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Before I really launch into this festering civic dilemma that is the redevelopment of the Navy Broadway Complex, I have to lay out something that’s troubling me.

Obviously, I’m concerned with what’s being proposed and whether San Diego is doing the best thing for its waterfront over the long term.

But as I learned earlier, the City Council has had opportunity after opportunity to extricate itself from the development agreement that Doug Manchester and the Navy now plan to implement.

Starting in 1992, over and over again the city reaffirmed that this kind of thing is exactly what it wanted from the Navy Broadway Complex.

I have come to conclusion, as have the mayor and others, that you can’t conform to this development agreement without building the kind of unattractive row of commercial buildings that Doug Manchester plans.

So who brought us this development agreement? The same folks who are now complaining about it.

And they are complaining:

Toni Atkins in San Diego CityBEAT on Aug. 16:

“When I look at it, I still think the density and the walling off and the degree that it is, it wouldn’t be my personal preference. It would be better to have more green space and more public-use space,” said Atkins of District 3.

She voted to approve that density on Jan. 7, 2003.

She wasn’t alone, Councilmen Brian Maienschein, Scott Peters and Jim Madaffer – all still in office – voted right along with her. Donna Frye voted no.

Madaffer isn’t complaining about what’s happening at Navy Broadway, so his vote makes sense. But what do the others say when asked about why they approved of the Navy Broadway Complex plans?

They say they didn’t understand what was being voted on. And, in San Diego, of course, if you don’t understand something, you vote to approve it.

From a story by Evan McLaughlin on Sept. 18:

Although they approved the guidelines for the waterfront site just a few years ago, Peters and Atkins said they’ve scrutinized the proposal more thoroughly now that there is a concrete sketch of one possible way the property could look like under the requirements.

“I don’t think we had a good discussion about it and what it means,” Peters said at this press briefing Thursday. “It would be really smart for the city to sit down and look at it more thoroughly.”

I’ve said before that I think it’s admirable when elected leaders show the courage to change their mind on important issues. But I can understand how the Navy, and even Manchester, would look at these people now and wonder who they think they are to start complaining about something they approved.

SCOTT LEWIS

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