of more than $500,000.
The complaint alleges that Martin made “untrue or misleading statements” and “false promises” and that his conduct “constituted fraud” in violation of the state Business and Professions Code.
The complaint, filed in San Diego Superior Court, seeks an order stopping Martin from future similar action. It asks for penalties of at least $100,000 against Martin, as well as restitution.Martin did not return calls yesterday. In an interview earlier this month with The San Diego Union-Tribune, Martin said he spoke to the college's development chief, Damon Schamu, before sending a letter in which he claimed to represent the district. After that conversation, he said he felt he had permission to proceed.Schamu said in a separate interview with the newspaper that he told Madigan and Nieto to “cease and desist” when he found out about that letter.
Martin is a licensed independent broker affiliated with the real estate firm Grubb & Ellis BRE Commercial.
The college district was eyeing multiple downtown sites for its expansion plan, financed by Proposition S, a $685 million bond measure approved by voters in 2002, and Proposition N, an additional $870 million bond measure approved by voters in November 2006.
The Union-Tribune reported on July 13 that Martin told the sellers of a 15th Street duplex that Madigan and Nieto's company, TMG Partners, had a deal to handle the college district's expansion. Madigan and Nieto paid $750,000 for the duplex at 1025-1027 15th St. in January 2006. They transferred it to a private trust and sold it to the college at a $534,375 profit in September 2006.Nieto did not return calls yesterday. Madigan said his attorney has advised him not to comment.
After learning of the misrepresentation, college district Chancellor Constance Carroll last week asked the District Attorney's Office for a felony-level investigation.
Aguirre's complaint says that Martin contacted “numerous” owners besides the sellers of the 15th Street duplex: Jean and Milton Creek and Glenda and Esao Sumida. He made the same claim that he represented the district.
It describes how he approached four other property owners. WATCHDOG REPORT: Pair was not authorized to buy land for collegeDistrict official knew but didn't halt duplex deal
By Tanya Mannes & Agustín Armendariz, Union-Tribune, 7/13/07
Mike Madigan and Paul Nieto, two prominent businessmen who made a half-million dollars selling a downtown duplex to the San Diego Community College District, originally obtained the property by telling the owners they had a deal to handle the district's bond-funded expansion.
They did not.Paul NietoThe district's development administrator, Damon Schamu, knew Madigan and Nieto had misrepresented themselves but chose not to intervene in the transaction, he said this week.
The duplex owners, Jean and Milton Creek and Glenda and Esao Sumida, gave The San Diego Union-Tribune a letter they were sent in 2004, which says Madigan and Nieto were the college district's official representatives in the negotiations. It mentioned tax advantages the couples might receive by selling.
The couples, who had held the property for more than 25 years as a nest egg for their retirement, agreed in 2005 to sell the property to Madigan and Nieto for $750,000. After the sale closed in January 2006, the men transferred the land into a relative's trust and sold it to the college district nine months later for $1,284,375, a profit of $534,37 FULL REPORT Who is the Mayor's real real estate broker?
07/09/07 by Pat Flannery, Blog of San Diego
Excerpt: Earlier this year, a Janice Weinrick was appointed by Mayor Sanders to "oversee 11 City-managed redevelopment project areas throughout San Diego, encompassing more than 7,600 acres and representing more than $2 billion in investment underway and in the pipeline." Here is the news release announcing her appointment. Her developer-related credentials are impressive.
But here is an article in the San Diego Metropolitan magazine (a sort of gossip column for the "in" crowd of San Diego) that raises some questions. According to the writer, Manny Cruz, Weinrick "shares the home with her boyfriend, Lin Martin, a retail commercial broker with Grubb & Ellis|BRE Commercial."
I spoke with Mr. Martin today and asked him about his involvement in the $750,000 purchase of the duplex at 1027 15th. St. for Mike Madigan and Paul Nieto. At first he couldn't remember the transaction. Understandable, considering he does so many. FULL ARTICLE
What's that smell? Critics look hard for foul play in duplex deal
UNION-TRIBUNE EDITORIAL, July 5, 2007
Sweet real estate deals involving public money can smell sour, like this one: In 2005, Mike Madigan, a consultant well known around town; Paul Nieto, a local developer and also well known; and the San Diego Community College District negotiated fruitlessly about developing two East Village blocks the district owns.
In January 2006, the two men bought another East Village property, a duplex, and transferred it to a trust. That's whiff one. In September 2006 they accepted the district's second offer for the property, making $534,375 in profit. That's whiff two, clinching for critics that something nefarious went on here.
But in a board meeting in April 2005 to discuss and approve the district's master facilities plan, the district openly targeted this property. Negotiating a purchase price, district officials say, may be done in closed session but not developing a master plan. Anyone who was paying attention and had the wits and funds to bet on the then-soaring market could have bought this duplex. As for transferring the property to a trust, maybe Madigan and Nieto wanted anonymity, or some tax advantage, or an arm's length deal with any purchaser, particularly the district.
Then there's the whopping profit. The two men bought it below market. The district always pays fair market value. Somebody else might have paid even more. And prior and failed negotiations to develop blocks the district already owned don't require altruistic pricing by Madigan and Nieto.
We're speculating here, but so are the critics. It would help if Madigan and Nieto explained these transactions fully. But they're not talking. And they don't have to, however much lack of explanation widens the public gulf between the legality of a deal and the smell test.
Mayor lied to the people of San Diego, Again?:
Sunroad report, records at oddsCity examined how tower was approved
By David Hasemyer & Jeff McDonald, Union Tribune, Aug.12, 2007 Work may start soon to lower office tower. Top officials at San Diego City Hall knew at least four months earlier than Mayor Jerry Sanders has publicly acknowledged that the Sunroad Enterprises building near Montgomery Field violated federal height limits, according to records obtained by The San Diego Union-Tribune.Memos show that then-Development Services Department director Gary Halbert, assistant director Kelly Broughton, and James Waring, the chief of land use and economic development, all knew about the problem in June 2006 – before the building had reached its halfway point.
The Sunroad report by Mayor Jerry Sanders' office contains numerous findings not supported by records.
Yet Sanders has insisted that neither he nor Waring knew about the controversy until October, when the structure had reached its full height and City Attorney Michael Aguirre was preparing to issue a stop-work order on the project.
The conflict between what the mayor said and what the records reflect is among numerous inconsistencies in a report Sanders' staff produced about how Sunroad was permitted to build an office tower despite Federal Aviation Administration warnings.
The investigation exonerated Sanders and his top deputies.
E-mails show that Halbert and Broughton received a detailed outline of the FAA's concerns June 19, 2006, the same day the FAA notified a senior city planner that the building, planned for 180 feet, would be a hazard to pilots landing in bad weather.
“The FAA has a significant issue” with the building, the planner wrote to Halbert and Broughton. The letter also pointed out that San Diego could lose federal airport funds if the office tower exceeded 160 feet. FULL ARTICLE Pilots Scathe Sunroad Report
Voice of san Diego, E-MAIL POST
An attorney for the Community Airfields Association of San Diego argued in a letter today that the report on the Sunroad office building released by the Mayor's Office is inaccurate, the second time in as many weeks that a lawyer close to the case has complained about the investigation's findings.Gerald Blank, a lawyer for the group, said a crucial letter from Mayor Jerry Sanders was "glaringly absent" from the cache of records Sanders ethics chief JoAnne SawyerKnoll used to craft the report.
The letter, sent May 18 to the Federal Aviation Administration, states that Sanders was trying to divert traffic away from the structure in order to accommodate the building at heights above the 160-foot ceiling set by the FAA. It's one of the several instances in which Sanders pursued alternatives to strictly enforcing the FAA's height limit.In her report, SawyerKnoll said the mayor rejected the idea outright, but she omitted the document that said otherwise from the sources she references throughout the 40-page report.
In an recent article by San Diego CityBeat, SawyerKnoll said she had no idea why the May 18 letter was left out.
"My client feels you missed a very important issue, should question the Mayor about it, and issue a clarification," Blank said.
He continued:At face value, it appears to be an inexplicable contradiction. Perhaps there is an answer. Absent the Mayor’s response, the issue presently screams of cover-up.
-- EVAN McLAUGHLIN, Friday, August 10 -- 1:50 pm
ONLY IN SAN DIEGO
Sanders' scenarios on Sunroad just don't fly
Gerry Braum, Union Tribune, July 25, 2007
Mayor Jerry Sanders says he accepts “full responsibility” for the Sunroad building fiasco and for the trail of bureaucratic blundering spelled out last week in the special investigation he commissioned.
But the investigation provided Sanders an escape on a critical issue – his credibility – with a hole wide enough for even a full-responsibility mayor to slip through.At issue is how Sanders explains his role in obtaining the services of Ted Sexton, a veteran airport official, to engineer a compromise that would allow the nearly completed building near Montgomery Field to exceed federal height limits. Sexton developed a pitch and flew to Texas earlier this year to lobby the Federal Aviation Administration. He was unsuccessful.Yet in a radio interview at that time, Sanders flatly denied that Sexton was working on the Sunroad issue. A similar denial was contained in a “Fact Sheet” issued by his office.The investigation by the Mayor's Office of Ethics and Integrity determined that his comments and the Fact Sheet were inaccurate. “Unintentionally inaccurate.”
How did the mayor's ethics police know the mayor's intentions? The question was asked when the report was issued last week. The answer: That's what the mayor said, and they believe him.Hmmmmm.
To believe the mayor, you have to believe that a number of truly remarkable events – logic-defying stuff – occurred in the mayor's office at that time.
The first Remarkable Event was when Sanders signed, but did not read, the letter that led the Airport Authority to lend Sexton to City Hall.Sanders told investigators he did not recall the letter, which contains the word “Sunroad” in its first line and seeks help in determining whether changes in Montgomery Field operations could lift the building's hazard designation.
The report states: “Although he recognized his signature on the letter, he did not recall reading its contents at the time he signed, or understanding that the letter specifically asked for assistance with the Sunroad issue only.”
The second Remarkable Event occurred nine weeks after Sexton arrived. Sanders appeared on the Roger Hedgecock Show utterly unaware that Sexton had been diligently trying to extricate him from the Sunroad quagmire.Hedgecock asked the mayor if it was true that Sexton was looking into a compromise that would remove the FAA's hazard designation from the Sunroad building. Sanders said, “No.” He claimed Sexton was working on a general review of airport operations, though there is no evidence of that.The mayor's investigators determined that Sanders was completely in the dark, that “at the time . . . he did not know that Sexton was working on Sunroad issues . . . .” That's what the mayor said, and they believe him.Hmmmmmmm.
The third Remarkable Event occurred when mayoral spokesman Fred Sainz, a canny operator devoted to Sanders and to knowing everything that happens at City Hall, issued the Fact Sheet while similarly oblivious to what Sexton was up to.
Sainz told reporters he got bum information from Ronne Froman, the now-departed chief operating officer. This suggests that Froman, a widely admired former admiral, orchestrated the deception, blindsided the mayor's inner circle and, presumably, tricked Sanders into signing that letter.Are you buying any of this?
Me neither.Let me propose an alternative scenario in the spirit of Occam's Razor, which holds that the simplest explanation is usually the correct one.
The mayor was looking for a win-win solution, one that would ensure aviation safety while accommodating Sunroad. Asking the FAA to compromise was the equivalent of a Hail Mary pass to the end zone. The last thing he needed was the media, or the city attorney, getting in the way.So Sexton was brought on board with a ready-made cover story that he was working on unrelated aviation issues. For nine weeks, no one was the wiser. When news of his activities leaked out, the cover story was floated, but nobody bought it.
By then, the mayor had decided the building had to go, and he no longer wanted to be associated with any scheme to aid Sunroad. There was no sense disputing what Sexton had been up to, but he could plausibly deny knowing about it. He did, and he does to this day.
This version is more consistent with what we know about Sanders' character. He's a nice guy who wants to be a hero and avoid making enemies, not some oaf who signs things he doesn't understand and is clueless about what's going on in his own office.
But he's also willing to shortchange the truth, intentionally, when it suits his purposes.That's my read of the situation, and I take full responsibility for it. Honest Probe? Ha Ha Ha Ha
By Don Bauder, San Diego Reader City Lights July 5, 2007
A beggar comes to the door and asks for food. The housewife says he can have dinner if he will whitewash the porch. Ten minutes later he is back, claiming the job is done. The housewife is incredulous. "I covered every inch with thick white paint," he boasts. "But it isn't a Porsche. It's a Mercedes-Benz."
A similarly blunderheaded whitewash attempt is going on in San Diego. The city hall gang that can't shoot straight is trying to pull off a whitewash with purple paint. Just wait until Jay Leno and David Letterman get wind of this. The Sanders administration, with the enthusiastic backing of the Union-Tribune, is trying to bring back the Sedition Act of 1798. That act made it illegal to "write, print, utter, or publish" anything critical of the president or Congress. You could go to jail for two years for casting aspersions on a public official. Understandably, people raised hell, and the act was gone in three years.
Now Sanders and his minions want to bring it back. In a letter to the editor of the U-T on June 15, City Attorney Mike Aguirre, responding to a prior attack on him by former Copley Press official Herb Klein, pointed out that when Sanders took office last year, he had noted that government had become a "corrupt impediment to progress" under his predecessors. Sanders had promised to "tell the whole truth." But now, Aguirre wrote accurately, Sanders has been engaging in an "embarrassing and corrupt course of action" by doing a multimillion-dollar favor for a campaign contributor -- Aaron Feldman, owner of Sunroad, who not only gave the mayor money but also held a big fund-raiser for him. Sanders allowed Sunroad to construct a building in defiance of federal and state flight-safety regulations. Then, noted Aguirre -- again, accurately -- Sanders borrowed an official from the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority to lobby the federal government to change flight patterns near Montgomery Field, so Sunroad could keep its illegal building.
Then the comedy really got going. FULL ARTICLE
Sanders hasn't got a shred of credibility left. 06/13/07
by Pat Flannery, BLOG OF SAN DIEGO
I went to Mike Aguirre's press conference on the 13th floor of City Hall yesterday. It promised to be a big one, and it was.
As I set up my little home video camera I joked with the big boys to move over that YouTube was here. Gene Cubbison (NBC 7/39) quipped "oh, oh, we're going global".
Seriously though, the Internet is a beautiful thing and is doing wonderful things for democracy.
Mike started out by telling us that he discovered Sunroad documents in Ted Sexton's airport office. These documents had been illegally moved from Sexton's city office to his airport office (Sexton is on loan to the City from the Airport Authority).
He went on to tell us that he has been told, apparently by the airport authority's legal council, that there are more Sunroad documents in Sexton's airport office, but they will not be turned over to the City Attorney and that Ted Sexton has left town. Wow!
I have posted below the various documents Aguirre has obtained, as they become appropriate in my narrative. They really do make a liar out of Sanders. FULL ARTICLE W/ VIDEO CLIPS:
City's building inspector fired for not repealing Sunroad's Stop Work order, 06/15/07
by Pat Flannery, BLOG OF SAN DIEGO
Here is a transcript of Roger Hedgecock's interview with Jerry Sanders yesterday. I have provided links to relevant documents and written some comments of my own.
Today, Mr. Aguirre released this News Release. In it he says: The Mayor recently confirmed on KOGO radio that a City building inspector refused to sign a December 21, 2006, modified stop work order that allowed weather-proofing of the Centrum building ..... today the City Attorney spoke with the inspector and he confirmed to Aguirre that he refused to sign the proposed modified stop work notice because it went far beyond weatherizing the building.
The inspector no longer works at the City and is employed in San Francisco. This feels more and more like Watergate. The lies keep tumbling out. Was a City building inspector fired for not repealing the Sunroad stop work order? Where is Ted Sexton? Why did Ronne Froman suddenly quit?
Documents Show Sanders Pursued Other Angles on Sunroad
By EVAN McLAUGHLIN and WILL CARLESS Voice Staff Writers
The mayor says the Kearny Mesa office building must be lowered to 160 feet, but documents show he charted a more compromising path until recently, including direct cooperation with Sunroad.
FULL ARTICLE Breaking Stories: Hearing No Evil
By Matt Potter, Reader City Lights, June 14, 2007
Fighting a two-front war with the Federal Aviation Administration over the too-tall high-rise he is building near Kearny Mesa's Montgomery Field and two towers he's proposing for Harbor Island near Lindbergh Field, Sunroad Enterprises' Aaron Feldman has gone to Washington for some heavy-duty help.
According to a February filing with the clerk of the U.S. Senate, Sunroad has retained the services of lobbyist David Schaffer, whose duties are listed as "ensuring that a building does not create an unsafe condition for aircraft."
Formerly senior counsel and GOP staff director for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's aviation panel, Schaffer has represented such well-heeled clients as Virgin Nigeria, a joint venture between the Nigerian government and Britain's Virgin Atlantic that wanted takeoff and landing rights in New York and Houston, and Sound Initiative, a group lobbying for legislation against noisy jets.
Five years ago, Schaffer told a writer for Washington Monthly, "People on the Hill don't really see lobbyists as evil. But the public doesn't see it that way." The U-T is going to extraordinary lengths to defend Mayor Sanders
First, a letter from the non-functional County Sheriff, Bill Kolender, defending Sanders.
Then a prominent story on the premature endorsement of Sanders by the dysfunctional County Republican party.
But the Op-Ed piece today by the Nixon syncophant, Herb Klein, who is only dragged out of bed when there are real political dangers to the establishment takes the cake.Assuming Klein actually wrote this Op-Ed piece and did not simply lend his name to it, it boggles the mind that he doesn't understand the cronyism in this town and the role campaign dollars play in decision-making in the Mayor's office.
One of the reasons Ronne Froman resigned was likely because of her distaste of the misleading press releases that spew out of the Mayor's office daily and not to sully her own reputation by producing a false report on Sunroad.
— Ian Trowbridge, SD Watchdog
City ends agreement with four developers
Millions were spent on Otay Mesa plan
By Jennifer Vigil, Union-Tribune STAFF WRITER, July 4, 2007
San Diego's top land-use official last week ended an agreement with four prominent developers who have spent millions of dollars on a new community plan for Otay Mesa, where the companies own large parcels of land slated for residential projects.
The developer group, called the Otay Mesa Coalition, includes Sunroad Enterprises, which remains mired in controversy because of its handling of a building in Kearny Mesa that aviation authorities had warned could endanger planes landing at Montgomery Field.
Jim Waring wrote the letter three days after Sunroad agreed to lower the 180-foot building, which exceeded a height limit by 20 feet. That move followed months of scrutiny of the project and a flood of criticism from residents shocked that the city would allow construction despite repeated safety warnings.
The original Otay Mesa agreement between the city and the developers was reached in October 2004, and it was updated in February.
Waring, who has been with the city since early 2006, downplayed the timing of Friday's letter to David Nielsen, a consultant on the project, and said he always was uncomfortable with the arrangement.
He said he feared the public would be swayed by the developers' spending and suspect that the coalition “would have too much influence on the outcome.”
“It's not accurate, but it's a genuine concern,” Waring said.
Consultants on the project, though paid by the developers, did not report to the companies, Waring said, but to the city. Their work at this point has been technical, he said, and has not been used to form policies that will affect Otay Mesa.
His action Friday, which he said was approved by Mayor Jerry Sanders, will make it necessary for the city to enter contracts with the consultants directly, a process that could delay completion of the community plan, due by year's end.
It will cost $1.5 million to finish the plan, Waring said, and the city has found funding to proceed on a number of other community updates, without forming arrangements similar to the one with the Otay Mesa Coalition.
“That is not the way to do these things,” he said.City Attorney Michael Aguirre, a vocal critic of Sunroad's work in Kearny Mesa, agrees. Aguirre called funding of the Otay Mesa plan update “highly irregular” and questioned if the developers were allowed to process permits for South Bay projects while the plan discussions continued.
The city uses community plans to guide land-use decisions throughout San Diego. There are more than 50 such plans, which are shaped by area residents and business owners.
In addition to Sunroad, other developers involved in the Otay Mesa Coalition are McMillin Land Development, which guided the transformation of the Naval Training Center; Pardee Homes, which engaged in a lengthy battle to stave off airport development in Otay Mesa; and Integral Partners, which has guided local condominium projects.
At one time, the coalition included three other developers, D.R. Horton Homes, Centex Homes and Brown Field Technology Park.
Nielsen said he received Waring's letter yesterday and had not yet briefed the developers on the city's decision.
Three of the developers also were major supporters of two ballot propositions backed by Sanders last year. McMillin, Pardee and Sunroad donated $10,000 each to back the measures, one of which cleared the way for the mayor to begin a process that could end with some city jobs being outsourced to private firms.Campaign donations became an issue in the city's earlier dealings with Sunroad as well. Company executives donated more than $3,600 to Sanders during his 2005 mayoral campaign.
Research analyst Danielle Cervantes contributed to this report.
Raising a voice against regents' plan
Union-Tribune Letter to Editor, 7/27/07
Regarding “Regents question plan to raze UCSD mansion” (Around Our Region, July 18):I found quite puzzling Boone Hellmann's comments, in response to the regents' concerns, “that the university is speaking to community members.”
To date, the only meetings with the La Jolla Historical Society were in 2006, prior to the release of the environmental report. At the scoping meeting and hearing for the EIR, the community did most of the talking. The university passively listened and then repeated itself that it is moving forward with this environmentally hostile project of a large meeting facility with a new chancellor's residence.
The Native American community has not been consulted on the specific project, even though the site has documented archaeological resources and a high potential for yielding more. These resources are so significant that there will be a hearing of the State Historical Resources Commission next month to list them on the National Register of Historic Places.
Also, in a study commissioned by the university itself, the Black House (now Chancellor's House) is also eligible for listing on the register as a fine example of Mid-Century Pueblo Revival.
Instead of celebrating and protecting these unique resources, the University is on the fast track to destroying this unique archaeological site and important building.
What is even more puzzling is that it seems, per the article, that the regents are not being properly informed by the university about community opposition to this project. Perhaps it is time for the regents to be fully informed on what is really at stake.
DON SCHMIDT, La Jolla
Salk Institute finds itself on endangered-site list
By Roger Showley,SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, June 17, 2007
The Salk Institute, the modernist masterpiece designed by Louis I. Kahn, finds itself embroiled in a new ranking as one of the world's 100 most endangered cultural treasures. The New York-based World Monuments Fund included Salk on its list of threatened sites because proposed expansion of the Torrey Pines Mesa complex might "partially obscure and thereby destroy the iconic view" from the spare but widely admired courtyard overlooking the Pacific. The list, issued every two years since 1995, was released earlier this month, and critics of the expansion plan welcomed the news.
"Frankly, it's not a big surprise," said attorney Courtney Ann Coyle, who has been representing nearby homeowners who oppose the plan. The expansion over the next 50 years would more than double the Salk's present size of 210,000 square feet.
Added Lisa Ross, coordinator of the Coalition to Save the Salk, made up of six organizations and more than 2,000 supporters: "This is independent, international verification of what people have been saying in the city." She noted that the expansion plan received a "Grand Onion" at last year's Orchids & Onions program that focuses on local architectural and land-use design. Opened in 1963, the Salk has been deemed a historic site, even if it is not yet 50 years old.M. Wayne Donaldson, a San Diego architect who heads the state office of historic preservation, said the international architectural community previously criticized the Salk's early-1990s expansion and he wondered why the new plans can't be modified."
There's always a point where it's going to be too much buildout," Donaldson said. "This is one of the unique sites that should – just leave it alone."
The Salk's communications director, Mauricio Minotta, issued a statement that the institute, founded by polio-vaccine discoverer Dr. Jonas Salk, was "dismayed" to be on the endangered-monuments list and should have been contacted first to learn the "facts." He called the view blockage concern "grossly erroneous and irresponsible."
"It has always been the intention of the plan's developers to preserve the iconic view and its natural environment as originally envisioned by Jonas Salk and Louis Kahn," Minotta said, adding that computer simulations have concluded that the view would not be affected.The Salk is the seventh California site to appear on the monuments lists and the first from San Diego.
Michelle Berenfeld, director of the endangered-monuments program, said between 200 and 300 nominations were received and reviewed by an independent panel of experts, who chose the final list May 17. Only eight have appeared on previous lists."
In general the Salk Institute is part of a larger issue of modernism and preserving modernism, which is something we've had a great interest in in the last few years," Berenfeld said. "Modern buildings have their own set of threats, most threatened by adaptation or renovations rather than just falling apart.
"She said the 10-member selection panel quickly accepted the Salk as a finalist."All agreed it was a debate over the future of this very important view and complex," she said, and hoped the Salk's placement on the list would provoke additional discussion in San Diego.City officials said they received hundreds of comments to an environmental impact report last month and will spend the next several weeks responding to them before issuing the final report. It will then be taken up by the Historic Resources Board, Planning Commission and City Council. The California Coastal Commission also could get involved if there is an appeal.
Roger M. Showley: (619) 293-1286; email@example.com
Friends of Salk Coastal Canyon
firstname.lastname@example.org • Save the SalkTOPIC— LAND USE & SALES... "DEVILS IN THE DETAILS":
City of San Diego Land Development Review division has prepared a draft Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) for the Draft General Plan
Dated October 2006. See Public Notice for more information.
Environmental Impact Report and other documents on the City of San Diego website: http://www.sandiego.gov/planning/genplan/statusreports.shtml A review of the draft City of San Diego General Plan and the EIR offers the reader ample opportunity for astonishment!
The EIR states that the current general plan contains enough capacity to increase housing units by 54%, and increase non-residential square footage by 439%! (page 3.18-1).
In spite of the enormous capacity already approved, the Planning staff insists that "almost all communities" must soon get busy and amend their community plans to increase density.
In addition to the contradictions and potential for harm inherent in the draft city plans, consider this: The "theoretical buildout" described above means that current plans contain enough capacity to increase workplaces to a level that would be five and one-third times the current space. If only 50-75% of the potential space was developed, the City would still be creating an enormous demand for new workers and new housing.
It is apparent that City leaders should be discussing the excessive non-residential capacity, and how to reduce it. Of course, no such action will be taken if the true goal is to increase the city's housing stock by three to five times, or to engender massive bedroom cities outside the City of San Diego, housing three to five million new residents. The resulting mega-cities would not strike most people as "villages".
With the astounding amount of growth inherent in the current General Plan, and the added growth that would result from the proposed General Plan, the city's 800 pages of new documents devote one page to analyzing Growth Inducement.
The entire effort to upzone the city is irrational. That's why it's called "growth mania".
—Tom Mullaney, Friends of San Diego
ONLY IN SAN DIEGO
City Hall's actions on 'land' issue suspicious
Gerry Braum, Union-Tribune, May 30, 2007
Our beaches and parks survived another holiday weekend, which inevitably means spirited competition for every parking space, picnic table and patch of sand under the sun.
To stake out a spot, folks arrive earlier every year. On the Fourth of July, families rise before daybreak. That's also the best way to find a trash can that's not overflowing, or a bathroom that isn't flooded.
The simple truth is our public spaces can't keep pace with our population. We have more picnic blankets than grass.
So it's hard to believe that anyone could visit scenic Mission Bay Park, a workhorse of the city park system and a darned nice place to fly a kite, and think: “What this place really needs is another big old honkin' hotel in it.” FULL STORY Citizens Left Out of Process on Publicly Owned Land Sales:
-Mayor makes decisions. Public has No say in what happens to publicly owned land and what parcels are sold.
-Future needed use land can be sold, example:
the future parkland or the future low income homes.
How many properties have important future uses that they were set aside for?
Shouldn’t local planning groups have input on properties in there areas?
Will the public get a say in sales of Sports Arena and other big properties?
Private sales will limit public or non-profit/environmental groups from having a chance to buy the land.
Major conflict of interest with Frager, president and CEO of Grubb & Ellis|BRE to get a $250,000 consultant fee to tell the City that brokers should sell the properties, and chose which properties to be sold, then to be one of the brokers to submit a RFQ.
is especially disconcerning after having reported ethic violations between Frager,Grubb & Ellis|BRE with Mayor Sanders. Didn't Kroll say these types of behaviors should be avoided? Weren't these types of corporate cronisum what lead us to the to become "Enron by the Sea"?
Private brokers warn selling city land could be tough,
but willing to try
By ELIZABETH MALLOY, The San Diego Daily Transcript, 5/22/07
The city of San Diego’s decision to sell nearly 20 parcels of land could net close to $40 million -- if the city can get the plots sold.
The 17 real estate holdings the San Diego City Council agreed to sell with a 7-1 vote Monday include several vacant lots, right of ways, corners and other kinds of properties that wouldn't regularly be featured on the front page of most real estate sections.
"I don't think they'll be any easy assignments," said John Frager, president and CEO of Grubb & Ellis|BRE Commer cial, a San Diego commercial real estate firm. "It's sort of a 'wait and see."
Though the council vote took place earlier this week, any companies interested in helping the city broker the land sales had to respond to a Request for Quotation, or RFQ, by May 11. The city‚s Real Estate Asset Department would not release the names of the companies who have applied, but Frager said his company has.
J ames Zimsky, senior managing director for Colliers International‚s San Diego office said his company has also responded.
He said his company was one of several the city approached, asking if they would file RFQs. He said the city's real estate directors are experienced real estate professionals and, realizing some of the parcels would be hard to sell, they wanted experts who would know how to get the best deal for them.
"I think it's a good practice, the way they're doing it, Zimsky said "(Private-sector companies) will be able to talk to the city and show them what their options are.
In some situations, those options might be limited. Corner pieces could only really be sold to whoever owns the neighboring property in some cases, he said. The city's other option would be to sell the pieces at auction, but this way real estate brokers can talk buyers through their options as well, showing them what they can accomplish with a piece of land. This will garner the city a better value.
"Eventually, all the stuff will sell," Frager agreed.
The council's vote Monday allows the city to sell the land through auctions, sealed bids and negotiation, as well as brokerage firms.
Frager did not say if his company was specifically approached by the city. Frager and Grubb & Ellis|BRE Commercial were fined $3,000 by the San Diego Ethics Commission in September of 2006 for violating a campaign finance law when they donated $900 to Sanders‚ mayoral campaign.
Both Frager and Zimsky said the process was being run properly.
"They're in a very, very, very public position," Frager said. "What they're trying to do is going to be open to scrutiny. It will be done in the open and with fair approval."
Zimsky said it'll be done very professionally.
The real estate professionals also agreed the city council's goal of capping any commission from the sales at 6 percent was reasonable.
Sanders‚ office has said the sale of the parcels, which also includes homes and office buildings, could net about $37 million for the city.
Send your thoughts and comments to email@example.com.
The City Council signed off, AGENDA, MAY 21, 2007 (PAST 7-1) on Mayor Jerry Sanders' plan Monday, giving the Real Estate Assets Department approval to sell 18 of 19 properties proposed Is selling public land the really best use?
Dear Mayor Sanders, Mr. Waring, and Council President Peters:
It is with grave concern that we have discovered on today's Council agenda the potential sale of La Jolla's affordable housing sites on Fay Avenue and Nautilus St. as part of Item S-200.
Per my discussion today with Phil Merten, Chair of our CDP Committee, neither he nor I are aware of the sales having been noticed or brought to the community for discussion by the La Jolla Community Planning Ass'n.The proposed actions appear to raise a Brown Act issue regarding proper notice and opportunity to comment on the loss of our affordable housing, as well as an invalid attempt to amend the certified LJCP.
The sites proposed for sale are situated within the Fay Avenue ROW and comprise locations within the certified Fay Avenue Plan that constitute the backbone of the "Balanced Communities" section of the 2004 certified La Jolla Community Plan. Without those sites" Balanced Communities" means nothing! We strongly urge all decisionmakers to rescind this proposed sale of the La Jolla sites.
Thank you for your consideration.
Joanne H. Pearson
Past President La Jolla Town Council, Past Chair & current member,
La Jolla Coastal, Development Permit Committee
Density Bonus Alert
by Pat Flannery, 05/16/07, Blog of San Diego
Here we go again. DSD is coming back at us with another Density Bonus attack. This time they have done their homework. They have created a new slick Supplement to their original EIR. Bob Manis has been busy reworking the original, which correctly stated that the coastal 30 foot height limit is not protected by the Coastal Commission. Now all of sudden it is. Being the political hack that he is, Manis rewrote the original EIR as instructed by the developers. And we pay his salary! Or do we? Maybe that's the problem: we don't, they do. This is the same guy who wrote Doug Manchester's $50,000 EIR "finding" that the environment hasn't changed downtown in 15 years. Here is Manis' freshly minted lies, dated today. Soon they will be put before the Council.
A quick look at the Supplement makes it clear that DSD is recycling the same basic lie: "deviations from the 30 foot coastal height limit cannot be considered as incentives".
A deviation from the coastal height limit is available as a density bonus concession, the very same as a height limit concession outside the coastal zone. Being part of the LCP is not grounds for refusing a developer. The Coastal Commission does not enforce local height limits, voter approved or otherwise. And Manis knows it.
Mike Aguirre has to come to terms with the fact that one of his deputy city attorneys, Shannon Thomas, wrote a lying MOL for DSD back in September 2006, while DSD and the developers were paying her salary. Her time was charged out to DSD. That is a remnant of the old Casey Gwinn "legal advice for sale" days.
But has it stopped? I've been told that it has.
Then who wrote this new Ordinance?
Does DSD have its own attorneys over there now? Who checked the EIR for legal issues? Manis? DSD or any City Department, should not be able to purchase the legal advice it likes from the same City Attorney we elect to ensure City staff obey the law. Yet that is exactly what has been happening for many years.
The problem still is: who does the City Attorney represent, the people or City staff? If he represents DSD staff, he effectively represents the developers. That must be clarifed. Shannon Thomas's lying September 8, 2006 MOL is a direct result of this dubious situation. Her salary was paid by DSD, which is an enterprise fund, not part of the General Fund. DSD relies entirely on developer fees for funding.
They are therefore its clients. The bigger the project the more it earns. They love the big developers. Developers' service staff actually meet with DSD staff every month to "advise" it on how to improve its services. It is called the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC).
So, not only do they get the service they require, they get the legal advice they require. Our City Council is little more than a rubber stamp for the legislation written by the developers through the DSD, using legal advice purchased from the City Attorney's office. The pending Density Bonus legislation is just an example.
The developers get to write the EIRs and the Municipal Code. The people have become mere spectators. I had hoped that by now the Shannon Thomas's September 8, 2006 MOL would have been withdrawn by Aguirre's office.
If it had, Bob Manis could never have written this Supplement to the Density Bonus EIR.
Nor could whoever wrote this new and improved developer-serving Density Bonus Ordinance have written it.
Jim Waring will once again quote the City Attorney as his authority that the 30 foot height limit is protected.
This new Ordinance is much the same as the one sent back to the Mayor's Office a few months ago. We have to fight the whole sordid fight all over again.
Why Council Item 333 needs to be opposed:
THEY CHANGED IT! The City Council cannot certify this changed version of the EIR as having been "reviewed and considered" by the public. EIR No. 96-0333, together with its Supplement, was "reviewed and considered" before being presented to the City Council on January 30, 2007. But it has been altered since, without any further "review or consideration" by the public. This is grounds for an automatic continuance tomorrow. You simply cannot do that. Not even Jim Waring.Major problems with From Option 1
- Wants to delete Municipal Code Section 142.0760, which currently requires a Site Development Permit each time a density bonus concession is granted to a developer. Wants the line "Shall be processed in accordance with Process One" inserted in the Ordinance, in two places. This would change the existing Ordinance by depriving the public of any say in these concessions. It would deny the public the ability to appeal any concession to the Planning Commission or to the City Council.
- Wants to insert into the Municipal Code the power to grant exemptions from the regulations governing Environmentally Sensitive Lands. These concessions would be based upon a DSD "finding" that not to grant such a concession would "interfere with the applicant’s reasonable investment-backed expectations" i.e. an "economic finding".
READ: The comparison Option 1 & 2 shows side by side <http://www.blogofsandiego.com/>
Review this action taken by Councilwoman Donna Frye
READ: Councilmember Frye Memorandum 2/20/07 (7 pg PDF)
to ensure a full environmental assessment is done prior to any council vote.
When high-rise condos start going up on the beach, people will wake up 2/23/07, This site has the responses of Developmemnt Servies Department (DSD)'s and City's Planning Dept. response to Donna Frye's 20 questions regarding density bonuses. Nobody has signed it. Most of the questions are legal questions, yet no attorney would put their name to it. Was the City Attorney consulted? If not why not?
READ: Blog of San Diego, by Pat Flannery
for the full information,
in-depth analysis, important updates and vital documents.
After the Union-Tribune wrote several development / pro-density spin pieces this last week, blaming all the woes of San Diego on high housing costs, a couple letter to the Union-Tribune editor told of many of real problems:
Housing costs just one reason for exodus
Regarding “Fleeing paradise/Cities spark exodus with high home prices” (Editorial, March 23):
High home prices are only one of many reasons for the exodus. Other factors: wages that simply aren't keeping up with the high home prices; the city's woefully poor fiscal management and the fact that most of the council members involved are, remarkably, still in office; seemingly artificially high gas prices, which affects the costs of groceries, soft goods, durable goods, you name it; and a city government close to bankruptcy, which will inevitably cut its minimalist services even further and require higher fees to make up the difference, putting a bigger bite on residents.
And then having to navigate one's car around the city's ubiquitous potholes, or suffer the suspension damage. I mean, there's no extreme cold freezing weather on which to blame the poor condition of the city's roads. I won't even mention the pathetic deals with the sports teams.
America's finest weather, maybe.—GEOFF HILL,
San Diego UT: Your editorial indicated that the current exodus from San Diego is due to economic factors alone. But there are considerations in addition to the economics involved, and they have to do with quality of life.
The special interest groups, aided and abetted by generations of corrupt, incompetent political leaders have bled San Diego so hard for so long that the only paradise-like element we have left is the weather – and even that's changing for the worse.
Our beaches are polluted, our neglected streets are being only minimally maintained, water and sewerage systems are constantly breaking down after years of neglect, we have gang violence that is out of control, our waterfront continues to be defiled by the developers, the “public service” unions are arrogantly and defiantly resisting giving up any of their sweetheart deals, and after many years of giveaways and cooperation with our local military branches, the Navy and Marine brass now are (ignoring San Diego and) looking out for themselves.
And now that all these chickens have come home to roost, what are our illustrious leaders doing about it? Arrogantly stonewalling, shifting blame, resisting significant, positive change and generally trying to continue business as usual. At the current pace of change, things are going to get much worse before they begin to get better. San Diego's resources have been drained for many years by greed and cronyism, and paradise is no longer paradise – but the prices are higher than ever.
—BOB SHERMAN, San Diego
Miami Beach on the way for San Diego?
Faulconer, Peters & Sanders say "no".
But the documents says otherwise, all that matters is in a court of law.
The City of San Diego City Council plans on voting on voting on a change to the Density Bonus ordinance. This change would mandate that Development Services Department give developers the ability to ask for, and receive, a waiver of any city ordinance limiting the height of buildings. This would happen without public review.
The city says this would not effect the 30 foot coastal height limit which for decades has kept the coast accessible to all San Diegans. Yet city documents say that any opinion or action of the city would be trumped by the state ordinance. The state ordinance says that height concessions must be granted.
How did we get into this mess?
For years, the developer industry has been infuriated by the limits the 1972 Prop D 30 foot coastal height limit has placed on coastal development. The problem has been that no local government action could overturn the limit.
On the books since the late 1970s was a state law mandating that cities give developers concessions if they included low income housing in their development. What cities did to comply is allow minor variances in how buildings looked or could be used to comply.
In 1984, two San Diego state legislators introduced two bills, Senate Bill 1818 and Senate Bill435 (20050, to make cities give bigger concessions to developers. The two authors were State Senators Denise Ducheny (D) and Dennis Hollingsworth (R). Both have portions of the City of San Diego as part of their district. Both receive heavy contributions from local developers.
The two bills introduced by Ducheny and Hollingsworth mandated that if a developer included as little as one affordable unit per 20 that they would automatically receive an increase in the amount of units they could build on site. In addition, they would be able to choose a concession, which includes but is not limited to: less parking spaces, greater footprint or height. The local government would then have to grant this concession unless there was a health, safety, physical environment or historical issue. Since the law specifically states that height is a concession, it would be difficult for a judge to say that breaking the height limit was a physical environment concern.
These two laws also changed the definition of what qualifies for a density bonus from only low incomes to moderate incomes as defined by average salaries in an area. That means a developer could qualify to break the coastal height limit and go 10 or more stories by enabling one unit to be able to be bought by an individual making over $70,000 per year.
This Tuesday February 27 the city council has docketed an ordinance to ensure that developers can get rolling with their requests to break the 30 foot coastal and other zoning limits. The challenge is that the city has sweetened the pot further for developers while doing nothing to protect citizens from the harsh reality posed by the state density bonus law. Plus Mayor Sanders, Councilman Faulconer and Councilman Peters want to grant the major concessions over-the-counter with no public review.
Why the coast is most threatened by the density bonus ordinance is that is where it is most profitable for developers to build high rises. That is likely what the drafters of this ordinance - the local developer community - had in mind. They simply then had to have two of their most beholden state legislators carry the bill. Legislators from other areas of the state simply could not see the dark, evil ulterior motives that drove the change in the density bonus law.
Demand no action until the public is fully informed of the enormous consequences of this state bill, our local representatives Ducheny and Hollingsworth are brought on the carpet to explain their actions, and the people are satisfied that the density bonus is being modified at both the local and state level to prevent developer abuse abuse.
Debate over affordable housing bonus continues
Activists say amendments are guise to give city more power
Kailee Bradstreet, Peninsula Beacon. March 22, 2007
A resident-organized presentation Thursday, March 15, outlining the proposed amendments to the affordable housing density bonus ordinance sent a key message to coastal community members: Get involved before it’s too late.
About 80 residents from Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, Point Loma, La Jolla and Clairemont gathered at the Christ Lutheran Church in Pacific Beach to discuss impacts of the proposed measure, which would allow developers to increase building heights and floor area ratios in exchange for providing a percentage of affordable housing.
“It’s very difficult for people to get involved in planning groups and volunteer all their time to then find out that some law came in and says that it’s all out of the community’s hands,” District 6 Councilwoman Donna Frye said in reference to changes that would allow developers to receive ministerial, or over-the-counter, approval on project incentives. “It’s wrong, and I don’t like it, and I will fight with you to stop it.”
Frye, who asked for a continuance on the issue at a Feb. 27 council meeting, said she did not believe the amendments would be presented March 27 to City Council as an ordinance. Frye added that she believes council can and should work together to develop language that protects the public.
City officials created the amendments in response to a series of changes to the state’s affordable housing law. The amendments will update a section in the city’s municipal code that references the affordable housing density bonus.
But many residents fear that the proposed changes go beyond what state law requires and jeopardize the coastal zone’s 30-foot height limit, which was put in place in 1972 by Proposition D. The voter-approved initiative capped building heights in areas that extend eastward from the shoreline as far inland as Interstate 5 in some areas.
Existing code indicates that developers can build more units per building if they are providing a percentage of affordable housing. The proposed amendments would increase the number of additional units from 25 percent to 35 percent and would add a provision that provides incentives such as smaller side-yard set-backs and less parking, according to the city’s Development Services Department.Incentives under the amendments will also be provided for moderate-income housing, as the existing code allows bonuses for low-income housing only, city officials said.
At the meeting, representatives from the San Diego Coastal Alliance, the Historic Preservation Group and Friends of San Diego as well as State Assemblywoman Lori Saldaña voiced opposition to the proposed amendments.“I wish developers did want to build true affordable housing,” Tom Mullaney, a member of Friends of San Diego, said. “It’s under the guise of affordable housing that they want to expand the moderate housing into the range of $60- to $70,000 homes. The developers in this city want to build market rate housing because that’s how they make money.”
"But according to Jim Waring, the city’s deputy chief of economic development, Mayor Jerry Sanders’ priority is to provide affordable housing in San Diego.
“There is absolutely no hidden agenda to this,” Waring said at Thursday’s meeting. “We have no idea, if this ordinance passes, whether it will produce 20 units or 200 units of affordable housing. We want to make sure it’s as understandable as possible and that this ordinance will never be used to bust the 30-foot height limit.”
Waring also told residents that all projects proposed for the coastal zone must obtain Coastal Development Permits and go through the Coastal Commission, making them subject to community planning group review.
John McNab, a member of the San Diego Coastal Alliance, told residents to be wary of promises made by the City and said it was the communities’ duty to make sure the law at federal, state and city levels be as clear as possible.“
The City of San Diego has consistently said that Prop D is safe because the Coastal Commission protects it,” McNab said. “The Coastal Commission is a discretionary body that can do whatever it wants. If you think the Coastal Commission is going to protect you, think again.”
Point Loma resident Katheryn Rhodes, who gave a PowerPoint presentation on the issue, alleged that under the new amendments environmentally sensitive lands such as steep slopes, wetlands and canyons would be not be protected.Projects would also be exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), meaning developers would not be required to mitigate for environmental impacts, according to Rhodes.
Rhodes asked Waring to reconsider the first option for the amendments, a plan that would implement the ministerial process and possibly endanger the height limit, she said. The second option, which she discussed in her presentation, would only enforce the state’s changes to the law, she said.Waring, who told Rhodes and audience members that some statements in her presentation were incorrect, said that he was working closely with the City Attorney’s Office in order to narrow the options down to one.
Despite unanswered questions from the audience, Waring left mid-meeting, announcing that he was late for the Eric Clapton concert.
City Council is scheduled to meet Tuesday, March 27, at the City Administration Building, 202 C Street, to vote on the amendments for the affordable housing density bonus.
For more information, visit www.sandiego.gov/citycouncil.
(One minor correction—over 150 people signed in that attended the town hall meeting.— SD Coastal Alliance)
A high price for affordable housing
By Lori Saldaña, Union-Tribute, February 27, 2007
Late last month, something almost slipped past the San Diego City Council that would have effectively changed the character of San Diego's neighborhoods for the foreseeable future. Docketed by the council president for the consent calendar – that is, for a vote with no deliberation – was a proposal by the Development Services Department that would strip the city of much of its power to enforce community planning standards.Included in this proposal is what amounts to a bill of rights for developers who would extract extraordinary concessions in exchange for the minimal numbers of “moderately” priced units for sale. These concessions would be provided ministerially, a term of art indicating that concessions would be granted by the city without input from elected officials or the community.
Possible concessions to developers for providing a nominal number of affordable housing units could include exemptions on the height limits, protection of natural and historical resources, parking, architectural detail and developers' impact fees. What that means is, if a developer argues that the Mission-style architecture requirement or a height-limit ordinance restricts profits, the developer can get a waiver on these requirements if only one unit out of 20 is set aside at below market rate. That is in addition to the four additional units the developer can sell or lease at market rate. Such a concession would be in addition to the extra units already approved for the development as a result of a density bonus.What is especially disturbing is that this kind of giveaway to developers has become the standard statewide as a result of recent changes to California's Density Bonus Law.
The law was enacted with the intent of addressing the state's housing affordability problem by providing incentives to developers to include low-and moderate-income housing in their projects. While not always popular with localities, this law was intended to increase the stock of the type of housing we need to support the state's work force.As originally written, these incentives included certain concessions to developers on design, setbacks, sidewalks and other design elements in exchange for the inclusion of 20 percent affordable units in their projects. The developer would agree to construct 20 units out of 100 and in exchange could get concessions on some design standards.
But over the last three years the Density Bonus Law has been tampered in a way that will be disastrous for California's efforts to increase affordable housing and local government's interest in maintaining quality of life in their communities.
These changes are the product of a strange – and some would say unholy – coalition of lobbyists who sold the Legislature on a deal that turned the legislative intent of the original Density Bonus Law on its head.
On the pretext of attracting more developers to participate in the program, they persuaded the Legislature to pass changes that remove the incentive and made these waivers and concessions entitlements for developers by lowering the percentage of affordable units required from 20 percent to 5 percent of units.
That is as few as one affordable unit in 20 could entitle developers to major concessions that would significantly affect the design and character of communities.
It bears repeating that new development has serious impacts on communities. The construction of new development can put stress on existing infrastructure and require additional emergency services, affect the character and population of neighborhoods, increase traffic volume and increase the need for parking. New development frequently displaces affordable housing stock and decreases available land for development and open space.
Likewise, there are significant social and environmental costs associated with a lack of affordable housing. Employers cannot attract and retain qualified workers to San Diego when housing costs greatly outdistance average salaries. Families struggle to balance the costs of housing near their workplace instead of making long and expensive daily commutes from more affordable neighborhoods. Unfortunately, poor air quality coupled with congestion on our freeways tells us many more people are making these commutes.
Clearly, choices about infill and affordable housing are significant parts of long-term planning. However, density is only one public policy tool for addressing the problem. In the end, providing a few moderately priced housing units should not be used as cover for a developer to trump a community's right to maintain neighborhood design and character.
The Legislature will be revisiting these debilitating changes to the Density Bonus Law during the coming year. Meanwhile, the City Council should carefully scrutinize Development Services' recommendations regarding density with an eye to maintaining local involvement and design standards.
Saldaña, a Democrat from San Diego, is chair of the Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development.
The Mayor and council tryed to changed city law to allow uncontrolled growth in all neighborhoods
This can lead to loss of residential property values and views, traffic and parking gridlock. What is the Density Bonus Ordinance?
The Density Bonus is a State Law- California Government Code Sections 65915 - 65918 http://ceres.ca.gov/planning/pzd/1997/plan_12.html
which aims to provide incentives to developers to build low to moderate-income housing. It does this by mandating that cities provide incentives to developers to build low to moderate-income housing.What is the problem with the Density Bonus Ordinance?
In 2004, the State decided that local governments were not providing enough incentives to developers to build affordable housing. Two bills were prepared, Senate Bill 435 and Senate Bill 1818 to address this.
These bills gave developers concessions that to break local zoning ordinances. These include, but are not limited to: the amount of units allowed, size, setbacks and height.
The developer would ask for a specific concession, and the local government would have to award it unless there was a health or safety finding.
In addition, it became easier to get a Density Bonus entitlement. Instead of being solely for low-income housing, it now could also be used for moderate income, which is relative personal income in a specific community.
For example, that means somebody living in a nice beach community, making over $70,000 per year can qualify for an affordable housing unit!
With this ordinance, more housing units can be built than zoning allows, and they can be built higher than the Prop D and other height limits.Why are the mayor and council taking action now?
The City has to rewrite their municipal code to be in compliance with the state ordinance.
Most cities have not yet rewritten their local code, but San Diego is in a hurry to get it done. That is why it is on the docket for Tues.,February 27.Is the city ordinance the same as the state ordinance?
The local ordinance will make it even more profitable for developers to build using this ordinance.At council, Councilmembers Faulconer and Peters said, “This will not affect Prop D.” Is that true?
The amendment is not effective in the Coastal Zone until the Coastal Commission unconditionally certifies the amendment.
”The State Density Bonus Ordinance trumps the Prop D voter initiative. According to the City Attorney Office, that is because State passed initiatives trump State legislation. State legislation trumps Local voter initiatives. Local voter initiatives trump City Council passed ordinances.
According to the City Attorney Office, the Prop D local voter initiative that established the 30 foot coastal height limit is overridden by state legislation.
That is one example why developers keep a strong lobby in Sacramento.
What Faulconer and Peters must be referring to is the coastal zone, where the California Coastal Commission has jurisdiction.
"This section of City Council Item-335 if approved by the Council will then go to the Coastal Commission to seek approval...
“The proposed amendments to the Land Development Code would apply to the Coastal Zone, therefore the City Council’s decision requires amending the City’s Local Coastal Program. As a result, the final decision on the amendments to the Land Development Code and associated Local Coastal Program amendments will be with the California Coastal Commission."
The City of San Diego must submit the amendments to the Land Development Code as an amendment for certification to the Coastal.
Since the Coastal Commission was established by a voter initiative, the Coastal Act, the Coastal Commission does not have to follow all state laws.
in the case of San Diego, the 30-foot height limit is part of what is called the Local Coastal Program (LCP). The LCP is a set of guidelines the Coastal Commission is supposed to follow in regard to development in San Diego’s coastal zone.
Yet the Coastal Commission approved hundreds of buildings over 30 feet at Naval Training Center, which fell entirely inside the coastal zone. These included one hotel 60 feet tall and another 85 feet tall.
San Diego Coastal Commissioner, developer Pat Kruer (New Chair of the Coastal Commission), was upset that more buildings did not significantly exceed the 30 foot height limit at Naval Training Center.
Another problem with the Coastal Commissions’ coastal zone is that it is smaller than the area that the Prop D 30 foot height limit covers.
The coastal zone winds along the coast while the "Prop D, 30ft. limit" extends from the coast inland to Interstate 5 from the northern Del Mar border south to Laurel Street as well as south of downtown.
Large areas such as the Sports Arena district are outside the coastal zone, yet today is subject to the 30 foot limit.
If this council item passes, areas outside of the coastal zone will not even have the discretionary protection of the Coastal Commission. Therefore, despite the assurances of Faulconer and Peters, Prop D would be effectively destroyed by passage of the Density Bonus Ordinance as presently drafted.
Developers could build as high as they wanted.Ok, so Prop D would be gone. Is that all that would happen?
Buildings can be built from lot line to lot line, and height limits anywhere in the city can be disregarded.
What makes this worse is that these changes can be approved without notifying neighbors or having public hearings.
The way the city statute is written, developers can get these concessions over-the-counter.
These changes are alarming. Is this the way all cities are implementing this state mandate?
No. Other cities are tightening zoning to ensure their quality of life. San Diego is the exception that is making the deal sweeter for the developers while showing no concern for the public.So what can I do?
First, call all of City Council and the Mayor.
Demand that councilmembers hold public hearings in every district neighborhood prior to any council action. The public has every right to have everyone understand how this proposal would radically change our city.
Second, call Assemblywoman Lori Saldana and State Senator Christine Kehoe and insist they change the State Density Bonus Ordinance so the enormous loopholes in this law do not destroy our quality of life.
Remember, this ordinance as written will provide no actual affordable housing.
Third, become informed.
A press conference was held with community leaders from around San Diego, and two of the original 30 foot height limit leaders. The location looks over cliffs that cost millions of dollars to build seawalls after caving away because of high density buildings were constructed before the Coastal 30 foot height limit was passed. The seawalls are once again falling apart, and the once popular sandy beach (that was promised to be put back the same) is full of boulders and rocks.
Commentary— The Peninsula Beacon, Feb. 22, 2007
City’s affordable housing bonus attacks coastal height limit
I’ve lived in San Diego since 1977 and learned about the 30-foot height limit on construction at the coast a long time ago. I also lived and traveled a good deal on the East coast and the Gulf Coast. I thought the height limit was one of the smartest things California had done and always assumed it was part of the California Coastal Act. Having seen what happened in Florida and other beach communities, with the beach virtually walled off to public access, I knew what a smart thing this was. But, I only learned recently that the 30-foot limit is unique to San Diego. Back in the early ‘70s, a group of activists got together, created a ballot measure, and got it passed. For 35 years this has protected our shoreline and the developers have never accepted it. This unique and precious protection is once again under attack and everyone needs to know about it.
I had the distinct pleasure of sitting in a room last week with three of the original activists. They are a little grayer and a little more bent, but the fire still burns in all of them. I was personally in awe of this group hearing how they sacrificed so much time and effort that resulted in something that benefited so many people for so many years. I certainly cannot point to anything in my life that matches their accomplishment.
They, along with many others, are worried that the 30-foot height limit may be in jeopardy because of an action by the City Council. The state passed a law that provides a density bonus for projects that provide a certain amount of affordable housing units. The City Council will be deciding on amendments to the local application of law on Tuesday, February 27. The proposed changes will allow developers to circumvent the 30-foot height limit if they satisfy certain affordable housing requirements in their developments. Make no mistake about it; this is a back door attempt to defeat this development restriction that has added greatly to the quality of life in San Diego but that developers can’t stand.
The Peninsula Community Planning Board is having elections the week after the Council hearing. This is one of the many issues the Board works on every day in an effort to preserve the unique and wonderful community we all live in against dollar driven development that sees the Peninsula as a cash cow. Of everything I have seen, the threat to the 30-foot height limit is probably the most serious. People need to get involved. Run for a position on the board or get involved in any way you can. Come to the City Council meeting and see what is going on. Or, send letters and e-mails and let Council members know that this is one valuable legacy the peninsula residents want to maintain. —Geoff Page is a Point Loma resident and
member of the Peninsula Planning Board.
The City's draft approach has fundamental flaws that go beyond the excessive zoning exceptions.
Regarding the City Council agenda item on density bonuses and zoning deviations:The Affordable Housing guidelines from LA are an example of a more limited implementation of the State mandates. This more limited approach makes sense for San Diego, rather than the "anything goes" approach that would override zoning provisions with few restrictions.
The lack of limits in the San Diego draft ordinance could lead to buildings with NO SETBACKS, DOUBLE the intended height, and luxury units with DOUBLE the intended Floor Area Ratio.
If the City adopts the "anything goes" approach, and approves some projects that are totally incompatible with existing zoning, the public backlash would set back legitimate efforts for affordable housing.
I previously pointed out that the draft San Diego ordinance has several major weaknesses. For example, by increasing incentives for moderate income housing to nearly the same levels as low income housing, the City would be ensuring that little low income housing would be built. The City's draft approach has fundamental flaws that go beyond the excessive zoning exceptions. Stay tuned for a future missive from me, based on my conversations with two prominent local economists: "How density bonuses and zoning deviations increase developer profits and the price of land, while providing little public benefit".
Tom Mullaney, Friends of San Diego,email: firstname.lastname@example.org
"Preserving the environment , and quality of life in the San Diego region"
leaders look at problems caused by pre-30 foot Coastal Height limit buildingsThe information on this website does not constitute legal advice to any party and is correct to the best of our knowledge.