Archive for November, 2010
As promised, Mayor Jerry Sanders has vetoed an ordinance passed by the San Diego City Council that would make it nearly impossible to build Supercenter stores within city limits. In a memo to the city council, the mayor stated that it was not the city’s role to determine where consumers may shop and raised concerns on how the council sidestepped the normal regulatory process in order to pass the ordinance before the new city councilmembers are sworn in on December 6th.
The ordinance, pushed by Councilmember Todd Gloria at the behest of organized labor, would have established such severe requirements for Supercenters that the city’s Independent Budget Analyst said would result in a de facto ban on supercenter stores.
On a 5 – 3 vote, the council approved the ordinance on November 16th with Councilmembers Martin Emerald, Donna Frye, Ben Hueso, Tony Young and Todd Gloria voting yes and Councilmembers Sherri Lightner, Kevin Faulconer and Carl DeMaio voting no. The ordinance was seen by many as an organized labor move to block non-union Walmart from competing against union operated grocery stores in San Diego.
The City Council will hold an emergency hearing on December 2nd to vote on an override the Mayor’s veto. Since only 5 votes are needed an override seems all but certain.
The County Board of Supervisors will again take up the General Plan Update on December 8th and bring to a close more than three days of mostly negative testimony on the controversial plan that will downzone more than 400,000 acres of private property.
The San Diego City Council is expected to meet on December 2nd to overturn an expected mayoral veto of the anti-big box ordinance which council passed on November 16th. The ordinance is aimed at Walmart Supercenter stores and was pushed by union activists who have a long standing feud with the non-union retail giant.
Unions also have a hand in efforts to change the downtown Planned District Ordinance (PDO) to require additional regulatory scrutiny of hotels beyond CCDC approval which guides development in the city’s urban core. The San Diego Planning Commission is scheduled to hear the proposed changes to the PDO on December 16th. Hotel unions hope to change the PDO in an effort to improve their chances for project labor agreements and union-only operated hotels by getting hotel projects before the union friendly city council.
Last evening, well over 400 members and guests came out to celebrate the industry and its new Board leadership at the La Jolla Marriott. The well-attended and sold out event was made possible through underwriting provided by at least eight financial institutions. The membership was treated to a delightful skit produced and directed by Dawn Davidson of Design Line Interiors.
In addition, twelve prominent builders and developers made a brief appearance on stage and provided an up beat market assessment for 2011. Many members commented afterwards that the event was one of BIA’s best in years. A big thank you to staff and our volunteers for making this a most memorable evening. Watch for more reviews in the upcoming days.
Supercenters looking to do business in the City of San Diego will have to prove their worthiness under new rules passed by the city council. Before a packed council chamber of union activists who made no secret of their disdain for the non-union Walmart, the city council voted 5 to 3 to require that a series of strict findings be met before any supercenter could be built within city limits. Opponents of the ordinance, including the BIA, argued that the findings were designed to be so rigorous that they would be unachievable thereby resulting in a de facto ban on supercenters. Councilman Tony Young successfully pushed for amendments in an attempt to take some of the sting out of the findings but most saw the changes to be too subtle to make any meaningful difference. And while just the day before several councilmembers railed against CCDC for doing an end around the process to obtain an increase in the redevelopment funding cap – most, including councilmembers Marti Emerald and Donna Frye, had no problem with their own end around process on the supercenter ordinance in order to beat the new council from being seated which would have threatened their chances of success with the arrival of two new freshman councilmembers. The supercenter ordinance did not go through a standard review by the Development Services Department, the Code Monitoring Team, or the Technical Advisory Committee. Several members of the city’s Planning Commission had harsh words for Councilman Todd Gloria, the architect of the ordinance, for failure to follow the city’s standard review process that has been in place since the adoption of the Land Development Code more than 10 years ago. The public criticism had little effect on Gloria, Emerald, Frye, Young and Hueso who all voted for the ordinance. Councilmembers Faulconer, DeMaio and Lightner voted no. Mayor Jerry Sanders is expected to issue a veto in the next few days with a council hearing to override his veto scheduled for early December.
Fred Maas has decided to step down as Chair of the Centre City Development Corporation effective December 31st. He had been the interim head of CCDC since the departure of Nancy Graham in 2008. Mass advised Mayor Jerry Sanders of his decision to leave in a letter where he thanked him for the opportunity to serve and looked forward to a continued friendship. Mass has been a long-time industry supporter and served as President of Black Mountain Ranch from 2003 – 2009.
The San Diego City Council will cast the final vote this afternoon on an ordinance that will lead to a de facto ban on supercenter stores within city limits. The ordinance is being pushed by the San Diego Imperial Counties labor Council to prevent non-union supercenters from competing with their more costly union grocery store counterparts.
The pro-union city council wasted little time on the ordinance and pushed it though in record time by circumventing the city’s standard review process as well as holding an emergency council hearing all in an effort to get it done before the new city councilmembers take their posts in early December. This less than subtle capitulation to union interest drew rebukes from members of the city’s Planning Commission, community groups and the business community. The BIA has raised strong concerns over using the Land Development Code to attack a specific business.
It has also drawn a fierce response from Walmart – the real target of the ordinance – which has placed newspaper and TV ads criticizing Councilman Todd Gloria for spearheading the union effort. The council voted 5 – 3 last month on the first of two votes needed to adopt the ordinance. Mayor Jerry Sanders has vowed to use his veto power to stop the ordinance but unless another council member has a change of heart the 5 – 3 vote will be enough to override his veto.
The City of San Diego Land Use and Housing Committee released its findings on a nexus study that will be used to determine the fee charged to non-residential development to help pay for affordable housing. The Jobs Housing Nexus Study, prepared by Keyser Marston, alleges that retail development could be charged a fee up to $115.55 per square foot for housing and put office development impacts at $78.08 per square foot. There are several other categories with fees ranging from $81.00 to $13.00 per square foot.
Keyser Marston was quick to point out that the city should charge nowhere near those fees and recommended fees ranging from $2.00 – $4.00 per square foot. They also recommended that the fees not be increased until the economy improves and suggested that the council consider a trigger mechanism.
The Committee also released a report on Best Management Practices for managing affordable housing that compares San Diego to other cities in the hopes of improving the process. Despite earlier assurances that both the fee and BMPs would be reviewed concurrently, Committee Chair, Todd Gloria said he did not want the fee increase proposal to ‘be held hostage’ to a review of best management practices and will pursue the fee increase ahead of the BMP analysis.
The BIA and a host of business groups strongly oppose any increase in the fees and have challenged the council for even considering what is being called a ‘Jobs Tax’ in the midst of the worst recession in generations.
The report moves to a stakeholders committee for review and comment before returning to the full council for consideration.
Read the 4 page Land Use and Housing Report.
The Solana Beach City Council voted to continue its hearing on whether to increase Inclusionary Zoning fees and requirements on new home construction. Responding to concerns raised by the BIA, the council voted unanimously to push the hearing to January 12, 2011 rather than adopt an ordinance that would result in a regulatory ‘double dip.’ The proposed ordinance would have required homebuilders to still pay the city’s in-lieu fee of up to $35,000 per unit even if the project is building low income units on site as part of the state’s affordable housing density bonus program. The state Department on Housing and Community Development requires local cities to provide density bonuses for projects that build low income housing but Solana Beach maintains that still does not satisfy their local ordinance
After two day-long hearings on the proposed update of the County’s General Plan, the Board of Supervisors announced that a final decision will not come before late January or early February. The General Plan update, now into it’s 13th year, is designed to focus future development closer to existing towns and infrastructure but the concept has brought the wrath of backcounty property owners who object to the downzoning of over 400,000 acres as a means to push future growth inward.
Opposition to the plan swelled as nearly 200 people testified against the plan for a host of reasons with many saying the county government was going to far and others saying they weren’t going far enough. The parade of opponents left many Supervisors concerned with the plan and they want county staff to explain many of the issues that were brought up during the testimony before they make a final decision.
The BIA continued its opposition because of multiple conflicts within the plan that would impede the vision the county wants from actually being built. Foremost is the ability of community plans to impose restrictions or ban clustered projects despite the fact that clustering is a main objective of the new general plan.
The BIA is also opposed to the tight restrictions placed on future amendments to the General Plan after it is adopted. The industry considers the restrictions punitive with the intent of making GPAs financially infeasible resulting in a de facto moratorium.
The requirement that property owners set aside nearly 90% of their land as open space as mandatory condition of project approval also met with stiff opposition. Property owners would also be required to pay for the maintenance of the dedicated open space in perpetuity. Such requirements would make most projects financially infeasible.
The BIA continues to work with a broad coalition of property owners and business groups to seeks changes to the General Plan update before it is adopted.
Testimony continues on December 8th.
“Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber,” Ancient Greek Philosopher Plato, modernized, 428 BC-348 BC
With every election comes an opportunity to change the way you, your community and business world are governed. This year, that opportunity takes on an historic nature as all eyes are on Washington, DC and Sacramento as voters take out their frustrations over a chronic recession and high unemployment. Here at home, the attention is focused on a changing of the guard at San Diego city hall, rare runoff elections for county Board of Supervisors and more than one ballot initiative seeking to raise your taxes.
And whether its candidates or ballot initiatives each time BIA San Diego is center stage in the political arena. For months leading up to the elections, BIA’s political committees interview and debate various candidates and issues on the ballots. The industry’s closely held vanguards also engage well in advance in an attempt to shape those issues and lists of candidates as they emerge. This includes financial support by the industry’s well-respected BIA-PAC each election cycle.
The outcome of the intense review process is the release of the BIA-PAC Voter Guide, a listing of candidate endorsements and ballot recommendations as a service to our members, BIA proudly does its part to arm you with solid information from knowledgeable industry stalwarts to enable you to make the most informed vote possible.
Are you part of the movement to shape your industry’s future? On November 2nd, did you vote alongside your industry peers? Only working together does our industry become stronger. To get more involved to make a difference in the future, please contact Matthew Adams.
You are currently browsing the Building Industry Association of San Diego blog archives for November, 2010.