Archive for January, 2010
The issue of whether hotel construction should be subject to greater economic scrutiny is headed back to the City of San Diego Land Use and Housing Committee. Local union groups want the city council to review hotel projects approved by the Center City Development Corporation. All hotels of 100 rooms or more would be subject to the additional regulatory review.
The San Diego Imperial County Labor Council and the labor group, Unite Here, want a more stringent process to “facilitate a more comprehensive discussion of the social and economic impacts that are unique to downtown hotel projects.” Both groups are pushing LUH Chair, Councilman Todd Gloria, to adopt the changes. Council President Ben Hueso and Councilmember Donna Frye have already voiced support for the new requirements.
Business leaders throughout the city are concerned that this extensive public process will result in costly project labor agreements. PLAs can add up to 30% in construction costs.
The threat of PLAs and the loss of regulatory certainty in the downtown redevelopment district come at a time when development activity is at historic lows with more than 40,000 San Diegans unemployed as a consequence.
CCDC was created in 1992 to be the regulatory agency for downtown development as a ‘one stop shop’ for project processing. The results have been remarkable with more than $798 million in tax increment generated for the downtown area and more than $13 billion in private investment. The total annual taxes generated from the redevelopment area is unmatched at $177 million.
CCDC staff opposes the new regulations saying that it will increase the review time and costs, while eliminating the efficiency of the expedited review process. The Land Use and Housing Committee is expected to hear the item at its February 3, 2010 meeting.
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted 3 to 2 today to rehear the Merriam Mountains Development Project that was stymied by a 2-2 split of the Supervisors last month. District 4 Supervisor, Ron Roberts was unavailable for the December 9th hearing due to a meeting of the Air Resources Board in Sacramento and was unable to vote. Roberts asked for the rehearing so he can weigh in on the decision.
Supervisors Dianne Jacob and Pam Slater voted against the project located on 2,327 acres northwest of I-15 at Deer Springs Road. It has run afoul of the Blackstone Group, owners of the Golden Door Spa located nearby. They’d prefer the area to remain undeveloped despite the fact that over 1,700 acres equaling 75 percent of the project area will remain untouched and preserved as open space in perpetuity.
Jacobs and Slater made no secret of their displeasure of having to rehear the project and voted against the motion that will bring it back to the board. Supervisors Bill Horn and Greg Cox voted in favor of the Robert’s motion, which means all sides will reconvene on Wednesday, March 24th for what is expected to be a spirited discussion at the Board of Supervisors.
The San Diego City Council voted 5 to 3 to maintain its current guidelines on Substantial Conformance Review despite Councilmember Donna Frye’s claims that additional regulations were necessary. Frye and Councilmember Sheri Lightner pushed to make SCRs a ‘Process Two’ – which meant that any minor project change could be appealed to the Planning Commission resulting in lengthy delays in project processing. Currently, SCRs are handled at the staff level to ensure that projects with minor changes still substantially conform to its approved permit. The council majority agreed with staff recommendation that the current process was appropriate and that additional regulations were unnecessary – especially with construction activity at historic lows. Councilmember Marti Emerald joined with Frye and Lightner and voted against the motion to keep the current SCR process.
The 2010 political season kicks into high gear as candidates vying for local, state and federal offices turn their attention to the June 8th Primary Election.
There is no shortage of political hopefuls looking to unseat incumbents or replace termed-out lawmakers. In the City of San Diego, no less than 12 candidates have filed to compete for two open council seats with the departure of Council President, Ben Hueso and Councilmember, Donna Frye. Hueso is set to run for the 79th State Assembly district and Frye is out due to term limits. Incumbents Kevin Faulconer and Tony Young are seeking second terms.
The usually docile Board of Supervisors races will have a more competitive flair this year as incumbent Ron Roberts fends off multiple challengers including termed-out State Assembly Democrat, Lori Saldana. District 5 Supervisor, Bill Horn may find himself in a campaign against Oceanside Mayor, Jim Wood.
And in Chula Vista, Councilman Steve Castaneda is set to challenge incumbent Mayor, Cheryl Cox as she seeks a second term in the county’s second largest city.
North County will have its share of political intrigue as well, with voters in Oceanside selecting a replacement for Councilman, Rocky Chavez who stepped down to take a job with the Veterans Administration in Sacramento. Councilman, Jerry Kern gets to do it all over again as he seeks reelection in June after crushing a union led recall attempt in December.
The BIA Political Communications Committee and the BIA Pac and Build San Diego Pac will be center stage in the 2010 political arena to evaluate the candidates and issues that will shape the San Diego region in the years ahead. Look for critical voter information here on the BIA Blog and in the upcoming June 2010 Voter Guide.
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